Group múm has just released their new album Smilewound. They accustomed us to many different experiments and improvisation when it comes to their music. We will be able to hear this in the beginning of October as they are playing three shows: in Poznan, Warsaw and Wroclaw. About the new album, upcoming tour and Polish audience we recently talked to Örvar Smárason.
musicis.pl: Your last album came out in 2009. You’ve made your fans wait such a long time for a new material. Why such a long break?
Örvar Smárason (múm): I think we always take quite long breaks between between albums. I mean this is the sixth album since we started which was in ’98 so it’s the sixth album in 15 years which is not a very good ratio I think. But we tend to take a lot of time between albums. You know, recharge the batteries and let things happen on their own. We never pressure ourselves really to make a new album.
musicis.pl: In your opinion, is your upcoming album a lot different from the previous ones? What can we expect with it?
Örvar Smárason (múm): I think all of our albums sound very much different from each other. We never make the same album twice. So I think that people, if they are expecting something, I think they expect to be surprised most of the time when we put out a new album so I guess it’s going to surprise people.
musicis.pl: But can we expect something very extraordinary?
Örvar Smárason (múm): No. Actually, this album is very simple and very uncomplicated.
musicis.pl: What does Smilewound mean? How should we understand this title?
Örvar Smárason (múm): I think the best thing about titles like this is that I have no idea what it means so it’s pretty open for you to interpret it yourself. I usually only like album titles, at least for music, when they’re some sort of an enigma or riddle inside it. Not things that are very plain and straightforward. Like Yesterday was dramatic, today is ok – these are almost riddles – the titles. So I think it was in a similar way and even better, it’s just one word. And it looks like a simple title but in some way it contains both, positivity and wildness at the same time.
musicis.pl: We’ve found out that Sindri from Sin Fang had something to say about your album title. Could you tell us more?
Örvar Smárason (múm): Yeah, he actually did. Cause for the first time we couldn’t decide how to call the album and we were sending out some emails to some of our friends to help us. We had a few titles and we would like to try to get people’s opinions on things. And Sindri is one of those persons who never takes anything seriously. So he started writing back like joke titles that he found. So he started like twisting the words, like taking two titles and sticking them together so this is how in the end one of those joke titles has Smilewound in it. In many ways this is his title.
musicis.pl: Was that a reason that you’ve decided to invite them to support your concerts?
Örvar Smárason (múm): Actually we are really good friends and the reason is that there was another folk singer called Josephine Foster who was going to do the whole tour with us. But just few weeks ago she had to cancel it. We didn’t know what to do so I just called Sindri and it’s the best solution that could be possibly found. We toured with him many times before, we do a lot of different projects together and we know it’s really easy to travel with him on a tour bus. He always puts on a really amazing show. And it’ll be interesting because he’s alone for the first time.
musicis.pl: When we talk about co-operations… How it was to cooperate with Kylie Minogue?
Örvar Smárason (múm): It was easier than we would expect. She has never had any problem with anything. The song is probably one of the strangest things she’s ever done and the lyrics are probably the weirdest and most twisted she’s ever sung. So we thought that maybe she would have some sort of problem with that but no. I think she’s very open musician and I think she would like to, you know, more often seen as a serious artist? Like you see with her acting career, she doesn’t take simple roles, she’s been doing like proper acting roles. It was much harder to deal with her record company and management, that has been just a complete nightmare. I really don’t like talking to record companies. She, herself was just really nice.
musicis.pl: If you had a chance, would you repeat it?
Örvar Smárason (múm): Yes, sure but you know, it’s probably one of this thing she just do once. But if the thing would come up – definitely. It worked perfectly.
musicis.pl: What are the other artists, like Kylie, you would co-operate with?
Örvar Smárason (múm): I don’t know because I think she’s different from a lot of the pop group because I think she’s both very open and talented herself. We wouldn’t just work with anyone on the pop scene. But we’ll see if it comes up.
musicis.pl: You are quite known from many changes when it comes to the members of your band. That’s why your band seems to be an open project all the time. I’ve read that sometimes you invite your friends and members of your family to create music with you. Is there any reason for that? Do you know what you want to achieve by inviting the people to play with you?
Örvar Smárason (múm): No, I think we are just always approaching making music as a really loose, open and relaxed process and we never had any restrictions on ourselves. We are really lucky to be from a big group of friends that are similar thinking musicians. So it’s really natural for us to play music with everyone around us. And I think because a lot of our friends work in the same way. Also because we have a small music community it seems that most people trust each other so it’s easy. It’s a basic thing to do.
musicis.pl: Is there a lot of improvisation in your music?
Örvar Smárason (múm): Yeah, a lot of it is based on improvisation. I think because the writing and recording process is really mixed. We don’t necessarily write the songs and then we record the songs but we base the songs on the improvised performance or fooling around with things. So definitely there’s a part of improvisation in every song. And also when we’re playing live we try to keep things in some places really open so we could do different things any night and see where it takes us.
musicis.pl: In the interviews you are asked about the Icelandic music scene very often. It is not rare that you are compared to other Icelandic artists. How do you feel about it? What is your opinion about those comparisons?
Örvar Smárason (múm): To tell you the truth I don’t really enjoy those questions very much because I have almost nothing to say about it. I understand there are a lot music journalists and a lot of listeners who feel that they can see something or hear something out of the music and I think that’s great but I don’t necessarily agree with what people say or necessarily have a similar opinion of it. So when I get asked about these things I’m usually just trying not to answer for it because I don’t have much to say about it
musicis.pl: In October you’re gonna play 3 concerts in Poland. Do you like playing in our country? Why?
Örvar Smárason (múm): We are really happy that we have three shows in Poland this time around because it’s one of favorite places to play. We always get a really great reception in Poland and somehow we seem to connect very well with the Polish audience. So we are especially looking forward to the shows. I think every time we played it’s been really good. We had an amazing show, really big show in Krakow few years ago, I think probably three years ago and that was one of our favorite shows ever. And then we are going to be working in Poland this winter with the Miniatura Thetre in Gdańsk so we’re going to Gdańsk few times this winter to work on a play which is premiered in May.
musicis.pl: Are you gonna compose music for this play?
Örvar Smárason (múm): Yes, so it’s going to be a really interesting project that we’re really looking forward to.
musicis.pl: In your opinion, why do you get such good reception from the Polish audience?
Örvar Smárason (múm): I don’t really know because it seems to me that – from my experience – Polish people are generally very open to music and not shy at all about what they think or how they feel about music. They’re not as skeptical as a lot of people. But that’s just how it looks to me. But that’s a really important thing for us that the audience is open. That they trust us and that we can trust them I think.