Culture & Conversation

Not Keeping Their Cool

Following their April 11 Montreal show at Sala Rossa, Nanna Bryndis Hilmarsdóttir of rising Icelandic indie band Of Monsters and Men spoke with Rover about the band’s first, and immensely popular, album, My Head Is An Animal.

Rover How did the band form?

Nanna I started out with a solo project and more and more people became a part of it. Then we entered a music competition in Iceland; that’s when we really decided to become a band. We were four at that time. In October 2010, we added two new members and they stayed on.

Rover You’ve been dubbed the “new Arcade Fire.” How do you feel about the comparison?

Nanna When people say that we’re like, “No, we’re not as good as them!” We’re honoured that people are comparing us to great bands, but at the same time we want people to see us as our own thing.

Rover What’s the song Little Talks about?

Nanna We kind of want it to be a secret… It’s about two people who are at a point in their lives where something traumatic has happened. It’s inspired by the older people in our lives, and in a way by the people who lived in my house before me.

Rover The video for it is like something out of a fairytale, and the same goes with the name of the band. Are childhood stories an inspiration with you?

Nanna Childhood stories, and the way that kids are very open and their imaginations are [as well]. Stories that are a bit weird and intriguing.

Rover Iceland has produced a lot of unique and successful musical acts. Why do you think that is?

Nanna I think everybody is very careful about not copying anyone and trying to be as original as they can be.

Rover On stage you all seemed like one big family. Are you very close?

Nanna Yes, we are all very good friends. We keep on getting closer as we spend all this time together.

Rover How did you come up with the band name?

Nanna That was Raggi’s idea. We were trying to figure something out for this music competition because we entered really late. I was by my computer going “Should we?” and two hours before they closed I was like, “Okay, let’s do it!” …Later it became such a big part of who we are.

Rover You became famous in the States before you’d even released your first full-length album. Was that a surprise?

Nanna Yes, it was very weird. We heard some of the shows were sold out and were like, “What?! Who knows about us?”

Rover Is there a difference between an Icelandic and North American audience?

Nanna North American audiences are very open. They come to a show and they really want to have fun… In Iceland, people are more restricted. They want to keep their cool.

My Head is an Animal, can be purchased on iTunes here.
Photo by Páll Kjartansson

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