Interview by Melissa Payette
On April 11th, the indie/folk/pop band Of Monsters and Men played a sold out show here in Montreal. I’ve personally been a fan of their work since I first heard their single ‘Little Talks’ in 2011 and couldn’t have been more excited to chat with Brynjar and Arni before their set. The guys were super down to earth and really fun to talk to. It was easy to forget that I was interviewing musicians who’s album I’d been gushing about for months already, and I had a lot of fun getting to know the music industry from such a different perspective.
These six extremely talented musicians from Iceland formed in 2009 and won a Battle of the Bands contest in their hometown in 2010. Soon after, they were invited to perform at a festival in Iceland, where they recorded a living room session of ‘Little Talks’ that went viral on YouTube. This quickly became their single & was played on radio stations all over America, propelling them into fame across the globe.
It’s rare- especially here in Montreal- that you’ll talk to someone who doesn’t know who OMAM is. Not only did they sell out their show in April, but there is a ton of hype surrounding their return for the Osheaga Festival in August. With so much talent, energy, and passion for their music, thousands of fans will be able to enjoy OMAM’s work in just a few more months’ time.
Below are some excerpts from our conversation back in April. Although I meant to discuss their music in much more depth, it was impossible not to get sucked into fun conversations about Iceland, their adventures in America, and their overnight fame in the music industry.
Talking about speaking English & writing English music
CONFRONT: What is the official language in Iceland?!
CONFRONT: Oh… it’s that easy! But you guys are so good in English!
OMAM: *laughing* Thank you! The first day we came here we were like “blaaaaahhhhh”
CONFRONT: *laughs* So how do you guys manage to play English music?!
OMAM: Yes, we sing in English but the notes are the same in every language!
CONFRONT: Yeah, that’s true. You understand English really well though, right?
OMAM: Oh yeah, we studied it since we were really young. We learn it a lot from TV, too.
Talking about the release of their album ‘My Head is an Animal’ in Canada the previous week
CONFRONT: Where did you get your inspiration & what were your musical influences?
OMAM: We all come from very different backgrounds in music, and we all have different tastes in music. Some are more into electrical and jazz, and others are more into pop/punk music.
CONFRONT: So you basically put all your tastes together and got your CD?
OMAM: Yeah, exactly! That’s what happens when you put a group of people in a room that come from such different backgrounds.
CONFRONT: Do you find it hard because you’re six people in a band or is it more fun?
OMAM: We get to experiment more. It’s more fun because we have more varieties in instruments. It’s also harder to make though because we’re so many and we don’t all think the same way about what we want.
Talking about the music video for ‘Little Talks’
CONFRONT: I watched the music video for ‘Little Talks’ this morning and it’s VERY different. Where did you guys find the inspiration for it?
OMAM: The people that made the video for it are actually from Montreal! They’re Canadians. We just came up with a few ideas of how he wanted it to look. We came up with a few things that we thought would be cool to see and people sent us their ideas based on that, but these guys came up with something really different. We really liked it.
CONFRONT: Awesome- and you guys wanted to do something that was more in this different style for a video instead of just the usual, you guys playing type of thing?
OMAM: We just knew that we wanted to do some animation with the melodies in the background. It’s the main thing we wanted to do. We already created a world with the song, so we wanted to use that perspective.
Talking about their fame here in Canada before the release of their record & the music scene in Iceland
OMAM: What, seriously?! That’s so cool!
CONFRONT: Yeah! Did you guys not know that you’re very well known here?
OMAM: No! We are just living in Iceland. We’re far away from everything. We just heard like ‘hey, your song hit number 1 in these countries!’
CONFRONT: *laughs* So it was all kind of surprising for you guys! Is the music scene really different in Iceland compared to what you’ve seen here in America/Canada?
OMAM: Yeah I think it’s pretty different because at home it’s really hard to get radio play. There is more freedom to do whatever they want because at home because they won’t even get played on the radio, so it just doesn’t matter. We don’t expect to get a big record deal or whatever, so they just do what they want. We never planned to travel abroad or talk to labels, it just HAPPENED. It was really strange. We just wanted to make our record.
CONFRONT: Have you guys played REALLY big shows in America yet, to thousands of people?
OMAM: Well, we played to House of Blues which was sold out to 2,500. Then we played a small festival with 5,000 people… I think that’s our personal record! *laughs*
Talking about summer shows & their set at Osheaga
CONFRONT: This summer you guys have some big festivals. Didn’t you just get announced for Lolapalooza?
OMAM: Yeah?! Yeah!
CONFRONT: *laughs* You guys are also coming back to Montreal, right?
OMAM: Yeah, for Osheaga!
CONFRONT: Yeah! It’s our biggest festival here, there are going to be a LOT of people!
OMAM: Nice! We saw there are a lot of good acts too, there is Snoop Dogg and Justice, we’re excited!
Talking about plans for the future
CONFRONT: What would you guys like to do with your career in the future- Is there something you really want to accomplish?
OMAM: I would like… to write a song with Jay-Z! *laughs* If I ever get the chance to do that, I’m done. I’ll be happy. But other than that, just work in the music field. Work in the studio, that’s a favorite place. And of course continue to do this. Writing songs in the studio is really sick though.
CONFRONT: Awesome, thanks guys!
If you’d like to learn more about Of Monsters and Men, check them out at the links below, and don’t forget to watch them perform at Osheaga this coming August!