Amiina

The Icelandic quartet discuss playing to the films of Lotte Reiniger, knitting with Sigur Rós and and sticking it to the man

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Ethereal all-girl Icelandic quartet  Amiina are one of the most interesting musical propositions around and they wowed the good people of Albion earlier this month at The Branchage Film Festival, providing a renewed magical air to German animator Lotte Reiniger’s dark brooding versions of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty (the kind of skewed and brilliant undertaking that typifies the band’s aesthetic). Dazed Digital got cosy with the ladies a to talk about creating live soundtracks, performing to children and sticking it to The Man.

Dazed Digital: What was it like performing in front of a theatre full of kids?
María Huld Markan Sigfusdottir:
We were quite scared. The things we do are a bit quiet so we thought we wouldn't be able to keep their attention.
Sólrún Sumarliðadóttir: They were much better behaved than Icelandic kids. It would never have worked in Iceland. They just have no discipline.

DD: Why would the performance appeal to kids?
MS:
 Reiniger’s Cinderella and the instruments and sounds we use are kind of timeless, being from both the past and present. The atmosphere of the music with the film is in this timeless space which the children can relate to.

What about your music grabs their attention?
SS:
 Raymond Scott did a lot of research on which sounds and frequencies infants like to hear and I think our music moves a lot in that area. They really like the high clear frequencies.
MS: We have lots of crystal clear sounds, which is directly opposite to the daily noise and complexity of what they are used to hearing. Maybe it’s just a relief for them, it’s really stressful to watch kids programs on TV.

DD: What attracted you to these films?
SS:
 I think we did those films more because of the visuals and the atmosphere in the films rather than the stories because the morality of those films is kind of dubious. The prince in Cinderella is really annoying, you don’t have any sympathy with him at all.
SS: It’s quite politically incorrect and anti-feminist.

DD: We've heard that you like knitting?
MS:
 We did a tour with Sigur Rós where we spent a lot of time knitting Christmas presents. When we started knitting up on stage with Sigur Rós some people got really offended and told us we were ruining the rock’n’roll image of Sigur Rós.
SS: We like these traditionally feminine things. We do spend a lot of time talking about food, we like dresses, and that’s maybe something 'cool' people are supposed to be a little bit ashamed of liking.

DD: You’re reclaiming them then?
MS:
 Maybe. There’s something in just embracing what you are.
SS: The music industry is so masculine.
MS: We are four women and have started having babies and families and we want to continue touring and making music. The music industry was founded and structured by men who had chance to tour and be away from their families. We have found it interesting to see how the two worlds go together. It means a lot of work because there isn’t a route; there isn’t an easy way to do it.

DD: What usually inspires your music?
SS:
 What we want to create with the music we make is something beautiful; we want to play music that touches something positive.
MS: We are working with music in a highly abstract way. We like to think of music as the sixth sense.

DD: Will you do something with film in the future?
SS: 
Hopefully. Our music works really well with visuals.
MS: Usually people want there to be something to focus on a main melody or something, but we’re always trying to make this unity of sound. It’s like tapestry that interweaves and comes together to make a whole.
SS: Sólrún had a dream of us being up on stage making a tapestry out of strings, and that was what inspired the Reiniger performance.
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