Interview // Magnús Trygvason Eliassen

Interview // Magnús Trygvason Eliassen
  • Quick presentation: who are you?

I am Maggi, I am a drummer from a lot of bands, here in Reykjavik, Iceland, maybe abroad as well… Yeah, that’s basically who I am.

  • When did you start to play drums?

I think I started 22 years ago now.

  • And how old are you?

I’m 28.

  • You started really young.

Yeah I started at the age of 6 or 7.

  • You are kind of the current Icelandic drummer… How many bands do you play for?

This is a really tricky question because a lot of people I work with… it comes in waves. All the past months, I’ve been touring with Sin Fang. Just before that, I was recording with my project called Moses Hightower and then I am off on tour with amiina on Saturday for the next two weeks, and then I’m going to Berlin with ADHD, so this is basically what I do these days, it’s like 4 or 5 groups. I don’t know, in total, I counted it the other day so I think it’s around 35.

  • 35, this is huge!

Well you know, I have to make a living.

  • Last year, for Iceland Airwaves, you were playing for maybe 9 or 10 bands…

I can’t remember how many bands but I can tell you how many concerts or on how many occasions I either played live or did like sessions for KEXP. Over the course of those 5 days, it was 25 shows with everything. That was good though, that was fun!

  • I guess so. Do you play any kind of music?

Well, during Airwaves it tends to be mostly like indie pop groups because there is not really a lot of classical or jazz music. I would actually like to change that and make it more open and they are doing this now, this is good. I’m based in like improvised music, so that’s where I come from, but I listen to a lot of music so why the fuck not just play everything if you feel like it!

  • Exactly, you’re right. What was your best experience on stage in Iceland or on an international stage?

There have been a lot of very nice shows that I’ve played for the past 10 years or since I started doing this like, if I may call it professionally, I don’t know if that’s the right word but… because this is not really a job, it’s just me getting paid for having fun…

  • I think we can consider it as a job…

No, yeah,  that’s a job, ok, yeah yeah, that’s a job. Fair enough. I can really pinpoint a specific show or event but you know there are some trips that… not necessarily the shows have been terrific but just the experience of like playing in Brazil or in Australia for a few times. You know, all the travelling… Also just travelling around Iceland… my favorite venue in the world is actually Græni Hatturinn in Akureyri. It’s always a pleasure to go there.

  • Is there a stage, festival or concert hall, you’ve never been on and you would like to play on?

Me and my friend Silla from múm have a bet going on. The first one playing on the biggest stage at Roskilde wins a 6 pack of beer. Sadly, I actually quit drinking but you know if get a 6 pack of…

  • Appelsín?

Appelsín yes, that would be great! We will see…

  • What’s the craziest thing that happened to you on stage?

When I was… this is not necessarily because of the stage or the event, it was mostly because I liked a lot when I was a teenager to get really drunk and very high as well, so on one occasion I remember, but I still don’t really remember the show, I decided to go ahead and to play a show in a very, very bad state and in like the first 25 seconds of the first song, the stick in my left hand just went flying somewhere out into the crowd. And because I was a bit drunk and stupid, I decided to play the whole show with only my right hand and that is probably the worst decision of my entire life yet. That was weird, that was really weird. Maybe you should not publish that.

  • As you like, it’s up to you!

No that’s ok, that’s fine! DSC_2783

  • How would you describe the Icelandic scene? Who is really important for you in the Icelandic music scene? Who deserve to be known?

This is me really talking from the heart. I’d like everyone to be known whether they are doing pop music or jazz music or whatever, or just like cover bands… because in a sense we are all doing the same. People important to me are all the people I work with and all the people I hang out with, all the Icelandic artists I listen to and I kind of feel that all the scene is very much connected, everyone is playing with everyone and so on…

  • Is it kind of a family for you?

Yeah it’s definitely a family but you know some people might not mike somebody from another band or whatever but still…

  • You don’t have to like everybody of your family so…

No, right! But there is definitely a family vibe.

  • Everybody knows each other.

I travelled quite a bit abroad but I’ve also studied music abroad and what I find quite amazing about the scene here, not that it’s any better or worse than any other scenes, is just the fact that… You know I studied jazz music but when I come home I play whatever I like because that’s just kind of the way it has been for the past 20 years so I think that what I like about the scene here is both the family vibe and the friendship and all that but also the freedom to do whatever you like. That’s basically what people do.

  • If you could bring anyone back to life for a collaboration, who would it be?

Wow that’s a hard question. Can it be like a few people?

  • Yeah!

And am I allowed to be like the conductor of the band instead of playing drums?

  • Sure!

I would like to try like Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix on the guitar, Jonn Savannah on keyboards… Fela Kuti is just gonna be like the rap hype dude just saying like “yeah!”, “wow!” and Jaco Pastorius some day, I’d like to try that. But just to play with, I don’t know, Fela Kuti maybe, that would be nice.

  • The best album you’ve listened to this year (2013)?

That’s a tricky question as well. Well, I listen to a lot of various genres of music. What I’m listening to now is my favorite hip-hop album of last year which is Good Kid, M.A.A.D City by a young rapper dude from L.A. called Kendrick Lamar, he is very good. And Skúli Sverrisson & Óskar Guðjónsson, a bass player and a saxophone player from here. They released an album last year called The Box Tree which is quite phenomenal actually. And although I played on that record, I really do enjoy Sin Fang’s new album.

  • What’s your relationship with the music you listen to? Do you download it? Do you buy it?

I am not joking or anything but I have only downloaded one album in my life because I don’t like listening to music in computer. Over the past few months, I have been buying shitloads of vinyl and quite a lot of CDs mainly because I walk around with a Walkman because I don’t put any music on my phone, I just don’t like it. You know, I have nothing against it. I also think that especially the musicians are supposed to be the people that go and buy records and who do not illegally download them or only stream them. But that’s just my opinion.

  • Streaming or downloading can convince people to go to the shows…

Yeah, of course! I don’t really have anything against it. The records business has been growing towards only downloads and streams… I have nothing against it, I just don’t do it because I don’t like it personally.

DSC_2779

[BLINDFOLD TEST]

- Track n°1

I liked the track. It was like a Chinese theme, it’s probably something, I don’t know, late 70s or something but I have no idea who it is, absolutely no idea. I would give it 3.7 out of 5.

-> Magnus Thor Sigmundsson – “Love is the magic”

- Track n°2

Two options since it’s only Icelandic, I’m gonna go ahead and say Mezzoforte, but I don’t know of which record and I have no idea which song it is, most definitely. But is it maybe Jakob? It could be, maybe from his first record. I’m gonna give this a high mark, this was great, 4 out of 5.

-> Jakob Magnusson/Jobbi Maggadon – “Sjaldan Launar Kulfur Ofeldid”

- Track n°3 

I never know any song names anyway but I very much would like to say that this is Úlfur. Is that correct? Aaah! I liked it, it was very nice. Do you want me to rate it? I’ll give it a 4.

-> Valgeir Sigurdsson – “Focal Point”

Valgeir? Alright!

  Magnús bought 2 out of the 3 records we made him listen to…

Interview & photos by Adeline Le Broc.

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