Talk Show Host: 040: LEGEND

I’ve long had a fascination with Iceland. I first went there fifteen years ago (a week in a very wet September in 2002), and returned ten years later in equally formidable – but very different – weather conditions in late Spring, and have been pining to return ever since. That fascination with a country that feels alien – it’s landscape is so, so different and beguiling to my English eyes – has long-since also spread to the music from the island (summarised in Tuesday Ten: 258, with a punning title I’m rather proud of), which has often been some distance from the usual trends too in sound.

One of the more recent breakthrough acts have been a band adopted into the industrial sphere, even though the band have a very different pedigree. I was first put onto LEGEND as long ago as late-2012, and their debut Fearless was #3 in Countdown: 2012: Albums, as it was an immediate hit in my house.

Getting everyone else into this band took a little while, but the big change was seen after Infest 2014 (Memory of a Festival: 022), where they were easily the band of the weekend and interest in the band reached fever pitch after that. Then, it was the interminable wait for the follow-up album.

Some time on, we’re finally at the point of release, and I chatted with Krummi over e-mail to talk about progress so far. As always, with grateful thanks to the band and their label for their time, and the photos used here are from my own work on Flickr. It’s been around five years since the release of “Fearless”. I understand that you’ve been busy with other pursuits (I seem to recall another band (DÖPUR), and a bar or restaurant?) in the meantime?

Krummi / LEGEND: Yes I´m very busy opening up a Vegan restaurant called Veganæs with my girlfriend and our dear friend Örn Tönsberg. We are currently getting all the permits so we can start building the diner. My sludge noise rock band Döpur will hit the studio in December/January so we´re doing a lot of local shows to get in shape. Very excited about Döpur. The kind of music we play is where my roots are. I play guitar and sing and my girlfriend Linnea plays the bass and Frosti from LEGEND plays drums. I love playing the guitar, it´s one of the favourite things I do and I also collect effect pedals and guitars. My wife is vegetarian and we had…difficulties in finding good food options while in Reykjavík. How is life as a vegan in the city, and were we just not looking hard enough?

Krummi / LEGEND: Life as a vegan in Iceland is very good. Has been on the rise for the past 3 years. Nearly all the food places have vegan options and it´s very popular with the young adults. I can honestly say that Reykjavík is one of the most vegan-friendly cities today. It´s a bit hard in the countryside, you just have to put a little more work into finding vegan food but it´s there. Onto your new album – while there is a similarly dramatic feel to it (as there was on Fearless), the addition of guitars is the most prominent part of what seems to be a stylistic shift. What inspired the change this time around?

Krummi / LEGEND: This was a natural progression for us. The live guitars, bass and drums are something that was waiting to happen. Pairing the rock/metal element with circuitry music is a great marriage if you put some effort into it. The word ´dramatic´ describes LEGEND´s music pretty accurately. Especially on Midnight Champion. Our debut Fearless is kind of like a demo to us. We have a hard time listening to it because it´s poorly mixed in our opinion but good enough to play live and create an exciting atmosphere. The songs come alive when performed on stage so we wanted that on our new album. Midnight Champion is a different animal. I´m pretty sure it will disappoint some fans of Fearless. The new album needs to be listened to a few times for you to get it. It´s a very meticulous and methodical piece of work. The live instrumentation (guitar, bass and drums) is on all of the tracks except one called Gravestone so there is a cohesive sound on the new album. An amalgamate to combine different things to create something new. It seems to me that this album is closer to your live sound, too – was this album created in a different way to the first?

Krummi / LEGEND: We´re a rock band first and foremost with electronic influences. The synths are used to accommodate the song structure. We wanted the songs to come into existence with live instruments and capturing that in the studio. I need the physical component of guitars, bass and drums. To me, that’s the true source. We approached the music on Fearless differently because we were finding our sound and kind of digging holes for gold. I firmly believe that we have found our sound or struck gold on this one.

Infest 2014: Bands: LEGEND The band have a striking visual identity, too, with the recent video for “Midnight Champion” following on from a number of impressive videos on the first album (for me, most memorably the Sister video as part of the The Weird Girls Project). Presumably, the visual side is important to how you want LEGEND represented?

Krummi / LEGEND: Yes it´s very important. I think our music is very visual and each song is like a little movie. I´m very much into filmmaking. I guess you can call me a film nerd. I enjoy being involved in the art of film and music videos. I personally think that our recent video Midnight Champion is the best we´ve ever done visually so far. It´s sort of a short musical film. Very stark and gloomy. I´m currently working on another video. Putting the storyboard together and gathering a tiny skeleton crew. It will be a performance video so I look forward to that. When I first heard LEGEND, it was quite a shock after your days in Mínus (I was a big fan of Jesus Christ Bobby). Did you find many Mínus fans followed you across?

Krummi / LEGEND: To be honest, I don´t think there are many Mínus fans left. We´re very obscure these days. I have not been aware of Mínus fans listening or being impressed by LEGEND´s music. I´m a chameleon. I do all kinds of music. Always have and always will. The one link between the two bands – to me, anyway – is that both took on styles without, apparently, the usual frames of reference. Mínus was hardcore like I’d never heard, while LEGEND seems to be gothic/industrial from a “rock” perspective. Were there particular reference points you had, music that you grew up with or discovered later, or did the musical styles come from your own experimentation?

Infest 2014: Bands: LEGEND

Krummi / LEGEND: I got to be honest and tell you that I feel LEGEND has nothing to do with goth or industrial culture. It´s great that the goth/industrial scene likes us and how welcoming and supportive they´ve been towards us and we REALLY appreciate that, and I hope it to continue to be that way, but it´s also a bittersweet feeling for me, because we´re not at all a goth band. We do have some tendencies to experiment with industrial music but to me, that music died out in the mid-80´s. Pretty horrible stuff out there if you ask me. Don´t mean to ruffle any feathers but that´s just my opinion. Of course, we respect and listen to some of the industrial/goth artists from the 70´s, 80´s and 90´s but we really don´t consider ourselves as being goths or industrial heads.

I know that our label Artoffact has released a lot of industrial and cybergoth stuff but recently they´ve been signing some really cool rock bands and are re-issuing some awesome punk and new wave stuff. We love our label. They take good care of us. Some of LEGEND´s music comes from the subconscious and experimenting with sounds and song arrangements. We just do what feels right and what moves us emotionally. We like the visual aspect of music and how it can take you to another place in your mind. We approached Mínus´s music in similar ways. We were always pushing the boundaries and not being stuck in one musical genre.

As soon as we felt we were being pigeonholed, we would leave and start doing something else musically. We never really felt comfortable in the hardcore scene, same with LEGEND. We don´t like to be a part of any scene. Don´t get me wrong my life is about hardcore and I love the scene, but music scenes tend to make people conform to a familiar sound and I don´t like that. Nobody owns what you create except yourself. Your band has to be able to stand alone and progress naturally otherwise it’s all pointless. Does Iceland as a country, as a physical entity, influence what you do? The beauty of the landscapes is quite something as a tourist and I wonder if that feeds into the music, the epic feel of LEGEND, or do you grow up taking the beauty of your world for granted?

Krummi / LEGEND: I guess the majesty of Iceland affects us subconsciously. The urban decay affects us just as much. I´m pretty sure that LEGEND´s music would fit very well into the visual plain of Iceland but we don´t intentionally keep Iceland´s nature in mind when writing music. You can´t help being affected in the environment you live in. Whether you like it or not. For a country as small as Iceland is, it has really punched above its weight musically for many years, and with the various festivals going on (most of which heavily feature local bands, seems to have a thriving musical scene. Does it feel vibrant from your perspective, and any thoughts on why it is?

Krummi / LEGEND: The metal (black, death, doom) and hardcore scene is very vibrant at the moment but very small. Which is great. It keeps people on their toes creatively. New bands get discovered in a much faster pace and the people who are a part of the scene are present because they´re genuinely into the music and the art that follows. There is also some horrible stuff going on. Mediocre crap that doesn´t resonate with me. I personally think that Icelandic music is a bit overrated. There are times when I feel like everybody wants to be on stage and there´s nobody left to buy tickets. I don´t believe the hype.

Midnight Champion is released this Friday (13-October) on Artoffact Records

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