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Amiina's new dynamic




When the euphoric Icelandic group Amiina released their latest album into the atmosphere last September, the groups dynamic had taken a turn. In a change of style, the group had permanently enlisted the help of drummer Magnús Trygvason Eliassen and electronic artist Kippi Kaninus, making them more than just the string quartet we all knew from Sigur Ros. Nowadays, the quartet has become a larger group of six, and with the new additions comes a newer sound.

  

During a chat with Edda Rún Ólafsdóttir, it was clear to hear the winds of change through her voice. The completion of the two year project Puzzle was justification that they are able to produce music that steers away from their strict classical upbringing, which she admits can be both a hindrance and an advantage.

  

However, with the addition of drums and electronic sampling, one cannot help but question whether conformity or curiosity ignited the change. Edda admitted it was a path that Amiina wanted to take, "we always want to make new music," and "with Magnus came a lot of new rhythm."

  

Known for their interchangeable ability on stage, their sound culminates in what seems to be an impulsive series of events and sounds. Similarly, the group's evolution was the result of a natural and unpredicted progression. "Things just happen," Edda laughed.

  

Puzzle does retain the group's use of melody and instrumental composition, however with a sharper, pop like overtone which makes their sound a little more accessible and adaptable. Edda comfortably anticipates their music as becoming more structured and consequently more poppy.

  

There are times during Amiina's music when you may feel like a child playing with a music box or dreaming after hearing one of dad's bedtime stories. From innocence to melancholy, the group confesses their struggle making "happy" music. "Usually we try to make happy songs, but it's very difficult for us. Every song seems to end up more melancholy." Now, with the new additions to the group Edda says, "We are very happy to make what we think are happy songs... more of a mixture of more feelings."

  

Nevertheless, Edda suggested the inspiration behind a lot of their sounds is spontaneous and not really driven by an underlying, continual emotion or theme.

  

"Creating, sometimes it is easier to let go of everything, and just try things out. So we have been doing more of that, but we come from the classical world so we grew up being told we have to do this like this or that like that. We can get quite stuck there... Sometimes."

  

Their methodology may alter between very disciplined and very improvised; however the result always ripples elements of fantasy or fairy tale with what seems like boundless possibilities.

  

In fact, the reality is that the reason behind a lot of the experimentation is simply boredom. Edda confessed, "That's the main reason. When we started Amiina trying to make new music, we only had the strings and xylophone... So then we started using glasses and other things, because no one wanted to just play strings."

  

This turned the group's music into what it represents today; a continual mash of traditional, contemporary and alternative musical elements culminating in a melodic, mystical and seamless journey into your own imagination.

  

After their departure from Sigur Ros in 2006, the group is confident that their sound remains theirs, and is uniformly different from the sound of Sigur Ros. However, Edda admits that their time with the group encouraged their curiosity beyond their traditional musical upbringing, exploring and playing new and different music was not so taboo. "When we started working with Sigur Ros, we found out that it's possible to improvise and do things different. That's when we started Amiina, when we realised it is ok do things just like you want to, not how you're supposed to."

  

Although it was over a number of years that they made tracks for themselves, Edda recalled the time as a musical liberation, little by little indulging in their own musical impulses. "They told us just to play something. We thought Oh No; you have to tell us what to play."

  

A common misconception may be that Amiina's music comes from a very deep and faraway place, driven by the illustration of an emotion, or the composition of a situation. However it is the opposite. Seemingly blissful in her description of the tracks, Edda said, "every song has its own idea and story in my mind... it's just for me."

  

I guess this is really what resonates throughout all their music. That like a toddler learning the basic swear words and realising they are useful in many situations, Amiina is still opening their eyes to the possibility and potential of their sound. They may be taking a step toward a typical pop/rock band dynamic however their motives and inspirations are still in the right place, nowhere.

  

When asked where she thinks Amiina is going and what we can expect from the group in the future, Edda said contentedly, "I just don't know."

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