Psych, Fuck, Punk & Dada with Henrik Bjornsson from Singapore Sling
Singapore Sling was born out of love and hate. Love for rock’n’roll and hatred for the majority of music that was around at the time. It was formed by Henrik Bjornsson back in 2000 in the beauty and darkness of Reykjavik, Iceland. Today Singapore Sling are renowned as one of the founding figures in the ballooning psych scene, where they keep things grounded with their garage-heavy, blues-tinged, whisky-breathed, psych fuck rock‘n’roll.
Nathan J Barrett interviewed Henrik ahead of the release of their 8th album. The name really says it all but we thought we’d find out more.
Can you tell us a bit about the new album?
Psych Fuck. Well, when I was piecing together The Tower of Foronicity last year I had so many songs I was happy with that I was thinking about doing a double record. But that was obviously still going to be too long. Casper (from Fuzz Club) suggested we do Part One and Part Two, which I thought was a good idea except I decided to name this one Psych Fuck instead of Part Two. Psych Fuck was one of the titles I was considering anyway and the title fits this one. This one's more fucked up.
What about it makes it more fucked up? Musically or lyrically or..?
It´s songs from the same sessions so they don't sound much different. They just sound a bit more fucked up because of the way they’re mixed and mastered - they sound more like demos. But for the Tower of Foronicity I chose the songs that fit best together lyrically. There is a certain theme there and the theme is "foronicity". On Psych Fuck there isn't really a theme, although it's mostly a continuation of the foronicity.
“Try” is one of my favorites on the new album. That guitar in there just burrows into your soul, and never seems to let go. How do you go about your songwriting? For instance, in this song, was it the guitar that drove it, because it seems like such a vital component to the song?
I get an idea for what kind of a song I want to do. I get an idea for a riff, a beat or a melody, then I record that and then something happens that might take that idea somewhere else. Recording and playing is part of the writing process. In "Try" the guitar was of course part of the idea. I didn't know how I was going to do it though until I started playing around with the guitar and pedals.
Many years ago, you had some ventures in film making, and even had a TV show called, Konfekt. How have those experiences influenced your art and Singapore Sling over the years?
I´m glad to hear you mention Konfekt. It was the best job I´ve ever had in my life. I could do whatever the psych fuck I wanted and get paid for it! It was presented as a "cultural" TV show but it was in fact an absolutely absurd show unlike anything that had been on television before. We made short dadaistic sketches and took absolutely foronic interviews. We basically did whatever we felt like doing. We wrote down every idea we had and were able to make something out of most of them and create what we wanted. I do that with music as well. It's the same thing really, just a different medium.
I haven't really had any ventures in actual filmmaking apart from playing a couple of roles in short films by my friend Thorgeir Guðmundsson (Tank). But I would love to have some proper ventures in film making. I would love to do soundtracks.
Speaking of influences, what else do you draw inspiration from? Certain music, film, nature… what feeds the fire?
Apart from getting inspiration from music I have always been inspired by other things like movies, books and art. Movements like Punk and Dada had a big influence on me when I was a teenager and they still inspire me. Punk and Dada are probably my biggest influences. Punk, Dada and The Velvet Underground.
What I want to do with my music is to create a world of my own. Something different from this "real" and "normal" (boring) world we live in. And to create a certain mood. Be it dark, cool, beautiful or completely twisted and absurd. (So I guess, like, God is my biggest influence, y´know? He, like, created a whole world, y´know?)
A few years ago, there was a group of artists, mainly from Iceland, that were part of the Vebeth Collective. What can you tell us about this, and is it still around today?
It was just a way to unite friends who were making music and art under one moniker. No, Vebeth is finished. I still love and keep contact with most of those bands though.
I heard a rumor about a new project you possibly have coming up. Can you tell us anything about that?
I have a project with a friend coming up called The Pure Essence of Dirt but I can't imagine where you heard about that. It´s a live project and we we´re planning on doing performances mostly in galleries or unusual venues.
What is your first memory of music, one that made you fall in love with it? Or did you just slowly fall in love with music?
My parents were music lovers so there was always music around me, but mostly classical and jazz. I discovered rock´n´roll a bit later and fell in love with it immediately. I still love classical and jazz though and just about all kinds of music, except shit music.
Thank you so much for this Henrik! Always a pleasure! Any last words to send our readers off on a mind fuck while they listen to Psych Fuck?
Yeah, fuck school.
Psych Fuck has been pushed back to November 13th due to severe delays at the pressing plant. Pre orders will be sent out as soon as the records come in.