Nature Above All: Bjarki on colors of music

Bjarki Runar Sigurdarson is one of the masterminds of today’s electronic music scene that Iceland proudly raised. True to his roots deep in nature, Bjarki is ready to explore more with musical colors. Ahead of his appearance at Sónar Istanbul on March 7, we chatted with him about nature, Sónar and his tunes.

As an Icelandic artist, nature is one of your most prominent topics in music making. In what aspects do you get inspired from nature? Which of your experiences with nature are expressed via your tunes?

Nature is above all; we are all part of it whether we like it or not. if nature does not inspire us then something is wrong. The weather and the seasons have an enormous effect on my mood and behavior as it fully controls my heart as a person and my mind as an artist. I thrive the most when the weather is loud and alive, so I can’t say that I like too much sun and clear sky like some people, it’s in chaos that I find myself the most stimulates. When it’s cold and windy I walk, talk and think faster and its only with my lungs full of clean oxygen that i truly feel myself.


You have worked with Nina Kraviz’ Trip Records in the past – releasing some of your most popular works like “I Wanna Go Bang”. What urged you to take a shift in your music making in your later albums? What was the inspiration behind “Happy Earthday”?

I find a bit odd to give away music I made for my own entertainment at a young age in my bedroom. On the other hand, it’s such an interesting and special experience for the listeners to get a glimpse of the mind of the maker- drift through his influences and sound interest and hopefully affect and inspire them. after the Bang release I thought this next step would be important since I knew I’m way more than the label I was stamped with only for this infamous track, so I opened the doors to my quite extensive archives and sketches. With Happy Earthday it was more of a selection of old and new stuff, mature self-curation that was much fragile and extremely precious to me, and that’s why I consider it my debut album. 

In one of your interviews, you have mentioned that when you hear music, you see colors. How are these art forms somehow linked to each other? What is the true meaning behind “audiovisual” in your words?

For me sound can easily be compared to colors, I see a single 8bit sound sample as I see primary colors- a base for a blend that can bring us deeper and deeper into a personal and unmistakable universe of sounds, unique to and characteristic of every single creator. I measure the insanity in music with the color palette. I want the audience during my A/V performances not only be entertained by the visuals, but I want their eyes to be stimulated by it the way I want to stimulate their ears with my sound design. That’s why I invite to work with me exclusively my closest friends - since only them I can trust with translating how my mind works into the word of colors, lights and movements.

What was the feeling like when you first took a step to the dancefloor as an artist? How do you think playing live as an experience effects both the artist and the audience?

My goal is to destroy and deconstruct the whole idea of dancefloor, then rebuild it from ground up like a new recreation. I slide between in all genres, tempos and styles and sometimes the music wouldn’t address some dancers who would expect the regular hi hats and snare patterns to be consistent and steady. The way I attempt at navigating the crowd is meant to result in dancers feeling at times slightly uncomfortable and even confused with their well-practiced at home 4/4 dance moves. This trick brings us closer together when the four to the floor kick comes back and, on the spot, teaches the crowd’s but also my own body how to feel the rhythm and the groove even deeper. 

In today’s world where everything is industrialized, electronic music rapidly rising to the top of the music scene as the number one. Born as a subculture, how do you think electronic music evolved in relation to the global social ecosystem? What are some differences between an Icelandic producer and a Berliner producer?

In Iceland we don’t have any serious club culture or clubs at all. we sometimes have impromptu parties in a bar setting or as I’ve done before a few raves in a cave or in nature. The main difference is probably that the Berliners can be more attached to their clubs as long term dance institutions in a specific building and also the quite specific sound that is being played on Berlins dancefloors. 

In your latest release “Psychotic_Window” we see a more deep – “sadder” techno compared to your earlier works. How do feelings effect your music?

I don’t see it necessarily as sad to be honest. To me Psychotic Window is genuine, heartfelt at times and most of all just sincere. It tells the old as humanity universal tale about the pursuit of happiness, which is a bumpy road of misery and despair.

We are very happy to host you at Sónar Istanbul this year. Did you visit the city before? Can you recommend our readers one song from Sónar Istanbul artists that they must listen before coming to the festival?

I am happy to be welcoming to this amazing country. I have visited few times before and I really enjoy Turkey in general, all the vegetables and the rich culture and its history. I recommend Seefeel and pretty much anything from ‘Succor’ album, ‘When face was a face’ for example. On the Turkish side everyone to check out the early stuff from Baba Zula.

Interview: Nazlı İlke Kaya