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Interview with Seabear's Sindri Mar Sigfusson

Posted by Carolyn / March 31, 2010

WeBuiltAFire.jpg Accompanied by trumpet, acoustic guitar, fiddle and an assemblage of various other instruments, seven Icelanders took the stage before a tightly-packed, energetic crowd at Green Room on Tuesday night. Scandinavian septet Seabear, which started as the solo project of Sindri Már Sigfússon--labelled the "Icelandic Beck" by Rolling Stone and best known for his solo work under the moniker Sin Fan Bous--has recently grown into an indie-folk powerhouse. The delicate, lo-fi tunes of their sophomore album We Built a Fire conjures up a nostalgia for natural beauty with earthy arrangements and lyrics invoking the majesty of the outdoors. Starting out with energetic hit "Lion Face Boy" followed by the lush soundscapes of "Fire Dies Down" and then slowing to the graceful melancholy of violin-accompanied ballad "Cold Summer," Seabear played a short but crowd-pleasing set. Between their U.S. debut at South by Southwest and the release of their new album, it's been a busy month for Seabear. A few days prior to their SxSW performance, I caught up with Sigfússon on Icelandic music, building fires, and the transition from solo to Seabear.

First off, what exactly is a Seabear?

Only a band, I think. Not a real animal at least.

Do you find it hard to collaborate with seven people during the songwriting process? Do your separate creative visions ever collide?

No, it was pretty easy. We'd played together live for such a long time it was a pretty natural process. No big fights in the studio at least.

How did Seabear evolve from a one-man project to its current seven-person incarnation?

I was asked to open up for the books in Berlin and asked örn (guitar) and Guggy (violin) to play live with me. Later that year the bass player and drummer started playing with us and Sóley and Inga joined a bit later.

How is We Built a Fire a departure or evolution for you as a band from 2007's The Ghost that Carried Us Away?

I think it's a bit "bigger"--bigger arrangements and more of a band sound.

Is there an overall theme to the album, lyrically?

When I was writing the lyrics I was thinking a lot about rural things, like country living in some other time. But I wasn't thinking about any specific place or time-- it's more to give me a frame for my imagination.

In one sentence, how would you describe your sound?

Bruce Springsteen playing a concert with Fleetwood Mac.

What are your musical influences right now? Which musicians inspired you most growing up?

Lots of my friends are making music that inspires me and I also follow lots of music blogs to hear the latest stuff going on. When I was growing up my absolute favorite was Michael Jackson. I also had a Prince album that I listened a lot to.

Who's doing exciting things in Icelandic music right now?

Lots of things like always. Sóley from the band just released her EP right now, that's really good.

Tell me a bit about the visual arts projects you guys are currently working on. Did you do your own cover art?

Yes, Inga did the cover this time. I did it last time and we did it together for Sin Fang Bous (my solo thing). Me, Dóri and Inga are all graduated from the Icelandic Academy of Arts and we paint, draw and have exhibitions regularly.

I read that coming to SxSW in Austin will be your first time in the States. Anything you're particularly looking forward to doing or seeing while you're touring here?

I went to the U.S. with my solo project in November and it was my first time going to the U.S. I really liked it. It's funny when you grow up watching American movies, TV shows and listening to American music, to go there. I liked driving around and seeing different cities, and of course, eating American food.



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