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A creative focus is needed when a member leaves a band. When the lineup changes often it can be a bad thing but not so for Mum. Personnel changes are taken in stride as a positive thing, making the music changing but the same. When Orvar Smarason and Gunnar Orn Tynes formed the group as a duo in 1997 it was from a place and with a creative production that fans identify with.

 

While it is not unusual for entertainers to have two versions of a song released it often is for reasons of marketing rather than heritage. When Mum recorded two versions of “Finally We are No One” it was for quite another reason. It was cultural and it was in different languages, with one having English lyrics and the other embracing their Icelandic heritage.

 

What is Mum? It’s a band, it’s a creative musical achievement that combines emotive genius and ingenuity with simple yet ultramodern sounds that are soothing to listen to. With a large grass roots following, Múm rivals with Sigur Rós and Björk in an Icelandic triad that has centered focus on the island as the center of the best and more exciting contemporary music that appeals to younger crowds as well as older listeners.

 

Iceland is a place of incredible beauty. From the distinctive Icelandic horses and small but hardy Icelandic sheep to glaciers (11% of the country), fishing, ice and golf Iceland can be a place that changes, and in some ways offers polar opposites. There is variety in the things to see and do. Most of the 300,000 residents live in the coastal areas. Iceland itself is remote, 180 miles east of Greenland and 600 miles west of Norway. Located in the far north Atlantic nearly to the Arctic Circle it is a land moderated by the North Atlantic currents. It is in this remote but technological advanced landscape that provides inspiration for many creative endeavors.

 

Much as British music writers reflect their heritage and country music reflects that of the singer, the music from Mum reflects their heritage – that of Iceland. It is a source of inspiration and formation. The latest generations have a greater exchange with the rest of Europe and this has brought new enthusiasm to push the band to create ever more refined and expressive music.

 

Ovar commented ”Preservation of Icelandic culture is important to us, but more important is the evolution of Icelandic culture. We have to be aware so we won’t drown ourselves in disposable crap and cheap shit and that our culture moves in a different direction. There is room for the old traditions and we need them, but we have to keep building.”

 

With most of the titles and stories of their songs in Icelandic it was important for Mum to share that heritage with the world. At the same time from the creative side Tynes recognizes “The studio can be a very sterile environment sometimes, people can get very self-conscious, so we prefer to record in different places.” This can be a key idea in keeping the music fresh.

 

Tynes notes of Iceland “In small towns, things are so simple that when we asked if there were any houses around that we could possibly borrow or hire, they just gave us the keys and the number to the security code and let us get on with it.”  With a career from 1998 to the present mum’s music has reached many people not only on cd but with popular social links such as myspace and youtube.

 

The music condensed with skilled use of instruments and melody. With an expert level in electronic programming they relate frame of mind to the songs. “Our songs are melancholy and emotive because this way it is as we have always liked that it was music to that we have listened. I want to say that we are not sad persons through that we live complaining every day, but we appreciate these sensations in the music or in the cinema, in any artistic form.”

 

Changes in the lineup happen. Smárason adds “The band has been like that ever since we started. We’re kind of used to that way of working. It’s somehow in the nature of the band to keep changing and it’s definitely going to keep changing.”

 

“The process of composition is really easy, to the effect that it is not difficult to us to find the melodies that we look or have in the head. The base of all the songs is in instruments and analogical sounds. Always. Further on it is when we them work with electronic hardware and come to the definitive sound. There is no a division between two ways, everything opposite: we believe that both work perfectly in the same ambience ”.

 

Orvar notes “There is little chance to make money in music, so most musicians are in it for totally different reasons. The big corporate hold on music in the world is dangerous and does its best to kill creativity. There are few things that go worse together as music and capitalism. Music is for the people and not for the rich people to get richer.”

 

Of their music he notes "Sometimes it feels like escapist music; music for people to get away with. Sometimes it's music that's very slow and refers to some other world. It's about the music connecting everybody to parts of themselves they don't feel that often."

 

“We want everyone to give his interpretation on the basis of the emotions that these words and our cause known.”

 

“We have done music for an opera, have set to music Icelandic poetry. Iceland is simply so small that everything must work with each other, even if they have quite different backgrounds.”

 

"We have always drawn a lot of our samples from the natural world," says Gunnar Orn Tynes. Two songs, "Behind Two Hills...A Swimming Pool" and "Faraway Swimming Pool," were recorded specifically for underwater listening sessions. The city of Reykjavik to purchase underwater speakers and mum (as well as other artists) then performed shows in which listeners could hear the music only while swimming. "Music sounds differently in the water," Smarason says, "It doesn't have a lot of bass, but it is very clear. If you swim away from the speaker, the sound is just as strong as if you're close to it. We tried to capture that feeling on the album, making frequencies that are extremely shimmering in the water."