In Bloom #20: Oyama

Band Pic
This blog started after a visit to Iceland Airwaves in 2011 and it is fair to say we feel a deep affinity and love for the Icelandic Music scene. You can therefore imagine we were very pleased to head back to Reykjavik a month or so back to see what musical treats awaited us.
There were numerous highlights over the 5 days, Oyama were one of best.
Harnessing the spirit of early-90’s shoe-gaze bands and bringing it up to date with a healthy dose of dream-pop, Oyama are creating beautiful tunes wrapped up in a haze of squalling guitars. Loud, harmonious and one of our tips for 2014.
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Hi Oyama, where are you and what are you up to?

Hi. I am sitting in an office in The Commercial College of Iceland where I just taught the morning’s first english lesson to a class of 17 year olds, as a substitute. I do not think the kids liked me very much, seeing as I made actual attempts to keep them quiet and teach them things. I desperately wanted to yell out “I PROMISE YOU I AM COOL, I AM IN A ROCK-BAND GODDAMNIT!” and then show them an Oyama video, but for the sake of knowledge, I didn’t.

 We bloody loved Airwaves (and your show at Amsterdam). Did you have good one?

Glad to hear! Yeah we had a good festival overall I think. We were all very busy playing with multiple bands and we pulled that off well, and although the Oyama shows maybe weren’t our best sounding shows of all time I think they were generally satisfactory and we had fun playing brand new material.

OYAMA @ Airwaves Amsterdam

When and how did Oyama come into being?

The story goes something like this: in the fall of 2011 Úlfur wanted to be in a 90s rock band with people he liked. So he rounded up Kári and Rúnar and started writing stuff, bass magician Bergur joined the team a little later and shortly after that I joined, in march 2012. Primarily because I was lonely and very bored, but I stayed when I found out the boys were actually really good.

Who makes up the band?

Úlfur is the dad, the plays guitar and sings and brings in most of the core ideas for our songs and tells dad jokes. I  (Júlía) am the mom, I sing and play synth and write a lot of lyrics. Sometimes I also drive everyone everywhere and wake people up when they oversleep and are about to miss their flights, you know, mom stuff. Bergur is the cool older brother who plays bass really well and has silky long hair. Rúnar is the silly younger brother who plays drums very loudly and also his hair sometimes sticks up in funny ways. Kári plays guitar and has a giant collection of effect pedals like wow have you seen?! it’s massive. He is the wizard.

How do you describe your music?

dreamy, creamy, hazy, fuzzy, loud, soft, slow, angsty, fun…

Now, I’m a little older than you guys and was obsessed with MBV, Slowdive, Telescopes, Chapterhouse et al, when I was a teenager. I hear these bands in your music – were they influences for you or are yours a little more modern!

They were an influence for us for sure. More so than contemporaries probably.

Your EP, ‘I Wanna’ positively shimmers with layers of guitars – is this a hard sound to capture in the studio?

Not when the person who played the guitar AND recorded the EP is a wizard.

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I love that on some songs the vocals aren’t front and centre in the mix and effectively become another instrument. However I have no idea what these songs are about ;) – does it matter??

Yes and no. It’s fine if the lyrics are indistinguishable and blend into the music. it’s cool to just focus on the music, we aren’t poets. But we also don’t make a point of making songs about nothing or nonsensical lyrics. The lyrics are about something and they tell stories, however vague. On the EP the mostly deal with sleep, loss, lethargy, angst, possibly depression etc., but they are open to interpretation as well. And if you’d rather ignore them and just focus on the sounds that’s totally cool too. It’s about creating a mood more than some kinda verbal excellence or poetry.

I’m by no means an expert on Icelandic music, but I know a little and there doesn’t seem to be another band doing anything similar to you – is this true? How has the reception to the band been at home?

The reception at home has been pretty good. As for somewhat similar bands, Singapore Sling and Dream Central Station come to mind. Some would also argue that one of Iceland’s most popular exports, Sigur Rós, are a shoegaze band, although Úlfur didn’t really realize that until I pointed it out to him like a month ago. So I can’t say any of  those are an influence on us, although their music is much appreciated.

I WANNA Cover

Talking of reception how is the album going down elsewhere – I can imagine it appealing to a UK audience…?

Folks in the UK and even some North Americans seem to be getting into it. Also, some folks in Japan and New Zealand have responded positively. Then again, I only hear from the people who like what we’re doing, so who knows.

What’s coming up next for Oyama?

Debut album baby. We’re going to play in the Netherlands in January and then hopefully more touring in 2014. And when we’re not playing we’ll be writing and recording for our first studio album. We just need to make some money to pay an actual studio. It’s hard out there for a G.

Where should people go to get hold of the EP, find out more and keep up with what you are up to next?

Bandcamp! -> http://oyamaband.bandcamp.com/

Facebook! -> https://facebook.com/oyamaband

Tumblr! -> http://oyamayo.tumblr.com/

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