leaving home

I left at 14 - nobody thought it strange. I was ready. It was a very crossroads time for Iceland, because of what I was talking about before. There wasn’t a lot of Icelandic music around, and when punk hit Iceland, the statement was loud music, because there was no loud music, just
discotheque and foreign music. So it was like "let’s write about our lives, walking downtown in the street, as real an Icelandic experience as possible." So suddenly there were 5,000 bands, everybody was in a band, and there was this whole punk thing, like, come on, it doesn’t
matter if you don’t know how to play. It became an Icelandic statement.

So basically out of all that came this band called K.U.K.L. When that was over, there were six people picked for a radio show with the kind of John Peel of Iceland, and he picked six people from six different bands and asked them to play together for a radio show. We liked it so much
that we continued to work together. This guy started a record shop when I was 14, which was the only indie record shop in Iceland, or the only record shop to sell anything apart Top 40, so anything apart than say Abba and Beethoven. So he would sell, like, opera, board-music, reggae,
and dub, and later hip-hop and all the other stuff. You couldn’t get it, you had to go abroad before that time, and buy your records and bring them back. There wasn’t anything that wasn’t Tom Jones or something - Top 40. So he started the first record shop which had all the other

Left-field stuff ?

Yeah, but also just like opera because you couldn’t get that in Iceland, or film-soundtracks - just anything that wasn’t in Woolworths, really. And we all as young kids, some were into punk bands, some poets and sculptures or whatever, and just wanted an alternative, and couldn’t
handle the small-town mentality. There’s more to life than fishing, you know ?

So we all worked the one till in the shop, and then this happened, and so all the people that weren’t as passionate about the scene as we were. You know how it is when you’re 14, and then when you’re 18 you get married or get a normal job or something. But out of all the bands I’ve
been in until today, K.U.K.L was the most like a blueprint for my music-making. And for the six of us, we all quit the bands we were in and it was almost like a cult - talking about polarising. Birthday [the first Sugarcubes single] was like a cute little candy-bar compared to what we
were. I still meet people that saw us and say "that is the best concert I’ve ever heard in my whole life", or "that was the worst pile of rubbish". It was like five times more extreme than the Sugarcubes. So, that for me was my first love if you want in collaboration.

The Times, 2 august 2001