Iceland’s Legend revisited – Krummi interviewed
Jan 2018 03

Icelandic band Legend recently released their second album, “Midnight Champion”; five years after the critically acclaimed “Fearless” from 2012. Back then, Release’s Peter Marchione interviewed the singer/frontman, Krummi Björgvinsson. What would be a better follow-up than to let them meet up again – five years later?

Got the formula down

Last time around, we talked quite a bit about the differences between Legend and your other musical projects, like e.g. Mínus and Esja. On “Midnight Champion” your sound has definitely developed. How would you personally describe the overall difference between the new album and the precursor?

- We were still evolving on “Fearless”, finding our sound. The reason why that album is more electronic based than “Midnight Champion” is because that our old studio was very small and us having no budget. Then we had to sample live drums, but this time we could finally spread our wings and record the new songs with live instruments; including down-tuned seven string guitars, five string basses and hammering live drums. I guess you can say we’ve entered a more post-metal/rock territory now, even as far as progressive rock. Still; the synths and the dramatic electronic arrangements are still there, and some industrial – but with added guitars, bass and drums. While I’m pleased to say that we’ve discovered our sound on “Midnight Champion”, we’ll never stop progressing and will keep on trying new things. Still; we got the formula down, so to speak.

How did you approach this album project? Were you ever blocked by the dreaded “2nd album” paralysis?

- The process was very meticulous and well thought out. We spent a whole year writing and recording the album and we never felt any pressure from the record label or fans, which we really appreciate. We take our time and let it come to us naturally; getting inspired and open the floodgates. It’s been five years since our debut album, so the band has evolved considerably. Our live shows play an integral part in our musical development and we wanted to capture that on a recording. I have never experienced the “2nd album paralysis” but I have personally been through the “4th album” one. It’s hard but important to go through this occasionally, since it keeps you grounded and pushes you to dig deeper.

The goose bump factor

Any new methods when it comes to the writing and/or the production process?

- Just show up in the studio in the morning and clock in. And no booze; only water, weed and coffee. Another thing was not to rush it and let the music itself tell you what it needs. I usually write some lyric ideas and concepts down and try to finish them when I’m back home. My mind is constantly working overtime and putting together melodies, harmonies, and arrangements. It can be pretty gruelling, but you got to immerse yourself completely. For me, that’s the only way to do it, especially in this band. We produced the album with sheer confidence and our only real obstacle was too many ideas. In the end, we didn’t have that many songs to choose from because we scrapped the stuff that was “ok” without regret. The songs must give us goose bumps, otherwise, they’re not good enough.

I saw you perform live at Electronic Summer in 2014. You were definitely pushing the boundaries of what live shows of the genre normally is all about. How has the live situation developed since then? And do you intend to tour a lot with this release?

- We perform as a five-piece now; we added a bass player who will be touring with us. The band has never sounded so heavy and dynamic and I can say with full confidence that the live band is now complete. Hopefully, we’ll be doing some club shows and some festivals in 2018 so make sure to see us when we’re in a city near you.

Where do you feel most at home now, musically; within the electronic/gothic scene, indie or more traditional rock – but with electronic orchestration?

- We feel most at home by not being a part of any kind of music scene. It’s hard to define us as I’m not sure what kind of music we play, though I know for sure that we play dramatic, emotional and layered music. We’re not really into goth culture, since we only like a handful of 80:s goth bands. Also; I come from the hardcore/metal scene, so the goth/EBM culture has never been a big part of my life or Dóri’s. Goth culture is beautiful and special, but we’re cut from a different cloth. At the moment I think we relate to progressive metal and rock more than anything, along with synthpop and ambient.

Painting songs

Just like with the previous release, I hear a lot of different influences – of much more varied background than what is generally common in the Release flora (and fauna). How has your own musical taste(s) developed during the past years; are they mostly the same or have you made any own new discoveries you’d like to share with us?

- We’re not that musically impressionable but everybody is, more or less, subconsciously influenced by music. You take it and make it your own. We try to sway away from that and tap into an unknown source, but it can be a tedious process. I sometimes say to myself there’s nothing new under the sun – but that can be discouraging. We like to look at our songs as movies or paintings. We’re like antennas transmitting magnetic fields, hahaha.

What are the future plans now regarding releases, touring and other projects?

- Make music videos and play good shows. We have already started writing our next album so we’ll be ready with another one in 2019, hopefully. I think our label Artoffact are going to reissue the “Fearless” vinyl next year, since it’s been out of print since 2013. My sludge noise rock band, Döpur, is going into the studio to record our debut album and I’m very excited about that. I’m also opening up a vegan restaurant with my girlfriend – exciting and busy times!

Am I wrong or are there very few commercial remixes available of Legend tracks? Is this intentional; what is your opinion about remixes?

- Yes, you are correct, there are only two remixes around: One by our good friends in Sólstafir (they actually covered a song by us to be exact) and the other one by my sister’s defunct band Steed Lord. Though we have done two remixes for Katla and Sólstafir (a cover as well), we’re not into remixes at all. We’d maybe do a remix for close friends but that’s it. We don’t like our music being remixed, so we usually say no when somebody asks.

Before we call it a day: Is there any obvious question I may have forgotten that you’d like to answer?

– My favourite colour is off-white, haha.