Fufanu is a young Icelandic post-punk act set to release their debut EP “Adjust to the Light” on June 29th. Their music is somewhat dark and heavy, though not excessively so. Just when you feel as though their orderly songs are settling into a plodding rhythm, they often explode into a discordance of sound and excitement. These climaxes could be described as something of a lo-fi wall of sound. Their traditional heavyweight rock sound might make you think they started off imitating hard rock of the 1970s and gave it an indie twist, but actually, the band started off as a techno outfit. In this interview, lead singer Kaktus (Hrafnkell Flóki Kaktus Einarsson) tells us about their musical backgrounds, elaborates on the enigmatic story of how the band transitioned from techno to rock, and drops some information on when to expect Fufanus debut LP.
Lola Who: Your Facebook page states the members are Kaktus Einarsson and Guðlaugur Einarsson, is this the full band? What are your roles and are you related?
Kaktus: The Facebook page mention only the two of us, but we are lucky to have three other persons with us in Fufanu, so we are five in total. It has just been me (Kaktus) and Gulli (Guðlaugur) for so long that it takes time to make these changes. Me and Gulli are not related even though we have the same surname. The roles of the band are the following: Kaktus (vocals), Gulli (guitar), Kalli (guitar), Einar (electronic, bass) and Elli (drums).
Lola Who: Your debut album “Adjust to the Light” is set to release at the end of this month. This close to the release date, what are you doing? What preparations are you taking?
Kaktus: Yes, it’s true, it’s getting really close the release date. It’s actually our debut EP. Basically, we are just spending every day in the studio writing new music or rehearsing. We are going to London to play five shows, and hopefully, that will make people excited about the EP. Otherwise, it’s just the same routine: keep making music.
Lola Who: Youve been listed as one of 10 New Artists you Need to Know in 2014 by Rolling Stone Magazine and as The Band to Watch by Reykjavik Grapevine in 2015. Are such accolades great points of pride and satisfaction for you, or do you feel such attention is added pressure?
Kaktus: Pressure…? Well, I think we really don’t know that feeling. For us, it has always been about making the music that we want to listen to. Over the last year or so, other people have showed interest in our music and we’ve been listed by great magazines as a band to check out. It’s amazing to get this approval from the people in the industry who see what we are doing.
Lola Who: Your bio states that you were originally a techno band. Why did the theft of your master computer make you decide to produce music in a different genre?
Kaktus: It was probably more than just the theft of the computer…. Or maybe it has nothing to do with it… It was actually not a decision, it just happened. As I said, Fufanu has always been about making music that we like. We have been using live instruments since the beginning, back in 2008, and through the years, we used to call ourselves Captain Fufanu. Over the last two years, the live instruments have been become more important, but we still use all of our electronic instruments as we used to. Now, it’s just a bigger soundscape and that called for a name change… So we shortened it to Fufanu.
Lola Who: What are the major influences (musical or otherwise) on the band?
Kaktus: The biggest influence is all the little things that you notice in the environment; everything from the relationship between a person and her basket in the supermarket, to everyday events in nature, like the sunset. For some reason, they are never the same and that’s the first influence I can think of.
Lola Who: What is the musical background of the band? For how long have you been playing music?
Kaktus: I’ve been in a brass band since I was seven. Then I was in a punk band called Capybara when I was about thirteen years old, and then me and Gulli started Captain Fufanu when we were sixteen. I have also been playing with Ghostigital on trumpet since the age of ten, and Gulli has been playing live guitars lately with them. Gulli has been making electronic music as a teenager under the name of Electric Ice, but he also played guitar in bands in elementary school.
Lola Who: What is your song-writing process?
Kaktus: That’s so different from song to song. Sometimes, it’s just music that comes out of a jam session, and sometimes it’s a small idea that builds up into a song. It’s just a certain language that me and Gulli have developed through the years. We almost never talk about what we are thinking, we just do it.
Lola Who: Your music is fairly heavy and methodical, often working its way to a cacophonic climax. This gives it an air of darkness and gravity. Are these emotions you set out to draw out from your audience or emotions that mark the tone in which your music was written?
Kaktus: Probably the emotions that reflect the situation when the song was written. The audience is important, but it’s more important that we are honest about what we are writing. We’ve never played for the same crowd two nights in a row. The public always reacts differently, and that’s what we like, that’s what makes it interesting.
Lola Who: You are set to play several dates in London this month. This is your second trip to the UK, correct? Did you find any differences between British audiences and those in your native Iceland?
Kaktus: It’s actually our third trip. We opened up for Damon Albarn at the Royal Albert Hall in October, we supported The Vaccines in March/April, and now we are coming back! We’ve had bigger crowds in the UK, but smaller and more intimate ones in Iceland, that’s the main difference. Both crowds are great, I have nothing more to say about that.
Lola Who: You also have a show scheduled in Slovakia in July. Will this be your first time playing the continent?
Kaktus: Almost. We played two shows in Holland in January this year. Two years ago, we played in Polland and in Germany as Captain Fufanu. This will be our second time on the mainland playing as Fufanu.
Lola Who: Are there any plans for the near (or distant) future about which youd like to tell our readers?
Kaktus: Maybe just let you know that our debut LP “Few More Days To Go” will be released this autumn, around September/October. That is an event that we are looking forward to!