Benedikt H. Hermannsson is the man behind Benni Hemm Hemm’s dazzling, multi-instrumented indie-pop. He’ll be appearing with his band of cohorts at the TLOBF sponsored all-Nordic “Ja Ja Ja” Club Night which is taking place at The Lexington, London on 27 January (tomorrow!). More details (including full line-up and ticket details) can be found here.
For people out there that have never heard of you, give us three reasons why they should…
Why they should hear about us? Hopefully because our music is good. That would be a good reason.
Tell us a little about where you’re from: do your surroundings affect the music that you create?
I’m from Iceland. I think my surroundings – which are in fact Scottish at the moment – don’t have that much to do with my music, not at least the ones associated with the country itself. The language and the mentality is a bigger factor, and that definitely affects my music. I don’t know how to explain this without going on for too long, but the Icelandic language is very special and the Icelandic mentality is very straight forward and brutal, which I think affects all music from Iceland. Which doesn’t say anything about the sound, because ther is no Icelandic sound, but there’s a common ground in the approach to writing and presenting the music.
If you could have played on or written any song, what would it be?
A few songs come to mind, ‘Wichita Lineman’, ‘Highway 61 Revisited’, ‘Early Morning Rain’, ‘Ping Pong’, ‘Second Hand News’ and probably every song written by Withered Hand.
How did the band come in to being? And where did the name come from?
When I was asked to perform songs from my solo ep, the first Benni Hemm Hemm release, I called lots of people and asked them to play with me. And they were up for it, and then we just kept going. Weird.
The name is just a silly version of my full name, Benedikt Hermann Hermannsson.
What is the most memorable gig you have played, and what can we expect of your live set at Ja Ja Ja?
There are many memorable gigs, for extremely different reasons…I don’t know how to pick one out. One highpoint was a ridiculous festival we played at in Snæfellsnes, in the West part of Iceland, just North of Reykjavík. Superfun gigs in America also stand out. I don’t know, it´s hard to compare those things, because there’s always something different going on, different people in the band and so on. And some are amazing because they’re so emotional, which isn’t exactly fun, but very moving and special.
If you were asked to curate your own Ja Ja Ja night, which three acts would you choose and why?
I’m afraid my knowledge of bands outside of Iceland and Scotland is almost nil….so I would only make a list of my friends’ bands, which would be ignoring all the amazing Nordic bands. So I’m just going to say that I´d be the worst person to curate a Ja Ja Ja night…
We’d like you to make us a Nordic themed mix-tape. Which five tracks would you choose?
Phew, I’d have to refer to the previous question. I would have Skakkamanage in there, Seabear, Bárujárn, FM Belfast, Retro Stefson……like I said, I’d only pick my friends, which is not really a good way to curate a night like Ja Ja Ja. So I should just keep my mouth shut.