They’re big fans of snoozing, cats and the outdoors, but Icelandic five piece Oyama are far noisier than their real-life inspirations let on.
The shoegazers have obviously been touched by the wall-of-noise ethic of many early ’90s acts, namely My Bloody Valentine. Like The History Of Apple Pie earlier this year, Oyama inject a gleaming light into the white noise, creating melodic, earnest fuzz-pop with links to the likes of Yuck. Though they’ve hitched their wagon to the hazy aura and kitted out their instruments with shoegaze ephemera (i.e. a buttload of pedals), they bring a distinct Scandinavianity to the fray, with sweeping passages of gigantic sound and, somehow, pastoral refrains of flighty weightlessness. It’s smoky, flame-licked noise from where winter reigns supreme.
Their debut EP I Wanna is out now via their Bandcamp page. It’s been lavished with praise so far, with many commenting on their knack for strident melody underneath quicksand-esque noise-rock. They’re an invasive force, and Oyama have been getting many-a-crowd worked into a tizzy with their effervescent live performances, drowning the audience in an ocean of effects and summertime shoegaze.
We’ve been lucky enough to bag some time with them ahead of their upcoming Ja Ja Ja performance, where they weigh up the pros and cons of isolation, ponder Kevin Shields’ cats and talk about their full-length LP.
Could you give us a quick rundown of who’s who in the band?
Úlfur: We have Kári on guitar, Rúnar on drums, Úlfur on guitar and vocals, Bergur on bass and Júlía on synths and vocals.
Júlía: We are all primarily from Reykjavík, with ties to various other places.
Can you describe your sound in three words?
Úlfur: Sleepy noisy melodies.
Júlía: Hazy, rough, consuming.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Úlfur: Political cartoons.
Júlía: My relentless talents and desire to sleep.
Which artists would you say have been the most influential?
Úlfur: The bands that have been most influential for the stuff I do with Oyama are the bands I listened to the most when I was a teenager and was falling in love with music. Like Pixies, Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, Dinosaur Jr., PJ Harvey and stuff like that.
What’s it like being a musician in Iceland?
Júlía: A bit easier than it is in a lot of other places. besides some obvious obstacles like the cold and the North Atlantic Ocean.
Does it ever feel isolated or remote? Has that had an effect on you?
Úlfur: It doesn’t feel isolated to me. There is so much music going on in Reykjavík and a lot of talented musicians to draw inspiration from. I feel that it pushes me to be more active, being a part of such a small community that generates so much good music.
Júlía: I agree with what Úlfur said, except I do feel that it’s above average isolated and remote. It’s a lot more difficult and expensive for us to tour (or to leave at all), but at the same time being part of such a small, supportive community is definitely motivating. There’s a lot of talent to go around here and it seems to just ferment and breed more talent, which is great. It’s very different from being a musician in, say, New York City, where very few people care that you’re playing a show, but it’s no problem to jump on a bus and go play in a hundred other cool places.
Iceland Airwaves was pretty successful for you – how was the aftermath? What’s been happening since?
Úlfur: Airwaves was nice. We got nice reviews and nice people started talking to us.
Are you planning/hoping to return this year?
Úlfur: Yes, totally. We’ve already been confirmed for this year’s festival actually.
What do you think makes the festival special?
Úlfur: How all the homegrown talent gets to shine and make an impression on the world outside of Iceland.
Júlía: It seems to make everyone really happy. Even people who have never attended the festival and don’t plan to get happy during Airwaves season.