Kitchen Motors / Big Band Brútal

Interview by Erkki Rautio / pHinnWeb

October 31, 2001 - Iceland's Kitchen Motors is a multi-disciplinary collective of artists who perform and create together experimental and improvised music, films, radio shows and even operas. pHinnWeb met Krístin Björk of Kitchen Motors and her own band Big Band Brútal when they were having in July 2000 a gig in Tampere with Finland's own Ufox space cadets Ektroverde. This interview with Krístin finally took place via the Net well over a year later, since all earlier efforts were obviously destroyed by Icelandic demons preying innocent e-mails travelling to and fro under the gloomy Northern Atlantic Sea.

- What is Big Band Brútal?

A strange combination of strange people with peculiar musical intentions. We like experimental.

- What is Kitchen Motors?

We like to use our ideas as playgrounds for different musicians/artists. We call people and set them up with artists that they've never worked with before and perhaps no one would have expected to collaborate with. Sometimes we also ask people to build new instruments, write operas, put on surreal radio performances in theaters, etc. There is really no limit whatsoever to the stunts that our minds put on. We record a lot of these shows and release them in collaboration with other people.

I find it very important that people leave their egos behind and put the music to the forefront. In the past few years I've come to see just how strong a small community, like Icelandic fringe musicians can be as one force rather than isolated. That's what Kitchen Motors is: a family of kids who stick together and are unafraid of jumping off the high end.

- And any news?

Yes. We are presently releasing a piece for choir and electronics that we asked Pan sonic and Barry Adamson to write for us. It's the third in our Motorlab series and also features a fantastic recreation of the piece by his highness The Hafler Trio.

- How did you get started in music?

I wrote my first song on a classical guitar with my friend Adda (Brútal) in our first band, Spúnk, that still exists. We discovered an unbelievable musical chemistry. Up until then I thought that the greatest feeling in the world was when you hear some amazing music that completely blows you away and gives your stomach a similar sensation as when you're in love. When Adda and me started playing together I discovered for the first time that I could create that sensation myself while writing a song -- only even better if that's possible.

- Do you have any role models or other people who have influenced you?

Adda is the one who has inspired me the most but as for role models, I don't think I have any -- except maybe my late grandmother who was a very energetic and productive woman. I also have a lot of friends that are making incredible music and that really inspires me and encourages at times of disbelief.

And any current acts which would particularly impress you, or feel are on the same wavelength with you?

Fennesz, múm, Autechre, Apparat Organ Quartet, Björk, Biogen.

- How about your previous live performances and tours?

Kitchen Motors' last tour was to Amsterdam where Apparat Organ Quartet, minimum brutal (múm + Big Band Brútal), Stilluppsteypa, Skúli Sverrisson, Exos, Hilmar Jensson and the Helvítis Bass Symphony played. But our last performance was in a little black house in Reykjavík where múm played with their Finnish friend Samuli Kosminen, Borko and some members of Big Band Brútal, Auxpan noised with Hilmar Jensson, Apparat performed a stylophonia and Matala did their magic.

- Best and worst experiences? Any interesting gig stories?

Best live performance (I think) was with Big Band Brútal at Oranssi in Helsinki when we met the sound engineer of our dreams. He had green nail polish. The worst would be when we played with Aavikko in the Nordic House in Reykjavík. Our drummer had drunken poisoned white wine and the room was just too bright.

- How is the Icelandic scene at the moment?

It's happy.

- Your current/all time Top Ten?

This is always a terribly tricky question. But I'll try.

Current Top Seven:

1. Fennesz: Fennesz plays
2. Fennesz: Endless Summer
3. múm: please smile my noise bleed (a remix album on Morr Music)
4. Björk: Vespertine
5. Isan: Lucky Cat
6. Pan sonic: Aaltopiiri
7. Autechre: Confield

I can't do my All Time Top Ten. It's just not possible. But it would include artists such as: The Residents, Pan sonic, Gastr del Sol, SH Draumur, Fennesz, Autechre, Einstürzende Neubauten, Ennio Morricone, John Zorn, Arvo Pärt, George Michael and many more.

- The future plans of Big Band Brútal and Kitchen Motors?

To go back to Russia and Finland. If we could do nothing else but drive between countries with a van full of instruments and gear and play in every corner of the world: that would be the perfect life. Kitchen Motors hopes to make its trip to Finland an annual event. We like the good vibrations and healthy drinking habits over there.

- "Healthy drinking habits" of Finns? Ahem, well...

Also one of our primary goals is to release cutting edge music and bring it to good-hearted ears across the globe.

- Your favourite question no one ever asks in interviews?

Would you please accept these around-the-world plane tickets for you and all your friends?


Copyright © (for the text) pHinnWeb 2001.

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