Raised in a large musical family has had a significant impact on Icelandic electronic artist, Ruxpin. His mother played the piano, his uncle is a church organist, his grandfather was a violin player for the Icelandic Symphonic Orchestra and a lot of his relatives are very successful musicians in Iceland. When I came across his mood fuelled new album, We Become Ravens, I was instantly intrigued. Here was a mature artist whose influences were reminiscent of Leftfield, David Sylvian, good 90s electronica and Orbital.
There is striking depth in Ruxpin’s compositions and one is led to visions of white icy space, even if Ruxpin is less convinced of his landscape’s influence on his music. I like this guy, his answers are intriguing and this album leads me to think of him as a wise and wonderful musical aesthete!
Where did you grow up Ruxpin? How has this influenced your creativity?
I grew up in Iceland, though I’m currently living in Estonia. I’m sometimes asked if the Icelandic nature has influenced my creativity, but I’m not sure about that.
“Probably it has done so in subconscious ways, but I don’t look onto the mountains and feel automatically inspired. Normally when I’m working with music I shut off all lights, close the window curtains and try to focus inward rather than outward.”
I look into myself rather than out the window – or my surroundings. But growing up in Iceland has probably influenced certain things – most probably with work ethics and life views. Icelandic musicians are very easy-going and have a very relaxed view toward music-making. There are a lot of “taking over the world” plans with almost every band, but they plan to have a good time doing so – and they ain’t going into depression if they don’t manage to conquer the market within a certain period of time. Music creation is about having fun and expressing yourself – and when the fun factor is gone, then it’s just like every other damn job, right?
When did music first make an impact on your life?
I’ve always been involved with music one way or another. My oldest brother, who is also releasing electronic music, was dabbling around with samplers and synths when I was around 12 years old. I’d try it out once in a while under his supervision and soon enough I started to occupy most of my time there. When I was 15 years old a track was released on a compilation in Iceland – and shortly after that I got more and more involved with electronic music, even up to the point of no return.
If you were to name 3 key influences, who are they?
With musical influences, I’d probably have to mention Future Sound of London, Orbital and Maurizio.To explain, when I was a teenager I first heard Papua New Guinea by Future Sound of London from my brother. I thought it was amazing – the tension and the drive of it was something I couldn’t imagine being done with electronic music. It was an eye opener. I bought their album, which is called Accelerator, and basically tried to copy them. I’d listen to the song structures and I’d do my best to replicate it.The Orbital were a big influence early on. I’d regularly watch Party Zone and Chillout Zone on MTV and I saw there a live video of Orbital performing their Snivilisation album. I was mesmerized watching them surrounding by gears with their mining lights attached to their head and produce those complex soundscapes. They look like engineers, but the music was out of this world.
“My mother was a big fan of them – and sometimes when she had to wake me up for school she’d put on one of their tracks called “Crash & Carry” and crank up the volume so I couldn’t sleep any longer.”
Maurizio came a bit later, but it completely changed the way I perceived music. I started to embrace the repetition. I’d understand that you don’t need constant chord progressions in order to create emotions. Sometimes the repetition would be sort of a mantra – and after a while it would take you on a journey within. I’m a big fan of minimal techno – but by that I mean what is happening today with Thule Records, Sushitech and Trip Records.
What song do you wish you composed?
I’ve always had a soft spot for track World Citizen by Ryuichi Sakamoto & David Sylvian.
With the release of We Become Ravens what were you hoping to achieve?
I wish I had some deep and meaningful answer to this. I could probably make up some intriguing story, but in honesty I just enjoy the process of making music. Its my way to deal with everyday life. Music is sort of my therapy. I’d dash out all my thoughts and problems into the songs – and rendering the tracks would put a closure on those issues that had previously been haunting me.
“Releasing it isn’t the objective. If it was, then I’d probably be doing it for the wrong reasons. I’d probably then opt to focus on something that would be more pop-oriented and lucrative – make it more appealing for the masses.”
In a way, what I’m doing is basically just music that I personally would like to hear. If others like it as well then that is perfect, but otherwise I’m just happy doing what I do.
Anything else you would like to add?
Maybe I should use this space to do some plugs? Well… the new album was released on the 7th of October on n5MD. It is available on CD and Vinyl – and the vinyl is available in three different colors (why? Just because we can). If you don’t like the music on it then buy it because of the beautiful artwork, which was made by Erika Tu who is a fantastic artist. But if you steal it online then Mike, my label boss, will find you and personally pay you a visit.
YM: Yep, we agree buy this album and do yourself, not just Ruxpin, a favour. It’s freakin’ awesome: https://n5md.bandcamp.com/album/we-become-ravens