Iceland's Mammút Comes To NYC

Iceland is famous for its stunning landscapes with mountains, natural springs and icebergs. Less known but just as stunning: its badass music scene.

Mammút is a five-piece indie band from Reykjavík. Their shared love of rock, metal and punk music brought them together during high school.

When you hear their sound, a mix of comping breathy vocals, eerie synth and unexpectedly danceable beats, you’ll go from bopping around to synth pop to head banging to dark metal in just one track and not even notice your change in step.

“When we all come together to write we do not talk much about the music we do,” Lead singer Katrína Mogensen tells BTRtoday. “We like to pour our minds and hearts into it and use our guts to the finish line.”

In 2013, Mammút won Album of The Year, Song of The Year (for Salt) and Album Cover of The Year at the Icelandic Music Awards. Since then they released Komdu Till Mín Svarta Systir (Come To Me, My Dark Sister) in 2013 and their first English EP, River’s End, in 2015.

This past July Mammút came out with a full-length English language album entitled Kinder Versions and are now preparing for their (mostly) European tour. They’ll be stopping in NYC on September 30 for Reykjavik Calling, a showcase of bands from the Iceland’s capital.

Catch them then at Knitting Factory and read the entire interview with Mogensen below.

BTR: How did Mammút come to be?

Katrína Mogensen (KM): We were three really bored 13-year-old girls listening to Sex Pistols and Black Sabbath, hanging out at rehearsals with our heavy metal friends. Then one day we met two boys who were very much into Red Hot Chilli Peppers. In-between karate lessons they were playing music. We, the girls, had been making some tunes in my bedroom so we joined them at their rehearsal and since then we have been rehearsing and creating music together.

BTR: Is there a meaning behind the name Mammút? How did you decide on it?

KM: My mother came up with it, back in 2003. She threw it into the air when I was whipping my thoughts around the kitchen one night. I didn’t dare to tell the other members about this source until quite recently.

BTR: What is the music scene in Iceland like?

KM: The music scene in very big compared to the number of people living on this island.

BTR: How does it compare to playing in the US, or more specifically NYC?

KM: It’s easy to play concerts for the same audience over and over again in Iceland. There are maybe about four venues in Reykjavík that have regular performances. I don’t know if it’s even comparable to NYC, at least for us. There is such a huge difference to play for an unknown audience, stranger’s faces receiving your music, that feeling is something else.

BTR: Who are some of your musical inspirations?

KM: As a band it comes from very different directions, for me I very much love to listen to female voices, wherever they come from. But some of my biggest musical inspirations are Erykah Badu, Kate Bush, Alice Coltrane and Björk, Britney just to name a few.

BTR: Outside of music, what else inspires your sound?

KM: Visuals inspire us very much. Personally, it has a bigger influence on me when it comes to creating lyrics and music—colors in my surroundings, textures and stories. When we all come together to write we do not talk much about the music we do—we like to pour our minds and hearts into it and use our guts to the finish line I think we are also driven by everyday thoughts, struggles and goods.

BTR: How did you get into writing music and what does it do for you?

KM: We are all searching for this very special feeling you get when you create and see your creation come to life. It’s a lot of hard work to be a musician, but it has become like oxygen for us, a therapeutic process you need for staying sane.

BTR: What are you guys currently working on?

KM: We are working on music videos and in the studio working on a cover song. We are planning our release show in Iceland and preparing for the upcoming tour.

BTR: What does the future look like for Mammút?

KM: I don’t know, but when I visualize it, it looks fabulous.