Æla have played at pretty much every Iceland Airwaves I've been to, which is more than a few. They are always worth seeking out. They are a punk band with a long history, with consistently exciting, surprising and insanely energetic live performances and a front man, Halli Valli, who is right up there with the best Iceland has to offer. And, you know, their name translates as 'puke', which is nice.
This year they will be at Iceland Airwaves with a long-awaited (nine years!) new record under their belt, 'Vettlingatök' was released a couple of months ago - the video for the new single, 'Your Head is my Ground' is below. It seemed a bit rude to have not ever featured them before, so I was delighted to have a chat with singer and guitarist Halli Valli.
Hi Halli! Where are you, and what are you doing?
Right now I am sitting in my new office space/studio in Århus Denmark (where I live) with a huge hangover. I came here to clean up after a housewarming party I had here last night. The rest of the band is in Iceland, most likely sitting at home watching their favourite TV show The Voice: Iceland.
It’s so great to have some new music from you guys. It has been 9 years since the last album. Are some of the songs 9 years old, or has it all come together more recently?
Thanks man, we are also very pleased to finally get it out. It has been a long process. There are one or maybe two songs that are the same age as the songs on our first album. But they have changed a lot since then. Most of the songs were written in the years 2009 - 2013. We have been performing them for a while and letting them evolve, trying the out on our fans. There were also a few songs that didn't make it to the album.
Does it feel good to have the record out there now? Are you happy with the reaction? Do you care?
It feels awesome! Personally I wish we had time get right back in the studio. I also wish we had more time to play live shows. The ultimate way to experience our music is live. Our albums are recorded "live", with all of us in the same room. What you hear is the one take we all played, the same time.
The reaction has surprised me. I thought people had forgotten all about us. But the album is getting good reviews, is selling and people are coming to our shows, so I can't say anything else than that I thrilled.
Æla is always a highlight of Airwaves, you must have played something like 10 versions. How important is the festival to local artists?
We have played Airwaves every year since 2005, except last year. Then we were getting the album ready and I was living in Denmark so we decided on finishing the work instead of playing shows. Iceland Airwaves is extremely important. You can really feel it as it gets closer, media, bloggers and music writers from all over the world are contacting the band for interviews and plans to meet up. But is also like an annual collage reunion for bands. It’s a big party and the Icelandic bands are usually playing a handful of off-venue gigs as-well. Everyone is in town for the same reason, to enjoy and discover new music, have fun and make love. It doesn't really have to go wrong, does it?
You are playing on the opening night, right between Born and Pink Street Boys. That seems like a good spot to be in. Have you any special plans for the show?
Yeah we are pleased with the spot on the program. That’s the other thing I always feel at Iceland Airwaves, it's an honour to share a stage with all these great bands.
We have something special planned for the night. I don't want to reveal to much but I can tell you we will have a film crew on the stage with us and some extras for the show!
Do you have any advice for people attending Airwaves or visiting Iceland for the first time?
I guess I would advise people to try to take it easy also. Don't over-plan, try to enjoy the moment. Dress for standing in queues. I can't see anything about the Blue Lagoon party that usually is on the Sunday (or was it Saturday?)...anyway, if that is on, I recommend it. DJ and beers in the Blue Lagoon. It has always been memorable, for me at least.
The nightlife is great and all the bars get very crowded but I recommend starting early and going home early. Everything that happens after 3am is just bullshit. Bullshit is ok but bullshit for 5 nights is just greedy. I recommend partying at Kaffibarinn, Paloma and Húrra, but it's been a while since I was a part of that scene in Reykjavík.
Thank you so much for your time – I’ll have a whiskey waiting for you if you play Love Your Honey, that song has become such a part of my annual Airwaves trip!
I will take that whiskey and I promise to play that song for you, thank you.
OK, so don't miss your two chances to see Æla play at Iceland Airwaves 2016:
Wednesday Nov 4th, 11:20pm at Gamla Bio.
Saturday Nov 7th, 5:30pm at KEX Hostel.