Q&A with Tilbury
After catching Tilbury’s set at Reykavik Music Mess earlier this year, Artrocker’s Nathan Westley recently caught up with frontman Thormodur Dagsson to discuss the difficulties of being a band with big ambitions on a tiny island.
First off, how and when did the band form?
I had been playing in a few bands as a drummer, ever since I was a teenager, when I suddenly realized what an awful drummer I was. So I quit playing drums and quit my bands. For the next couple of years, however, I experienced a growing feeling of regret towards the Icelandic music scene that I had been a part of. It´s all such a good party and since I knew I couldn't play the drums I knew I had to find a different approach to become a part of it again. That's when I started trying to write my own music. I recorded some demos at home and contacted some of my friends that were musicians to record it properly and then this band came about. We had only been playing in the studio until the album came out in May, this year. Now we've been playing a lot and are growing as a band with every concert.
How would you describe the sound you make to someone who had never heard you play?
It´s bittersweet melodies with thick layers of synthesizers, 60's guitar sound and French-ish baselines. Maybe something between the Twin Peaks soundtrack and The Kinks or maybe not.
Despite being a country with a small population, Iceland seems to have a history of producing a high number of bands, why do you think this is?
I think a part of it is because we live on an isolated island and music can be such a great international medium. Everybody understands it. Also I think it´s related to the Icelandic character. We are sometimes very repressed. So maybe we need the music to get it all out.
From the outside peering in, there doesn't seem to be a 'scene' where each band is trying to be like another, nor one where bands are directly competing with each other ... do bands in Iceland generally adopt an "all in this together" type attitude?
I think we do and I think it comes quite naturally. The scene is so small that you´ll end up knowing almost every musician in town after playing the Reykjavik venues for a year. And the scene benefits greatly from this. If you have an idea for a project it´s quite accessible to make it happen; at least that was the case for Tilbury.
I first came across you at Reykjavik Music Mess, how important this festival and Iceland Airwaves play in bands getting international exposure?
It´s really important. Ever since Icelandic Airwaves started about ten years ago, the character of the Icelandic scene has changed drastically. Suddenly every local garage band had a chance to play for an international crowd. This is a real incentive for Icelandic musicians who are used to playing for a really small crowd of people and an isolated market. The festivals therefore play a very important role for the Icelandic music scene.
You very recently released your debut album 'Exorcise', what are your plans for the future? Do you plan on visiting the UK or other parts of Europe in future?
That´s definitely on the agenda. There´s nothing lined up yet but we are hoping to come over to the UK and the rest of Europe in the near future.