Ívar Guðmundsson talks to Steini about the release of new material from Quarashi for the Icelandic radio station Bylgjan.
Ívar : That was Coldplay and they have come to Iceland at leat twice to play concerts, it would be great to see them play here again. But speaking of concerts and music, this is a band you all know well, this is Quarashi and they are actually celebrating their twentieth anniversary as a band.
Steini is here with me, welcome!
Steini: Thank you.
Ívar: Isn‘t that a bit weird to hear? Twenty years?
Steini: It‘s completely crazy. (Laughter) But it‘s also kind of fun.
Ívar: It is, because back when you were starting out, there wasn‘t really much of a rap scene in Reykjavík.
Steini: No, there was pretty much nothing. We started in ’96 , that sumer Sölvi and I were getting to know each other and we were hanging out and making music and stuff and at that point nothing like that was going on.
Ívar: Exactly, and I‘ve been following this show, Rap in Reykjavík, which is really fun and it looks like there‘s a lot of growth in the rap scene about now.
Steini: Yes, a lot, totally.
Ívar: I was wondering, isn’t it fun for you to follow what‘s happening, you guys are sort of the pioneers of Icelandic rap?
Steini: Yes, you could say that, there was Quarashi and one other band called Subterranean at the time.
Ívar: Yes I remember them.
Steini: You could say we started the wave but the scene today is absolutely booming and there‘s an incredible amount of interesting things going on.
Ívar: You’ve always taken fairly long breaks in between being active and…
Steini: Yes in the last few years..
Ívar: Yes and of course you were playing a hell of a lot of gigs, you took off very quickly…
Steini: Yes we did.
Ívar: And maybe you weren’t handling the speed at which things where happening back then, cause things happened really quickly…
Steini: Yes, everything happened very fast and it was never even meant to leave the garage in the West side of Reykjavík, but then all of a sudden we were playing for 70.000 people all over the world. So yes, everything happened fast and people were tired, we‘d been touring the world for two or three years and…
Ívar: Isn’t it a bit…I’ve never experienced it but isn’t it a bit all the same? You arrive at some city, you play a gig then you pack up and move on to the next place?
Steini: Yes, it‘s a lot like that, you‘re either on a bus or an airplane and you land somewhere, the first two weeks it was like: “Where am I going to next? I’m going to L.A. awesome! I’m going to Boston, it’ll be great!” Then in a couple weeks, you don’t really give a shit where you’re going. It’s just another city. (Laughter)
Ívar: But have you played any gigs outside of Iceland in the last three years?
Steini: No not even one. We haven’t been focusing on this at all.
Ívar: But you still have a decent sized fan base all over the place?
Steini: Yes, that’s right, we get a lot of inquiries from abroad and people still keep an eye on us, we have radio stations abroad asking us to send them the song and stuff so there’s always something.
Ívar: So what was the spark that made you decide to start making music together again?
Steini: We’ve always kept in touch and we’ve always really loved playing concerts, live gigs are kind of our strong suit, we were discussing if we should play a concert and from that we started talking about making a new song. Sölvi had some beats ready and we just called the group together and went to the studio after that it was just so much fun that more songs were born.
Ívar: Of course you all started out because you were interested and the interest in making music doesn’t go away.
Steini: It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks.
Ívar: When you got together for the gig at Hella, if I remember, how many years ago was that? Do you remember that?
Steini: That was 2011.
Ívar: Okay, yes, it’s been five years.
Ívar: At that point you hadn’t been in concert for a while so everything went absolutely crazy.
Steini: Yes, it was crazy, it was something like 15.000 people who showed up.
Ívar: Yes, that was fun. Was that a bit like a reward for you?
Steini: Yes, it was. I almost got teary eyed just having the guys on stage with me. That hadn’t happened since…all of us together and Hössi too, since 2002. That was like…8 or 9 years? 9 years.
Ívar: What can the guests at Þjóðhátíð expect?
Steini: We’ll be performing on the 30th of July and as you say we’re going to make it crazy and go all in as they say. We never do anything by halves.
Ívar: And this is one of the more fun venues in the country.
Steini: It’s really fun to play there. We played there 2014 for the first time and I was actually really surprised at how awesome it was. The stage and with the hill full of people right in front of you, it’s kind of indescribable.
Ívar: It really is and I look forwards to seeing you, I saw you there in 2014, it was a really good show.
Ívar: The new song, it’s called what…Chicago?
Steini: Chicago, yes.
Ívar: And you’re working on a new album and..
Ívar: I can hear right away that it’s very melodic rap.
Steini: Yeah, it is and there’s singing, Höskuldur he both sings and raps and everyone’s there, the whole original crew.
Steini: Everyone who was there 20 years ago, it’s incredibly fun.
Ívar: You’ve become like a club of really good friends.
Steini: Yeah we’re just a sewing-circle.
Ívar: Here’s the new song from Quarashi, Steini, thanks for coming.
Steini: Thanks for having me.
Link to original interview can be found here