The history of Quarashi
Quarashi was founded in the spring of 1996 but the band stayed without a name until the fall.
The prequel to Quarashi‘s story is fairly long. Sölvi Blöndal, the band‘s drummer and producer, had been making music in his garage in the west end of Reykjavík. There he had a few primitive tools, like an Akai sampler, a drum set and an old organ. Those were the tools used for the first Quarashi songs like “Beam me up”, “Speedo”, “Switchstance” and “Lone Rangers”. Those songs were written in the winter 1995-96. At that time Sölvi and Hössi had already started working together making rap music. Hössi sang and rapped on Quarashi’s first song “Beam me up”. The version on which he sings and raps alone is available on a vinyl record released by Lax records in May 1998. The song is a fun sample of the early steps of Quarashi.
After Sölvi and Hössi recorded “Quarashi nr.1” Hössi turned to football and gardening for a while but Sölvi continued working at rap and dance music alongside his campaign to spreading the gospel of communism across the world.
Sölvi actually had thought the songs he wrote in the garage to be instrumentals. That plan changed when Sölvi met Steini, a.k.a. Stoney, early in 1996. (One story tells that Sölvi was walking down town one day and saw Steini on stage, another story tells that they were working together at a skate park and yet another one says that Sölvi found Steini drunk under some stairs at a party in 1996, he wanted to go help him and they ended up talking about how rap music was missing in the music scene in Iceland and proceeded to take matters into their own hands). Steini had been writing rap lyrics for many years and had been on stage a few times.
Sölvi got Stoney to come over to the garage and rap over some of the tracks he had recorded and BINGO! Then and there Quarashi was officially founded. In the summer of 1996 Sölvi and Stoney experimented with the songs which later ended up on the EP “Switchstance”. In September 1996, Sölvi, Stoney and audio engineer Hrannar Ingimarsson started recording “Switchstance” in Sölvi’s garage. They had primitive recording devices and bad microphones, and there was also frost and bad air in the garage which led to Stoney becoming hoarse and sick and Sölvi getting the flu. During the recording session Sölvi called up his old friend and coworker Hössi and asked him to come over and help out with the recording which he did. Sölvi, Hössi and Stoney finished recording “Switchstance” by the end of October 1996.
Released by a record company founded by Sölvi, they had 500 copies made of the “Switchstance” CD which they picked up at the local airport and stashed under Sölvi’s bed with little hope of ever getting rid of all the copies. He had, however, handed out a few copies to radio stations and record stores nearby.
The next day he received a call where he was asked to bring down the remaining copies. The demand for the new band Quarashi was monstrous. Everybody wanted a piece of Quarashi.”Switchstace” was soon sold out. (Nowadays “Switchstance” is really hard to come by, and not even all of the guys have a copy. It is rumored that Hössi sold his for beer.)
To follow the success of “Switchstance”, Quarashi went back to the studio (the studios being: Bobbafett and NTOV).
This time to record a full length album with 16 songs. Work of the album was from September 1996 to September 1997. And in late 1997 their self-titled album was released by “Lax records” Sölvi’s record company. This time 6000 copies were made.
At this point Sölvi took a 6 month break from Quarashi and went back-packing through South-America. Hössi went to do 1 year in the University and Steini went to America, after which the guys went straight into the making of their new album “Xeneizes.” “Xeneizes” was released in co-operation with JAPIS in 1999. The guys made a deal with a publisher called EMI which made it possible for them to live off of their music and call themselves musicians.
Through EMI they got contacted and offered the opportunity to go America for 3 months to record new music and see what would happen. On that trip they had many new life experiences. A product was born.
The new album couldn’t be released right away and their record company, Time Bomb, sold their contract to Columbia records. The wait didn’t sit too well with the guys.
While they waited, Sölvi and Hössi worked together on a project for a director named Bergur Þór Ingólfsson. He was putting up a play based on the book “Kristnihald undir Jökli” by “Halldór Laxness” Bergur got the guys to write the soundtrack to the play and they made a CD out of it.
Finally “JINX”, their 1st internationally released album was released in 2002 and after which followed a massive tour of the world.
At the end of that tour it had become clear that one of the founding members, Hössi, had had enough and would be leaving the band to go to the University and finish his studies of Icelandic. Hössi left right before Christmas of 2002, the word got out, and on January the 3rd 2003 it was officially stated that Hössi had left the band.
The band laid low for 6 months, and then released a song in collaboration with a rapper called Opee. The song was called “Mess it up” and became a massive hit in Iceland overnight.
Still the band didn’t look right and it wasn’t until the fall of 2003 that a new statement was released; they had found a new member to join the band. Tiny A.K.A Egill Ólafur Thorarensen was now an official member of the band. They released a song, “ Race City ” and went on tour in Japan in January 2004. After that their last album, Guerilla Disco was released in Japan and Iceland. It was well received by their fan-base but failed to make as big an impact as Jinx had.
In the months following its release Quarashi disbanded leaving their fans devastated but also with many warm memories of this amazing roller coaster ride.
The band remained quite for a few years but in the spring of 2011, rumors started circling of a reunion concert in the works for a summer festival in Iceland. The rumors were denied by the band before eventually being confirmed with the announcement of a reunion show at Besta Útihátíðin 2011, followed by two concerts at Reykjavík concert venue NASA. All shows sold out in record time, the return of the band received by their fans with great enthusiasm. That same year, to coincide with Quarashi’s 15th anniversary, they released their first best of album, containing their hits of their previous albums along with some unreleased material.
Three years later, Quarashi was to return again for the biggest show Iceland’s outdoor festival, Þjóðhátíð, had ever seen, filling a valley of revelers in the Vestman Islands off the shore of Iceland. It was clear to all that Quarashi had not lost the support of their incredible fan-base who all came together to welcome the band back on stage. That year also saw the release of the band’s first single in 10 years, Rock On.
In early 2016 Quarashi announced they would be returning to Þjóðhátið again to mark the band’s 20th anniversary in the music business.