Interactive set from musician Olafur Arnalds

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Interactive set from musician Olafur Arnalds

Posted on: March 10th, 2014 by tommyj

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When you watch Olafur Arnalds in concert, be prepared
to be part of the show.

Icelandic composer and musician Olafur Arnalds has a penchant for getting his audience involved in his performances.

The 27-year-old says that he got the idea to collaborate with his audiences from social media.

“I got so interested in how social media is turning fans into collaborators of the musicians, and I eventually brought that idea into the live show as well,” he says in an e-mail interview.

“I’ve always wanted to bring musicians down to the same level as the audience and have them as equal participants in a musical moment, rather than the idea of the musician being this godly figure on stage that everyone looks up to.”

Hailing from a small town, Mosfellsbar in Reykjavik, Arnalds’ brand of neo-classical music and electronica has taken him all over the world, with gigs across Europe, North America and China.

His compositions have also reached a wider audience after being used as soundtracks for Hollywood flicks such as The Hunger Games (2012) and Looper (2012) as well as British television crime drama Broadchurch.

Last year, he released his third full-length album, For Now I Am Winter, which has garnered positive reviews from the music press.

Music magazine Filter, for example, praises it for being “filled with widescreen ambitions that deliver on every count”, while music website Drowned In Sound hails it as “an album that demands attention, not to mention repeated listenings, to draw out the beauty”.

Fans who are familiar with the album will experience the music in a whole new light as Arnalds says that he has reworked the songs for his live shows.

“We are bringing an intimate set-up of a piano, violin, cello and vocals in a few songs.

“It’s obviously a much smaller set-up than what I recorded For Now I Am Winter with, but I have rearranged the songs for this type of set-up.

“It sounds more intimate and personal, perfect for a live setting.”

Having opened for acclaimed fellow Icelandic band Sigur Ros, who also hails from Reykjavik, Arnalds says that the cosy relations between the musicians of Iceland have helped to nurture a scene that has produced many feted artists.

Other Icelandic acts that have made a global impact include singer-songwriter Bjork and, more recently, indie band Of Monsters And Men.

“I’m not sure if there is a certain common trait, but musicians here are generally very bold and tend not too care too much about making the music commercial and marketable,” he says.

“I think it’s because Iceland is such a small place and the music scene is especially small and close-knit.” – The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network

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