Einar Örn Benediktsson
|Einar Örn Benediktsson|
|Birth name||Einar Örn Benediktsson|
29 October 1962 |
|Genres||Punk, anarcho-punk, alternative rock, electro, electronica, experimental music|
|Associated acts||Purrkur Pillnikk, KUKL, The Sugarcubes, Ghostigital, Damon Albarn, Björk|
|Einar Örn Benediktsson|
|Member of the Reykjavík, Iceland City Council|
May 2010 – June 2014
29 October 1962 |
|Political party||Best Party|
|Alma mater||Polytechnic of Central London (B.A., 1986)|
Einar Örn Benediktsson, often billed as Einar Örn, (born 29 October 1962) is an Icelandic popular music singer, trumpet player and politician best known as a former member of the Sugarcubes but now a member of Ghostigital. Between 2010 and 2014 he served as a member of the Reykjavík City Council.
With Björk and the Sugarcubes
Einar has been described as the first punk in Iceland. He claims he became interested in punk rock after reading about Johnny Rotten vomiting on an aeroplane, and listening to John Peel on his mother's car radio. Einar spent the summer of 1977 in London, where his father worked - through this he was able to make contacts enabling the Reykjavik arts festival to book The Stranglers in 1978 and The Clash in 1980.
In the early 1980s Einar was the lead singer of the short-lived punk group Purrkur Pillnikk. After Purrkur Pillnikk's demise, in 1983 Einar became a member of the anarcho-punk KUKL along with the already notable Icelandic singer Björk Guðmundsdóttir. During this period, whilst studying media at the Polytechnic of Central London (now the University of Westminster) he got in touch with several punk groups such as Flux of Pink Indians and the anarchist band Crass. This eventually led to the release of KUKL's two studio albums, 1984's The Eye and 1986's Holidays in Europe, on Crass' in-house label Crass Records.
In June 1986 Einar, Björk and other KUKL members founded the Sugarcubes, with Einar sharing vocal duties with Björk. While with the Sugarcubes some critics scorned him for his bizarre spoken word rants and discordant singing, which often overshadowed Björk's more popular vocalizations. Others, however, defended his contributions as an essential component of the group's free-spirited, chaotic ethos. Einar remained with the Sugarcubes until the band's breakup in 1992.
After the breakup of the Sugarcubes, Einar wrote a newspaper column "Close Encounter" ("about daily life in Reykjavík"), promoted records for the Sugarcubes' former Icelandic label, Bad Taste (Smekkleysa), which Einar co-founded, and worked as a bartender. Music went on the backburner: "I was discovering other things, like family life. I wanted to make music a hobby again."
He recorded with Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson (HÖH) in 1992: "We were great friends who decided to make music for the hell of it, and it turned into a record" (Frostbite, on One Little Indian). He also worked in concert promotion (two Björk shows, The Prodigy, Fugees and Massive Attack) and co-founded Reykjavík's first cybercafe The Siberia Cafe: 'We were too early. Those who knew what it was all about preferred to do their Internet hacking at home."
Einar worked for the Reykjavík Arts Festival before moving back to London in late 1997 to set up OLI's Web sites: "I saw this gap, which I could fill. It's always good to get a new perspective."
In 1998 Einar teamed up with Hilmar Örn and former Sugarcubes drummer Sigtryggur "Siggi" Baldursson as Grindverk. "It's dance music for people who cannot dance. It'll probably be instrumental too. It's not because people have criticised me, I just don't think I've written anything I want to sing." Grindverk released a single album, Gesundheit Von K, on the British-based Fat Cat Records.
In 2000 Einar collaborated with Blur lead singer Damon Albarn on the soundtrack for the acclaimed Icelandic film 101 Reykjavík. The soundtrack was released by EMI the following year. Einar also worked with Albarn's project Gorillaz on the song "Stop The Dams." The track originally appeared as a 2006 B-side on the single "Kids With Guns" / "El Mañana." It was re-released on the 2007 compilation album D-Sides.
Einar has not ruled out future musical projects stating, "I'm waiting to see if the occasion arises. The Sugarcubes wasn't scripted, remember. Of course, I'm older but I would treat the occasion with the same passion!"
In December 2003 Einar embarked on his first solo project. He debuted with an album called Ghostigital, recorded with the New York City-based Icelandic producer Curver. It was released by Honest Jon's Records in December 2003. The name of this first album would later turn into the name of a band, comprising Einar and Curver and a host of collaborators. The music is described as "electronic beat music", drawing in elements of dub, hip-hop, Rock and noise, combined with Einar's idiosyncratic worldview.
In 2005 Ghostigital signed with the California-based label Ipecac Recordings co-founded by Faith No More singer Mike Patton. Their first Ipecac release, In Cod We Trust, was released in March 2006. On this record Einar's son Kaktus plays trumpet.
Ghostigital released their 3rd studio album called Division of Culture & Tourism on Smekkleysa SM/BadTaste Records on 12 November 2012. It features contributions from Damon Albarn, David Byrne, Nick Zinner, Dälek, and King Buzzo.
Einar's sexuality has been the subject of some confusion. In 1989, media reports announced that Einar and his Sugarcubes bandmate Bragi Ólafsson had entered into a civil union agreement in Denmark, which was widely reported as the first gay marriage in pop music history. However the announcement was a hoax. As a prank Einar and Bragi – who are both heterosexual – sent a fax to their UK record label, One Little Indian Records, announcing their "marriage." The label's staff took their announcement at face value and released the story to the press.
Although he had no prior political experience, Einar was elected to the Reykjavík City Council in May 2010 as a member of the satirical Best Party (Besti flokkurinn) along with Reykjavík Mayor Jón Gnarr and others. Einar is second on the party's list behind Jón. Einar and other Best Party members are part of the governing coalition in Reykjavík along with the Social Democratic Alliance (Samfylkingin). He chaired the city's committee for culture and tourism. The Best Party did not run for re-election in 2014. It decided to disband.
- Simpson, Dave (8 January 2015). "Northern souls: the anarcho-punks who made Iceland a pop powerhouse". theguardian.com. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
- MacInnes, Paul. "Sweet reunion for Sugarcubes", The Guardian, 20 November 2006. (accessed 24 January 2012)
- FATCAT RECORDS | ARTISTS (accessed 24 January 2012)
- Amazon.com: 101 Reykjavik: Damon Albarn, Einar Örn Benediktsson: Music (accessed 24 January 2012)
- Ghostigital | AllMusic (accessed 24 January 2012)
- Ipecac Recordings – Ghostigital (accessed 24 January 2012)
- Haddad, Emmanuel. "Comedian and new mayor Jon Gnarr spoofs politics in Reykjavik", Cafebabel.com, 23 June 2010. (accessed 24 January 2012)
- Besti Flokkurinn – Pólítískt Partí | Frambjóðendur (accessed 24 January 2012)
- Official website of Ghostigital
- City of Reykjavík site (in Icelandic)
- Ghostigital interviewed in Chaos Control Digizine
- Ghostigital at MusicBrainz
- Interview with Einar Örn Benediktsson in Chief Magazine