Quarashi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Quarashi
Origin Reykjavík, Iceland
Genres Rap, alternative rap, dance, nu metal, techno
Years active 1996–2005
Labels Sony/Lax/Pop Músík/ Japis/Sproti/Columbia/Time Bomb/Skífan/Dennis
Website http://www.Quarashi.net/
Past members Hössi Ólafsson
Sölvi Blöndal
Egill Olafur Thorarensen
Steinar Orri Fjeldsted
Ómar Örn Hauksson

Quarashi was a rap group from Reykjavík, Iceland. The group consisted of rappers Hössi Ólafsson (later replaced by Egill Olafur Thorarensen), Ómar Örn Hauksson, Steinar Orri Fjeldsted, and Sölvi Blöndal (who also acted as producer, keyboardist, percussionist, drummer and songwriter). For live shows, Quarashi was joined by guitarist Smári "Tarfur" Jósepsson (later replaced by Vidar Hákon Gislason), bassist Gaukur Úlfarsson, and DJ Dice (later replaced by DJ Magic).

The group released five studio albums from 1996 to 2005.

History[edit]

Pre-Quarashi days[edit]

Sölvi and Ómar met when they were children during a protest against a U.S. military base in Iceland. They both played in several different rock, punk, and heavy metal bands, while Steini was a famous skater who had won numerous championships. He was also a well-known graffiti artist around Reykjavík. During his time as the drummer for the punk rock band, 2001, Sölvi began to develop a preference for studio production over band rehearsal-style song writing. He also wanted to produce different types of music besides industrial rock and punk, so he quit 2001, and began making rap music.

At around the same time, Sölvi met Steini at a skate park while he was doing community service for public drunkenness. The two hit it off, and Stoney joined Sölvi in making rap music. Soon, Sölvi invited fellow former 2001 band member Hössi Ólafsson (the two had met when they both went to the University of Iceland) to join his group.

Originally, Hössi would sing, while Steini would rap, but when Sölvi heard Hössi rap, he decided that his musical group would have two rappers. The three men had wanted to create MC names for themselves, but had trouble coming up with anything decent according to Sölvi except for the name Quarashi, which means "supernatural" in Arabic, which was suggested by Steini. Quarashi was Steini's nickname as a skater, and was spray-painted all over the walls and streets in Reykjavík. The three decided that Quarashi was a better name for their group than their original name, and so, in 1996, in a garage in a house in Reykjavík, Iceland, Quarashi was formed.

Quarashi become stars in Iceland (1996–9)[edit]

On 29 November 1996, Quarashi released their first record, an EP entitled Switchstance, under Sölvi's record label, Lax Records. Only 500 copies were made of the five song disc, all sold in a week. The EP topped the Icelandic album charts, driven by the popular title track. Today, it is rare to find a copy of Switchstance, now considered a collector's item. Quarashi was the first rap act to find major success in Iceland, so the demand for the group was high.[citation needed]

A year later, on 13 October 1997, Quarashi released their self titled début album (dubbed "The Egg Album" by fans, for the egg on the cover). The album immediately topped the Icelandic album charts thanks to its collection of catchy rap songs such as "Thunderball", "Catch 22", "Mr. Amber Shades", "Superwoman", and "Framogtilbaka". Richard Oddur Hauksson was credited on Quarashi as the fourth member of group, the DJ, the same role he served on Switchstance.

Quarashi toured all over Iceland to support the album, including performances as the opening act for both the Fugees and the Prodigy, and then took a brief hiatus in 1998.

On 25 October 1999, Quarashi returned with their second album, Xeneizes, named after the nickname given to fans of the Argentine football team, Boca Juniors. The album also featured special appearances by Icelandic rappers Úlfur Kolka (on the song "Mayday"), and Ómar Swarez (on the songs "Punk" and "Stick 'Em Up"). Xeneizes was another hit album for Quarashi, topping the Icelandic album charts due to such tunes as "Surreal Rhyme", "Jivin' About", "Model Citizen", "Tamborine Cut", "Show Me What You Can", and "Xeneizes".

Quarashi reach America (2000–2)[edit]

EMI Music Resources contacted Quarashi to perform at the Iceland Airwaves Music Festival hosted by EMI in conjunction with Flugleiðir in New York City in the fall of 1999. The group performed two shows to rave reviews. The group went into a studio to record six songs.[citation needed]

In February 2000, Quarashi began negotiations with record labels, wrote some new songs, and performed shows for record executives. On 27 April 2000, Quarashi announced a deal with EMI Music Resources, giving the group creative control. Soon after, they were signed to independent record label, Time Bomb Recordings.

On 31 August 2000, Quarashi announced that they had signed with Sony Music Entertainment Incorporated under the Columbia Records label. The deal was to last for six albums, the first of which would be produced in collaboration with Cypress Hill DJ, DJ Muggs, and Brendan O'Brien, who was the recording director for the Red Hot Chili Peppers breakthrough hit album, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, and helped produced three of Rage Against the Machine's hit albums, Evil Empire, The Battle of Los Angeles, and Renegades. Quarashi moved to New York City to begin making their American debut album.

After the recording of the album, Sölvi Blöndal and Hössi Ólafsson produced the soundtrack for the Halldór Laxness play, Kristnihald undir Jökli, which was directed by Bergur Þór Ingólfsson, and ran in the Borgarleikhús in the winter of 2001. The album, released on 22 September 2001, was filled with original music written and produced by Sölvi and Hössi, and was released under the Quarashi name.

Quarashi's first single from their American debut album, "Stick 'Em Up", was released in February 2002. The music video, which was a parody of the film Snatch, was in heavy rotation on MTV2.

On 9 April 2002, Jinx was released in America. Jinx was a collection of five new songs ("Mr. Jinx", "Baseline", "Malone Lives", "Copycat", and "Weirdo") and seven songs from Xeneizes ("Stick 'Em Up", "Tarfur", "Jivin' About", "Xeneizes", "Fuck You Puto", "Dive In" "Bless"). "Stick 'Em Up", "Tarfur", "Jivin' About", "Xeneizes", and "Fuck You Puto" were re-recorded with "Jivin' About" being retitled "Transparent Parents". Only "Dive In" and "Bless" remained unchanged.

Jinx received mixed reviews. Some critics loved the group's eclectic mix of rap, rock, funk, and techno, while others saw the group as rip-offs of other, more successful rap/rock acts like the Beastie Boys and Limp Bizkit. Despite "Stick 'Em Up" receiving heavy rotation on rock radio stations and MTV2, and reaching Number 27 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart, and despite Jinx receiving praise from several critics, Jinx débuted at Number 104 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, and then fell 40 spots to Number 144 one week later. Jinx never cracked the Top 40.

Quarashi encountered some problems during their time at Columbia Records. For one, complications in their contract delayed the release of Jinx. Originally scheduled for release in January 2001, the album was finally released in April 2002.

Another problem Quarashi encountered was that they were marketed as a Rap-rock band, when they were actually a rap group that used rock and punk guitar riffs, funk samples and techno beats in their songs. While Quarashi is seen in Iceland as unique and creative, in America, which has a market filled with rap-rock bands such as 311, P.O.D., and Linkin Park, Quarashi was seen as nothing more but a generic, unoriginal rap-rock band, designed to cash in on the slowly declining rap-rock genre. Despite Quarashi stating in numerous interviews that they were, in fact, not a rap-rock band, they were still considered one by both critics and the American public. Because of this point of view, and because of Columbia Records' weak marketing of Quarashi, the group faltered in the U.S. By November 2002, promotion for Jinx had ended, and the group quietly faded away into obscurity in America.[citation needed]

Quarashi were a part of ad campaigns for MTV2 and Levi's Low Rising Jeans. Spin Magazine named Quarashi one of the "Bands To Watch" in 2002. The singles from Jinx, "Stick 'Em Up" and "Mr. Jinx", have been used as background music in several film trailers and TV shows such as 2 Fast 2 Furious, Alias, Smallville and commercials for The NBA On TNT. Some of the songs from Jinx have appeared in several video games including Amplitude, NFL Blitz 2002, and Transworld Snowboarding, while "Mr. Jinx" was a part of the soundtrack for the best selling Madden NFL 2003 video game. The music video for "Mr. Jinx" was in regular rotation on MTV, MTV2, and MuchMusic (now Fuse TV), and was voted as the MTV Viewers Pick for the week of 20 September 2002, although the video would be shown on the three music video channels for about 3 months, and then was never shown on any of those channels ever again. "Stick 'Em Up" was nominated for a 2002 MTV Video Music Award for Best Art Direction (which they lost to Coldplay's "Trouble"). And perhaps most importantly, Quarashi was a part of the Vans Warped Tour in the summer of 2002, which featured NOFX, Good Charlotte, and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.

After the Vans Warped Tour ended, Quarashi toured Japan, Australia and Europe.

After spending the summer and fall of 2002 performing around the world, Quarashi took a break in Reykjavík. In the end, Jinx ended up selling a little more than 100,000 copies in America.

Hössi leaves (2003)[edit]

Just before Christmas 2002, Hössi Ólafsson left the group to study at the University of Iceland. Quarashi produced "Mess It Up" in July 2003, a song which featured Steini trading verses with underground Icelandic rapper Opee (real name Ólafur Páll). The song was released only in Iceland, and was a hit, reaching Number 1 on the Icelandic Mainstream and Alternative Singles charts, and winning the Icelandic EFFEMM Award for 2003 Song Of The Year, and the EDDA Award for 2003 Video Of The Year. Opee did one more song with Quarashi, "Orð Morð" featuring Icelandic musician Jóhann G. Jóhannsson. Opee performed with Quarashi at Menningarnótt (Culture Night) in Reykjavík in August 2003 and also performed with Quarashi at the CMJ New Music Festival at Tobacco Road in New York City on 23 October 2003.

Tiny (2003–2004)[edit]

On 13 November 2003, Quarashi released a new song exclusively in Iceland, entitled "Race City". The rapper on the song, Egill Olafur Thorarensen, was nicknamed "Tiny". "Race City" reached Number 1 on the Icelandic Alternative Singles chart. Quarashi started an on-line blog in December 2003, to discuss the recording process and to announce upcoming dates. Tiny's first live performance with Quarashi occurred on 20 December 2003 at the club NASA in Reykjavík.

Quarashi travelled to Japan once again to perform at the two-day Sonicmania concert in Tokyo in January 2004, and then returned to Iceland to perform "Race City" at the 2004 EFFEMM Awards in February. Quarashi also performed during a long weekend in Iceland called "The Verslunarmanna Helgi", where they played gigs at Sauðárkrókur and Akureyri. Quarashi was the opening act for both 50 Cent and the Prodigy in Iceland.

On 24 February 2004, Columbia Records announced that they had dropped Quarashi from the label due to the disappointing sales of Jinx. Quarashi was also released from their EMI Publishing contract.

In April 2004, Quarashi began recording their next album, their first one with Tiny, under the working title of Payback. In June, Quarashi posted on their blog the first single off their new album: "Stun Gun".

Guerilla Disco (2004–5)[edit]

On 14 October 2004, Quarashi released Guerilla Disco in Iceland under the Skífan and Dennis Records labels. The album was met with mostly positive reviews, as fans embraced the new sound and style. Guerilla Disco was another hit album for Quarashi in Iceland.

Also in October 2004, Quarashi teamed up with the stars of the popular Popptíví (the MTV of Iceland) TV show, 70 Minutes, to make a song and music video called "Crazy Bastard". The video was a parody of several pop, rap, and rock acts like Britney Spears, and featured the stars of 70 Minutes rapping, with Omar and Tiny playing hype men. The song and video became a fan favourite, and when more copies of Guerilla Disco were made, "Crazy Bastard" was added as a bonus track on the CD.

On 3 March 2005, Quarashi released Guerilla Disco in Japan, through Sony Japan. The album became a huge hit, on the strength of the single "Payback". The album, slightly changed for the Japanese release, peaked at Number 2 on the Japan International Top 40 chart, selling 30,000 copies in its first month of release.

Breakup (2005)[edit]

Quarashi's final concert was on 15 April 2005, in Akureyri, Iceland. On 5 August 2005, Sölvi Blöndal did an interview in the Fréttablaðið where he announced that Quarashi had broken up.

Quarashi agreed to perform a one-off gig on 9 July 2011 at the Best Festival (Besta hátíðin). After the final concerts, Quarashi released the greatest hits album Anthology.

Band members[edit]

The final Quarashi line-up was as follows:

  • Egill Olafur Thorarensen a.k.a. Tiny born 17 January 1984
  • Ómar Örn Hauksson a.k.a. Ómar Swarez born 28 January 1975
  • Steinar Orri Fjeldsted a.k.a. Steini a.k.a. Stoney born 7 July 1976
  • Sölvi Blöndal born 3 January 1975

This was the group's lineup from 2003 until their breakup in 2005. Hössi Ólafsson founded the group with Sölvi and Steini in 1996, and served as the lead vocalist and frontman, but left in 2002. Egill Olafur Thorarensen replaced Ólafsson as a member of the group in 2003.

Frequent contributors to the band included:

  • Gísli Galdur Thorgeirsson a.k.a. DJ Magic (DJ)
  • Bjössi Ingimundarson a.k.a. DJ Dice (DJ)
  • Gaukur Úlfarsson (Bassist)
  • Smári "Tarfur" (which means bull) Jósepsson (Guitarist)
  • Hrannar Ingimarsson (Engineer/Mixer/Guitarist/Keyboardist)
  • Magga Stína Blöndal (Singer)
  • Vidar Hákon Gislason (Bassist/Guitarist)
  • Richard Oddur Hauksson (DJ)

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Compilation albums[edit]

EPs[edit]

Singles[edit]

Year Title Chart positions Album
US Hot 100 US Modern Rock US Hot Hip Hop US Hot Dance UK
1996 "Switchstance" - - - - - Switchstance
1997 "Thunderball" - - - - - Quarashi
"Catch 22" - - - - -
1999 "Stick 'Em Up" (featuring Omar Swarez) - - - - - Xeneizes
"Surreal Rhyme" - - - - -
2002 "Stick 'Em Up" - 27 - - - Jinx
"Mr. Jinx" - - - - -
2003 "Mess It Up" (featuring Opee) - - - - - -
"Race City" - - - - -
2004 "Stun Gun" - - - - - Guerilla Disco
"Stars" - - - - -
"Straight Jacket" - - - - -
2005 "Payback" - - - - -

Videos[edit]

  • "Baseline"
  • "Crazy Bastard"
  • "Malone Lives"
  • "Mess It Up"
  • "Mr. Jinx"
  • "Orð Morð"
  • "Payback"
  • "Race City"
  • "Stars"
  • "Stick Em Up"
  • "Stun Gun"
  • "Surreal Rhyme"
  • "Switchstance"
  • "Weirdo"
  • "Catch 22"

References[edit]

External links[edit]