Sunday, June 22, 2014

Interview: Santa Semeli and the Monks

Thank you for engaging in this brief conversation today, it’s wonderful to have you.

I read from your bio that the two of you met on the set of a film – what kind of influence do you think visual media has on your artistic perspective?
Semeli: We like to tell stories in the most interesting way. Both our lyrics and music strive to visually capture our audience’s imagination and convey messages as clearly and beautifully as possible.

Do you think that eventually your musical and visual arts endeavors will merge? Or have they already?
Semeli: They already have. We love sharing stories and our passion lies both in music and film. I think it is a great combination. We are already working on various film ideas.
Haraldur: Also to add, we are working on our music videos which we will produce and direct.

Your music has a very energetic, almost improvisational edge to it, do you find that you had to work to achieve that sound, or did it emerge more organically?
Semeli: Totally organically. The only thing we have to constantly work on is our own personal development. The rest is a walk in the park...You can imagine how hard we need to work!
Haraldur: We love to be spontaneous and have fun!

Many readers are interested in the technical aspects of music creation – can you describe your equipment or recording setup?
Semeli: I wish I could. I am not very technical.
Haraldur: We write most of our songs on an acoustic guitar (we call her ‘Judy’) and we’re lucky to have a great recording engineers that we’re collaborating with.

Let’s move to the single “Arrivederci Bob:”

Can you tell us who “Bob” is?
Semeli: Bob is a metaphor. He can be anyone to everybody else, just a name so to speak but to me he’s someone very dear. As Shakespeare beautifully put it: ‘What’s in a name?’
Haraldur: Bob is great!

What kind of musical writing process did you go through to create the track?

Semeli: I had the lyrics to the song from a while back. One sunday afternoon Haraldur and I decided that it was time to finish the song. We had a beat in mind so we recorded a little demo on my iPhone and wrote the whole song in one go. We then went into the recording studio and recorded it. Bob’s your uncle! Since you asked who he was...

Are there any artists from the past that influenced you as a duo (I know that Semeli's father was a composer)?
Semeli: All art influences us and so does life. Where to start? Well, I grew up being exposed to a lot of classical music.That already set up the bar quite high. My father was a brilliant musician, teacher and a friend. He taught me a lot. He used to say that there is no such thing as bad music. Only people who write bad music and play music badly. I agree with that. Music does not lie. That’s the beauty of it.
Haraldur: Iceland has a strong tradition in music. My parents have always sang in choirs so music is like second nature to me.

What about current artists you enjoy?
Semeli: My friend has three young daughters who enjoy writing songs. They are brilliant and I’m looking forward to following their musical development.
Haraldur: Certainly nothing coming out of X Factor...

I understand there is an album coming out later this year – are there any other projects you are working on that we should look out for?
We have material for about four more albums at the moment which we will gradually produce. We also have a few more dance singles that we want to put out there and we want to produce a show which will be fully orchestrated and directed. We have so much music we want to share, it’s sometimes difficult to keep up with ourselves.
Haraldur: We want to make tunes that people will still whistle two hundred years from now because they make them happy.
Semeli: Exactly that!

Thank you so much Semeli and Haraldur, I'm very much looking forward to everthing the both of you will be producing!

To learn more about Santa Semeli and the Monks, please visit their website here:

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