Benni Hemm Hemm: I can love you in a wheelchair baby!

He can love you in a wheelchair, he can love any way and everywhere you want!

Directly from the mythical Icelandic sphere, extremely proud to present an interview with one of the most genuine and wonderful musicians from the Island:

Benedikt H. Hermannsson !!

Selfie by Benni Hemm Hemm

Selfie by Benni

…or to some better known as the artist BENNI HEMM HEMM !!!

In picturesque words how would you describe your native place of birth seen through the eyes of your childhood?

I have very few pictures in my mind from my childhood. This is because I have very few memories. I don´t know why this is, but I suspect that it is because my memory (as is everyone else´s I assume) is very selective, and therefore I only remember things I am interested in, and these things often have nothing to do with other people or places or anything like that. And to be honest I forget a lot of stuff that I should remember. This applies to events that happened long ago as well as yesterday. If I´m not interested it doesn´t enter my mind, there is no memory, and I feel like it never happened. Often this reveals how little I care about many things, which can be good, but it can most certainly be very bad as well. But to answer the question my native place of birth, Reykjavík, is sunny, dry and sandy in the summer, and blasting wind in the autumn, snow up to elbows in the winter, and spring was always a wet dissapointment.

How would you describe that same place today?

Pretty much the same. I feel like I’m the same person in the same place. It’s a hard fact to face sometimes but I know I’m in the right place. I am where I’m supposed to be.

I’ve been to Iceland for a short period of 3 days and saw a very limited part of the Island but the one thing that kept striking me was the landscape…it was like living the mythology, imagination kept running like having been catapulted back in time and one could expect the next herd of Vikings passing by any time. Living there might very well different but is there something magic about Iceland as an island?

Iceland does not feel like a magical place to most of the people who live here full time. To experience something magical I guess you have to be very observant and appreciate all the beautiful things around you and so on – that´s not how I would describe the typical day in the life of a person living in Iceland. This can be a very grim and boring place – as can most places I guess – but for sure it can also be magical too. But I don´t connect it with the landscape. The magic I feel in Iceland is the raw energy that comes from the age old collective anarchist behaviour of the people who live here. Everyone here hates rules and would break them any time of the day if it´s good for them and if they can get away with it. And we think of consequenses only when they are staring us in the face. This can of course be a kind of a dark magic, because it´s irresponsible self-centered behaviour, but sometimes good things come out of that process. It´s a powerful environment for artists to get work done. They might roll over a few people who get in their way, but artists get stuff done no matter what anyone says. The result is that we get a lot of good things – books, songs, theatre plays and so on – that might not happen elsewhere. But we also get all the stuff that´s not good, because all the bad writers, musicians, directors and so on go ahead with their projects no matter how bad they are.

What makes Iceland unique?

Iceland is small, afraid and self-centered. Terrified of not mattering in the world. Many of the good and bad things, which might be unique, are sparked to life by this I think. I might be horribly wrong. But if there´s something unique about Iceland, it must be it´s smallness and our reaction to being small – but still wanting to matter in the world.

Is nature a fundamental part of your life?

I used to say a straight no to that question – but the weather undeniably is a fundamental part of my life. The reason for that is the power, the wind, the snow, the cold, it really affects how basic things in everyday life happen. And I don´t like it very much, the cold and the wind especially. Stable weather in a warm place is what I dream of.

Do you ever ‘listen’ to the sea?

I run along the shoreline when it´s not too cold outside and I love the sound of the sea. I also recently discovered – from a student of mine – that you can make a wave-sound on a normal radio if you tune it to white noise and turn the volume up and down. We used it in a theatre play and it really did the trick.

Do you long for your home country if staying abroad for an extended period?

I´ve lived abroad a few times, three years is the longest period, and I guess that it´s unevitable to get a little homesick. But it´s a weak feeling for me, I don´t get a bad case of homesickness. But it´s the family mostly I miss when I´m away.

Listening to your music gives me a sort of melancholic feeling mixed with an incredible optimism and joy, is that representative for you and the Icelandic people in general?

No I don´t think so. My favourite songs are super dark but are steering in an optimistic direction, it´s probably just my personal taste. But it´s very nice to hear what impression it makes on you.

Do you like bringing joy to other people?

Of course, everyone must enjoy bringing joy to other people.

What inspired you to become a musician and how much does music mean to you and your life?

I honestly have no sense of having made a choice. Maybe I did. If I did, I´ve forgetten about it. I feel like this is just how things are. I am who I am and I feel very lucky and thankful for having had the chance to be myself. That means a lot, to be able to be myself.

You write lyrics in both Icelandic as well as English, does the message of a song come out differently depending on the language?

Yes. Well depending on my relationship with the language. For a long time I didn´t really know how to write in English. I did anyway – so I was writing in a language that I didn´t know very well. So my English lyrics were very simple and often quite sarcastic – which is a reaction to fear, not being sure about yourself. So there was a long period where I was writing very confidently in Icelandic and these silly humorous lyrics in English. When I finally managed to write proper lyrics in English something really weird happened. I got closer to myself than ever before – I learned things about myself months after writing these lyrics that I wasn´t consciously aware of at the time.

How much is about you and your experiences in life and how much is fiction in your lyrics?

I have no idea how to explain that. It´s all a mix of my most personal thoughts and the most distant fiction. How much of what there is in my songs I have no way of explaining.

Do you get easily inspired?

I love broadening my horizon, getting into an open state of mind and connecting with other people, their ideas and their view on the world. But I don´t like the concept of inspiration, because I´m used to the idea – which might very possibly be completely my misunderstanding – that inspiration is a magical thing that you have to rely on to be able to create something. This puts the artist in an unhealthy position, where he has no say in when work gets done. When artists broaden their horizons, get into an open state of mind and connect with other people – which doesn´t happen by itself and sometimes it´s hard to maintain that view on the world – there´s always something to work with. So what I think I´m saying is that inspiration is always there. And it´s my responsibility to connect with it.

Why has so many Icelandic artists made way to the international scene?

Because they believe in themselves.

What do you think about the movie Nòi Albinòi and what Icelandic movies would you otherwise recommend?

I liked Nói Albínói a lot when I saw it. I haven´t seen it for years. I have to check it out and see how it has aged. Sódóma Reykjavík is a film I would definitely recommend and Rokk í Reykjavík, that´s the best Icelandic film ever.

What is the biggest gift you have received in your life?

I find it hard to answer this question.

Are you a dreamer?

I want to say no. Haha!

You are also a teacher, what do you teach and what makes you enjoy teaching?

I teach music at a primary school in Reykjavík. I focus on creativity – so mostly I´m making music with the kids in my school. This is just the best fun there is out there. And making an effort to help young people believe in themselves and see their right to be themselves is extremely rewarding. I seriously think this is a very important part of improving the society.

To stay in the theme of senses, do you like to cook?

No. It stresses me out. Sometimes I do cook, but I don´t enjoy it very much.

What is your fave dish and please describe it down to a point where I want to eat this laptop out of raging eager to taste that very dish?

I will have to disappoint you. Sorry. It´s probably not good for you anyway, to eat your laptop.

What awakes your senses?

I am quite obsessed with smell. I don´t think it´s a good thing. That sometimes takes over my senses, if there´s a smell going on. Taste – like you might have guessed by now – is not my biggest thing. Loud sound, extremely loud sound, preferably when I´m playing myself, is the best feeling I know. Rocking out and blasting away is just the best feeling ever. You can´t be anywhere but exactly in the millisecond that´s taking place and nowhere else. I also love going to the cold pool (4c) and then to the hot tub (38c) in my local swimming pool. That awakes every cell in my body.

Would you be able to write a very short poetic story on yourself right here and in Icelandic?

I´ve never written a very short poetic story on myself. Here it goes.

Ég fæddist og fór og kom og var og var og var og varð að einhverjum öðrum. Ég var einhver annar og var og var og svo varð ég að einhverjum enn öðrum. Ég var einhver enn annar og var og var og loks hætti ég að vera og ákvað að hætta að pæla í mér og vera bara einhvernveginn.

Oh go on…Head On outta here!

Photo: Head On (all rights reserved)

Photo: Head On (all rights reserved)

Croissants, baguettes, champagne, escargots and freakin’ french fries is what comes outta France and then there is Head On!

These Rennes’ers latest record from last year “Changing Shape” is a record that slowly crawls under your skin like humidity on a cold day and the only thing you want to do is to heat up on a shot of bourbon…shot by shot by shot by…and the listening experience just got better.

I don’t drink bourbon myself but it runs pretty good on beer too!

It’s a real pleasure to present, in this mini-feature, the guys behind Head On and their latest album which came together in collaboration with Pete Ross and Susy Sapphire.

Find out who they are and listen to their songs (parental advisory: this music can be highly addictive!)

Band members:

Name: Boogie (vox)

Other / Former bands: Dead Horse Problem / Witcherry Wild, Born in Flames, Nitrobrew

Who and/or what inspired you to become a musician: Reptiles At Dawn

Passions besides music: Reading and drinking

Eat for breakfast: Nothing


Name: Mitch (bass)

Former bands: The Six Million Dollar Men, The Speedoracers

Who and/or what inspired you to become a musician: The first time I heard saturated guitars on the radio when I was a kid, can’t remember the name of the band, it sounded tough and I could feel the danger, so good!

Passions besides music: Reading and riding my old motorcycle

Eat for breakfast: Coffee + cigarette


Name: Marco (guitar)

Former bands: The Six Million Dollar Men, The Speedoracers.

Who and/or what inspired you to become a musician: I was tired of playing drums

Passions besides music: Family + Friends

Eat for breakfast: Aspirin + Black coffee


Name: Franck Headon (drums)

Other / Former bands: Bed Bunker / Witcherry Wild, Born in Flames

Who and/or what inspired you to become a musician: The Stooges !

Passions besides music: Cooking and High Fidelity sound systems!

Eat for breakfast: Nothing! Only Black coffee!


Name: Chris (guitar)

Former bands: Witcherry Wild, Born in Flames, Orville Brody & Goodfellas

Who and/or what inspired you to become a musician: My brother Lorenzo. I was 13 or 14 years old and I watched him torture his guitar with his friends. The sound was crazy, saturated, totally punk. Boogie’s father made us wooden guitars with broomsticks and no strings. We looked at ourselves playing in the mirror on our knees with long greasy hair, smoking cigarettes. We were sure we’ll get all the girls.

Passions besides music: My son, my wife, my family, my friends, beer, wine, drugs, Bouli Lanners’ movies, my job, food……

Eat for breakfast: A cigarette!


About the band:

How and when did this band start up?

Boogie: 2010

Mitch: Something like 4 or 5 years ago when Born in Flames and the Speedoracers broke up. As we (Speedoracers) used to open for Born in Flames and shared the same good music tastes, we joined forces to built Head On.

Photo: Head On (all rights reserved)

Photo: Head On (all rights reserved)

The new album “Changing Shape” which by the way is a beautiful rock album, how long did it take to finish the songs for this album?

Boogie: We played most of the songs during one year and it took 3 days in the studio to lock them. We recorded live, adding the sax later and some backing vocals as not everyone was able to be there at during those days.

Mitch: A few months to write the music and just a few days to record.

Is this album the best recording project you guys ever made so far?

Boogie: I think so

Mitch: Yes, no doubt for me

Marco: Indeed, the album sounds just like we wanted it to sound.


Please describe the story behind the lyrics of the song “I Fell Down”?

Boogie: It’s about redemption, everybody does shit one fine day and in my opinion most people wants to pay for their crimes or find somebody to forgive them, this is the story about a son who disappoints his mom.


Any particular or peculiar story you would like to share in regards to the making of this album?

Boogie: Too many stories in a short time, I can’t remember any particular story, I need a brand new brain! I just want to thank Pete Ross and Michelle (Susy Sapphire) for their kindness and their help on this album.

Mitch: Too many! It was so great to have Pete and Michelle with us, the way Pete managed everything, running everywhere to be sure everything was perfect, the time he spent to help Chris and Marco to get the perfect sound, put the microphones at the right place while Michelle was peacefully advising Boogie about his accent on the lyrics and knitting or practicing the bass at the same time. So good to work with so involved and passionate persons like them.

Chris: A nice collaboration between Pete Ross, Susy Sapphire and the band! Everyone was listening to each other, we tried various things, erased others, always with the purpose to record something remaining close to us. The songs allowed us to go through a lot of paths, sometimes in fuzzy way, other times in clear way. That’s what I like about this album, it is rich and is what I’d like to do for the next ones too.


Who’s more rock, who’s more punk and who’s the melancholic in the band?

Boogie: You can’t be rock if you’re not a little bit melancholic too.

Mitch: I would say we’re all some kind of melancholic punk rockers.

Chris: Good question. We’re all fond of rock’n’roll, no doubt. Sometimes we are more punk, I guess Marco (Dick) is the punkest of us despite of his glasses, Romain (Mitch) is a good one too. Maybe I’m the most melancholic, couldn’t say myself…


About Rennes:

Is Rennes rock city no.1 in France?

Boogie: YES, Britanny rules!

Mitch: For sure! Lots of cool bands in town!

Marco: For sure!

Franck: Yes, without hesitation!

Best beer in town?

Boogie: Free beer

Marco: The one that doesn’t give you an headache after the third beer..

Franck: Coreff


Fave place to hang out?

Boogie: Rockin’ Bones and Mondo Bizarro

Mitch: Mondo Bizarro

Marco: Mondo Bizarro

Franck: Mondo Bizarro Club

mondo bizarro Rennes

Name 3 fave bands from the past 20 years that deserves a special mentioning?

Boogie: The Beasts of Bourbon, Movie Star Junkies, Spencer P. Jones

Mitch: SixFtHick, Chicken Snake, Hits. Yep, they’re all on Beast Records…

Marco: All bands where Greg Cartwright serves. Damn! That’s more than three!

Franck: Mudhoney, 6FtHick, Reigning sound

Chris: Spencer P. Jones, Mark Lanegan, Hits (the Brisbane band)



Band info:

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