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.

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