Speaking Easy with Cryptochrome
Icelandic recording artistes Cryptochrome recently released their More Human album to roaring reviews from the alternative music media. Producing an album is a monumental undertaking but deciding to release a music video to accompany each track is nothing short of organised chaos.
Can you introduce yourselves and give us a brief run down of who you are, what you have done and what role you play in CRYPTOCHROME
Una – she is a songwriter and lyricist. Una has a background in Fine Art and has a keen eye for all things that need making.
Anik – i used to be one of two rappers in the anglo-German rap group dark circle along with hoyx, and I started cryptochrome with Una not long after relocating to reykjavík. Nowadays I write my rhymes, make sketches for some of the beats, and deal with most management aspects of the band. All three of us co-direct the visual and conceptual angles.
S.O.N. Is the main beatmaker and graphic designer in cryptochrome. He was also the main producer for dark circle.
You have been described as intriguing and genre bending but how would you guys describe your music?
Anik – I would say it’s just music. Although I was heavily involved in the uk hip hop scene in the late 90s and early 2000s my musical influences have always been very eclectic, and that reflects in the music I like to make. Rap is a medium that to me comes very naturally and with alot of passion, and when it’s done well it can be very powerful indeed. But I don’t feel it should be limited to certain parameters of sound. I always like to make music I’ve never heard before.
You are based in Reykjavík, Iceland. Do you feel the city or even Iceland as a whole plays a part in the concept of your sound?
Anik – indirectly maybe, but definitely not intentionally. Maybe it’s more that people drawn to a certain place and way of being are the types that make a certain type of music. Iceland is quite a mystical place in many ways, it’s in the people, the stories, the land itself, there’s a lot of respect for nature and the higher forces, things that we don’t yet understand, and that aspect is definitely present in what we do as a band.
Your debut album ‘More Human’ is out now. How long did it take you to record? Did you write all the tracks together in one room or did you do the ’email beats and verses to each other’ thing. I ask because a peice of work, it sounds very organic.
Anik – yeh it was very organic, in that all of the above happened. Some bits we came to the studio with, some bits were half ready, and others we wrote the lyrics to then and there. The tracking itself took nine days, in a disused power station in the north of Iceland, and the post-production was done over an extended period of time while studios were being moved around, a process we we’re all involved in with Leigh Lawson who engineered and co-produced it. But yeh, as Una and I live together, almost all of the material is made within that daily dialogue, it’s an extension of our lives in a very real way.
‘More Human’ is a mixture of electronic, Rap, soul and alternative pop. I found it very uplifting at points, but also a little dark and brooding sonically. I think ‘From This Angle’ is a perfect snap shot of this. What were you listening to and what influenced you while you made the album?
Anik – Una and I listen to very little music at home, which surprises people, but it’s kinda like having a blank sonic canvas to work with. But yeh when I do listen to things they’re often quite moody, like dj koze’s remix of soap and skin for instance, and we put our usually positive lyrics to that soundscape. It’s all in the balance.
I have just watched the videos you made for every track on the album. This is an amazing project. What inspired you to do this?
Anik – this was una’s idea. We had three videos pretty much ready to go that we were gonna release conventionally alongside the album, but just before 2016 started Una had this crazy idea that would make an impression. We’ve always been down with taking on a challenge, and this just fitted the bill. All three of us come from an art background and we have a lot of very talented friends who were very happy to help us out, and it all just fell perfectly into place. We’re super happy with the outcome.
Do you guys have a live show? And if so, how have the tracks been revived so far by the crowds? Any stand out?
Anik – yeh we love playing live, especially internationally. The set starts off calmly and ends with the more banging tunes, by which point the crowd is always well into it, taken along on the ride. People love the chemistry on stage and we often get people saying they loved it even though ‘it’s not the kind of music they’d usually listen to’. Which is brilliant.
Una – Each time is different so we like sensing the crowd. By having our expectations open we can take each show to maximum pleasure for all involved. Our last song is always the one that gets people moving the most and to me its like they wake up then and suddenly remember that they are at a gig. Smashit is usually the last song and Playdogh is our sing along
And on that note, are there any tracks on the album where you have been surprised with the reception?
Anik – actually yeh I’ve been quite surprised at how people take to ‘from this angle’ on our live sets. I had always seen it as quite a personal note kinda vibe, maybe a little excluding even, but people really seem to vibe off it. I guess because it shows an angle people aren’t used to seeing in a performance, ironically enough.
So whats next for you guys as a band or as individuals? Are there any remixes planned from the album? Any collaborations on the horizon?
Anik – at the moment we’re finishing off the sketches for our next album and we’re really loving it, can’t wait to get it to the studio and let it come to life. Hopefully we’ll get some remixes going on – metropolis from foreign beggars is really down so hopefully that will happen. There have been some collaborative ideas but we’ll see what happens.
So to finish off the interview. If there was any artist you could work with, either dead or alive. Who would it be and why?
Una – Moondog or Dr Seuss.
Anik – sonic youth because i’ve always loved their vibe, and i reckon we’d make a killer tune.