Icelandic indie rock duo BSÍ blazed their own trail in making their debut album: Dark and dreamy, feverish and urgent, ‘Sometimes Depressed...But Always Antifascist’ is a multidimensional introduction roaring with raw energy.
Stream: “Vesturbæjar Beach” – BSÍ
I guess we first needed to face some heartbreaks, depression, and notice all kinds of bothering and problematic things in society, to be able to write songs about all of that.
Icelandic duo BSÍ blazed their own trail in making their debut album, letting their emotions and the music guide them on a spiritual journey of introspection, experience, and self-discovery. Dark and dreamy, feverish and raw, Sometimes Depressed...But Always Antifascist is a multidimensional introduction to an inspiring artistry we can’t wait to hear more of in the years to come.
Summer was barely ours
She said we needed more sun
But all we got was gone
There are lines that cross
There are lines that part
I guess we were looking for signs
In all the wrong songs
Surely something better coming our way
– “25Lue” – BSÍ
Released May 21, 2021, Sometimes Depressed...But Always Antifascist is a fascinating debut. Offering two distinctly different sides of the band, it’s an enchanting, entrancing world of sonic wonder – compelling, alluring, and deeply, deeply expressive as BSÍ delve into “sorrow and the raw energy of joy and anger.” Whereas the record’s first five songs (as featured on the Sometimes depressed... EP) dwell in quiet and contemplative heartbreak and melancholy, the latter half’s five songs (known as the ...but always antifascist EP) soar with searing, feverish, and dramatic riot grrrl and punk vibes.
It’s a clever concept, and one that makes for an utterly immersive full-length listen – not to mention a wonderfully multi-faceted getting-to-know-you for BSÍ. The Reykjavík, Iceland-based duo of Sigurlaug “Silla” Thorarensen (drums & vocals) and Julius Pollux Rothlaender (bass guitar & toe-synths), BSÍ debuted with a self-titled three-track EP in 2018, and have more recently been teasing singles off their forthcoming full-length. From the feverish “Dónakallalagið” and the calming and sweet “25Lue,” to the bouncy, surf punk-adjacent “Vesturbæjar Beach,” and the soothing, stirring “TAL 11,” BSÍ have emerged as a unique musical force with quite a lot to say in sound and song.
“This album took some time,” Julius Rothlaender tells Atwood Magazine. “Our very first EP was released in 2018, and quite the contrary, there it felt like writing, recording and releasing the songs took nothing but two weeks altogether. But both approaches are pretty much what BSÍ is about for us. There are no rules or „this is how things are done“, it’s just whatever feels good to us at any given moment. I guess we first needed to face some heartbreaks, depression and notice all kinds of bothering and problematic things in society, to be able to write songs about all of that.”
“We started out with no plan at all,” he says of making the album. “After a while though we noticed that we had the tendency to write songs in what felt like two rather opposite directions. But instead of deciding to only follow one of these, we just embraced it and wanted to allow ourselves to be the band we are and write the songs we write, no matter if they might sound quite far apart from each other.”
“While we were in this whole process, the album title more or less just came to us. We played at a punk festival in Germany and while standing in the crowd we saw a person with a shirt from a fanclub of this German punk leftist football club St. Pauli. The fanclub is called „St. Depri“ and promotes the importance of mental health within the football fan scene. We felt that slogan just totally expressed what we’ve been dealing with and was the perfect motto for our record – Sometimes depressed… but always antifascist.”
Whereas other bands might try to reign in their creativity or find one lane and stick to it, BSÍ proudly and productively work without constraints. As Silla Thorarensen explains, “What has been a huge part of the process is the way we work with our limitations. We are only two in the band and try to make the most out of it instead of thinking of it as a lack of something. And then we also started the band under the premise of trying instruments we didn’t know how to play, so we’re basically still learning how to play drums and bass.”
I think it’s a pretty empowering feeling to not be perfect in what we do and still be a band, release an album and play concerts.
Ambitious and outside-the-box, Sometimes depressed… but always antifascist is ready to be the soundtrack to our sunny days and rainy nights; its highs are energizing and emphatic, its lows are moving and relatable, and throughout it all, BSÍ create a space for empowerment, closure, catharsis, and action.
Such is the nature of a vast, yet intimate many-sided album with so many stories to tell.
“Thinking about the lyrics, I’d say I’m pretty happy with how it all came together, and the process was very unique for each song,” Thorarensen reflects. “Some of them are what might be called a stream of consciousness and others more created within a certain concept. If I’d have to choose a favourite paragraph I’d choose one from ‘My Knee Against Kyriarchy,’ where I was bouncing my ideas back and forth to Julius, on the airplane from Reykjavík to Berlin, on our way to record the ‘…but always antifascist’ half. Pretty much typical for the finalising of lyrics, last minute decisions:
Lately I’ve been thinking
if you agree that maybe
we could see if you & me
I lick your knees ’til three
and smash kyriarchy
until we feel dizzy.
BSÍ have too many favorites to choose any singular song highlight. “There were a lot of fun and special moments creating and recording these songs,” Rothlaender says. “Silla’s screaming vocals recorded through a guitar amp for ‘Dónakallalagið’, last minute lyrics for TAL 11, train sounds in Uncouple and billions of other big and small moments like these… My very personal highlight at this very moment though belongs to a brand new song we’re writing these days. Whenever I hear Silla’s vocal melody for this one, I have to smile. Hopefully we can record and share that song with you soon.”
In the meantime, BSÍ are fully embedded in the present. “We just hope that listeners will take what ever they need from it, whether it is that they like it or not, soothes them in their own heartbreak or not, encourages them to scream against fascism or not,” Thorarensen says. “We just did this record for us, and it pretty much represents us, both as individuals and as a band and best friends. And we are just having fun, and we hope that listeners can somehow sense that.”
Like the emotional balance we experience in our own everyday lives, BSÍ are a band of sorrow and grief, joy and euphoria.
Their unique debut album showcases both sides of their sound, making every song – from the melancholy “TAL 11” and “25Lue” to the heavy, beautifully spellbinding “Uncouple,” and the sun-kissed “Vesturbæjar Beach” – just one more piece of this enthralling artistry’s greater puzzle.
Whether you’re taken by the softer tracks or the savage ones, BSÍ have arrived with a vivid wave after wave of impassioned, surging dream pop. Their LP rages and roars, while also finding ways to caress the ears and calm the soul. It truly is a tender storm.
We just hope that listeners will take what ever they need from it, whether it is that they like it or not, soothes them in their own heartbreak or not, encourages them to scream against fascism or not.
Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside BSÍ’s Sometimes depressed… but always antifascist with Atwood Magazine as Silla Thorarensen and Julius Rothlaender go track-by-track through the music and lyrics of both sides of their debut album!
:: stream/purchase BSÍ here ::
‘Sometimes depressed… but always antifascist’ – BSÍ
:: Inside Sometimes depressed… but always antifascist ::
Silla: For the past year or so, we’ve been so lucky to be able to rehearse in my parents’ garage (wait, so we are a garage band!?). Before convincing my parents to turn the garage into a more proper studio (which is currently our studio and rehearsal space called ‘Vesturbæjar Beach’) the song was created sitting on the cold concrete floor, I think being the first song we wrote in that space.
Silla: For this song we drew an unexpected inspiration. Last year we rediscovered one of our first voice recordings from my phone while forming the band back in 2018. It’s funny to remember that back then we didn’t feel like it was anything special, but when relistening to it later we felt it was super catchy! The last bits and pieces for the lyrics we wrote together in a bar in Berlin, drinking champagne and banana juice, the night before recording the song.
Julius: This song has been quite a long time in the making, and went through all kinds of different stages. The breakthrough moment happened when we went for a little songwriting trip to a cabin in the Icelandic countryside, in the beginning of 2020.
Julius: In this song you’ll hear the secret ingredient in our band: It’s an old Casio keyboard, that we gave the name ‘Casillus’. It’s preferably played by Silla’s hands or my toes. Quite some years ago, when I lived in Berlin, there was a tiny fleamarket on the pavement next to my house, there I found a rather scratched vinyl of Talking Head’s ‘Fear of Music’ and this lovely old keyboard. I never had much use for it and don’t even know how it made its way to Iceland, but I’m happy it did, it’s been quite an essential part of BSÍ.
Silla: The base for this song was written in Lubeck in Germany. Julius was born there, and while he was revisiting the city, I came to visit. The title is just the original working title, but we decided to keep it because it reminds us of medieval cathedrals, lavender sauna trips in the woods, making pasta in a treehouse villa and a surprise birthday celebration in a haunted house.
…but always antifascist
Silla: We finalised this song in a rented rehearsal space in Berlin, the day before playing in front of 500 people. That was pretty whack! But it doesnt get more BSÍ than that I guess!
Julius: Another song that went through quite some different stages when writing it. We’re really happy with how short and energetic it is now. Most important part of the song to us is a spoken word sample that we found on youtube, a young and extremely powerful woman giving an interview at a Slut Walk demonstration in the US: ‘We’re all sluts – you’re a slut, all these dudes behind you’s a slut, your mama’s a slut, your grandma’s a slut, everybody!’
My knee against kyriarchy
Silla: Here’s another sweet song against bad things. Kyriarchy is a concept I learnt about a few years back. Kyriarchy is an intersectional extension of the idea of patriarchy but goes beyond gender, ecompassing more forms of dominating and oppressive hierarchies such as sexism, racism, ableism, antisemitism, homophobia, transphobia, etc.
Julius: The icelandic lyrics in this song are an anthem against all the „dónakallar“ that have, for too long, taken too much space, sexually harassed and overstepped people’s boundaries. „Dónakall“ is an icelandic term (a direct translation would be something like ‘pervy rude guy’) that usually describes that cis-male-white-hetero-energy that, we dare to say, everyone is tired of dealing with and want to make extinct for good, at last.
Alltaf alltaf stundum alltaf
Julius: When writing this song we always had to think of Gróa, friends of ours and one of our favourite bands here in Reykjavík, that’s also part of the post-dreifing collective. As a perfect way to end the album and recording process, we were so happy to get Karó, Fríða and Hrafnhildur from Gróa and Bjarni from supersport! to sing backing vocals in the song.
:: stream/purchase BSÍ here ::
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? © Baldur Kristjánsson
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