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Örvar Smárason

A founding member of indie electronic experimentalists Múm, Örvar Þóreyjarson Smárason is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, poet, and fiction writer from Iceland. An active member of the Reykjavik music scene since the late '90s, he's also known in Iceland as a writer of poetry and novellas. Inspired by hearing the music of Aphex Twin, Smárason co-established Múm in 1997 with Gunnar Örn Tynes and classically trained twin sisters Gyða and Kristín Anna Valtýsdóttir. Following a number of singles and remixes, the full-length Yesterday Was Dramatic -- Today Is OK was released in 2000 through TMT/Thule in Iceland and Tugboat in the U.K. Each of the band's four members was in their late teens when making the record, hailed for its playful and imaginative use of all things musical and not so musical. 2001 saw the release of Please Smile My Noise Bleed on Morr Music, a compilation of remixes from the likes of ISAN and Arovane. A second full-length, Finally We Are No One, was released the following year on Fat Cat. Gyða left the band to focus on her studies before Múm's third album, Summer Make Good, arrived in spring 2004. It charted in Ireland and France. The band rounded out the year with the Dusk Log EP. In 2005, they collaborated with the National Dutch Chamber Orchestra at Amsterdam's Holland Festival on a piece inspired by the works of composer Iannis Xenakis. That same year, Smárason released his debut novella, Úfin, Strokin, and a book of poetry titled Gamall Þrjótur, Nýjir Tímar. Smárason helped flesh out the electro-pop band FM Belfast for a live festival performance in 2006, shortly after it was formed by Lóa Hlín Hjálmtýsdóttir and Árni Rúnar Hlöðversson. While the group shifted in size from three to eight members for performances, Smárason appeared on FM Belfast's 2008 debut, How to Make Friends. In the meantime, Múm returned to the studio and also put out a live album, The Peel Session, which was originally recorded in 2002 by the BBC. For 2007's Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy, the band was down to Smárason and Tynes, who enlisted the help of guitarist/vocalist/violinist Ólöf Arnalds, trumpet/keyboard player Eiríkur Orri Ólafsson, vocalist/cellist Hildur Guðnadóttir, percussionist Samuli Kosminen, and multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Mr. Silla. Another book of poetry, To Fruits Turn the Youth, saw publication in 2007, as well. Múm recorded their fifth album, 2009's Sing Along to Songs You Don't Know, in Finland and Estonia as well as their native Iceland. The Christmas EP, Gleðileg Jól, was issued in 2011, as was FM Belfast's sophomore album, Don't Want to Sleep. Múm released a compilation of early tracks in 2012 titled Early Birds, and in early 2013, the song "Whistle" emerged -- a surprise collaboration with none other than Kylie Minogue. That September, Múm issued their sixth album, Smilewound, which featured the Kylie track and marked the return to the group of Gyða Valtýsdóttir for the first time in ten years. Back with FM Belfast, Smárason and bandmates presented their third LP, Brighter Days, in 2014, followed by Island Broadcast in 2017. Smárason also spent some of 2017 working on a collaboration with fellow Icelandic musicians Sin Fang and Sóley. The resulting Team Dreams was released in early 2018 and credited to all three of them.
© Marcy Donelson and Andy Kellman /TiVo

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