Icelandic singer/songwriter Hjörvar first started playing music around 1990 in various underground rock bands and published a few songs with bands such as Los and Monotone, but in 2004 he finally released his debut solo album, Paint Peace, using the alias Stranger. The album secured Hjörvar a nomination as Best Debut Artist at the Icelandic Music Awards and got great reviews in the media:
“He seems to have everything going for him being one hell of a rock singer, with a lazy and cool voice, a dark and gloomy falsetto that actually brings to mind artists preceding Bowie the late Billie McKenzie of Associates, Peter Murphy from Bauhaus, Robert Smith and at times even Bono. […] He calls himself Stranger, which is appropriate, because here has emerged an unknown stranger, but at the same time a fully matured musician that one hopes to hear a whole lot more from. […] Paint Peace manages to keep its course and tempo from start to finish, as it has clearly been thought out and worked hard on to bring about a strong coherent feel to it.” (****)
Skarphéðinn Guðmundsson – Morgunblaðið newspaper, November 2004
The musical style on Paint Peace was rock-based, with a melodious angle and some electro-in-betweens – popish rock or rockish pop, depending on how you look at it.
Second album – A Copy of Me
When time came around for the second album, Hjörvar decided to skip the alias and use his own name. He also decided to go the full mile, booked a recording session in PUK Studios, Denmark, and spent seven crazy days in spring 2006 recording with some of Iceland’s most acclaimed rock session artists. The outcome, A Copy of Me, was released in December 2008, after being mixed by acclaimed producer Ken Thomas, well known and respected in Iceland for his longtime co-operation with Sigur Rós. This time the media coverage was also higly positive:
“Hjörvar’s strength lies is strong songwriting and great singing, and the sound-scape on A Copy of Me has also been worked very well thought out. The album has a strong coherance, without being monotone, since all the songs have their individual character. […] All in all, this is a great album from an artist that tracks his own paths and really doesn’t care at all if his music is fitting to the contemporary mainstream or not.”
Trausti Júlíusson – Fréttablaðið newspaper, January 2009
“A Copy of Me is a very notable album […] under obvious influence from David Bowie. Great songwriting, full of strange chords […] Hjörvar’s voice is very vibrant and significant, deep and lazy, not neccesserily always hitting the right tones, but remarkably nice and personal. […] A Copy of Me is a quality piece of work, from any point of view.”
Birgir Örn Steinarsson – Morgunblaðið newspaper, January 2009
A Copy of Me was released by Hjörvar’s own label, Los ehf. All further information on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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A few words on See the Sea music video
Directed by: Sigvaldi J. Kárason and Björn Ófeigsson
Although not very typical for Hjörvar’s second album, the song See the Sea was chosen as a first single. It begins as a slow-tempo piano song, featuring dramatic and strange string arrangements, but it escalates into more power, ending in an upbeat pop-rockish coda. Long-time friends of Hjörvar, Sigvaldi J. Kárason and Björn Ófeigsson at Enjoy Productions (www.joy.is), volunteered to make a full-force music video that was premiered in Icelandic National Television and at the release concert, January 16th 2009.
Sigvaldi J. Kárason, co-director, is up for some inquisition:
“We had always wanted to make a video for Hjörvar, not only because he’s an old friend and we love his music, but also because we ourselves wanted to step more into creating music videos after many years of working in the film and TV business. Me and Björn Ófeigsson (co-director) met up with Daníel Stefánsson for a brainstorm session, and after listening to the song and throwing back and forth ideas we really felt we wanted to deliver the urgent feeling of loneliness expressed in the song. The resemblance of Hjörvar’s music to the music of David Bowie led us towards the atmosphere in The Man Who Fell to Earth, and from there we were led towards other movies such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and Planet of the Apes.”
“Right from the start we knew we didn’t want to get fixed in contemporary style, or any other time period whatsoever – we wanted to make a “timeless” and solitary video. Then we simply laid out the work plan, created a storyboard, pulled in favours from friends and colleagues around us and started working. The shooting session took us three days and the post production around one month. There were some restrictions from the beginning regarding the financial side of the project, but we nonetheless took it all the way – in the end we didn’t compromise in any aspect.”
“We wanted to keep the special effects as old school as possible by using back projection where ever we could instead of a green screen. We used up to 4 projections at the same time in some shots. Through some fluke of luck we acquired the lenses actually used in shooting special effects in Back to the Future, thanks to Douglas Trumbull (the visual effect wizard from movies like 2001 and Blade Runner) and it was challenging to use these 30-40 year old still lenses on our Red One camera. But it really gave the shots the extra special softness we needed.”
Artist: Hjörvar. Song: See the Sea
Directed by Sigvaldi J. Kárason and Björn Ófeigsson
Director of Photography: Tómas Örn Tómasson
2D and 3D Compositing: Pétur Karlsson
Consultant: Daníel Stefánsson
Makeup: Ísak Freyr Helgason.