Interview: Une Misère
After we've been playing various gigs and shows we've come to realise we're both very comfortable on the big stage, but we're also very comfortable playing in a living room sized venue
Une Misère are a sludgey hardcore band from Iceland. Not much is known about Une Misère, other than that they play an aggressive, intense style of hardcore music, and that they are a self-described ‘music collective’. Even though they haven’t released an awful lot of music to date, they have played Wacken Open Air, and Iceland’s Eistnaflug festival, besides a number of smaller and bigger gigs in their native Iceland. Curious to find out more about this band that is playing the upcoming Roadburn Festival twice and the music collective behind the name, I spoke to the singer of Une Misère. Read our conversation here…
E&D: Can you explain a bit more about the collective of musicians that is behind Une Misère?
Une Misère: As you said Une Misère is a collective which basically translates to we’re 6 people in the band that actually play the music. We play, we write the music, we create the music. But in every other aspect we are an open collective, as in if we need help we will always ask for it and we always get it. We’re never going to be stranded on the things we can’t do as a band. So if we can’t do anything or one specific thing, we have help in every corner. Une Misère is not closed off by the 6 members that be on stage.
E&D: With help you mean getting help with the artwork, and the recording etc?
Une Misère: All the playing and writing has always been done by us 6, and will always be done by us 6. When I mean help I mean recording, in designing a soundscape, designing artwork. Everything is open outside the rehearsal studio.
E&D: That sounds a bit similar what Amenra is doing in Belgium with the whole Church of Ra collective where there are various artists, photographers and other artists popping in and out to help the band with the imagery, videos, artwork etc.
Une Misère: We are a DIY band, we do everything ourselves. In the times that we’ve needed help we’ve always asked for it. But we’ve never gone the extreme money way, or bought into anything. We don’t do that. Originally the idea about us being a collective was that each member had a purpose in the band besides writing and playing. We have a graphic designer, we have a videographer, we have guy who has a Bachelor’s degree in making music. So every aspect of the band has been and will hopefully always be a DIY setting. So I think the original idea of us being a collective comes from that. And of course we’re in other bands.
E&D: To date Une Misère hasn’t released an awful lot of music?
Une Misère: What’s on our Bandcamp page and on Spotify is what we’ve released.
E&D: When I listen to that I just want to hear more!
Une Misère: That’s exactly what we’re going for when we decided to release that mixtape (which is available here). We were thinking about going straight for the LP or a couple of EPs or just being nothing, but we kinda decided on doing a mixtape as we don’t see many mixtapes in this genre today. We see split releases all the time, and EPs everywhere. But I don’t remember a mixtape being released by a hardcore band like in recent memory. And of course that’s exactly what we were going for, to like keep them wanting more.
E&D: The title of the mixtape, 010717, is the release date. Were there any actual physical copies, or is it just digital with the artwork image of the cassette representing the mixtape?
Une Misère: Yes, there are no physical copies, they have never been made, and maybe we will make them for Roadburn, I don’t know yet. But yes, the imagery basically tells you it’s a mixtape.
E&D: Are you guys planning a new recording like a full-length or EP, or are you intentionally keeping it a bit more mysterious?
Une Misère: We have quite a bust year in front of us, but we are always aiming for a full-length album, maybe this year or otherwise next year. We have a music video out for a new song of ours which is called ‘Wounds’, which is very, very dear to us. And yeah there a lot of things in the works besides just playing. We are also actually hope to enlarge our soundscape and our live performance. For those who have seen us live or have seen live videos, they know we can get kinda intense. We try to not be intimidating, but we try to take you along. And we really want to enlarge that aspect of our performance. We have a lot of shit we want to bring you along to.
E&D: The first time I heard of Une Misère was when Walter from Roadburn posted the link to your “infamous” live video at Pizza Fjörður as part of the Eistnaflug festival, which was quite intense and got me to download your mixtape straight after watching that video. I suppose this certainly helped you guys to get booked for the upcoming Roadburn Festival edition? What was your feeling when Walter booked you guys?
Une Misère: Well, it was quite a hectic time. To give you a bit of a back story about this band… We started in April 2016, and we started this band to play really heavy music. We created the band because of a house show that Cult Leader was doing in Iceland. That was our first gig. Then we decided later on that this was real, “let’s do this, let’s make this happen”. So all of our mindsets shifted into making this be something else than all of our other bands. We’re all in other bands that got kinda close to making it, but it needed that push. So this band became what it is today when we decided to participate in the Wacken Metal Battle, here in Iceland. When we won that and we knew that we were going to play Wacken, that was kinda a big deal for us. Then we played Eistnaflug and then after that Walter talked to us. And we were ecstatic. We had no idea how we should behave, or what we should do with the info. For all we cared we were just going to Holland to play a bit of music. And that was enough for us. But alongside being announced for Roadburn, that was quite a big deal and we didn’t even know it. When we played Wacken everyone knew about us as Walter had been talking about us a lot, going on and on about us. And he kind of helped create the viral status that Une Misère might have today.
E&D: Walter is a very influential guy. When he mentions a band no-one has ever heard off, people will listen and check out this band. Walter knows what he’s talking about. So basically, you got a bit of free PR out of that!
Une Misère: I’ll never go as far to say we never deserve it in any way, but Walter really has helped us quite a bit, without us realising it quite fully, I think.
E&D: I’m pretty sure there are still a lot of people going to Roadburn and they’ll see your name on the bill, not knowing much about the band. Then they see you’re even playing 2 sets at the festival, so people might think who the hell are these guys? Let’s take this as a bit of an opportunity to introduce the band a bit more to the Roadburn crowd. For example, did Walter give you a specific briefing regarding the 2 sets you’ll be playing? Or is it all up to yourselves?
Une Misère: He’s kinda given us free range with the 2 sets, but when he discussed the matter with us for the first time he already talked about 2 shows at Roadburn. One of them is going to be at the 013, and he talked about that being the big stage show. He wants that to be the big performance, the whole stage with lighting and visuals and all of that. But then he was so impressed with us playing at Pizza Fjörður, because he also said he wants us to play Cul de Sac, which is kinda more intimate. I’m very, very much looking forward to doing both. After we’ve been playing various gigs and shows we’ve come to realise we’re both very comfortable on the big stage, but we’re also very comfortable playing in a living room sized venue.
E&D: From the perspective of the band, you’ll get a very different experience from the 2 different Roadburn sets probably. I’m really looking forward seeing both shows, but especially the Cul de Sac show is going to be very special I think, as you guys will probably be in your best element on that stage as you’ll have much more contact with the crowd.
Une Misère: At Eistnaflug where Walter saw us we actually played 3 times. Once on Thursday, which was the big stage thing. Then on Friday a friend of us was throwing together a garage kinda gig, just up the street. So we had a horrible PA system, shitty amps, awful drum kit, and we were like “yeah, is it okay if we play?”. And we did a set, which was great. Nobody was expecting this to actually work out, we were all just going there to have a laugh and have fun. But then it became what it was, and it was quite exhilarating. Then came the Pizza Fjörður gig on Saturday.
E&D: Going back to Une Misère’s music, the second side of the mixtape is very different. I was a bit surprised by this to be honest. It contains more soundscapes and remixes rather than the in your face aggressive hardcore. Is this the other side of Une Misère?
Une Misère: Yes, this is what we want people to kinda anticipate. Or not. We want it out there that we are capable of more than just aggression and violence. We are capable of working with everyone. For example, the artists on that mixtape are Kuldaboli, which is kinda a goth, synth thing. And we love his work and his remixes, and he was up for it. So that’s was kinda really cool. Then there’s SiGRÚN, which is a really, really weird mix of ‘Condescend’ I think. And that was super weird, but loved every part of it. And then came SEINT with his amazing remix of ‘Overlooked’, and MILLJÓN as well.
The main first and foremost purpose of this band is to break barriers. For example, to get the hip-hop kids to listen to some hardcore, and to get the hardcore kids to listen to some hip-hop. To take an example, we played a 2-set show on the 1st of March, we did one set and a young underground hip-hop kid named Krabba Mane (which directly translates to Can-Cer) was playing his set. And there was nothing in between, no punk bands, no hardcore bands, no black metal bands, just hip-hop and us. We actually love doing this. We did this last year at Prikið, which is a hip-hop venue here in Iceland. We had one R&B artist called SEINT, we had Countess Malaise which is a hip-hop artist and we had Godchilla, which is like a stoner, sludge doom band.
E&D: Let’s talk a bit about the Icelandic music scene. Sólstafir is pretty well-known, and lately the Icelandic black metal scene has been getting more popular. Then you also have The Vintage Caravan, who are very different, but also very good and getting more out there in Europe. Now you have you guys as well, and you mentioned the hip-hop scene, which is completely new to me as I had no idea about that.
Une Misère: Actually, the hip-hop scene is the biggest scene here in Iceland. It’s funny as it’s not really up for export as it’s all in Icelandic and it’s kinda a clique thing to be in the Icelandic hip-hop scene and to be working with the hip-hop producers here in Iceland, like the main hip-hop producers, gives you kind of status that nothing else will give you. Young kids will sing along with the music and the older generation will hate it, but it gets played a lot on the radio.
E&D: Iceland is not very big, so I’m wondering, do all the artists and musicians know each other? From all these different scenes? Or is it all very separated?
Une Misère: It actually kinda differs from band to band. For example The Vintage Caravan guys they know everyone. Stebbi, their drummer, is a real cool and nice guy and Alex, their bass player, is the nicest guy in the world. He’s just the best person in the world. They party and they have fun with everyone. Then again there are black metal bands that do not support these qualities and so they don’t know anyone. But every scene in itself knows everyone. So the hardcore scene knows everyone in the hardcore scene, and the punk scene knows everyone in their scene, you see what I mean? It’s actually quite funny, because as soon as a band gets kinda hyped, like everyone is talking about this one band, then everyone wants to friends with that band. Because everyone wants to ride along on that hype train. I’ve seen it happen quite a few times, but I suppose that’s life. It’s a small scene, so why not be friends with the guys that are getting popular.
E&D: Leading up to Roadburn you’re doing a Scandinavian tour with All Pigs Must Die?
Une Misère: Yeah Scandinavia and moving into Central Europe. We do two gigs in Sweden, one in Denmark, two in Germany, one in Belgium and then Roadburn.
E&D: This is your first tour as a band with Une Misère?
Une Misère: Yes. I could say this is our first tour. Before the Wacken show the boys went on a really small thing like 3 days before Wacken. But in the end they only played one gig because of booking problems, so I wouldn’t call that a tour. But this one is a real tour. I’m still not quite realising the band that we’re actually supporting, we’re big fans not only of All Pigs Must Die, but also of their other bands like Converge, Trap Them, The Hope Conspiracy. I mean the tiny, tiny little hardcore kid inside me is screaming. I’m screaming that I’m going to play on the same stage 7 days in a row with these guys!
E&D: Just imagine seeing Ben Koller play drums every night. I mean, that guy is a machine!
Une Misère: Yeah exactly! I can’t get over it. It’s always been a peculiar thing with Ben Koller, like his way of playing the drums and the significant sound that he and only he can create on the kit is just amazing. I mean just the sound of him simply hitting a tom-tom drum is different from anyone else’s sound.
E&D: You’re going to Roadburn for the whole 4 days, so I suppose you will be going as a fan as well as playing the festival?
Une Misère: Yes, definitely. We might actually be going home on the Sunday, but I’m going as a huge fan. I mean Converge are playing my favourite album by them, You Fail Me, it its entirety, so I can’t wait to stand in the crowd and cry while they do that. I am actually kind of scared to meet Jacob Bannon as I feel I owe him so much of how he’s paved the way in so many ways just by doing what he’s doing.
E&D: For the people reading this, give me 5 bands who people should really watch at Roadburn. You’ve mentioned Converge already, but who else?
Une Misère: Godspeed You Black Emperor, All Pigs Must Die, and definitely Crowbar. If you miss out on Crowbar you’re not doing things right, hahaha. And maybe Godflesh? That’s one hell of a band. Oh and there’s actually one band playing the Cul de Sac on the Sunday, called LLNN. They are from Denmark and have affiliations to The Psyke Project, which was an amazing band. I actually saw Crowbar on Wacken, which was really intense. They just got on stage, started the feedback and their singer Kirk Windstein got to the mic saying “Hey Wacken, we’re Crowbar and we’re gonna fuck you!”, and they started playing, hahaha!
Une Misère will play the Cull de Sac on Thursday April 19th and on Friday April 20th they will play at the 013, both as part of Roadburn Festival 2018.