Nordic New Music: Fonetik Simbol

It has been a while since we featured some jazzy hip hop beats artists, so we were delighted when we discovered the excellent Fonetik Simbol. His new single was released a couple of weeks ago and he is working on some really exciting projects which we can’t wait to hear about. Further to that he has some great recommendations for Japanese restaurants in Reykjavik, Icelandic hip hop artists, and the man watches old skool Thundercats – what more could we really ask for?

Tell us who you are and what’s your sound

I’m a producer/DJ from Reykjavik, Iceland. I’m known for making raw jazzy hiphop beats but I make all kinds of music. Hiphop, house, jazz, ambient, r&b and more… but I do not only make music, I make babies too! I have a wife and three kids. So during the day I’m busy being a father, a husband and a graphic designer but at night I make music. It’s almost like I’m a superhero, like Batman or something, when everyone is sleeping, I put my music gloves on and make music.

What exciting projects have you got coming up?

I released new single “You are sleeping / The Beats” on the 23rd of September. It’s available on Spotify, Bandcamp and Apple Music. I’m working on a full length album with my band “Two Toucans.” That’s me and my sister. I make the beats and she sings. I’m really looking forward to releasing that one. I’ve never spent so much time on one project. We released one song from that project last year called Hunter’s Moon. 

My latest project that I am currently working on is a collabo with the Icelandic rapper Kött Grá Pje. He is one of my favourite Icelandic artists. I have a project ready with the Icelandic rapper Vald Wegan as well. He is one of my best friends. And a very underrated rapper. And I’m always releasing some beat tapes on my Bandcamp page.

Where did you grow up and what music influenced you?

I grew up in Laugardalur, which is a suburb in Reykjavík, Iceland. There was always music in my house growing up. My father listened to jazz. That was a big influence when I was young but when i was around 10 years old I started listening to The Prodigy and I was completely fascinated by the sounds used in their music. I was like: “where does these sounds come from?” and at that time there was no youtube, google or anything like that.. So I just had to figure it out myself. After I found out what sampling was, I started listening to more hiphop stuff like: Beastie Boys, Gang Starr, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Pharcyde, Wu-Tang, Mobb Deep, The Roots and many more. So In 1999 I started making music and then my father told me about all his favorite jazz artists: Dave Brubeck, Gary Burton, Lionel Hampton, Stan Getz, Charlie Parker and Billie Holiday just to name a few. That’s when I started making Beattapes in my room with my dad’s old records.

What cool places do you recommend to visit in your city (bars, restaurants, etc)?

I love japanese food so I have to start with Ramen Momo. The very first Ramen spot in Iceland. Family owned and they make their own noodles and the vibe there is nice.

Osushi The Train is my favorite Sushi spot in Iceland. So Fresh and So Clean. 

I can’t talk about food without naming a pizza place.

Flatey Pizza has the best Pizza’s in Iceland. They went to Italy to see how to make the perfect pizza and they use top ingredients so it can’t go wrong. 

We love recommendations – what have you been listening to, watching, or reading recently?

I have been listening to a lot of new music lately. The new Blu & Exile album “Miles” is great. Swarvy just released a new album called “Sunny Days Blue” I really like that one. Knxwledge’s “1988” is dope too and the new single by my favorite Icelandic band Moses Hightower called “Stundum” is super fresh. Shout Out to Moses.

I just finished the latest season of Better Call Saul. I’m a Breaking Bad fan so these TV Shows are one of my favorites.

High Score on Netflix is dope. Jim and Andy is a very interesting documentary on Netflix too.

To nurture my nostalgia I tend to watch some old Thundercats episodes from time to time. Nostalgia to the fullest.

What is your tip for the day?

Listen to Dâm-Funk! … and eat Pizza!

Interview by Alex Minnis

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