20 Questions: Lord Pusswhip

The bewildering Icelandic artist talks Danny Brown, meeting Bjarki while flipping burgers, and ripping Ice Cube CDs to his walkman.
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Born from Iceland's eclectic, avant-garde music scene, Lord Pusshwip is the latest in a long line of galvanizing artists—Björk, Sigur Rós, múm, to name a few—that arouse exhilaration, confusion, and more than a few questions. Whereas most of the artists before him pushed a considered and at times serious idea of "weird," Lord Pusswhip has taken a punk approach to his persona and a fuck-you attitude to genres and style. One only needs to look at the melted, sleazy rap of 2015's Lord Pusswhip Is Whack LP or his latest outing on Bjarki's bbbbbb imprint—which somehow darts between noise, breaks, techno, hardcore, and hip-hop across just five tracks—to get a grasp of the wide-reaching nature of his music. There's a thread running throughout his work, however, a lo-fi spirit born from Iceland's DIY culture and unconstrained creative ideals—and it's this bewildering character in his music that keeps us coming back for more.

With more work on the way via bbbbbb and a release as Psychoplasmics—his side project with Alfreð Drexler—we dialed up Lord Pusswhip to talk influences, ripping Ice Cube CDs to his walkman, and the weird and wonderful Icelandic music scene.

1. Describe your surroundings right now?

I’m sitting with my dad and my big brother in our living room in Reykjavík watching David Attenborough.

2. What is your earliest memory of music?

I think it was when I was about five years old when my brother taught me how to make mixtapes of my favorite songs from CDs. I distinctly remember ripping songs off War & Peace Vol. 2 by Ice Cube and then taking a walk with my Walkman.

3. Who are some of your biggest musical influences?

It’s really all over the place but in terms of influence throughout the years, I’d say My Bloody Valentine, Spaceghostpurrp, Lil Ugly Mane, Miles Davis, Stereolab, El-P, Diamanda Galás, Throbbing Gristle, Lil B…

4. Tell us about your beginnings—when did you start producing music?

When I was around 11 or 12 my friends and I started a punk band and I also did a few rudimentary experiments with electronic music. Then, around 2009, I started rapping, and a year or two later I was making beats, too.

5. When was Lord Pusswhip born and who is he?

He was originally born as DJ Pusswhip around 2010. I heard he’s wack and also that he’s dead! :O

6. You were living in Berlin until recently—what do you love and hate about the city?

I actually moved back to Reykjavík last winter, for the time being. I love how vibrant and popping Berlin is. I kinda hate how everything is totally man-made and urban. Some spots there even feel kinda dystopic. I sound like a twee Icelandic elf right now but I really missed the clean air and mountains. The grass is always greener on the other side though, for real.

7. You produce such a broad range of music, from druggy rap to breaks and techno—do you have a clear idea in mind when starting tracks or is it a matter of jamming around until something sticks?

It totally differs. Sometimes I start with one idea and things just kind of fall into place. Sometimes I have a clearer idea and then it’s a great feeling if I manage to see it through.

8. Describe your current studio setup?

Not much to be honest, I do almost everything on the computer but I do have a Little Phatty from Moog here that I use sometimes. Old Rokit-KRK speakers. Very basic.

9. All of your music has a very fuck-you, punk attitude—where does this come from?

I was a massive punk rocker when I was a little kid and a walking encyclopedia of punk and new wave, I knew about more stuff then than I do now! I’m so glad I took out that little phase early in my life.


10. How did the connection with Bjarki and bbbbbb happen?

They would always come to The Burger Joint in Berlin and I cooked them delicious burgers. The burgers were so good they were like: “WTF, then this dude must make amazing beats, too.”

11. From an outsider's perspective, Iceland has a healthy experimental music scene—how do you perceive it from the inside?

Sure it does, it’s just kinda easy to get ahead in Iceland. There’s not a lot of competition. The hip-hop, electronic, and black metal scenes seem most interesting at the moment here.

12. The Nordic countries are all pushing new and interesting sounds and styles—from the Northern Electronics crew to bbbbbb and the wave of weirdo rap artists—what do you think it is about the north that leads to this free experimentation?

Björk said it best in the ‘90s: "We hear music from abroad and misunderstand it in a beautiful way."

13. Who are some of your favorite artists in the scene there and why?

Bngrboy is the best producer in the world, no cap. He’s just a beast. I can’t explain!

14. Your new EP on bbbbbb signalled a shift towards a clubbier, more techno-focused sound—what lead to this shift in your style?

It was really the osmosis of constantly hearing club, techno, and house music in Berlin. I also feel like I upped my production game a lot so it all came together.

15. Do you think these clubbier sounds still have new areas to explore? If so, what do you think this would sound like?

For sure, it’s like the wild west. I wanna try out new tactics of sonic warfare and change how people think!

16. You recently played Sónar Reykjavik—how was it?

Sónar was dope as usual. I didn't really manage to see much at the festival though. My girl Countess Malaise kinda stole the scene before my gig, she really killed it! We were actually trying to link up with Danny Brown but it was his birthday and he tweeted he was "off of 300 mgs," whatever that means. So, next time.

17. What’s the weirdest experience you’ve had with a fan?

Once this girl knocked on my front door and said to my very perplexed face that we had been communicating telepathically for the last three months. I simply replied: “I don’t recall.”

18. If you could listen to one record for the rest of your life what would it be?

My Bloody Valentine Loveless is my ultimate favourite album. It’s oddly holistic even though it does have imperfections.

19. What do you have coming up this year?

I’ve got a lot of new projects that are ready, a lot of new music. I’m going to travel, play shows, and hopefully work on a lot more soundtracks. I’ve also been creating articles on music for the biggest culture show on the radio back home, which has been great. I'm also excited about my next release on bbbbbb. The tracklist for the next release hasn't been arranged but a lot of the clubbier stuff I've been making is set to be released on the label soon.

20. What will do after answering these questions?

I’m gonna eat some pizza, my guy. I also got my soundcard hooked up to my VCR so I need to have a little sample session. Then I’m recording some rap features I’m doing.