Podcast 549: Hólmar - XLR8R
Over two hours of ambient bliss from the former Thugfucker man.

Legend has it that Hólmar (real name Holmar Filipsson) was born during the dawn of winter solstice, way up in the highlands of Iceland, to one of its oldest and most secret “Hidden People” communes. Sadly his elvish mother passed from complications during birth, and one fateful night not long after he was found by his human adoptive parents. They were sheep farmers in the valley below and in a letter they found by his side, they were promised the protection of their flock in exchange for raising him as their own. Knowing the many tales of wrath inflicted on villagers not complying with their highland neighbors, they took him in straight away and Holmar spent his formative years on their quaint farm. 

His mother, an avid swimmer, would bring him to the cold mountain lakes during the summer months and teach him all there was to know about being the best there was in the water. During one of these lessons, he was discovered by the national synchronized swimming coach, who by chance was hiking in the area. Enamored by Hólmar’s raw talent, he negotiated his move from the tranquil countryside to the nation's capital, Reykjavik City. There he began his training and quickly became an integral member of the Icelandic squad. It was during the course of his training for the Olympics in Seoul, that he suffered a serious injury which ended his professional swimming career abruptly. Fortunately, he was able to continue his passion for synchronized group movements above water and formed a dance troupe called the Black Widows. He traveled with them all over Scandinavia winning multiple competitions and dance-offs.

During his time with the Widows, he discovered his passion for music while putting together playlists for their shows. Eventually, he was asked to perform these playlists "live" at parties all over Reykjavik's then-bustling underground scene. After many late night gigs, not showing up to practice and seriously messing up some of their shows, he was promptly ousted from the troupe. This was a devastating moment for Hólmar and after a great deal of soul-searching, he moved to New York—where he hit the ground running and started throwing rollicking parties all over the Big Apple. He formed the infamous Crack & Speed Records with his good Parisian friend Jef-k, where he then debuted his music as a part of the “super” group Mr. Negative & The Spencer Filipsson Experience.

During one of Hólmar’s parties on the Lower East Side, he met Greg Oreck and shortly thereafter founded Thugfucker. After working together for a few years, during one hot summer night in Hólmar’s studio in Williamsburg, they created "Disco Gnome." This record ended up being the first release on Life and Death Records and launched them into the international spotlight alongside Tale Of Us and DJ Tennis. He spent the ensuing years touring with Oreck and fellow mates at Life and Death, causing general mayhem all around the globe. Away from Life and Death, Oreck and Hólmar's releases landed on Was Not Was, Brique Rouge, and their own Thugfucker Recordings. 

Holmar departed Thugfucker towards the back end of 2017, intent on launching his solo career and working on other collaborations. Besides his solo work, he invests his time in Lovestruck with Nico Stojan, Theory of Light with Brian Cid, and The Birds Fly South with Maxxi Soundsystem; while his first release in 2018 will be an EP with LA’s Jon Charnis. He is also a part of a new DJ collective the infamous Twisted Sisterz. 

His podcast for XLR8R is an abstract collection of serene soundscapes, many of which have been compiled over the past four or so years. It was recorded in an Ibiza villa, today, as Holmar celebrates his birthday. His aim, he explains, was to uncover a side of his music collection that is so often drawn upon, and also make a mix to make "whales happy"—though he adds that there is a lot of "murkiness" in what comes out of his mouth. Whatever the aim, press play and enjoy over two hours of ambient bliss. 

How has 2018 been for you so far?

It's been a really awesome beginning of this new adventure. My departure from Thugfucker was an emotional moment, but all good things have to come to an end. We parted ways and I've started to tour on my own; I've also been touring with some of my other homies, like Nico [Stojan] and Philipp [Jung]. There's a lot of excitement around the corner. I am also working on new music. I just signed an EP to Get Physical which will be out soon, and I will also be releasing on Cityfox. It's nice to focus on my own thing. I have an album project, too, with Brian Cid. I am also doing A&R for Cityfox, which is an exciting opportunity. It's one of my favorite labels. 

Talk to me about the reason behind leaving Thugfucker. What was the thought process behind it? 

Greg and I had such amazing adventures together. I was lucky to travel the world with my best friend. I wanted a new beginning, to try something new; while he wanted to continue on the same path and create something new there. We started as friends and we will remain friends. Greg also started a dolphin sanctuary in Florida, and he's started to record the dolphins. Alongside Eli Janney from Girls Against Boys, he's working on an ambient album where they use the sounds of the dolphins in the compositions. 

Do you expect your style or sound to change a lot, giving you’re no longer with Greg? 

I am going to start playing a lot more reggaeton and more trap music! No, in all honesty, we've always both had a pretty good idea of what we were playing, and I think I will just be a little more focused on what I enjoy. 

When and where was this mix recorded?

It was on July 3 in Ibiza. It's my birthday, so it's kind of a special day. I was invited to play Enchanted Forest in a villa, where I have been staying for the past week. It's an incredible property on this beautiful island. I wanted to do the mix live on my birthday. 

How did you choose the records that you included? 

Years ago, I started digging around online for music that touched me in a certain way, like cinematic music. There's also some Icelandic artists, and I browsed Spotify and other online stores and began making playlists of these morning chill-outs songs. I think this is often missing in clubs; it's not often you can listen to music and just completely zone out. I really appreciate this abstract music and I wanted to make a mix of all this music. 

Was there a particular idea you were looking to convey?

It really stems from an experience I had when I was six years old. At school, they gave you this project where you had to sing a song from Poland. My Mum is a writer and has a keen sense of humor. She made a poem for me, and I read it out in front of my class and I was immediately expelled. When I was singing it, I found this profound love for whales, and I realized that I wanted to make a mix that would make whales happy because there is a lot of distress in the ocean. Bring back the happy whales again! 

So what's next?

Mainly this collaboration with Billy at Cityfox. We are going to begin collaborating and bringing new artists to the label. We have a lot of really cool music to come from the likes of Matthew Jonson and Dance Spirit. There are a lot of really cool releases that will bring the label out of slumber because it has slowed down a lot over recent years.

Due to temporary issues regarding the GDPR, EU readers can download the podcast here

[Tracklisting to be added] 

Hólmar will be playing alongside Nina Kraviz, Cezar, Praslea, Priku, SIT, Jamie Jones, Mumdance, Kozo, Premiesku, Black Coffee, Sublee, Yokoo, and many more at Neversea, taking place at Neversea Beach, Constanta, Romania from July 5 to 8. You can find more information and tickets to Neversea here.