Beards, bears and a man named Berndsen

Icelandic musician Davíð Berndsen, front man for eighties revival band Berndsen, has become known for his powerful live performances and unstoppable grooves

This Sunday Icelandic electro bands FM Belfast and Berndsen will play a show in Copenhagen’s Pumpehuset. Both acts are known for their powerful live performances, catchy melodies and danceable beats. We met with Berndsen front man Davíð Berndsen to learn how bears, the eighties and old Nokia mobiles have all played a part in his musical career.

The origin story of Berndsen
Berndsen was born in 1985 in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, but it was not until he was living in the Netherlands in his early twenties that he started making music in earnest. 

“It all started when I moved to Holland to study sound engineering. It was there where I met my somewhat of a soulmate Sveinbjörn Thorarensen, who is better known under his artist name Hermigervill,” says Berndsen. “We both shared this fascination with eighties synth music and from there we started making music together.”

Since that fateful meeting of minds in 2008, Berndsen has released two full length albums, his 2009 debut Lover In The Dark and last year’s follow up Planet Earth. His sound has many elements similar to recent eighties revivalists such as Twin Shadow and Kavinsky, and he claims that the throwback nostalgia is mainly due to his father’s early influence.

“I grew up listening to artists like Depeche Mode and David Bowie, and when you start making music these early influences kind of just come out by accident, they seem natural,” he says.

“Maybe things would have been very different had my dad always been listening to jazz, maybe there would be a Berndsen jazz project,” he adds, laughing.

While many people see the eighties as a goofy decade filled with weird hairdos and unlikely cop duos, he sees the period as no laughing matter.

“I think a lot of people are just joking when they make this kind of music today, but for me this is very serious. I think the eighties produced the best kind of music and was the best decade,” he says.

Berndsen live in Paris

Berndsen live in Paris

The Nokia factor
One of Berndsen’s most popular songs was the single ‘Super Time fromLover in the Dark. The song gained somewhat of a reputation online for its blood soaked music video, but the story of the song’s origin seems to epitomise his calm and almost accidentally talented approach to music.

“’Super Time’ ended up becoming one of our most popular songs, but it started out as a total joke. OK, I know that now it sounds like I’m contradicting myself, but this song is the only one that was a joke,” he says, laughing.

“I had this old Nokia 3210 phone, which had that snake game on it. I wanted to create a good alarm for the phone, so I started fiddling around on it and out came this melody, which then developed into one of our main songs.”

A conference of bears
Berndsen is also known for is his inventive music videos. His latest video was for the single ‘Gimmi Gimmi’, which features grainy footage of a topless Berndsen dancing and kissing big and hairy men at a nightclub.

“The story behind ‘Gimmi Gimmi’ is that I have a friend called Gimmi, and he is know for being a bit wacky around his sexuality, about whether he is gay or straight, and I wanted to understand where he is coming from,” he explains.

“And as it happened, there was a conference in Iceland for ‘bears’, which is this sub group of gay men who are very big and hairy. I performed a live concert there and that’s were we shot the video. I also kind of look like a bear, so I fit right in, but I found out that making out with guys does very little for me sexually.”

Berndsen, like his music, is very upbeat, and people can expect a show filled with fun, dancing and skin.

“I have become known for taking my shirt off during shows, I’m not so sure about that reputation though, but it just gets very hot on stage,” he says.

“But there is always an element of sex appeal that goes with pop music. After a recent concert an older German lady came up to me and told me very seriously, ‘I just had an orgasm’. It was a weird experience and it made me think how it would be if our genders were reversed.” M

Berndsen is warming up for FM Belfast in Pumpehuset on Sunday 16. November, at 19:00 and tickets are 170 kroner. 


By Elias Thorsson

Managing editor. @Eliasthorsson

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