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October 20, 2017

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Q+A: Of Monsters and Men singer Nanna Bryndis Hilmarsdottir



Of Monsters and Men.

Fresh off playing to packed crowds at Coachella last weekend, Icelandic folk-pop troupe Of Monsters and Men heads to Las Vegas to play Boulevard Pool at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas with fest-mates Local Natives tonight.

Frontwoman/guitarist Nanna Bryndis Hilmarsdottir, 23, discusses playing the festival circuit and shares stories from life on the road:

You just got done playing your first weekend of Coachella. How does that experience differ from other big festivals you’ve played?

It’s definitely very different. It has a special vibe to it. And it’s really hot! But I really liked it, and it’s nice to be able to do it again next weekend. Maybe it will feel like deja vu, but we’re used to traveling with festivals and seeing the same people all the time. It’s nice because now it’s a little break, we have some time to relax and see bands we’ve wanted to see in between and play in Las Vegas.

Who have been some of your favorite bands to watch at these festivals?

Last weekend, we saw Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and that was really great. We also saw The Postal Service, and I used to listen to them a lot when I was a teenager, so it was really exciting to see them. I never thought I would get to see them play. We watched Grizzly Bear, as well, who were great. I missed Justin Vernon’s new project [Shouting Matches], so I’m glad I get to see them next week. That’s the nice thing about playing festivals. Not that many artists usually go to Iceland because it’s so out of the way, so this is a great opportunity for us to see a lot of bands we like.

Do you prefer playing festivals or smaller-scale settings like The Cosmopolitan pool?

I kind of like them both. At festivals, it’s often people who haven’t necessarily heard you, and you get a chance to win them over, so I like that challenge. Smaller shows are nice, too, because people are coming just to see you, so can connect with them in that way.

How much of your success do you think you owe to timing, in terms of your sound being similar to other popular bands like The Lumineers, Mumford & Sons and Edward Sharpe?

Probably a lot. I think we owe our success to a lot of different things. It’s the people who we’re working with and dedication, but also it’s definitely timing. And there’s definitely a bit of luck to it. There are so many things together that are making this happen for us.

How are you received now when you go back to Iceland? Is it still possible to be normal?

Oh, yeah, definitely. Iceland is a small country, and in Reykjavik, there are so many artists and musicians and actors, people don’t really care. And we don’t mind that. I have a pretty normal life at home. Except I don’t have a home right now, so maybe that’s not very normal. I’m homeless, but aside from that …

Is that because you’ve been on the road for so long?

Yeah. I used to rent an apartment, and we were always touring, so I just figured I’ll put my stuff at my mom’s place. It’s nice, you go back home, and someone is cooking for you. I usually stay with my boyfriend’s parents, and his parents are good cooks, so it’s great.

What’s one of your favorite stories from life on the road?

The guys in the band are really big Queens of the Stone Age fans, and they really love [frontman] Josh Homme. We were playing Lollapalooza in Brazil, and Queens of the Stone Age were playing, as well, so the guys were very excited. We were all down in the bar by the hotel lobby getting a drink, and, of course, there’s Josh Homme, and he starts shouting at the youngest of us, our guitarist, who has a baby face and looks very young, “You! How old are you?” People were staring, and it was like, “Oh my God, Josh Homme is trying to kick me out of this bar in front of everyone!” But then our guitarist told him he was 22, and Josh was like, “OK, you’re fine.” So, that’s how they met their hero.

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