Sundlaugin Studio is a recording studio situated in the town of Mosfellsbær Seven miles east of Iceland’s Capital Reykjavík.
This place use to be a Swimming Pool until it was converted into a Recording studio and is currently owned by the Icelandic band Sigur Rós.
Prior to my arrival i phoned the studio to ask Sound Engineer Birgir Jon “Biggi” Birgisson to see if a visit was possible?
He said this was fine.
Birgir Jon “Biggi” Birgisson has been the head Sound Engineer at Sundlaugin Studio since 2003. This is the man who basically holds the secrets to the Sigur Rós Sound.
I explained that i was a fan and I wanted to see first-hand where artists like Sigur Rós and the Album Leaf record their Music. I also wanted to get a feel for the area that surrounds the studio, It did not disappoint.
It was very generous of “Biggi” to let come inside and see the home of Sigur Rós, much appreciated. This place has the same meaning to me as Beatles Fans have to Abbey Road.
This is where Sigur Rós albums like ( ), Takk, Valtari, með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust and Kveikur were recorded, mixed and mastered by the Sound Engineer.
The Sundlaugin Studio also attracts other artists from outside of the country to record here. Jimmy Lavelle otherwise known as ‘the Album Leaf’ has been here and recorded some of his best work – In a Safe Place and Into the Blue Again was recorded here. There is an Icelandic atmosphere in these records.
The Mellotron is an polyphonic tape reply keyboard and was developed in the 1960s.
Basically the sounds from this keyboard are live recordings from a live Orchestra and
other Musical arrangements recorded onto tape loops. You simply press the key which
triggers the tape loop and it replicates the sounds of other instruments. You could argue that this technically could be the first Sampler.
The Mellotron became hugely popular after ‘the Beatles‘ used it on various songs but
most importantly the track Strawberry Fields Forever. The Moody Blues used it on Nights in White Satan, Led Zepplin on Stairway to Heaven and David Bowie adopted it for Space Oddity.
Modern bands such as Oasis, Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, Sigur Ros & Nine Inch Nails have demonstrated there is still a place in modern Music for the Mellotron.
I couldn’t possibly go into detail about each instrument the Studio has to offer but to understand the Studio Facilities and Equipment available click on the Studio Website Link: http://www.sundlaugin.com
I chatted to “Biggi” about Icelandic Music, what inspired and influenced Icelandic artists like Bjork and Sigur Ros and asked him if he could recommend any CDs worth purchasing while i was in the country which he kindly did.
I went to Lucky Records the next day and purchased the three CDs (see above)
Me and my friend Secretut enjoyed some Fish (Iceland is known for fresh fish) in a quaint cafe yards from the recording Studio. A special thanks to her for her generosity – driving me there and back to Reykjavík and being an exceptional tour guide.