Monster change for singer

Of Monsters And Men's (from left) Arnar Rosenkranz Hilmarsson, Nanna Bryndis Hilmarsdottir, Brynjar Leifsson, Kristjan Pall Kristjansson and Ragnar "Raggi" Porhallsson.
Of Monsters And Men's (from left) Arnar Rosenkranz Hilmarsson, Nanna Bryndis Hilmarsdottir, Brynjar Leifsson, Kristjan Pall Kristjansson and Ragnar "Raggi" Porhallsson.PHOTO: SYMMETRY ENTERTAINMENT

Once a video store clerk, Of Monsters And Men's Nanna Bryndis Hilmarsdottir is living her dream of performing around the world

A little over six years ago, Icelandic singer Nanna Bryndis Hilmarsdottir was holding down a job as a video store clerk.

Today, she is touring the world, performing to thousands of fans with her band, indie quintet Of Monsters And Men.

She is living out her dream, she says in a telephone interview from California, where the band were on tour. "Time passes by really fast. It freaks me out sometimes how my life is completely different now," says the 26-year-old.

"Back then, I was just out of school, trying to figure out what I wanted to do, in the same place as many people who are around 20, always thinking, 'Oh my God, what should I do?'"

Of Monsters And Men, best known for 2011 breakout hit Little Talks, will be back in Singapore to perform at The Coliseum tomorrow. They last played here at the Laneway Festival in 2013.

Hilmarsdottir had already been singing and writing songs on her own under the monicker Songbird while she was working at the video store.

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She then roped in her bandmates - singer/guitarist Ragnar "Raggi" Porhallsson, guitarist Brynjar Leifsson, bassist Kristjan Pall Kristjansson and drummer Arnar Rosenkranz Hilmarsson - and under the new monicker Of Monsters And Men, joined Musiktilraunir, an annual music competition in Reykjavik.

They won and Hilmarsdottir's life has not been the same since.

In 2011, the band released their debut album, My Head Is An Animal, which reached the Top 10 in countries such as the United States and Britain. Their follow-up album Beneath The Skin, released last year, achieved a similar feat.

Hilmarsdottir recently put up a picture of herself taking part in mass protests in her home country, part of a series of demonstrations that led to the resignation of Iceland's prime minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson. The politician was implicated in the Panama Papers, the biggest data leak in history that disclosed offshore finance scandals.

Hilmarsdottir says: "I wouldn't say I'm political, but my friends and I are conscious about what happens in our country. There are people in charge who aren't doing a good job handling your money and you care. You have to protest."

She is also very aware that she hails from a country that has also spawned many critically acclaimed indie music artists such as Bjork, Sigur Ros and Olafur Arnalds.

When asked what it is about the country that inspires such memorable music, she replies: "I don't know, it's kind of hard to say. It's many different things, I think.

"Maybe it's the isolation. It's cold and spacious and maybe that helps you be creative, to think and reflect."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 09, 2016, with the headline 'Monster change for singer'. Print Edition | Subscribe