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múm is an exploratory Icelandic musical group whose sound is characterized by experiments in electronic music, soft vocals, glitch beats, innovative sampling, and eerie effects with a variety of traditional and unconventional instruments. The band was formed in 1997 by original members Gunnar Örn Tynes and Örvar Þóreyjarson Smárason, and has since released six full albums, as well as a mountain of other music, singles, EPs, collaborations, and music for theater and film.
In 2013, múm released a single with Kylie Minogue, “Whistle” from the film Jack & Diane. In 2015, múm wrote a special piece named “Drowning” with German pianist and composer Hauschka, commissioned by the MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra, where it was performed that summer. múm’s most recent extracurricular project is a semi-improvised electronic music score to the silent masterpiece Menschen am Sonntag, sculpted through a series of monthly events at a local art gallery in Iceland with the aim to ultimately write a new score to the film. The band also played a special show at the 2016 Iceland Airwaves festival, collaborating with the Kronos Quartet in performances of songs from múm’s back catalog at Harpa Concert Hall.
In 1997, múm recorded most of its first album, Yesterday Was Dramatic—Today Is OK. They were joined a year later by twin sisters Gyða and Kristín Anna Valtýsdóttir, releasing two albums as a quartet, aided on the second by drummer and reggae percussion wizard Samuli Kosminen. In 2002, after the release of Finally We Are No One and the band’s first world tour, Gyða left múm to return to her studies in Reykjavík. Shortly after, the third sister, Ásthildur Valtýsdóttir, temporarily lent her vocals and Serena Tideman replaced Gyða on cello. By then, the ensemble had also evolved to include Eiríkur Ólafsson and Hildur Guðnadóttir (who both had guest appearances on múm recordings from the beginning) and Ólöf Arnalds. In early 2006, Kristín also left the band after releasing and heavily touring the album Summer Make Good. Their fourth album, Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy, was released in September 2007.
múm has always worked on projects that could be considered unusual for a pop collective, among which is the soundtrack for Sergei Eisenstein’s classic film, Battleship Potemkin. Live performances of the score took múm to film festivals around the world. The members have also composed for theater, most notably two radio theater plays, winning the Nordic Radio-theater prize in 2005. The same year, they were invited to Amsterdam by the Holland Festival to collaborate with the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra to create a performance piece based on compositions by the late avant-garde composer Iannis Xenakis.
In August 2009, múm released its fifth full album, Sing Along to Songs You Don’t Know, followed by an extensive world tour to Europe, Russia, Japan, the US, and Mexico. Nearly one year of touring ended in a spectacular show in Krakow, Poland, where the band members invited many of their friends and colleagues (Mugison, Sin Fang, Amiina, Jóhann Jóhannsson, former band member Gyða Valtýsdóttir, and many more) to play along with them, the Sinfonietta Cracovia, and the Polish Radio Choir for a spellbinding evening of music. The show was planned for release on DVD.
In the summer of 2012, múm launched a compilation of early and rare recordings, featuring 15 tracks recorded between 1998 and 2000 called Early Birds. That same year, múm was handpicked by Brian Eno to play Punkt Festival in Kristiansand, Norway.
The year 2013 saw the release of múm’s sixth studio album, Smilewound, followed with extensive tours in Asia and Europe. The album was nominated for the Nordic Music Prize the same year. In 2014, múm wrote new music for Teatr Miniatura’s staging of the Blue Planet by Andri Snær Magnason, with whom the band has collaborated extensively in the past.