Ceasetone’s Three-Dimensional Soundscape: WERS Interview

In Studio :: 03.13.18

Ceasetone at Sunaana 2018 - Photography by Bobby Nicholas.

During a break in the action at the Sunaana Music and Beer Festival, 88.9’s Alex Waters caught up with Hafsteinn “Haffi” Þráinsson of the band Ceasetone. They talked about what Ceasetone has been up to since the band’s performance at Reykjavik Calling two years ago.

ALEX: We’ll start with “Two Strangers.” That’s the record you’ve got out right now and touring in support of. So far, how would you gauge the audience reaction?

HAFFI: I mean, to be honest we haven’t done a lot of touring because we’re not really at that point yet. We’ve done some festivals and stuff… I think there’s potential for more. I’m really just going into the next album and planning to do the whole big touring with that album. But the reaction has been good, I think {laughs}. It’s been great.

ALEX: That’s good.

HAFFI: Yeah, I just look forward to taking the next step, really.

ALEX: For the next record, I know you’ve teased to your fans online that it’s coming out some point this year. Do you know when in particular yet?

HAFFI: Optimistically, I would plan for the end of the year. But I would not confirm that, because this time, I just want to do everything right. Doing the content itself is just the beginning. Then you have to plan the release and do that all exactly right so you have a chance of things going somewhere. So that’s the plan. I will not do anything unless it’s completely ready to be done.

ALEX: So what’s going to be different, besides the process, from “Two Strangers,” to the next record? And does the next record have a title yet?

HAFFI: It doesn’t have a title, but it’s going to be the perfect sequel {laughs}.

ALEX: So it’ll be a follow-up from “Two Strangers.”

HAFFI: Yes. It’s going to be bigger, it’s going to be more detailed, it’s going to be more energetic. To me, it’s the fully realized soundscape from “Two Strangers.” The ideas there were in their infancy and they’ll blossom fully in the next album. That’s the plan.

ALEX: The energy that you talk about – that’s going to be a tall order to match. I was watching you play last night and it was definitely a very loud, energetic performance.

HAFFI: Actually, a lot of the high-tempo song are new stuff.

ALEX: So you’ve been trying out some of the new stuff live to see how people react to it. So far, so good?

HAFFI: Yeah!

ALEX: When we talk about your live sound, it’s a little difficult to describe. I was wondering, do you have any descriptions that you tend to use for it?

HAFFI: As in the music itself, or the live sets?

ALEX: Both!

HAFFI: Alright. The set itself, the way I arrange the group, is to keep it clean, instrumentation-wise. The core elements are there: guitar, bass, and drums. And then we use some backing tracks to fill in the blanks. We used to be five [members] and then we were four, and now we’re three. And that just keeps the ideas cleaner. When you layer too much, it starts to be a mess. So, better-realized parts for every instrument.

The music itself is really based on strong contrasts between sounds. I really do a lot of visual inspiration. I want to create this three-dimensional soundscape, which means that to create a big sound, you need to know when to be minimalistic as well. So you need to scale. You can’t just put the reverb on 100% and keep that going the whole time. It doesn’t sound big, it sounds messy.

ALEX: Right.

HAFFI: So, a lot of contrast. Electronic and acoustic elements, and so on. That’s my initial inspiration towards this project.

ALEX: How’s Sunaana been treating you so far? Obviously you played last night. Have you been able to catch any of the other bands?

HAFFI: Yeah, it sounds like a pretty good local scene, and I’m excited to hear more. It’s been a great festival. It’s a lovely location, such a cool environment. Great beer, of course. And Portland is an awesome place.

ALEX: But certainly it doesn’t compare to Iceland?

HAFFI: Actually, Portland is quite similar to Reykjavík, and the weather is quite similar too.

ALEX: So then this is a good place to have an Icelandic music festival.

HAFFI: Definitely.

ALEX: So what’s next for Ceasetone?

HAFFI: Right now? Go home, finish writing the album. I’ve almost finished writing it. Then it’s just time to start all over again and go to the studio and do it from scratch. So yeah, that’s what I look forward to now. To just go and record some new stuff.

ALEX: That’s fantastic, thank you.