Real girls in their own place.
Not too crazy and just a pinch of naughty...
Interview by Falene Nurse
Photographs by Steed Lord
The city was hot, damn hot and I’d been searching for Iceland’s Holy Trinity for quite a while now. Albeit foolhardy without any address, recent sightings or even a cell number. A couple of leads had led me to a flea market in Silver Lake, a late night champagne dance party and a Scandinavian knitting circle dedicated to Bjork. But still, no joy.
Through the great vine, I had heard that the best place to find them was in New Crack City; where they liked to go to create both their music and art. The problem was this particular city was a fictitious one of their own invention. KALI,MEGA and DEMO (*nope, those aren’t their real names either), the art-collective known as STEED LORD are renowned for creating block-rockin’ beats, emotional synth-pop and occasionally a rather stylish clothing line for H&M. The trio are notoriously hard to physically trace, 100% DIY (do it yourself) and possibly slightly mad. So this interview might be a bit tricky to pin down.
I mean how could a recluse-writer find these elusive Icelanders, in an imaginary place based on a 90’s crime drama? I decided probably by going home first, the chances of me stumbling across them in the streets of Los Feliz were pretty damn remote. Like I said, the city was bloody hot! Upon returning to my abode, I immediately took to the internet and this is what I found. Steed Lord was originally the nickname givento their delightful, autistic, Persian kitty—Mr. Elvis. Apparently, he conjured up fanciful ideas of British noblemen, whilst posing freeze-frame in their living room. I also discovered an email address and started a correspondence, here’s an excerpt of the messages I received from New Crack City.
How did you decide to converge into a musical performance art project?
We have always done everything around the band ourselves, as far as the artworks, graphics, photography, designing our own merchandise and clothing lines. All the visuals in our live shows and costumes for the stage. And when we started to direct and shoot our own music videos (and short films), we thought it would be best to explain Steed Lord as a musical art project. Since this is a lifestyle to us and 100% DIY—this is just what we do.
Does the name Steed Lord have anything to do with a horse and the British gentry?
Yes! Our autistic cat ‘Elvis’ used to pose as a horse statue in our living room and we used to call him ‘The Royal Steed Lord’, so that’s where the name comes from. Mr. Elvis, the noble British, autistic, Persian Steed!
Who writes most of the lyrics/songs?
Kali writes all the lyrics, but the songwriting and production is always a very collaborative process.
When is your next album coming out?
End of summer. The Prophecy pt. 1
Does Mega create most of the mixes and beats?
No Demo and Mega both produce and work on all of the mixes, either together or separately… depends on the tune.
Is it true that the group was formed after Demo gave Kali a house-beat for her birthday?
Yes that is true. On february 8th 2006 in Iceland.
Do you think that you are eccentrics?
No and Yes and No.
What’s your favorite children’s TV program of all time?
Mega: Captain America.
Kali: Looney Tunes (Daffy & Sylvester).
Gimme some of your favorites influences, music, art, films?
Blade Runner, Vangelis, Picasso, Geiger, Fleetwood Mac, Giorgio Moroder, Whitney Houston, Mr. Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Mary J Blige, RZA, Chuck Berry, N.W.A, Brand Nubian, Daft Punk, Black Sheep, Kraftwerk, 808 State, Björk, Iceland, Tangerine Dream, The Prodigy, Akira, Alien, 80s Funk, 90s Hip Hop & RnB, Keith Haring, all the artists in our family (Egill Edvardsson, Bjorgvin Halldorsson, Krummi, Elli, Gudjon Bjarnasson….) we can go on and on like popcorn!
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
Mega: Desperate Housewives (thank God it’s over) & Huell Howser.
Demo: Jersey Shore.
Kali: McDonalds & Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
Tell me a secret about Steed Lord?
Well it wouldn’t be a secret if we told you.
Are MEGA, KALI and DEMO your real names?
No. Einar Egilsson, Svala Bjorgvinsdottir and Edvard Egilsson.
(I think it might be safer for me to stick to their monikers).
If you were having a dance off and you were all in the dance off, what would the 3 tunes be?
Mega: Songbird by Kenny G (lyrical contemporary choreography).
Kali: Pharoahe Monch - Simons Says.
Demo: Anything by Simply Red.
2 brothers and one brother’s girlfriend make up the collective, did I get that right?
You sure did!
How was New Crack City created and why?
We needed a name to fill in the city section on Myspace and Mega has always been obsessed with New Jack City and Crack. As in good shit, not the drug. So it became our city, the city where we create our music and art.
Who would Steed Lord be in a previous life?
Kali: A big puffy cat.
Demo: An Icelandic horse.
Mega: A sea horse or a stingray.
What year did you all first relocate to LA?
The year that Michael Jackson died.
Did you collectively suffer from culture shock?
No. We have all spent a lot of time in the US since we were kids… so no shock there.
What do you think of LA?
We love it, but you have to surround yourself with real homies and real people to feel at home.
What is WeSC and how are you involved?
WeSC is a Swedish clothing and lifestyle company that support the art and music of Steed Lord and many other WeActivists.We have been WeActivists since 2007, which means we are the faces for the brand and we take part in their campaigns. The reason we roll with them, is because we get to be ourselves and do a lot of fun projects. They are fellow Scandinavians, we feel like one big family.
Did you design the glasses on their site?
No, we directed, shot and starred in the commercial for the Super x WeSC Sunglasses collaboration.
Have you designed clothes for H&M?
Yes we designed a small clothing line with H&M for their ‘Divided’ brand, back in 2007.
It was a lot of fun, we got to express our colorful side and to our surprise it sold out in over 100 stores, in over 50 countries. It was kinda nuts.
Tell me 3 of your favorite photographers to work with?
Inez Van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin, Annie Leibovitz and Terry Richardson.
What do you all think of the MIMP concept?
Your videos are incredibly colorful and flamboyant, does that reflect your sound or your personalities?
Yes I guess it reflects our personalities, style and vision, but we are always experimenting. So we might do a black and white video next. Who knows.
You collaborate/work a lot with choreographer Sonya Tayeh, how did that come about?
Sonya reached out to us, she wanted to create something for us and it ended up with us all being best friends. We love her passion for art, dance and music, as well her drive and enthusiasm. We certainly connect on an emotional and artistic level, so we will be working closely together in the future. Sonya is a part of the Steed fam now.
When she used Vanguardian for her routine on SYTYCD, did you get goosebumps watching those dancers?
That one kid had a bullet still lodged in his shoulder!
We were actually in the audience during the shooting of that episode and it was amazing, seeing Sonya’s choreography come alive to our music. But when we saw it on TV and the impact it had online, it made us humble and proud, kinda made us think about when we were young. Vacationing here in the US with our parents, watching American TV and admiring the shows and music on TV back in the 80’s. Now all of a sudden, us three kids from Iceland, we have our song that we created from our home in Iceland, on national TV in the US. Pretty surreal…
Kali has some pipes, how does Iceland continually produce female singers that can belt out a tune?
There is magic in the Icelandic water… and it continues to produce a bunch of talented artists and musicians.
Was Demo in a Levi’s ad, or was that just a person that looked very much like him?
No, the long haired Viking himself was actually in a Levi’s commercial!
When you all come back in the next life, what will you be?
Mega: Hopefully a turtle in a crystal clear sea of emotions.
Kali: A really good, purry kitty.
Demo: I’m not sure, but one thing is for sure. I will, be on Pluto!