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    Máni Svavarsson Interview With GetLazy

    GetLazy Interview with Máni Svavarsson
    January 16, 2015



    Download Audio Here

    Chris: Hello and welcome to this interview from GetLazy.net. My name is Chris Crow, and joining me from Iceland via Skype is Máni Svavarsson, the music composer for our favorite television show LazyTown. Máni, how you doing?

    Máni: Hi Chris, I'm doing fine, happy to be with you guys.

    C: I sent out a call to some LazyTown fans to submit questions for you to answer here today, and the great majority of these questions are directly from fans. I'm really excited to conduct this interview, and your fans are really excited to hear it, so how about we just jump right in?

    M: I'm ready!

    C: So our first question comes from our good friend Poek who is from the Netherlands, and she wants to know how you got into musical composition.

    M: Well I think I have to go way back, so I'll just go way back and explain that. I've been interested in music, well, since I remember, almost four, five, six years old, sneaking into my neighbors house who had a big piano, and was constantly playing the piano. Both of my parents were musicians, and they noticed that I was really into that, so they started giving me little keyboards and organs and that evolved into this double-decker Yamaha organ when I was about thirteen, and it had a little drum machine. But instead of playing songs on that that people used to do, kind of like Beatles songs or whatever you would play, I started writing songs really early on. Twelve, thirteen, I was constantly trying to write my own music and I don't know why, but that evolved into joining groups like you do when you're fourteen, fifteen years old. For some reason, I started writing the songs for those early groups. Seventeen, eighteen, the eighties were hitting us pretty badly, so I was in a group called Cosa Nostra, and that was a big eighties group here in Iceland. I wrote the songs for that group, and so I was just constantly writing songs.

    But I think it kind of really kicked in when I was about twenty-two, twenty-three years old, when a friend of mine decided to make a movie. We had been in school together and he wanted to make a movie, and this movie involved about a group trying to make it here in Reykjavík. The name of that group was Pis of Keik and we basically formed a group around that movie, with that name, Pis of Keik, and that group had a life outside of the movie. That was kind of in the nineties, so the music had moved from the cold synthesizer music from the eighties into more techno music and I wrote the songs for that group as well.

    So, after that group kind of just stopped, I tried to make a name for myself in commercial music, making jingles and stuff like that. But that wasn't a decision, it just evolved that way because I could write melodies and I think somebody in that business noticed, “Maybe you could write us a little melody for this product.” Slowly that took over what I was doing at the time and I decided just to try to live on music. So I was writing commercials and jingles for radio stations and TV stations for a little while, I think like three, four, five years. I don't know if there's one exact time when I decided to do that, it just evolved in this way and I was always trying to write my own music instead of copying other people's music. We have groups here in Iceland that will travel around the clubs or the country and play popular music today, but I was never in that. I was always trying to write my own stuff.

    C: And this was mainly a hobby for you up until about your twenties or so, is that right?

    M: Yeah, it was a hobby until I was about what, twenty-five, twenty-six I think. Yeah, around that time. Because Iceland is such a small country, it's difficult to make a living out of being a musician or a composer in Iceland. It's a pretty tough job because they don't pay the amounts that they're paid in the big world, so to say.

    C: If music was just a hobby, what was your plan for your career before you actually became a professional musician?

    M: Well, I had decided when I was about twenty-one years old, and actually about that time, twenty-one, I sold all my synthesizers and drum machines. I sold all the stuff and decided there's no future in music and I was never going to do that stuff ever again. I had decided to be an industrial designer, and design, not art, but things for the industrial industry like coffee mugs or door handles or lamps.

    C: That's very miscellaneous, I would say.

    M: Yeah, but that's what industrial designers do, they work on cool solutions for everyday things, so I really wanted to get in to that, and I even had plans to apply for a school in Norway to study that. Never quite did it, but I went to a school here in Iceland called the Industrial University of Iceland or something like that. I went there for a couple of years and I thought that would be a good starting point before my huge career as an industrial designer.

    C: In an alternate universe you would be working as a big shot in IKEA, yeah?

    M: Yeah, yeah, exactly!

    C: You mentioned that your parents were musicians. Were they a big inspiration to you or did you have any other inspirations like on the radio or any bands that you liked when you were that age?

    M: I wouldn't say my parents were inspirations when it came to music, because when I got born, they kind of quit the music career back then. My mother stopped singing, she was a singer, and my father had his own group, he was a drummer. So they both kind of stopped and decided to settle down, and my father started a record publishing company. When I was doing music in the eighties, late seventies, their music was a bit dated for me to get any inspiration from that music. My father also had a radio show, and he was on the radio every Sunday, and he used to prep his episodes back in the house, I remember him playing records and choosing songs for his show. So I would listen to all sorts of music day in and day out. He played all sorts of music. I remember him playing all these albums, choosing songs, and coming home with albums from the radio station and I think that was maybe an inspiration or a really good background. I think some people will maybe grow up with their parents listening to just one kind of music. Their favorite group, lets say, Queen or The Beatles, and that's all they hear day in and day out, but I got to hear everything from classical music to jazz music and even really old recordings from music in the twenties, and I think that was an inspiration when I think back.

    But regarding other kinds of inspirations at that time, I think it's just what was popular at the moment, really. There was nothing specific I was listening to. Well, actually Kraftwerk, the German techno group, I've always listened to them but when I look back, I can't say my music has been influenced by them. It's more their use of technology that I found really interesting and how you can hook up all these machines to a computer and so on.

    C: I remember once you telling me that you don't know how to read music, is that right?

    M: That's absolutely right. My parents tried to send me in to a little music school, I think it was called the Yamaha Organ School, or something like that, and you were supposed to read music and play these songs on the Yamaha organs. But the thing is, is that because I had a pretty good ear for the music, whenever I heard a song I was supposed to be playing by notes on a sheet, I could play it from my head by ear, and I had a really hard time pretending to be following something written on a piece of paper when I could already play it after a couple of tries. I think the teacher realized that, and he said, “For your next class I'm going to move you up two or three classes so you will have more difficult songs,” and yeah, I never showed up!

    C: Earlier you were talking about playing with bands when you were younger, did you ever play with anybody that was at the time famous or became famous?

    M: Well, not famous internationally, I would say, but famous in Iceland definitely. I was programming music for other groups, if you know what I mean. I was called into the studio, “Can you add a little cool beat here or some synthesizer sounds here and there.” But I think the biggest one I worked with, his name is Stefán Hilmarsson, and he's a really big singer here in Iceland, and I co-produced two of his solo albums. That was great fun, so I would say he's the biggest one in Iceland, if you can be big in Iceland, really.

    C: You have been working with LazyTown now since 1996, does that sound right to you?

    M: Well, actually it's earlier. I would say '93-'94. Well, I had met Magnús a couple years earlier, doing music to his aerobic routines when he was competing in that. I remember him talking about this LazyTown thing in '93-'94. He did this book, and there was a CD with the book with some little music. I'm not sure if anyone of you fans out there have that music. That's the absolutely first LazyTown music that was ever done before the first play we did.

    C: I'm not sure. I certainly don't have it. I don't know if anybody else does. As far as I know, I've never heard it.

    M: Well, I have a rare copy of that CD because it's not available, so what I'll do - I should have told you this earlier - but what I'll do is just make a copy of that. It's not songs so to speak, it's more like a moving game that Magnús was telling a story and I did the music to the story. It's more like, “We're rowing the boat, everybody row the boat,” and, “We have to run from the Lion,” or something. I don't remember exactly now. It was a really clever thing at the time and it still is, and many of the things he was talking about then, I saw him do all the way to the end.

    C: Yeah, I mean I would love to get a copy of that and to share it with all the fans, and I'm sure they'd love to hear it.

    M: Definitely! I'll work on that ASAP.

    C: Awesome. Here I have a question from a fan named Parvis from Tajikistan, who wants to know what other kinds of work you did at LazyTown aside from composing the music.

    M: I was working with LazyTown obviously in '94-'95. I was writing the music to the first play, and then we did Robbie Rotten in LazyTown at the National Theater '99-2000, and I was involved in that writing the music. But soon after that, I would say in the year 2000, I started to get more involved in other work for LazyTown. Magnús did this energy campaign, or LazyTown did this energy campaign here in Iceland, where kids at a certain age all got sent a book with stickers. So I was working on that project, writing text or going over text with Magnús and writing music to commercials to support that campaign. Soon, it just evolved that I stopped doing my music for commercials and jingles and started to spend more and more time at the LazyTown office, which was a really small office at the time, only three people working there. Magnús was constantly traveling then, trying to promote the stuff he had done, and had this huge belief that LazyTown could make it. So I was just at the office and just started to show up daily.

    Then he did this trailer, or this pilot, I'm not sure what you would say. It's this little thing, because he needed to have some visuals when he was flying abroad and showing people this. So we worked on that, and after the deal with Nickelodeon, when we actually started everything, I started to work on story ideas a little bit. I was involved in that to begin with, and in season two I was even more involved in coming up with stories, or working on stories, going over things.

    Other jobs I used to do at LazyTown is I ran the Radio LazyTown, which was a 24/7 radio station. Kind of an automated radio station but still had to be programmed. I was choosing the songs and setting that up. I also used to go over the dubbed languages that came in when it was being dubbed in another country. I would take a first pass to approve voices, “Yeah this is a good Ziggy, and this is a good Sportacus,” etc. Or, “Can you make the Mayor sound a little bit more like this?” So that was another thing I did besides music in LazyTown.

    C: So, back to work as a composer, could you tell us a little bit about the process in which a song is composed for an episode? A lot of fans are really interested in hearing about this process, including Jobe from California, Katya from El Salvador, and a fan that goes by the name MsBoku.

    M: Well obviously, because I was involved in the story creation when we were trying to come up with stories, sometimes I would just sit in on meetings even if it wasn't my story or if I wasn't contributing anything. I would know really early on what the episode would be about, what the story would be covering, and in each of these meetings we mentioned the song, “Where is the song going to fit?” Because that was a difficult task, where to fit the song, sometimes. So when we knew where we would fit the song, we all knew what the feeling or what the story in the song should be telling to drive the story. Sometimes, you couldn't have a song to drive the story, you would just almost have to make a pause in the episode and have a song. But sometimes, the song could drive the story, if you know what I mean.

    I'm one of those persons that goes on first instinct and usually after those meetings I would sit down and just have like a piano sound on my keyboard and just see what happened. Usually the first idea I worked on, it evolved from that. Very rarely it happened that I would come up with five different ideas for a song and I would then pick from one, or Magnús would pick from one, and for a couple of reasons. We didn't have time, really, to do that. We had to trust that we were good at what we were doing and just go with the first idea and work on it from that.

    To describe the process then after that, I would work on the song and Magnús would be involved in that. He would come and have a listen and give his goal, and that was all fine with me. It's his creation, his vision, and he usually had a certain sound or certain thing in his head, and I think that's one of the reasons why me and Magnús worked really well and closely together for so many years, is that we were usually on the same page. He doesn't know music so to speak. He knows what he likes, but he can't read or write music, so he would have to describe to me what he was looking for. I guess you guys have seen him, he's animated and sometimes uses strange stories to describe what he's looking for, and that's fine. Some people didn't understand it, but I just understand immediately what he wanted. So when he said, “The song goes like this, and here were just sailing slowly on the water in the song.” Even if the song had nothing to do with sailing or water, I knew he was just talking about I want the song to calm down. “And then now up here we're running up the mountain and the lion is chasing us,” I know he wanted something victorious in the song, something big is happening here, and this goes almost both for the songs and the underscore, that was it.

    If you want me to describe what would happen after that, we would work on the lyrics at the same time. In the beginning, we had Mark Valenti. He worked on many of the lyrics, and Mark Zaslove. Then as things progressed, I started to be more involved in the lyrics, and I'm not sure how that came about. I actually blame it on lack of time. We didn't have time to wait for lyrics, so I just started writing them. So from season three and season four I think I wrote most of the lyrics. Some of the lyrics in season one I wrote completely, also.

    Then I would get a demo going. I would call in either Julianna or Chloe to get the correct key for them to sing in, and this was all happening pretty fast, believe me. Sometimes, I was doing that on a Monday and the video was going to be shot on Thursday, so in that little time I would have to find time with Julianna and Chloe to practice the song, then get them in to record the songs, and the other actors, if I was having backing vocals, I needed them to come in from the set, run into the music studio and that was the great thing about having everything under one roof. We could get people in and out pretty fast. If they had a spare ten minutes there, I would get them and I would talk to the assistant director and tell him in the morning, “I'm going to need this person for fifty minutes today and this person for an hour,” and he would try to sort out the time. We did this as we went along in the production period, instead of having everything ready before we started production. That was a good and a bad thing in a way to do it that way.

    C: About how long would you say would it take for a song to be just in your mind, to complete?

    M: I would say on an average, lets say a song was worked on, lets say a three weeks period, I would be working a little bit on it on the story meeting, and then making the first demo, but if I put everything together, I would say about a week.

    C: For one song? You'd make a song in a week?

    M: Yeah, from Monday til Friday. If I would be working nine to six everyday for a week, that would be writing the song, making a demo, getting it approved, finding the key, doing a rough arrangement, recording the artists, and then working on the final production.

    C: “Bing Bang” is the song you wrote the fastest, is that right?

    M: Yeah. Actually, some of the songs that came out the fastest, and “Bing Bang” is one of them, I would say two or three others, are songs that are really memorable from the show. I can mention them here if you want to, so it was “Bing Bang,” obviously, and then it was “Anything Can Happen,” “Cooking by the Book,” and the pirate song. I would say all of the hooks in these songs, maybe I worked a little bit on the verses, but the main melody that gets stuck in everybody's head just came out almost from just sitting down and playing it out almost in one go.

    C: You are the genius that wrote the lyrics, “It's a piece of cake to bake a pretty cake,” is that right?

    M: Yeah, I wrote that line. The song was written around that line, the melody, but first I had the, “It's a piece of cake to bake a pretty cake,” and, “Duba duba duba duba dum,” came after we had the words. Usually, I had some sort of melody and we would fit the words into the melody, in this case it was the other way around. We had this funny line, “It's a piece of cake to..,” I almost can't say it! Also you got, “Never use a messy recipe,” and things like that. But the great thing about that song, and I think the “Bing Bang” song as well, what's so catchy about it, it's not the melody - well of course it's also the melody, - but I think it's the way the melody and the words work together. You almost want to sing it. There's something fun that makes you smile about saying, “Bing bang diggiriggidong,” or saying, “Never use a messy recipe.” It's, I'm not sure if I can explain it.

    C: I know exactly what you mean man, I know exactly what you're saying about that. So, speaking of song demos, Alison from England actually had a specific question regarding those. She was wondering if you sing them yourself, or if the cast sings just over a generic melody track that they have lyrics to.

    M: So, in season one, we used to get a singer in called Margarét Eir to do the demos. She's a famous singer here in Iceland and a good friend of mine. Margarét Eir is actually the voice of Trixie in the song “Step By Step.” I don't remember why she was the final voice in that song, because the woman that was Trixie at that time, she could sing, but maybe we thought Margarét was better or something, I'm not quite sure, but anyway, Margarét used to do the demos to begin with, and I would give Julianna those versions with Margarét's voice on top of them for Julianna to practice.

    But that kind of evolved as well, and soon I think in season two, but mainly season three and season four, I was just singing all the demos myself. I'm not a singer, not at all, but I can keep a tune, I can hold a tune. It was difficult for me to hear my own voice because I think I'm quite nasal and ridiculous. That's what everybody thinks about their voice, but then I just got over it and started singing the demos myself. It saved time, it was easier for me to explain the notes I was hitting. Sometimes, I would have to transform my voice to be in a different key so Chloe would understand what I was doing. But I would say, season one and two we had the actors doing it, or an outside person, in season three and four I was doing it myself.

    C: Are we ever going to hear the unreleased Máni versions of the song?

    M: No!

    C: This next question comes from a fan who goes by the handle of sportafake and he is from Mexico City. He wants to know if you could tell us an interesting story about the development of a specific LazyTown song.

    M: Yeah, there's an interesting story behind “All Together” from season three. I was struggling with that song, and then just, time was running out. I remember it was Monday morning, and I didn't have anything, and they were going to shoot the video on Wednesday. So I had to go to the production department and tell them, “The song isn't ready, you will have to reschedule for the video to be shot on Thursday, even Friday, because I still don't have a song.” I didn't have a demo, even. I had nothing. Then I realized I just had to sit down and write something, now. They agreed to kind of move the video to Friday but they said, “We can not move it any more and at the end of the day we really need a demo of the song. There's no 'ifs' and 'buts,' because Chloe has to learn the song and we have to figure out how the video's going to be,” and so on and so and so.

    So I sat down and I started playing with chords. I started using the chords that are in the chorus. Magnús wanted this to actually be a fast song, but it's not that fast, I think it's like one hundred and six or ten beats per minute, but it has this kind of groove behind it. I started playing with drums on top of those chords and I think it was about eleven o'clock Monday when I had that going. I just had that kind of looping, and I started singing some sort of catchy hook. I was looking for a catchy hook on top of those chords. I just did it again and again and again until this, “Oh-way-oh, oh-way-oh-way-oh, oh-way-oh, all together,” came out. But I always thought I would change the words “oh-way-oh.” I was thinking that that was just kind of dummy words I was coming up with just to sing anything, but I was always picturing, you know, “together, we're gonna make it,” something. It was going to be words, but I just had the “oh-way-oh” thing. I got Magnús for like five minutes to run from the studio around twelve o'clock on Monday, and I played this for him, and before I could tell him that “oh-way-oh” was just dummy words, I said, “Okay, this is what I've got. Listen.” He said, “Brilliant! I really love the 'oh-way-oh!'” “Oh, really,” I said. “Yeah, yeah, let's keep the 'oh-way-oh.' That's brilliant.” “Oh.” So I didn't tell him I was planning something completely different. I was planning to make some words for that song.

    So we just kept the “oh-way-oh,” but then they had to do a little break on the set, and I think that was about three o'clock, and I had this idea. They had to stop because they were moving the cameras and moving the set, so I asked the production manager if I could run in with my recording equipment and get everybody in the studio to form a little choir and sing, “oh-way-oh, oh-way-oh, all together.” That's what we did! So, the backing chorus in that song is the makeup artists, it's the carpenters, it's the painters. They are all singing in a big choir this, “oh-way-oh.” I recorded that like four times and then mixed that together to form this huge choir in the background. When I had that kind of choir thing going, that was finished about four o'clock, and I had the chords there, I had the beat going, I had these “oh-way-oh” voices, the rest of the song just came together almost in a couple of hours. I was so excited, because this was both kind of like a new sound to LazyTown I thought. This big choir backing vocals.

    I finished writing the song that Monday afternoon and into Monday evening, and on Tuesday morning I got Chloe in to find the right key, and actually I knew this was the correct key for her, and I had already recorded this big choir so there was no way going back. But yeah, it was a perfect key for her, and she sang the song on Wednesday and we shot the video, part of it on Thursday, part of it on Friday, and then I finished the final arrangement of the song the week after with this big drum pattern in there, “jinka-jinka-junka-junka-jin ka-jing.” We wanted to make this kind of almost like a little Brazilian feel, football feel for it.

    C: Yeah, I think you got that nailed. I think you did a really good job with that.

    M: Yeah, so that was the first one that came to mind, because I think this is one of the best songs from season three, and sometimes things just happen like this.

    C: Awesome, man, that's a great story. I have another question here from Henry, who is from Berlin, and he wanted to know if there were any LazyTown songs that, for one reason or another, just never made it out of the studio, and to this day remain unheard by any fans.

    M: I think there are only a couple of songs that never made it. The first song I worked on for season three was the surprise song, “Life Can Be a Surprise.” I started working on that song and I was really happy with it. I thought it was kind of sweet and we knew that Stephanie was gonna be singing it, walking through the woods. Then I played that song for Magnús, this is kind of when we were getting back into the production period of season three, and I called Magnús, I asked him to come into the studio and I played this for him, and he said, “Yeah, this is one of the worst songs I've ever heard.” I was like blown away, I said, “Really?” “Yeah,” and he said, “I think you're just out of practice because we haven't been in production for a little while now.” I said, “I'm really surprised because I think this is a good melody,” and he said, “Nope.” Maybe because we had so much time back then. This is kind of three months before everything kicked off. We were just, almost chilling comparing to how manic it is in production period. But I was just playing along, you know, just working on little things here and there. So he said, “Yeah, just throw that away, never play it again, and just start again.” I'm really glad he did because the song I came up with after that, which is the song we used, is a much better and a much stronger song. But that song is still in my files, and that's the first one that comes to mind.

    Some other songs maybe changed a little after Magnús gave his comments. Maybe they got a little faster or more powerful, or I would change the ending of the chorus or something. But no, I wouldn't say there are many songs. Maybe one other song that never made it, the song for “Lazy Scouts.” The first demo of that also got killed. It never made it. It was much more of a marching song because I had scouts in my head and I don't know, maybe they don't do marching, but for some reason I saw scouts marching so I made this, “dun-dun-dun-dun, dun, dun, rtt-dun-dun-dun, dun, dun,” kind of this feel. Almost like a marching band playing and Robbie kind of leading the guys in this marching victorious scouting song, and I'm really glad that got killed. I'm not sure Magnús even ever got to hear that, I think it was just me that listened to it the day after and just, “No, this is so boring.” So I started again, fortunately, because that's one of the songs I really like, you know, the get lazy song, you know “Get Lazy.”

    C: The website I'm doing this for is called GetLazy.net, which I'm sure you can figure out where that the name for that comes from.

    M: Brilliant, yeah!

    C: So yeah, that's the motto. So you also do underscoring for the episodes, and while I was out there last year I was actually lucky enough to watch you do some of this, but could tell us a little about how you approach underscoring an episode and maybe how it differs from how you write a song?

    M: Yeah, definitely. That's a whole different process, obviously. I think I can even go back to '92-'93 when I was doing the music to Magnús's aerobic routines, because what we did there is almost score music to his movements. I mean, if he would stand up and do little robotic moves or do his jump-split or whatever, I would record that and then make sounds to that to make it powerful, and that was the approach when we started scoring the episode. Sportacus, to make him even more powerful, we would have these accents almost on every single move he did, and I guess you've all seen when he does his signature move, you have this “dun-dun-dun.” Then you have the little thing from “No One's Lazy In LazyTown,” “dun-dun-dettle-undun,” which is the “den-da-den-dun-dun-dun-dettle-da-da-dun-dun-dettle-undun.” I would use this theme for Sportacus, and if you watch the episodes closely, I don't know, maybe you notice guys, but Magnús - well, not Magnús - Sportacus, moves in rhythm almost every single move. When he's jumping, flipping, saving; it's all on beat. Me and Magnús realized when we were trying to figure out, “What is the tempo of Sportacus,” and I can tell you, it's 168 beats per minute. That's the tempo he moves in, and that's really fast! That is actually the tempo of the song “No One's Lazy In LazyTown.”

    Anyways, so that's Sportacus, he has music. When he's on screen, there's music. The same goes for Robbie Rotten. When he's sneaking around, I would use classical kind of evil guy notes “dun-dun-dun-dun-dun doo-doo-doo-doo-dun,” and I think this music is a mixture of, it's Tom & Jerry, in a way, and then mixed in with kind of this epic movie music we hear on modern movies, even. So it's mixing those two worlds together. LazyTown has music, I would say, almost, through underscoring, through all of the episode one way or the other. You hear music constantly, you know, “wah-wah-WAH,” you know, these little musical bits to add to the humor, or to the excitement, or awkwardness of Robbie or whatever, there's constantly little musical notes going on behind. Sometimes, personally, I thought we were doing too much underscoring, because when I would hear the episodes on telly over here, I just heard constant music, and I thought, “People must be going mad,” but that was just part of the LazyTown world. It's these really fast-edited images, bright colors, and this music, it's just, that was LazyTown, really.

    But it takes about a week, I would say, a week to a couple of weeks, depending on how much time I had, to underscore a whole episode. Again, Magnús had a lot of say there. He had a special feeling about where the main power should be, or where the fastest bits should be. Even after working on many, many episodes, he would still want to come in and have a listen and, not criticizing it, not at all, but kind of commenting on it, and, “Make this bit faster, make this quieter,” and so on.

    C: It's funny that you mentioned the BPM of “No One's Lazy In LazyTown” because I actually found that 84 bpm, which is half of 168, is actually the perfect speed for me to jog at!

    M: So that's, then you must be jogging on every other tempo, or every other beat.

    C: Exactly, just kinda, you know, trotting along.

    M: So you're half as fast as Sportacus!

    C: Oh, man, I have a long way to go! So a fan who goes by the name boblbee, who I'm not sure where he's from, but I think it's the United States, he wants to know how you think your music has evolved over the years.

    M: Ah, that's an interesting question, and may be hard for me to judge, but when I listen back to the original songs, well the songs from season one, I think they're kind of simpler, and I'm not saying that's a good or bad thing, but some of them are even more, I don't want to use the word “childish,” but more naïve, maybe. In a good way, you know, I'm not saying that that is a bad thing, not at all, but as we progressed in season three and season four, maybe season four the most, I was more looking into what was happening around me musically on the charts. The sounds, I was kind of updating the sounds I was using, because in season one, I was sometimes using a bit dated sounds, I think. Some of it sounded even a little bit eighties.

    C: It's interesting you say that, because I always kind of thought that the song “Go For It” had a kind of an eighties aerobic video vibe to it. What do you think?

    M: I totally agree. That's one of the songs that Magnús had a really strong opinion on, and actually I think that song must be in 168 beats per minute. Usually the songs that Magnús had kind of the most comments about, Go For It and also Let's Go, if you remember the, “Let's go! Let's run! Dun-dumma-da-dun ba-dun-dun-dun let's go!” That song? I think that song is also 168 beats per minute, and those are the songs that Magnús really wanted to be in this, I wouldn't say aerobic, he never mentioned that, but in this fast tempo that makes you want to move. So “Go For It” is definitely a bit of an eighties, aerobic thing.

    C: And you had Britney Spears in there, and The Vengaboys. You had all these bands you're ripping off of, brazenly.

    M: I wouldn't call it ripping off!

    C: Nah, I'm just playing.

    M: No, no no, I know what you mean. What I like to do personally is, like with Vengaboys, that was almost like a tribute to their sound, and the same goes for “I Am A Prince,” which is obviously an early Britney lookalike, of that production and that sound. It was almost like a tribute to those songs, because both what Britney had and Vengaboys, it's like they had this quality of putting a smile on a three year old as well as a forty year old. There was something about this music, even if it was kind of, like a bubblegum, you enjoy it intensely for the first few minutes you listen to it, and then you just stop listening to them. They don't have the same depth as, let's say, Queen or Abba songs. They're just kind of like, really simple pop songs. Yeah, and I'm not exactly sure what I'm saying, but I agree that I used to kind of hint at some of those songs. Sometimes it was quite obvious, like with Vengaboys and Britney. Sometimes it's more subtle.

    C: A fan named Nathan, whose also from England, he only decided to ask one question today, so you know it's gotta be a pretty good one.

    M: Okay, Nathan.

    C: Nathan's favorite song is “Galaxy,” but he wants to know what your favorite LazyTown song is.

    M: That's a really good question. There are many good songs, I think, which I have kind of special ties for different reasons to, but the song that I never get bored of, really - well, I don't get bored of any of them, what am I saying - but the song that often pops into my head is, maybe it's a cliché, but it's the pirate song. I think there's something intensely catchy about the, “da, da, da-ba-da-bam,” this melody. I often find myself humming that melody out of nowhere, maybe just at the shop picking up groceries. All of a sudden I'm humming that melody, or whistling it, hoping that nobody sees me and think I'm going mad, you know, “Here's that Máni guy again singing his own songs!” So I would think I would have to name that song and also because I was really glad and proud when I saw that song got kind of like a life of its own on the internet.

    C: Yeah, it did.

    M: That made me really happy, and even now, a rock group has made a cover of it.

    C: Yeah, yeah, the one from, like Scotland or Ireland, somewhere like that.

    M: Yeah, yeah.

    C: Yeah, that's great.

    M: Alestorm.

    C: Yeah, that's it, that's it, yeah.

    M: I also have to mention another song which is “We Will Be Friends” from season two. The only slow song we've really done. Yeah, so “We Will Be Friends” is also a song that's dear to me, and I think that song has huge potential, actually, and that's one of the songs I would wanna redo even today and get a professional singer to - not saying that Julianna wasn't professional - but you know, like a grown-up singer to do, and make a modern version of it, like update the sounds and so on.

    C: Do you think that's something you might actually do, or just kind of a fantasy?

    M: I think that's something I might actually do. I'm really planning to pick some of the LazyTown songs, get singers to change the verses a little bit maybe, and update the sound, or just do it mainly for my own entertainment and maybe just publishing them online for friends and fans. Maybe somebody will be interested in it. Use it as a little kind of, what would you call it, like a show reel or something.

    C: Yeah, well I think that sounds really cool, and you have my support, you have plenty of followers' support, and we're not going to hold you to it or anything, but it'd be really awesome if you did do that.

    M: Yes, that's definitely my plan. I'm working on setting up my new studio here, and that's one of the things I really want to do.

    C: Alison had a question related to this. She’d wanted to know if you actually listen to your own work. If we went through your music playlist, would we find “Bing Bang,” or “Twenty Times Time,” or “You Are A Pirate,” or anything like that?

    M: To be absolutely honest, no, it’s not on my playlist, but it’s on my iPod, definitely. No, so I don’t listen to it on a daily basis or anything like that, but sometimes, when I’m just chilling in front of the computer just browsing, I sometimes go through YouTube videos and listen to them there, mainly. It’s more for kinda reminiscing, or a nostalgic feel to get that feeling, instead of just listening to them and enjoying them.

    C: Here’s a question: When you're listening to these old songs on YouTube or wherever, do you ever come across one that you’re just like, “Oh man, What is this? How did I even put this out?”

    M: No, I can’t really say that, not in that way. There's sometimes these, “Ah, I should’ve spent more time on mixing that,” or, “I should’ve chosen a different drum sound for that,” but I wouldn’t say that there’s no song where I was like, “What was I thinking,” you know? I’m not saying that in a show-y off-y kind of way, I just can’t think of song that I really dislike from the series. Sometimes I just think, “This song could’ve been better or worked on a little more,” but there’s nothing I really dislike, I would say.

    C: Are you willing to name any names, or are you just going to kind of leave it vague?

    M: Yeah, one of the songs when I listen to them back, which I would have wanted to work more on - more on, not moron, - is “Let’s Go” from season two. I think that is an okay song and it fit well in the episode, but it’s not one of my, I would say, my kind of melodies that sticks in your head and that you want to sing along to. It’s difficult to sing, and maybe I didn’t realize it until the dubbed languages started pouring in, and I could hear that every singer was struggling with the song. Matti, Mattias, who is the voice for Sportacus in the song, he's such a powerful singer and he can reach these really high notes, but this is not a melody in the chorus that you just want to sing along to. “Let’s go! Dun-dun! Dun dun du-dun da-da-dun Let’s go!” It’s just weird. So, when I listen to the part, *groans.* It’s a good song in many ways, but the chorus is not singalong-y, catchy, it doesn’t make you want to sing with it for some reason. That’s my feeling, at least, so that’s the first song that comes to mind which I really wanted to go back to and change. Especially the chorus.

    C: So, we have another question from Henry, who is wanting to know what you make of the fact that your songs are remixed by fans.

    M: I think that’s absolutely wonderful and I can’t explain how proud I feel each time I hear that somebody has spent time working on my music, wanting to kind of make his [or her] own version, and I think that’s what YouTube should be all about, really; taking things and remaking them, and remixing them. It’s almost like a new art form. Instead of constantly trying to sue people, I would say that people should embrace it. This remixing, both video-wise and music-wise, should be welcomed and celebrated.

    C: Yeah, LazyTown has a big remix culture with the music, videos, pictures, everything. A lot of people just love to mess with it and make thing their own, and I think that that is a very important part of what makes the LazyTown fan community stick together, and what makes it really special and fun for people to be a part of.

    M: Yeah, I would even - I even thought of it one time, but legal reasons have stopped me from doing that - but at one time, I was thinking if I should make, maybe, some of the beats available or acapella things available, but unfortunately just due to legal reasons, and I’m not allowed to do that. I would even have lots to make some of the sounds available, you know, the stems from the songs. Maybe one day we can do that, I’m not sure, but that would be so much fun. I can only imagine thinking back when, not saying, “When I was your age,” but, when I had the time to mess around with things and play with things, if all of a sudden, Kraftwerk, or something I was a big fan of, would all of a sudden release, “Here's a bunch of our sounds for you to play with.” I would have been so happy with that. So hopefully we can do it one day, but I really enjoy it and I’ve heard so many great mixes and I have to mention Poek’s work, Pooky's work, because she’s really talented, and so many people are talented out there, but I really enjoy all of the things she done, for example.

    C: Yeah, have you ever heard the reggae version of “Galaxy?”

    M: No. I didn't know that existed!

    C: Yeah, it’s one of my favorite LazyTown covers or remixes that I've ever heard, which may or may not have to do with the fact that my favorite LazyTown song is “Galaxy,” but it is one of my favorites It's from a guy named Dub Dragoon, and I’ll have to send it to you after we’re done here because it’s really great, and I think you’ll like it. So, you’ve been working at LazyTown for twenty years, really, and the televised version of LazyTown passed the ten year mark, so do you have any favourite memories from working there all this time?

    M: So many memories. I would thing the overriding memory that covers the whole thing is just the amount of talents under one roof. When it came to the puppeteers, or the writers, and seeing the guys work on the sets. We had this kind of lounge room up in LazyTown. It was called the Hudson Room, named after the Hudson Hotel in New York. Don’t ask me why, but it was just called the Hudson Room. It was a really cool room with a billiard table, snooker table, and a cozy fireplace and leather chairs, and we often sat down and worked on story ideas there. It was so amazing to witness sometimes with just coming up with, “What about...” I especially remember when Magnús said, “What about this mayor is a pilot and he has a little plane?” I remember that I was thinking that, “How on earth are we going to do that? We can not build a plane!” Then, one month later, you see the guys pushing a plane in the hall! That happened again and again with the castle and all those amazing sets. The talent that went into drawing that, designing that, and then building that.

    My most enjoyable things was to go onto the set while they were shooting this episode to that one and thinking, “Oh, they’re working on this episode. I better check out what they made.” For example, in season four, when they did the pyramid show. I remember being really excited, and there was a buzz around the building, “Have you seen the sets? Have you seen what they’ve made?” I went into the studio and your jaw dropped every time. These people were so talented. All of these things, I’m not sure if people realize that this is all handmade. Every single prop you will see, and Robbie’s lair, and all of the things he's working with; it’s all handmade. Made by people in the nick of time, really. So that’s kind of the overriding memories when I get back was getting the “wow” feeling when I saw those things.

    Then, again, it’s so gratifying to see something come together. When you have words on paper and to see it slowly start to built up, and sitting on meetings where people are saying, “This is not possible,” and, “We can not do this,” and then Magnús, having this utter belief that it can be done. When people are about to give up, he would still have the drive to get everyone to push a little harder and try to come up with a new solution. When I look back, I would say that was one of the things that comes first to mind. There's no one specific thing I can mention.

    C: Well, when I was out there, I definitely got the exact same feeling where you walk in and you kind of have to bring yourself back down to earth and say, “Wait a minute, they’re doing this for who? Five year olds? What? Are you sure? All these people with all this amazing talent are doing all this for kids that probably won’t even remember seeing this?”

    M: I think that’s what makes LazyTown stick out, and what’s gonna keep LazyTown alive for a long time. This amount of energy, and quality, and hard work, and these talented people putting everything in it, that’s going to make it live.

    C: LazyTown can go through periods of production and non-production, sometimes spanning years. What kind of work to you do on the side when LazyTown is not in production? Do you do commercials still, or what kind of stuff do you do?

    M: No, actually, there hasn’t been much work on the side because in between these big productions for LazyTown, we’ve been working on either live shows, or campaigns with either various companies or even governments. Something has been going on even if we were not in production. The thing I’ve been working on, I wouldn’t say on the side, but after doing the live show in 2007 in the UK, I got to know these guys that produced that really well, a couple of companies that produced the show. Limelight and Firey Angel is the name of those companies, and they have two specific roles; one of the companies is more of a production company, the other is like financial production side of the company. So I got to know these guys really well, and they’ve done other shows for children shows like Peppa Pig, Ben and Holly, and most recently, Octonauts. Those television shows don’t have a lot of music in the television shows themselves, so when they did the live shows, they needed live music, and I started working with them by writing the music for the live shows. That’s been a great experience, and I can picture myself working with these guys in the future because they're such loving, hardworking people, and they did great things for LazyTown with the live shows. Both the Pirate Adventure and the first one, Roboticus. Like I said, I wouldn't say that's on the side, but I’ve been getting more and more involved with those guys, but I’m not working on commercials. Well, actually, I will do the occasional commercial, especially if it's a company I used to work for back in the days, and they want their melody to be updated or something. Something I wrote ten years ago or even more, I will sometimes work with them on making it shorter, faster, longer, or just update the sound of my melodies.

    C: So this next question was by far the most popular. Almost everybody that asked a question had at least one regarding the current situation with LazyTown. We know that Magnús has sold LazyTown to Turner, and we know that the studio building is now up for sale. The fans are looking for some answers here. Now, I don’t expect any official statements or anything like that, but do you have any answers to these questions that these fans might have?

    M: So it’s just mainly regarding the future of LazyTown?

    C: Yeah, I would say that they are most concerned, honestly, about what's going happen with the sets, and the props, and all the stuff that is really so important to LazyTown. What's going to happen to all that?

    M: Yeah, so the situation with LazyTown at the moment is, as I guess you all know, we've stopped production and we've closed down the production facility here in Iceland, at least for now. The reason being that LazyTown was sold to Turner, and Turner started production of season three and season four and funded that, but now I think their feeling is that they have enough episodes to be what is called “evergreen” in this business, which means that you can start on season one up to season four, and you will have this package that TV stations like. They will get episodes to run for almost two to three years with on-off breaks, and I think that was their goal with making season three and four, just to have a bigger package of episodes, and that’s what they have now.

    LazyTown is quite expensive in production, and in the end of the day, this all has to do with business. I don't know much about that side, but things have to make sense business-wise. If the product you’re showing is not delivering the money you're putting in to it, you will stop making that product, whatever that is. I’m not saying LazyTown isn't making money for Turner. Turner needs television content, first and foremost, and that's what LazyTown is giving them. I’m not sure Turner is really interested in the licensing part of it so much - I’m just thinking out loud here - I haven’t seen any kind of ideas about
    either new toys, or new games that they can sell with the show. Hopefully some company will, in the end, because I think there’s a great opportunity there, which is a win-win situation for everybody, and that’s what Magnús used to say. He used to say, “The great thing about LazyTown is that everybody wins.” When parents will spend money on something connected to LazyTown, they're doing something active and healthy for their children, and it’s just a good business model, so I really hope that’s going to keep on going.

    But regarding the future of production, I honestly don’t know. I would love to see production start again, but at the moment, I doubt it. But what’s going to happen to the sets and the props? That’s a good question. It hasn’t been destroyed or anything. I know it’s been taken down in the studio and it’s been packed away, but this takes an enormous amount of space and somebody has to pay for the storage facilities and all of that. I know we had dreams here in Iceland that maybe we could open up either some sort of museum, or work with the artistic university over here, the art university. Everyone that sees the props and the sets up close just gets inspired on how what you make. So, I hope they don’t end up in boxes somewhere and then they would be thrown away in ten years time or anything. I really hope that someone will do something with then. So that’s my hope, but honestly I'm not sure what’s going to happen.

    C: Well, it would frankly break my heart if the stuff was just tossed away, so I also hope that that’s not the case. You mentioned that Turner doesn’t really have a whole lot to do with licensing, although a couple fans were asking about soundtrack releases for the latest couple of seasons. Do you know anything about if Turner is thinking about that or if they’re going to get someone to produce some CDs?

    M: The last thing I knew was that we have a partner in the States that is working on the music, at least season three. I’m not sure if there was a CD that came out or -

    C: Yeah, there was a CD here in the United States for season three, yeah.

    M: Yeah, so I’m hoping that’s gonna happen also for season four, but maybe it goes straight to iTunes. I’m not really sure about the situation, but I think it makes perfect sense to - not because I wrote the music, - but it just makes perfect sense to release the songs, one way or the other, because I think LazyTown is a special show. It has almost a new song in each episode. In a few episodes, we will hear a repeat of songs, especially from season one, but in season two, three, and four, there’s a new song for each episode, and that makes LazyTown stand out. Music is such a universal thing. You can enjoy LazyTown by just listening to a couple-of-minutes song, instead of sitting down and watching telly for half an hour, or whatever. I really hope the songs will get released, and actually, it’s been on my list to contact somebody at Turner and have a conversation with them. Is there something that I can do to make that happen, because I would love to see that happening, like I say, not only for me, but just for LazyTown in general. I think this has to be out there and live.

    C: Well I couldn’t agree more, and I hope so as well, but with the future of LazyTown being currently pretty uncertain, do you have any plans for maybe what you'd like to do with your career once your career at LazyTown comes to an end? You were talking about working with the guys from the UK. Do you have something like that planned or what do you think you want to do?

    M: Yeah, for the past months I've been relaxing. I’ve been moving in to a new house, and putting my focus in to that and in to my kids and family and so I haven’t given it much thought. I know I’m definitely going to keep working with my friends from England on the live shows they will be doing, as long as they want me to work on that. Then I have a few things on my bucket list when it comes to music that I really want to do, and one of them is, I want to write a musical for kids. I really want to be in kids music or teenage music, well, mainly kids music. Some people have asked me, “Now that you’ve done kids music, do you want to move up?” I don’t think it as necessarily a step up to work for adults. I think if you’re working for kids you’re actually working for adults.

    So I really enjoy that and I think I have a talent for simple, catchy melodies that, for some reason, young kids pick easily up on, and that their parents or siblings can enjoy. Sometimes children music can get - with full respect to children’s music - sometimes it can get a bit annoying. People will put a special hat on and think, “Now I’m writing for children.” It becomes really silly or simple. Just making pop music for children, that’s what I really enjoy doing. Like I said, on my bucket list is making a musical with that in mind. I will just have to find the story and somebody to work on with that. I have a couple guys in mind that I’ve contacted.

    I’m not sure if I’d go back into the making music to jingles and commercials. The only way you can live on that here in Iceland is to work almost twelve hours a day, or even more, because the pay is not that good that you can basically live on if you're just going to work from nine til five, just because the size of the market. I’ve also been planning to contact an agent in London, maybe, and see if anybody would be interested in working with me when it comes to children’s shows, other children’s shows. Who knows what’s going to happen, but I’m definitely going to try to keep on living off the music. So that’s my plan for the moment.

    C: So that just about does it for the direct LazyTown questions, and now we have a round of miscellaneous questions, which mostly don't have to do with LazyTown but some kind of touch on it. Our first question comes from Poek, who wants to know what you think about modern music.

    M: I think modern music is great! I follow it closely. I have a brother four years younger than I am and he used to be a DJ back in the days, and he feeds me with what's going on in the dance music scene. I've always loved dance music and current dance music. I like this Swedish house music that's been coming out. When I say Swedish, I mean the Swedish House Mafia, and yeah, that's kind of really melodic powerful music and I really enjoy that. If there's one bit of music that I don't really follow I would say it's rap music or hip hop music. I'm not into that, really. But everything else, I just listen to the charts and enjoy it, like most of us, I guess.

    C: You've name dropped Kraftwerk more than once in this interview, and there were a lot of questions about what kind of music you personally like to listen to, so could you tell us a little bit about your own musical tastes?

    M: Even if I mentioned Kraftwerk, and I really enjoy them, I don't listen to them that often. Some of the music I've been listening to lately is old stuff, really. A kind of old soft jazz music for some reason; Stan Getz and Gilberto. I'm not sure if those names ring a bell.

    C: Not for me.

    M: No? It's a famous album that came out in '66-'67, a really famous album and a really good one, so I've been playing that quite a lot recently, I'm not sure why. One thing that I always like to put on is ABBA, and I've been listening to ABBA quite a lot lately, mainly because I saw a documentary on the telly the other day about ABBA; an interview with the guys. It was just so amazing what they did when it came to music, their sound and their songwriting. Then, I often put on playlists from YouTube which is just almost like chill-out music. Some people would call it elevator music, almost, or hotel music, some people call it; these Café del Mar/Budda Bar playlists. That's music that makes you kind of calm down and it's nice to put on while your cooking or just cleaning. I often enjoy music that way, just to have it in the background without focusing on it. So that's what I've been listening to lately.

    I don't have a specific taste. I'm not a hardcore follower of only this genre or this band or this artist. I will take waves and listen to this for a week and then go into something completely different for another week. I always like to have music around, and when I'm home there's always music in the background, most of the time.

    C: Do you have a favorite band or favorite song?

    M: Well, It goes back to the eighties period, really, when that was my era of music. I like the eighties music, especially when the synthesizer groups were coming up like OMD and Ultravox. I'm not sure if those names mean anything to you guys, but you'll have to YouTube them if you don't recognize them. I would say a couple of songs that come to mind is the song “Vienna” with the group Ultravox, and then a song called “Souvenir” by the group OMD. What's special about these two songs, they're both quite slow, but really well written songs and had a clever use of technology when it was coming up back then. So it's cool sounds, and when cool sounds, good melody, and good songwriting come together. I would say these two songs stick out, and something I would choose for my funeral, almost!

    C: So Alison wants to know, what your preference is between analog music like vinyl and digital music.

    M: I would like to sound all nerdy and say that, “Yeah, vinyl is the best sound,” because some of my friends say so, “That's the real sound,” or something. But I have all these analog synths which I haven't sold or thrown away and hopefully I never will, but slowly I've been starting to use digital plug-ins more and more and that's just because it's much, much easier. In the end of the day, I really don't think it's about the sound, if it was analog or digital. You would never hear a song and say, “That's a great melody but I don't like it because it's vinyl,” or vice versa. A good song is a good song whether it's digital or vinyl, but having said that, I own a record player in a box, which has this function you can plug in an iPod in to it and listen to music there, but you can also put on an album. I haven't been using it that much, but I definitely hope to go up to the attic and dig out some of the old vinyl albums and start to use it more.

    I think the great thing about the records from the old days, the vinyl records, is that you would put song one on and then listen to the whole album, and you would literally have to physically change sides and listen to the other side. Nowadays, you have the opportunity of making your own playlists and skipping songs that are maybe good songs, but you're just not giving them a chance, and if something boring comes on you just press skip. Not necessarily boring, but maybe something that's not interesting to you at this moment. Back in the days, I remember going to the store, buying an album, putting it on, putting my headphones on, and spending an hour listening to the whole album and while listening to the album, reading through the album cover, looking at the photos, and reading everything about that album that was possible, just from that album cover. You couldn't go and Google it or anything, that's how old I am, but I think that gave me a lot. I have kids that are now sixteen years old, and I've been trying to tell both of them that this new album with, lets say One Direction, or whatever they're in to, “Please listen to the whole album, don't just listen to the top three songs.” So I think that's important and that's what the vinyl gave us, was this connection to the music in a different way than the iPods give us today.

    C: Here's a question: Do you play any instruments besides the keyboard?

    M: Not really. I can pick up the guitar and do a few chords. Actually, it's a funny thing, a friend of mine gave me a ukulele for Christmas, so I have a ukulele and I really want to learn to play the ukulele. I know four chords now, and there was also a little book that came with it. Sometimes I can picture myself just laying in my bedroom or on the sofa, and just strumming a few chords and punching out a melody instead of going into the studio and turning on the computer and everything that's connected to that. Sometimes I think it would be nice to be in a different atmosphere. I've never owned a piano, but I would love to have a piano one day and actually learn how to play it properly. Like we mentioned earlier, I've never learned music so to speak. I can't read or write music so to speak, so maybe I'll do that when I get old and wise just to finally learn what I've been doing for the past years!

    C: I have another question here from boblbee, and he wants to know, what you would do with a day off if you had one? Besides do interviews.

    M: I remember I tried to create a new hobby a few years back. My hobby was now my work, so when people would spend time in the evenings attending to their hobby I would just go to work, and that wasn't good. So I bought a camera and a couple of lenses, and I've always wanted to do more of that. Sometimes I will take the camera out and try to have a little shooting session just by myself looking for something interesting, and always when I do that it feels really gratifying so I would definitely want to do more of that and even learn something about photography. Another thing I'm really interested in is cooking, and I would love to spend more time on that. Sometimes when you have kids, you're often just trying to feed them, really. You don't have time to work out these recipes, so maybe I would like to do more of that. If I had a perfect day off, I would go out, have a little walk with my camera, then go to the shop, pick up some ingredients, and then cook myself something Indian or Thai or something exotic and have a lovely meal.

    C: This next question comes from Henry, and it's one that I actually really like. You touched upon it a little bit earlier, but Henry's question is, if you could have one of your songs covered by a famous singer, who would it be and which song would they sing?

    M: One artist I really like is the British singer and songwriter, Lily Allen. I think her songs are awesome, and her words, even. She has this honesty in her songs and voice, so I would really love to hear Lily Allen do a cover of one of the LazyTown songs. What song it would be? Let's say if she gave me a call and she would want me to choose a song. That's a really good question. The first thing that comes to mind, maybe, is I would love to hear her version of “Life Can Be a Surprise” from season three. I think she would do a really cool job with that song.

    C: LazyTown has been dubbed in I don't even know how many languages. So many across the globe, really. What is it like hearing your music in a different language?

    M: I think the words that comes to mind is, “fascinating,” is the first word, and the second word would be, “funny,” sometimes! It's just surreal hearing your songs in different languages. I think LazyTown has been dubbed in close to thirty languages. Again, it's just a proud feeling and surreal and fascinating to listen to some of them.

    C: Do you have a favorite language that it's dubbed in that's not Icelandic or English?

    M: Yes, I would say the Italian versions are great. Maybe it's my fascination for the Italian language or the Spanish language - I love both of those languages - but there's especially something about the Italian language which I think totally fits the LazyTown songs. It's such a singable language, and they do a really good job. So I would say that's kind of one of the first that comes to mind is the Italian one. I love that, and I sometimes actually play the songs in Italian. Absolutely brilliant, and really well done. Actually the, I think it's the Bulgarian versions, as well, were really well done.

    C: You know, I think that is right. Only a few months ago, I got a collection of I think the season one CD from I think it was Bulgaria, and I opened it up to listen to it just to see what it was like, and I honestly really wasn't expecting anything that great, but I was surprised to see that it wasn't that bad! In fact, it was probably one of the better ones that I've ever heard.

    M: The people that were working on the songs in Bulgaria did an awesome job and they contacted me, and some of the dubbing studios would just get me to approve the voices and the first recordings and then they would just keep on doing their job. But it's the people that put in the extra work and were asking for all the little, “How did you get this effect,” and, “How is this harmony made up,” and that really wanted to copy and do it perfectly, and Bulgaria and Italy are two of them. Maybe that's why I really like them, because they're really hardworking and cared deeply for the product. I'm not saying others didn't, it was more like a routine for them, or like a factory thing. It was just another job for the dubbing studio. But these guys took it really seriously, and the same goes, actually, for the French dubbing in France. They actually invited me to come over and visit them at the dubbing studio and give them points and work with a musical director. It was really well done.

    C: So, here I have a question from sportafake. He wants to know what it's like recording music with Chloe Lang.

    M: It's best to talk about Julianna and Chloe Lang at the same time and just to explain the difference between them. Both of them, you know, obviously started out really young. I think Julianna was what, twelve, and Chloe, eleven. It was absolutely amazing working with both of them, and they're so talented, and it was just weird when I sometimes had to think, “Okay, I'm working with an eleven year old girl, she's not eighteen or anything,” because they were so professional and always tried to do their absolutely best. But mainly, because you ask about Chloe, she's one of the hardest working girls I've ever met, and she put 150% in everything she did. She had her day planned out, you know. She was working on school projects, and she had to practice dancing, and she had to visit me and practice the songs, and she was always positive and energetic, and always wanted to do her absolutely best. Like I said earlier, we had to kind of sometimes step back and realize, “Okay, we're working with a child, really,” because in the professional business when there's a deadline and people are getting irritated and annoyed, you know, “Why is this not ready,” and people would raise their voices. We had to kind of, like I said, step back and realize, “Okay, even if she was professional, she's not a fully grown up professional. She's still a child and she needs time to just play and have fun.”

    But it was absolutely lovely working with her, and she was always smiling, and happy, and her mother, Tina, was with us the whole time. She was always there by her side. The same goes for Julianna and Kahlua, her late mother. I don't think people realize how much the parents matter for people like Julianna and Chloe, to have the support of their mother or father. Their siblings would come and visit, we would try and do fun things for them, like give them, obviously, a day off so they could go and either drive around the country or visit the blue lagoon. It was lovely meeting both of them, and a really special experience working with these young kids, really, being so talented and working so hard.

    C: Cool, I really applaud Chloe's openness with the fans. She likes to talk to us and share things with us and post behind the scenes videos and cool stuff like that. Did you see that she went to, I think the San Diego ComiCon this last year as Stephanie?

    M: No, I didn't know that.

    C: Yeah, she went there with, what's the guy's name that plays Sportacus here, James? James something?

    M: In the end of the day, I think you can't forget, or realize, that you only survive because people want to meet you, see you, or hear what you've been doing. You're alive because of fans, if you know what I mean. Not saying anything with LazyTown, but sometimes when I see groups coming into magazines, or artists saying, “The most difficult thing about being a number one is the fame that goes with it, it's so hard struggling with the fame,” and I'm always thinking, “Well, then stop doing these interviews and stop making this music!” It's not rocket science! It's like, you're working towards that, being famous and getting yourself known, and then moaning about it when it happens. I've never understood that.

    C: Kind of similar to our last question, Parvis wants to know what it's like working with Magnús Scheving. You've touched on it a little bit over this interview, but do you have anything else to say about what it's like to work with him?

    M: Yeah, I can add to that. Working with Magnús has just been an amazing experience because I've never met a more dedicated person to what he wants, ever in my life, and I'm not sure I ever will! This is his idea, he came up with it in '93-'94, I'm not exactly sure when, exactly, but because I was working with him back then, and I was working with him the last day in the studio, he still had the same kind of power and energy behind what he wanted, all that time. I think many people would have given up many times. I almost think that's normal and human nature. Let's say you will get fifty “no's” to your idea, you would just, “Ugh, well, I must do something else, then.” But he always had this thought in his mind that with each “no” he got in the beginning, he was one step closer to the “yes,” and that's his character, really. He has a really hard time taking no for an answer!

    Some people got irritated, to be honest, when he was pushing and pushing. But I think when people look behind, him pushing and him saying “no” to things made people, often, most of the time, do it better and learn something new. You won't meet that many people in your lifetime that have this drive and energy. It was, like I said, frustrating at moments, but I found it really easy working with him, and I just realized that this was, and has been from the beginning, this was his vision, it was his idea, and it was his neck on the line, if it would make it commercially or not, and it did. So if something would go wrong, he would take the fall, and the people he had hired would just get paid. Yeah, so I really admire him, and I wish him all the best in the future, but it was, like I said, frustrating sometimes, but when I look back, it was all worth it.

    C: Yeah, I actually had a chance to meet him while I was out in Iceland, as you know, and I was surprised at myself for keeping myself together during this discussion because, you know, “Ooh, I'm meeting Sportacus,” and all that. But I think that most of that actually had to do with the fact that he was just pretty easy to talk to. So - I'm rambling on here - so I digress. Our next question is from Henry, he has one more for you, and he wants to know, have you ever considered writing a song for the Eurovision Song Contest?

    M: Many people ask me, especially here in Iceland. Eurovision is one of the biggest things here in Iceland. I know some countries don't give it a second thought, but here in Iceland, we take it pretty seriously. Many people, especially after hearing the LazyTown music, because some of them sound like classic Eurovision songs; really catchy and easy to memorize. But I think Eurovision has actually progressed, and some of the songs that have been winning lately are not maybe the simplest of melodies of the most Eurovision-like songs, like you think Eurovision songs should be like. But anyway, yes, I have given it thought, and actually I had decided to send a song in to the Icelandic competition this year. But due to personal reasons, I was moving houses, and then all of a sudden I saw in the papers the, “They have chosen the ten songs that are going to compete,” and I was just like “Oh, ugh, well, next year.” So, I'm going to try to take part in that one time or the other, that's one thing on the bucket list. Mainly because I'm not sure Eurovision gives you such a career. It has done for a couple of acts but you can almost count them on the finger of one hand, the bands or the acts that have actually made it after Eurovision. But it's more about the fun of it and taking part in just the Eurovision culture, which I think is great, and in the end of the day, it's about celebrating music, which I always like.

    C: Well, I'm from the United States, so I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about, but thanks anyway.

    M: You guys have to look up Eurovision on YouTube and really enjoy the songs!

    C: Sounds like some socialist crap from Europe. I don't want it. So we have one more question here from sportafake as well. He wants to know if you've ever considered writing music specifically for teenagers.

    M: Yeah, I've actually thought about it, because I have to do something else now after LazyTown has kind of stopped production, and I've mentioned that before, the things I want to do, and I want to focus on children's music. Sometimes I'm thinking to myself, “Am I saying that because I don't want to, almost, put my neck on the line and try to be in the adult contemporary pop/teenage business,” but I'm not sure that's the reason. I just think it's a really tough world, where people that are trying to make the decisions on the sounds and songs can be marketing people and publishing. I just think it's a really, really tough world, and you will have to have a lot of energy and drive to stay in that race. While working in the children's business and industry is, I wouldn't say less demanding, but in a totally different way. You're not trying to come up with the latest, coolest sounds working with the latest, hippest artists, always looking what's behind the corner. You have more breathing space to work with talented people and unfortunately, even if I don't know it exactly, I can only imagine that this industry is more about money than good songwriting. When it comes to, let's say a group like One Direction, and these big artists, I think there's an army of marketing people and people looking for, “What's the latest sound? What's the coolest thing,” and trying to get their artists to do that. Obviously, you have many artists that are true to themselves, and I think Lily Allen, which I mentioned before, is one of them. She just does whatever comes into her head, and she's made it, and obviously many artists have. So after having given this long speech, I would say my answer to that it yes. I've thought about just writing songs and see if an agent would be willing to put that forward to a publishing company or something, but at the same time I'm not doing anything to follow up on it, but maybe I will one day.

    C: This interview is nearly over, but before we wrap it up, I would like to do kind of a bit of a lightning round, where I'll ask you a series of very short questions very quickly, and you will respond with one to two word responses, maybe yes or no. What do you think about that?

    M: Yes.

    C: Yes. Okay, are you ready?

    M: Yes.

    C: Alright. Three, two, one, go! What year were you born?

    M: 1967.

    C: What's your favorite color?

    M: Blue.

    C: Coca-Cola or Pepsi?

    M: Coca-Cola.

    C: What is your greatest fear?

    M: Craneflies.

    C: Have you ever skipped rope, have you ever played ball, ever jumped around, or have you ever danced at all?

    M: Yes, to all of those questions. I've done all of them.

    C: Do you believe in aliens?

    M: Yes.

    C: Can you do your best Elvis impersonation?

    M: *Elvish Blubbering*

    C: Brilliant. If Iceland is not part of the World Cup, who do you root for?

    M: Brazil. No, sorry, sorry, I root for Holland.

    C: What's your favorite movie?

    M: The Shawshank Redemption.

    C: And finally, who is better: The Backstreet Boys or *NSYNC?

    M: Backstreet Boys, no doubt about it.

    C: That is the right answer, you are absolutely correct. Well Máni, that brings us to the end of the interview here. I can't thank you enough for your time today to do this with me, and I think I can speak for all of the fans of LazyTown when I say thank you for all the great work that you've done over so many years, that your music has had a profound effect on many people of all ages and all ethnicities, including myself, and we wish you the best of luck with whatever happens with your future, whether it's with LazyTown or not.

    M: Thank you so much, and I just want to say at the end that I'm so grateful for this opportunity to talk to you guys, for all the beautiful work you've done for LazyTown, and your interest in my music and LazyTown in general. It's just unbelievable, I never would have dreamed to be so lucky when I was young, starting out in the music business, to have this opportunity, and it's all because of you guys, so thank you so much.

    C: Well, thank you so much for listening to this interview brought to you by GetLazy.net. If you'd like to learn many great facts, such as how to Bing all of your Bangs, whether the best things in life really are free, and how to never, ever, use a messy recipe again, come on over and join the fun at getlazy.net/forums.


    Special thanks to Glanni's Girl, boblbee, and LazyYardigans for help transcribing the interview.
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    great work guys and thanks Mani

    "Sounds like some socialist crap from Europe.." lol...I bet Mani think you are an fanatic republican from this moment on

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    good job...

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    wow cool
    Sportacus and Stephanie fit very well together as a team. Friends are friends since.

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    Interesting, bittersweet and funny, a great read
    My Mothers favourite film is also The Shawshank Redemption, I'll have to watch it one day and see what's so magic about it.

    the best things in life are free
    I'm humming this now, lol.
    Getur einhver annar verið Glanni ? það bara passar ekki
    Stefan Karl Stefansson, það er enginn eins og þú!

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    Máni Svavarsson Interview With GetLazy

    thanks for the update or Chris for reasured all if not, most off us the fans of lazytown. We'll be waiting for the Chloe Lang interview from you.

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    Or from Magnus Scheving
    Sportacus and Stephanie fit very well together as a team. Friends are friends since.

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    C: Coca-Cola or Pepsi?

    M: Coca-Cola.
    Goes to show nobody is perfect

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    Thanks Stingy and everyone who helped and all you guys for the questions!
    This was an awesome thing to read!

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    Sportacus and Stephanie fit very well together as a team. Friends are friends since.

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    Well done guys. It was a pleasure to read the whole thing.

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    Re: Máni Svavarsson Interview With GetLazy

    Hey everybody, to match the improvements made in releasing the interview done with Chloe Lang, a new video of Mani's interview has been made and linked at the top, and a download link for the audio is up there too.
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    Re: Máni Svavarsson Interview With GetLazy

    Thank you for that interview, Chris. It was very interesting to learn about the music of LazyTown.

    But wait: Eurovision and "Sounds like some socialist crap from Europe.."? How dare you call one of the biggest television union in the world like that ;-)
    The Eurovision Song Contest is the biggest music party ever. :-p (in case something is not unclear: I was only kidding here, mate. )

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    Re: Máni Svavarsson Interview With GetLazy

    I'm happy to say that I've been sent the CD that Máni referenced in the interview and you can download it here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Máni Svavarsson
    Back in 1995, when the book "Áfram Latibær" hit the shelves, a CD came along with the book. It had two tracks on it. "1. The wake-up routine" and "2. Station-routines". This was without a doubt the very first music I ever worked on for LazyTown. It was all done on really simple gear (I used an Atari 1040ste computer to start with.) It is almost impossible to get a hold of that CD today so I hope you enjoy.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Re: Máni Svavarsson Interview With GetLazy

    Nice! Thanks for the link.

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    Re: Máni Svavarsson Interview With GetLazy

    Sweeeeeeeet
    Getur einhver annar verið Glanni ? það bara passar ekki
    Stefan Karl Stefansson, það er enginn eins og þú!

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    Re: Máni Svavarsson Interview With GetLazy

    Good stuff. Glad you were able to interview this awesome composer

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    Re: Máni Svavarsson Interview With GetLazy

    Which song is a tribute to the Vengaboys? Can't quite pinpoint it...

    And with Let's go, interesting comments from Mani there- I reckon it is the best song of season 2! The energy in that one is absolutely relentless compared to other similar LT songs.

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    Re: Máni Svavarsson Interview With GetLazy

    Quote Originally Posted by Shakeitpiggy View Post
    Which song is a tribute to the Vengaboys? Can't quite pinpoint it...
    Bing Bang

    Specifically, this song:
    Like Toy Soliders

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    Re: Máni Svavarsson Interview With GetLazy

    Quote Originally Posted by Stingy View Post
    Bing Bang

    Specifically, this song:
    I see it now. haha.

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    Re: Máni Svavarsson Interview With GetLazy

    Quote Originally Posted by Stingy View Post
    GetLazy Interview with Máni Svavarsson
    January 16, 2015
    I've made a video of Mani singing All Together from this!


    Now I wish that he'll actually sing the whole song!
    Da-ba-da-ba-da, da-ba-da-da, da-ba-da-da,
    Da-ba-da, da-ba-da-ba-da, da-ba-da
    Go Explore!

    Glitchtastic Games

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