The Cult of the Secret Samurai started life as a collaboration between two Icelandic musicians, Aegir Thordarsson (Ægir Þór) and María Magnúsdóttir
Ægir Þór (born 1976) started his musical career somewhere in the mid-nineties as a vocalist for several death metal and punk bands, such as Planet Concrete and Dawn of the Dead. He acquired his first guitar shortly thereafter and taught himself to play. Around 1998 he had started experimenting with samplers and sequencers to explore electronic music and noise punk. In 2001 he joined the band Funk Harmony Park, with whom he performed thrice at the Icelandic Airwaves Festival, Iceland’s biggest music festival. The band signed to New York’s Fade Records in 2004, and put out two singles internationally. Ægir left the band in 2005 to build a studio of his own.
During this time he dragged as many different artists as possible into his makeshift production house, and it was under these circumstances that he and María Magnúsdóttir first met.
Born in 1984 in Reykjavik, Iceland, María began singing as a gospel musician. She also had an interest in jazz. Next to that, in an effort to get in touch with her inner Aretha Franklin, she sang in a funk and soul band. She independently released her debut solo album, Not Your Housewife, under her own name in 2009. It was was well received and sold modestly.
Him inviting her into his studio marked the beginning of a fruitful collaborative effort. They kept in touch and over the course of a year recorded a bunch of music together. This organically bled into the formation of their own band, the Cult of the Secret Samurai.
At this point Ægir and María both moved to the Netherlands, where Maria went to study at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague and Ægir attended the Royal Academy of Arts. It was also there that they met up with Sam van ‘t Oever, a fellow artist and electronic music enthusiast, whom they ended up playing a couple of shows with. It wasn’t long before he joined the Cult as their full-time DJ.
The Cult had partnered with brass and woodwind players before, so it wasn’t a huge departure for them when they added another member to their group: talented saxophonist Leonie Freudenberger. In 2008 she started studying jazz and pop music with a major in saxophone at the Musikhochschule of Mannheim, and is currently part of an exchange program with the Royal Conservatory, which is how she met with María.
It’s by this strange gathering of varied artists that the Cult’s eclectic mix of jazz, pop and funk is created. Every member brings something unique to the table, expanding their range and making for an interesting and memorable stage presence.