Tag Archives: bjork

Iceland Airwaves 2015

And, the final announcement is out. Almost 230 bands will be at Iceland Airwaves 2015, and while we’ll definitely miss Björk and Mammút, The Airwaves staff have outdone themselves with the roster this year. This is the most bands I have seen yet, 155 of the 230 bands are Icelandic, and they span the spectrum of every genre. Here is the new announcement, Directed, edited and created by the wonderful Ingibjörg Birgisdóttir, Sin Fang once again is credited with the music, and… Now we all know who Gangly is.

Also announced for this year is a festival within a festival. On Sunday, the final night of the festival,the mini-festival called Extreme Chill will happen at the Vodafone Hall. One last hurrah and “laid back” night of music, featuring Hot Chip, Introbeats, dj. flugvél og geimskip, Agent Fresco, Emmsjé Gauti, Sleaford Mods, Úlfur Úlfur and FM Belfast. You can learn more about it here. It’s a fantastic idea, because if you have done Airwaves right, nothing will sound better than only having to go to one place to finish off in musical bliss.

As I did for 2014 and 2013, I’ve listed all of the Icelandic bands playing into loosely divided into genres on this page.  Clicking on their name will open a new tab with the Iceland Airwaves info page for that artist, which includes Soundcloud, Social media links, and a short bio.

This list is just the Icelandic bands playing, if you want to see the full line-up go to the Iceland Airwaves Line-up page.

RocknRoll – Indie Rock – Pop Rock – Rock Rock
Agent Fresco Bárujárn Borko CeaseTone
Dikta Dr. Gunni Elin helena FM Belfast
Fufanu Geislar Hallelewah HAM
Hide your kids Himbrimi Hjaltalín John Grant & the ISO
Just Another Snake Cult kimono Kiriyama Family Klassart
Lára Rúnars Low Roar MAMMÚT Mosi Musik
Mosi Musik Mr. Silla Oyama Red Barnett
Rhytmatik Runar Thorisson Russian.girls Sindri Eldon & the Ways
Teitur Magnússon Toneron Trúboðarnir Valdimar
Var The Vintage Caravan Vio Þórir Georg
Singer/Songwriter – Folk – Blues/Jazz – Composers – Classical
Árstíðir Aurora Axel Flóvent Beebee and the Bluebirds
Brim DALÍ Fura Grúska Babúska
Helgi Valur Hymnalaya Jónas Sen Júníus Meyvant
Justman Lucy in Blue Magnús Leifur Máni Orrason
Markús & The Diversion Sessions  Mógil My Bubba Nordic Affect
Par-Ðar Soffía Björg Sóley TUSK
Þórunn Antonía og Bjarni Ylja
All things Electronica – Dance / DJs / Composers / ambient / ElectroPop / noise
Agzilla Arni Vector Arnljótur Art is Dead
Asonat Auður Berndsen Bistro Boy
Brilliantinus Daveeth dj. Flugvél og geimskip DÖPUR
Dream wife Exos Futuregrapher Gangly
Ghostigital Good Moon Deer Gunnar Jónsson Collider Gus Gus
H.dór Hekla HimBrim Jack Magnet Quintet
Jóhann Eiriksson Jón Ólafsson & Futuregrapher Kiasmos Kippi Kaninus
LaFontaine Lord Pusswhip M-Band Mafama
Mankan Milkywhale Miri Mikael Lind
Mike Hunt Mr. Signout Odinn OHM
Royal Ruxpin Serengeti by President Bongo Skurken
SMURJÓN Snooze infinity Súrefni Sykur
Thor Tonik Ensemble Trptych Vaginaboys
Vök Waage Yagya Yamaho
Young Karin
Punk – Hardcore
Æla Börn Caterpillarmen Grísalappalísa
In the Company of Men Kælan Mikla Muck Pink Street Boys
Skelkur í bringu
All Shades of Metal
Beneath Bubbi Og Dimma Endless Dark Kontinuum
Misþyrming Momentum-Malneirophrenia Severed Sinmara
Svartidauði
Hip-Hop – Rap – Reggae
AmbAdama B-Ruff Cell 7 Cheddy Carter
Emmsjé Gauti Epic Rain Gísli Pálmi Herra Hnetusmjör
Kut Grapje Ojba Rasta Reykjavíkurdætur Shades of Reykjavik
Sturla Atlas Úlfur Úlfur

You can listen to all the bands playing this year via Iceland Airwaves Spotify playlist here:

And here are the previous video announcements:

Video four was Directed, produced, and shot by Máni M Sigfússon, starring Kælan Mikla, with music by Sin Fang:

Video three was produced by Les Frères Stefson, directed and written by, Unnsteinn Manuel Stefánsson And the banker was Haraldur Ari Stefánsson:

Video two with Hrafnkell Örn Guðjónsson drumming away as band names float across the screen:

First announcement with Dj. Flugvél og Geimski:

I would suggest getting your tickets sooner than later, especially if you are planning on doing a package you’ll have more hotel options in the beginning now than you will in a month. Typically the festival sells out, but with the line up looking as good as it does this year, I would imagine it will sell out sooner than later. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to be on the wrong end of “you snooze, you lose”

If you want to see what the past has been like, here is a link to all my Iceland Airwaves related posts.  And here is the link to the Iceland Airwaves Flickr page if you want to see just how fun this festival really is.

Hope to see you there.

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Björk at MoMa

bjork

photo credit: Gisele Regatao

While in New York this past weekend I ventured up to the Björk exhibit at the MoMa.  After the mixed reviews I had read, I was curious to see what a musician’s exhibit at an art museum could be like.

If you take your time and follow the advice they give you you’ll enjoy it, I certainly did.  But if you rush through you will miss the big picture and it will be understandable why you only remember seeing creepy mannequins and hand written lyric notes (a summation of one reviewer.)

In the lobby of the MoMa sits a few of the instruments Björk created for Biophilia.  Such as the gravity harp, midi-organ and gameleste/celeste combo.  I was bummed the gravity harp wasn’t working, but the midi-organ was on auto play so that was cool.  Iceland’s only pipe organ builder, Björgvin Tómasson, helped create these wonderful sounding instruments. As a side note, he is the father of Júlíus Óttar, a musician in one of my favorite bands of 2014, Var.

The exhibit is two parts spanning two floors.  There is the audio tour, Songlines, that you have to get time reservations for, and the music video experience Black Lake, which is followed by a room you can relax in and watch Music videos from the Björk catalog. I highly suggest you get your timed reservations first, then go to the Black lake portion while you wait.

After getting our timed tickets we ventured off to wait in line for Black Lake. As you’re in line and look over, there is a multi-floor projection of the “Big-time sensuality” music video slowly playing on a massive wall which gives the impression of Björk watching over you as you enter her exhibit.

Black lake is in a cave-esque room with walls covered in sound insulating cones reminiscent of Volcanic rock. The only light is coming from two gigantic screens that face each other from opposite walls and there are over 45 speakers located on the ceiling and walls throughout the room. While waiting to begin, the screens display a message about the set up, and in big letters state that you should walk around, as the multiple channel set up means you will experience different parts of the song depending where you are in the room. I was shocked at how many people just stood still.  I’m no audiophile, but the changing emphasis of the intricate parts of the song from different areas of the room really changed the feel of the song for me.

Once you leave the cave you move over to another room with a high ceiling and a massive screen showing Björk music videos. There are flowing fluid like couches that stretch out down the room, and it’s just a place you can rest and watch videos and be consumed by the large soundsystem and screen.

US-ART-BJORK-MOMA

Photo by Timothy A. Clary

Songlines is the audio visual part of the tour.  This is the part that requires the timed ticket, and you’ll appreciate the wait as without the timed stagger between entrants the tiny set of maze-like rooms you go through would be too packed to enjoy.  You wear an iphone around your neck that they call your “heart”, and as you move from room to room it changes dialogue to that specific room.

In the introduction, they tell you to take your time, that the tour takes 40 minutes and that you should wait until each room’s audio is done before moving along.  You’re free to move at your own pace but in this case, heed the advice and take your time.  It’s the difference between a fantastic experience, and a blah one.

We live in a time where we seem to take a photo of what we are looking at before actually looking at it, and then move on to the next photo.  We no longer take the time to consume what we are experiencing in the present, instead snapping a pic for later.  If you run through this exhibit snapping selfies and photos of the lyric sheets and mannequins dressed in Björk clothing, you will miss the the best part, and you will never experience the full program.  It is after all, called an audio tour through her 7 albums and history, not just an artifact hunt.

maskIn one of the most minimal rooms in the exhibit (there are only two items) the walls have benches spanning each side of the room.  You sit and relax with two red parenthesis-type red neon lights above you and you listen.  There is an oddly loud bleed-through of the music video exhibit below, but you just rest, and listen to your “heart.”  This room became my favorite part of the exhibit, and here’s why:

In the dialog from the “heart” around your neck, well past what you would hear if you just entered the room to look at the two items and left, you hear a beautiful account of the girl in the story’s realization of the child growing inside of her.  In the story, the girl starts to hear, and realizes there is a new heartbeat inside her, the heartbeat of her daughter.  And while you are listening to the story of her realization of her daughter’s heartbeat, through the “heart” around your neck, you can hear and feel the heartbeat of her music from below.  It’s an all encompassing triumvirate of heart so to speak.  It was really beautiful to me, and I left that room feeling really warm and fuzzy.

Now I don’t know if I’m stretching, and maybe it’s not what they intended, but I have to say I smirked and thought to myself, well played.  And how fantastic to not start the room dialog with that but leave it for those who are actually listening and enjoying the exhibit.  Once outside the exhibit I thought… Don’t be in such a rush, listen fully to your heart in good or bad times, and you’ll get the big picture.

So go to the exhibit, but don’t just go see it, go experience it.  Take your shoes off and walk through the moss-fields barefoot.  Don’t just snap photos, but think about what you’re hearing, seeing, and feeling.  Live in the present for 45+ minutes, and it will all be worth it.

Endnote:  This could very well be the most spiritualistic touchy-feely thing I’ve ever written or mentioned, and we can only hope my very spiritual touchy-feely mum who thinks I’m a stick in the mud doesn’t go into shock when she reads it.

Blue Eyed Pop, a book review

bep

Broadening the scope of the blog I suppose, I’m writing a book review.  It’s a book on Icelandic music written by a musician who is active and has been in the Icelandic scene for over 30 years.  So it’s not too far out of scope.

Blue eyed pop is a historical look at the pop music scene of Iceland.  Named after The Sugarcubes song it begins in the early 1900’s and treks across the beginning of Iceland’s love affair with music up to it’s present day music madness.  From the 25 wax cylinders Icelanders listened to for years to the hundreds of original bands that call the little island home, the book meanders through the short, but action packed Icelandic musical history, giving the reader plenty of photos along the way.

While there are plenty of books, interviews and summations of the globally famous Icelandic bands, this is the first I’ve encountered where that history is told with character, and from the perspective of another Icelandic musician, one who has been at his craft for over 3 decades.  There are so many insider stories and funny tidbits about not only Icelandic bands, but bands such as Yes, Led Zeppelin and Donna Summers.  Bands you would never associate with Iceland, but all at one point were somewhat influenced by the little island that straddles two continents.

drgunni

Dr. Gunni is no stranger to writing about music.  He’s been in the scene for over 30 years, playing his first gig in 1980 to now currently working on an adult-ish children’s album, Al-Heimur-inn.   A pop-quiz TV host, DJ and author of multiple historical accounts of Iceland’s music scene, he’s perfectly fit to write the first English account of Iceland’s Pop musical history.

In 2012, Dr. Gunni wrote Stuð vors lands.  Blue eyed pop is derived from this book, focusing more on the pop aspect.  As much as I’d love to go through chapter by chapter and give the good bits.  I think I’ll just stick to an overview, as I could never do Dr. Gunni’s writing justice.

photo

Fans at a Kinks concert in Iceland

The global music scene realized well before the rest of us the potential and creative eagerness Icelanders have.

Bands such as The Kinks, Zeppelin, and The Who all beat us to Iceland to tour, listen and appreciate what Icelandic musicians had to offer.  Even Disco was influenced by Icelanders who wrote for Donna Summers as well as other famous US acts of the time.

Björk gardening while writing and recording music

Björk gardening while writing and recording music

Trekking through the histories of bands popular not only to Iceland, but the rest of the world such as The Sugarcubes, Sigur Rós and even newer bands like Of Monsters and Men, the book gives the reader a better appreciation of these artists and their music.

From a pre-adolescent  Björk, telling an interviewer she may never repeat the recording process again upon completing her first recording session, to a rather kinky magazine cover shoot of Sigur Rós in dresses and bondage gear, the reader becomes aware of the Icelandic ability to work hard and yet have fun at the same time.

This book is a must for anyone who appreciates the history of music.  Even moreso, if you are a fan of Iceland and it’s people, as through the book you truly get a sense of the Icelandic culture and personality that has seen their work ethic and dedication to life help them survive over the years.

You can order the book here, Learn more about Dr. Gunni and follow his blog here.  Dr. Gunni put together a set of playlists to accompany the book, sorted by decades here.  And there’s a great interview between him and Hauker S. Magnusson on the Grapevine website.

Dr. Gunni was nice enough to answer my slightly modified 4 questions here:

1. In all your years of playing, what is your favorite Icelandic venue or festival? Iceland Airwaves is by far the bestest thing ever to happend on the local scene. I do not have a favorite venue, but I guess playing Harpa is quit nice, even though I haven’t played there yet!

2. Combine all your favorite colors, what do you get?  Some kind of disgusting grey.

3. Name 3 little known Icelandic bands we should get to know. Taugadeildin were a more poppy Joy Division with an EP out in 1981. Ævintýri were a hard rocking unit that used to be a bubblegum band. The rock version Ævintýri only managed to get one 7″ out in 1971 but later they evolved into Svanfríður. Dj Flugvél og Geimskip is this girl Steinunn Harðardóttir doing out of this world spacy fun art music on a brand new album called Glamúr í geimnum (Glamour in Space).

4. If you could be any animal playing any song, what are you, and what song?  A walrus playing Beatles’ I am the walrus, obviously.

All photos were taken from Dr. Gunni’s book.