I've been saying I wanted to go to Iceland for probably almost 10 years now. Something about it captured my imagination- possibly the scenic streams and waterfalls, the allure of hiking on a glacier, or just it's geographic separation from both mainland Europe and North America. It might have first popped up on my radar after watching Heima (which is Icelandic for "at home"), a beautiful and visually stunning documentary film about Sigur Rós playing a series of shows around their native island during the summer of 2006.
So I'm back home now after an amazing 8 day trip to Iceland. In addition to the magical scenic landscapes, I found that the volcanic island in the North Atlantic holds a lot of sonic wonder as well. It turns out that even after giving us Björk and Sigur Rós, Iceland still has a lot to offer musically.
Lucky Records in downtown Reykjavik offers a nice introduction for mainlanders to some of the local flavor, with entire sections focused exclusively on Icelandic recording artists of all types. And their listening station includes a turntable, so you can sample vinyl in addition to CDs. I left the record store with some newly discovered Icelandic indie electro-pop from FM Belfast and Kid Sune.
In addition to the atmospheric vibes, a lot of what I find appealing about the Iceland music scene is a the strong sense of both independence and community there. One great example of that is the Post-dreifing collective, which I read a feature about in the Reykjavik Grapevine. They are a collection of musicians/artists with unique sound and DIY ethic, working together to create and release and perform interesting music. If our band were based in Reykjavik, I'm sure I'd feel right at home among this group*. Check out Post-dreifing's releases, all free on Bandcamp.
We also had the privilege of getting a private tour of Greenhouse Studios in Reykjavik, an amazing space that artists from all around the globe come to record in. Greenhouse is also home to the aptly named Bedroom Community, a music collective/record label with a variety of artists including one of my new favorite ambient musicians Valgeir Sigurðsson. And skimming though the credits on some their various releases gives you the idea of the high-level of collaboration that Bedroom Community fosters across its roster.**
[EDIT: Check out this article on Soundfly about Iceland's music community and featuring some of Curtis's photos from this visit to Greenhouse Studios!]
My one regret from the trip is not seeing any live music while I was there. There were a few shows happening around Reykjavik the week of our visit (and FM Belfast was playing at Havarí almost 600km away on the other side of the island), but none lined up well with the rest of our busy travel schedule. But that's something I look forward to doing on my next trip to Iceland. -cg
*In a way, it kind of reminds me an Icelandic version of the Barnstormer's events around Manchester and seacoast NH.
**For example, see the list of names under Sigurðsson's Draumalandið, and then note how many of those also have their own releases on Bedroom Community.
***Some photos by Angela Mastrogiacomo. For more pictures from this trip, check out my instagram.
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