Iceland Airwaves 2012

From October 31-November 4, 2012 Columbia College Radio, Journalism, Arts, Entertainment And Media Management and Audio Arts And Acoustics students will venture to Reykjavík, Iceland, to cover Iceland Airwaves Music Festival via the Covering International Festivals: Iceland course. Here is a collection of their previews, live reviews, artist interviews, podcasts, daily blogs, on-air segments and more from the class and the trip.


Listen to the Iceland Airwaves 2012 documentary!

by Becky Nystedt

This past fall 2012, 10 students under the direction of adjunct professor/music critic Althea Legaspi from Columbia College Chicago, ventured to Reykjavík, Iceland, to cover the Iceland Airwaves music festival and dive into Icelandic culture.

From enjoying the Icelandic food, running from venue to venue to catch numerous amazing musical sets, sitting down and talking with artists or even just exploring Iceland’s beautiful country side, Iceland had much for us to discover.

Tune in for music and chats with FM BelfastÁrstidírMyrra RósIntro BeatsEndless Dark, and Apparat Organ Quartet, as well as stories on Icelandic culture, from the music biz, to politics and even tattooing. Big thanks to Iceland AirwavesIcelandAir, IcelandAir Hotel Reykjavik Marina & SlippbarinnReykjavík ExcursionsReykjavík GrapevineKEXP, and everyone who took the time to interview with us.

The documentary aired on Tuesday, January 29 and February 2 on WCRX-FM. You can listen to it here:


Tune in January 29 for our Iceland Airwaves documentary!

The Iceland Airwaves radio documentary is almost complete! Tune in Saturday, January 29 at 7:00 p.m. CT and February 2 at 11 a.m. CT on WCRX-88.1 and also via WCRX-88.1’s live stream.

In the meantime, check out a collection of photographs from Iceland Airwaves 2012 taken by everyone in the group that best represented the awesome country that is Iceland, featuring pictures of bands, nature, food, and just about everything else in between.

Here’s a video montage of some of the beauty you can encounter when visiting Iceland and Iceland Airwaves, which student Paul Collins produced:

Also, you can listen to additional Iceland Airwaves 2012 band audio interviews before the documentary airs, which were produced by the students.


The Blooper Reel, by Shannon Dawson

The Iceland Airwaves Class of 2012 captured some hilarious audio clips from their interviews. We had a lot of fun in the process of putting this documentary together. Here’s a blooper reel from some of the funniest moments caught on tape.


A Look Back

Topher Svymbersky reflects on the experience of Iceland Airwaves and the class

It’s officially been a month since 10 students led by Althea Legaspi took a trip through Reykjavík, Iceland to cover the Iceland Airwaves Music Festival 2012 and to experience the unique culture that the nightlife of the north had to offer.  It’s easy to be caught up in the entire trip right after jumping off the plane home, but what seems to have more impact is what resonates with us after the travel rush has subsided. What were the most interesting highlights? What songs are still stuck in our heads? More importantly, what did we take from the whole trip and how will we apply it to our lives?

Certainly one of the first things that stood out to all of us was how friendly everyone was at the festival. All 10 of us managed to make friends with people from Iceland, Canada, the U.K. and plenty of other parts of the world. This is what made the atmosphere so inviting. Walking into one of the venues at Airwaves with the intention of covering a performance would turn into a long in depth conversation with a new friend.

The makeup of our group allowed for there to be even more diversity as well, whether it was an interest in drinking culture, fashion, food, dating culture and even tattoos, every student brought a different angle to the table which made the experience that much more enlightening. While we were all there for the reason of covering an amazing music festival, we were still rushing to tell each other about our own different experiences we had.

The most unique experience within exploring the drinking culture, aside from what’s to be revealed in our radio documentary, was the notion of “Malt Extract,” or what I’ve come to call Icelandic near beer. During the prohibition era in the United States, there was beer brewed at a very, very low alcohol percentage called near beer. Being that the prohibition of alcohol in Iceland lasted even longer (until 1989), their alternative was malt extract: A super sweet malt beverage that basically tasted like a thin beer milk shake; just picture beer without alcohol or hops. Being that hops can’t grow in Iceland’s climate, the Icelanders would use the resources they had to make the closest thing to beer that they could and they still produce it today.


And while it’s a month later, we all still have specific musical moments that resonate with us more so than any other performance we saw. For me, it’s the U.K. crooner Kwes. Seeing him play at The Reykjavík Art Museum was a great beginning to our last night in Reykjavík. The way his song “Igoyh” managed to seamlessly score the dancing green and blue lights through the halls of art was vivid and unforgettable.

Keep in mind though; all of these amazing moments were amidst the motivation of work to be done. It was only on the plane home that I really realized how incredible the experience was that we just had. It all came down like a ton of bricks with Icelandic act Sigur Rós flowing through my headphones.

What better way could 10 students ask for to begin their lives as audio professionals, music journalists, radio industry gurus and music business workaholics? If there’s anything to be taken away from our experience, it’s that we were students among professionals doing what we loved and have always dreamed of doing. For us, Iceland Airwaves 2012 is the beginning of an amazing adventure known as a career. I think I can speak for all of my classmates when I say; I couldn’t even imagine a better beginning.



We’ve all made it back safe and sound and are in the process of producing our radio documentary. Stay tuned! In the meantime, check out a few interviews teasers some of the students culled while at Iceland Airwaves 2012.



Editor/Professor note: After some serious maneuvering (and also some serious lack of sleep), we’ve made it to Reykjavík. Thanks so much to the excellent staff at IcelandAir (takk Michael, Rosa, Jacque and all the helpful and friendly IcelandAir staff!), who rerouted us through Denver to ensure we could get here for Iceland Airwaves Music Festival.

You can check out the students’ day-by-day blog, interview teasers and more Airwaves coverage via our Iceland Airwaves 2012 daily home page blog right now. Some additional blogging can be found here.

Iceland Airwaves class of 2012 @ Denver International Airport. (clockwise from top left) Madeline Dowling, Jack Collier, Sidney Hall, Althea Legaspi, Becky Nystedt, Topher Svymbersky, Sean Wilmsen, Andrew Gonzalez, Shannon Dawson, Paul Collins, Ross Houslander



by Becky Nystedt and Shannon Dawson

Listen as The Covering International Festival class of Columbia College Chicago talk about their music preview stories in anticipation for the Iceland Airwaves Music Festival 2012 during a live broadcast, which aired on WCRX 88.1 FM on October 13th, 2012.

The Iceland Airwaves Music Festival is an event that brings artists from around the world to grace the stages of venues in Reykjavík, Iceland. Here are some artists from the lineup this year that we included in our on-air preview (with links to our interviews and reviews from the fest): Apparat Organ QuartetDIIVEndless DarkEXITMUSICFM BelfastFuturegrapherIntro BeatsLow RoarOf Monsters and MenÓlafur Arnalds, and Phantogram. We also featured Agent FrescoBiggi HilmarsNóra, and Nolo in our preview.

Under the guidance of Columbia College professor Althea Legaspi, 10 students were given the opportunity to interview, report, and review musicians right from the heart of the festival. The trip may be over, but a full length audio documentary about the classes experience is being produced as we speak. STAY TUNED!



Are you heading to Iceland Airwaves or want to learn more about Iceland? For tips, cultural and historical features, band and label interviews and more, check out the students’ preview stories for their forthcoming Iceland Airwaves 2012 trip here.


Preview: Iceland Airwaves 2012 Bands

Agent Fresco, by Christopher Svymbersky

After months of excitedly exploring the lineup for Iceland Airwaves 2012, I finally found a band I can really sink my teeth into. Don’t get me wrong, the amount of acts I’m ready to cover at Airwaves is an overwhelming list of hip-hop, electronica and rock, but there’s something about the seamless display of sonic contrast that Reykjavík’s Agent Fresco rocks. At one moment you’re being blissfully lulled by vocalist Arnór Dan Arnarson’s floating vocals and swaying instrumental melodies. Soon after, however, the serenity is morphed into a fleeting wall of crunching guitars and stuttering drum rhythms that are hard hitting enough they sound like they could cause a shift in the tectonic plates beneath Iceland’s surface.


Samaris, by Andrew Gonzalez

If you knew me in real life, you would know I’m a huge fan of electronic music. I’m constantly on the lookout for electronic music that’s both progressive and organic, especially if it amalgamates unconventional sampling and tasty beats (another thing you would know about me — I really love beats). After perusing the enormous lineup for Iceland Airwaves, I stumbled upon a band who could satiate my appetite and delivered something worthwhile. The band is called Samaris, an electronic trio composed of three young students who include a clarinet player (Áslaug Rún Magnúsdóttir), a vocalist (Jófríður Ákadóttir), and a computer programmer (Þórður Kári Steinþórsson). Together they create songs that call to mind experimental electronic, post-dubstep, and downtempo (e.g. Zola Jesus, Mount Kimbie, Tricky). Below you’ll find a music video for their song “Góða tungl'” off their Hljóma Þú EP.


FM Belfast, by Ross Houslander

Less a band and more of a musical community, FM Belfast was formed in 2005 by Lóa and Árni Rúnar Hlöòversson in Reykjavík, Iceland. Playing their first Iceland Airwaves Music Festival in 2006, the band is now supplemented by about three to eight additional members, depending on their availability – most of the band is involved in several other musical endeavors at any given time. Since their inception, FM Belfast has released two albums: How to Make Friends in 2008 and Don’t Want to Sleep in 2011.

FM Belfast utilizes catchy synth hooks and driving, bombastic drums to create an upbeat and exciting musical experience. Far from the floating, ethereal style of iconic Icelandic acts like Sigur Rós, this music will make you stamp your feet and throw your hands in the air. The dreamy sound effects color generally fast-paced tracks reminiscent of bands like Two Door Cinema Club and Passion Pit, while the combination of male and female vocals keeps the music fresh and evocative.


Hudson Wayne, By Jack Collier

Sometimes, when music exists outside of current trends, it does something that transcends its time and speaks to many. It’s this phenomenon that interests me – the ability for time and industry-sensitive arts like music and fashion to take their audience away from the now, pulling them back or pushing them forword in their anachronism.

Iceland-based Hudson Wayne does just that, and they do it from the gut: vocalist Þráinn Óskarsson’s thick baritone drips with the forlorn ache typical of American Country/Western music, which, supported by slide guitars and belabored rhythms, takes listeners from the here and now and places them in a nostalgic realm of whiskey, cigarettes, and aching hearts.

My name is Jack Collier, and I’m a student of music and fashion at Columbia College Chicago. I hope to experience all the transcendentalism the culture of music provides during our trip to Iceland Airwaves. Hudson Wayne play at 20:50 at Hapra Kaldalón on Friday, November 2nd. Hear “Magistrate” below:


Apparat Organ Quartet, by Shannon Dawson

Four electrifying keyboardists and one rhythmic drummer form the energetic five-piece  Reykjavík-based band, Apparat Organ Quartet.  Apparat Organ Quartet are visionaries within their own genre, using everything from short-circuited Casio keyboards, malfunctioning hammonds, and custom homemade organs to produce what they call “Machine Rock and Roll.” Their lyrics  are distorted by vocoders producing Daft Punk like vocals and providing a video-game ambience to their digital rock sound. Despite their inaudible lyrics, you don’t have to understand what they’re saying in order to feel the pulsating energy Appart Organ Quartet orchestrates.

Band member Jóhann Jóhannsson formed the group in September of 1999. Apparat Organ Quartet first began exploring with experimental improvisations that they performed as a series of concerts, laying down the foundations for their future sound through minimalist works. Slowly their music evolved, as the group took pride and passion  into physically creating every noise and glitch composed within their songs. No computers or sequencers are used to create their digital symphonies.

The band finally released their self-titled album in 2002, revving up the engines for an unstoppable career. In 2010, they jumped back into the music scene with their second album Polyfonia, which created significant buzz amongst Icelandic critics. Polyfonia was the masterpiece and the final product of what the band had worked so hard to achieve. It features beautiful organ solos, riveting synthesized explosions, and distortion. After signing with the Crunchy Frog label, their music is beginning to spread worldwide.

Apparat Organ Quartet has traveled across the world, rocking their futuristic sound from New York City’s “ Central Park Summer Stage” to  London’s ICA and the Roskilde Festival in Denmark. Apparat Organ Quartet will likely blow the stage away at the 2012 Iceland Airwaves Music Festival and I can’t wait to be a part of the madness. Check out one of my favorite songs off their album Polyfonia, “1,2,3, Forever.”


Nóra, by Paul Collins

When Iceland comes to mind, possibly the last thing someone thinks of is an annual music festival. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity of going to Iceland this year to cover the Iceland Airwaves Music Festival and am very excited to see the band Nóra.  A mix of guitars, keys, samples, and drums, this band from Iceland puts it all together and forms something marvelous. With light, upbeat melodies and a mix of sibling harmonies their music was made to ease the soul.

Nóra – Opin Fyrir Moroi


Ólafur Arnalds, by Sean Wilmsen

I am going to be covering Iceland Airwaves Music Festival at the end of October, and one artist that I am incredibly excited to see is Ólafur Arnalds. Ólafur combines classical music with electronic beats to create music that stands out to music lovers around the world. He is a 25-year-old multi-instrumentalist that preforms live on the piano, but is accompanied by strings, which creates a beautiful melodic harmony that can send goose bumps down your spine and bring a tear to your eye. I am extremely excited about Iceland Airwaves, and Ólafur is one artist festival I plan to catch.


Nolo, by Sidney Hall

Iceland Airwaves is in a month, and of course I’m super stoked about going this year. As the growing adrenaline and suspense kicks in, I have been hyping myself up by jamming out to native Icelandic bands. One of the many great Icelandic acts that are performing at Iceland Airwaves is Nolo, a two man band consisting of Nonnji Lorange and Ivör Björnsson. This band combines sounds of a guitar, a beat machine, and two old fun machines they found at a secondhand shop.

This isn’t the band’s first time performing at Iceland Airwaves, in fact they rocked Airwaves last year. The thing that attracts me to them is their lo-fi, basement sound and in fact the two usually record in Ivor’s basement with one microphone. The underproduced sound is actually quite organic. Their instrumentation creates a splashy texture with each instrument complementing the other.


Endless Dark, By Becky Nystedt

For having never left the country before, venturing to Iceland in about a month has brought on numerous emotions. After listening to the artists on the roster for the the huge music festival, Iceland Airwaves, located in Reykjavík, IS, I began to feel a bit more relaxed, knowing what to kind of anticipate.

Endless Dark is a metal band from Iceland that incorporates melodies into their heavy guitar riffs and intense breakdowns. I would really like to see them and perhaps interview them, as this is a type of music interests me as well as the huge metal scene in Iceland. They are very young musicians but are making a name for themselves in the Icelandic music scene so far. I found a couple videos of them playing live shows in what looks like someone’s basement, which to me showed the loyalty and intimacy they have with their fan base and the impact they are making. I’m very into the metal/punk/rock scene here in Chicago, and I’m very excited to discover the similarities and differences between Chicago and Reykjavík.


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