Tag Archives: Airwaves13

Iceland Airwaves Teaser Interview: Mayor Jón Gnarr – Creativity And Politics

When I arrived in Iceland one of the stories I was most excited to dig into was the exploration of creativity and politics, a conversation that Reykjavík is at the center of.

Mayor Jón Gnarr, a famous comedian come politician had taken the debate to new extremes by using comedy as a pillar of his platform and winning an unheard of majority for a fringe party. However my story took a turn when on the 30th of October Gnarr announced he would not seek re-election at the end of his term, despite being the largest party in the capitol with 37% support, 2% more than he was voted in on.

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This picture is all over the city, except usually with angel wings…

Here’s a taste from my interview with the colorful mayor where he talks about his decision to leave politics and showcases a bit of his quick wit.

Check back soon for the full documentary about politics, Icelandic and American, as well as were and how creativity plays into the equation.

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Iceland Airwaves Day Four: Kiriyama Family, We Are Wolves (11/2)

With very little sleep we woke up dark and early for our trip to the Golden Circle which houses many of Iceland’s natural wonders.

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We climbed mountains, saw geysers, and took in the other side of Iceland that Reykjavík doesn’t show.

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…And on the other side…

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“Iceland has no army, because we don’t have any enemies,” Our tour guide began, “here the enemy is nature that we battle with.”

We got a first hand experience of this fact at a greenhouse that grows and harvests tomatoes on a daily basis. In order to maintain their garden they use more electricity than a small village to mimic the effects of sunlight, and the entire growing process is a regimented process of growing and replacing plants at just the right time. As for protecting the plants? A delicate eco-system of insects are used to eradicate pests and the balance must constantly be maintained. It makes one wonder why with the ease of gardening and farming in the states we still can’t seem to universally uphold the same standards of quality and avoidance of pesticides. Some do, but most chase profit at the expense of a simple and elegant solution to a less pervasive problem.

One of the stories I’ve been tracking down on my trip is the intersection of creativity in politics and on this trip I got to see the very beginning of Iceland’s government.

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Here, where the tectonic plates meet, one of the few places in the world where they are visible above ground, the first gathering of the Althingi, Iceland’s parliament, would meet to bridge the gap of ideological and political discourse. At a place known as Lögberg, or Law Rock, politicians gathered to decide the future of Iceland in the crisp mountain air. As unconventional as that sounds, Law Rock is in many ways the perfect place to hold an assembly. The ridges and valleys of the terrain create a natural shield from wind and I found myself actually taking off my winter coat outdoors for the first time since the hot tub.

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But upon returning to the hotel it was time to hit some shows.

Kiriyama Family

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A band I knew nothing about before checking out their show, Kiriyama Family were a nice surprise. What sounds like catchy, synth backed indie pop was elevated by the quality of the arrangements which make the music so much more. The song writing is exceptional and the performance was enhanced by the appearance of guest musicians, a female vocalist whose strong, beautiful voice harmonized well with the musical backing and a saxophone which blended fantastically with the synths.

We Are Wolves

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These guys absolutely killed it. French Canadian three-piece, We Are Wolves, appeared onstage wearing stockings on their heads that obscured their faces from the crowd at restaurant/venue Iðnó. The stockings only made it a few songs before being ripped off and it’s not hard to understand why. The band’s energy is phenomenal and they quickly became too sweaty for costumes. So did the crowd which ate up every bit of the rhythmic, Post Punk Indie tunes the group dished out. Think the constant, danceable, pounding, rhythms of The Hives with a lot more keyboard and your half way there, but the live show is where these boys shine. Tight, energetic and frankly unforgettable, We Are Wolves were one of the best acts of the festival.

One more day to go. From Reykjavík, signing out.

Iceland Airwaves Day Four: Alunageorge, Kimono, Árni2, Kajak (11/2)

After John Grant‘s sarcastic lyrical experience, it was time for the much-anticipated AlunaGeorge at Harpa Silfurberg.

This British electric pop duo, consisting of the beautiful Aluna Fransis on vocals and the production stylings of George Reid, has been popping out a lot of hits the past year.  Surprisingly the venue was relatively empty at first, but sure enough by the third song the place got packed.  Their live show certainly did not disappoint.  With upbeat electric backings and a well-honed stage presence, this act was fun to watch as well as dance to.  The performance truly went off without a hitch and will probably be one of the most concise acts playing at Iceland Airwaves this year.

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*AlunaGeorge

After some heavy grooving at AlunaGeorge, I ran over to catch Kimono at Harlem.  This three-piece indie rock band had phenomenal driving drums, which is probably their strongest suit.  It was interesting to see a bass guitar played with a big wooden stick.  If you go to this show it is a possibility that a complete stranger will come up to you and suck on your earlobe for a song or two, and maybe even bite you on the shoulder.

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*Kimono

At the end of the night I flew across the street to Amsterdam to see Árni2, because who doesn’t need some more deep house in their lives?

The DJ group consisting of Árni Valur and Árni Grétar (of Futuregrapher) hits you hard right in the face with the classic low booming bass of the deep house genre against a backdrop of minimalist ambiance and trance-like arpeggios.  It was a very intimate show and when the concert goers weren’t dancing, they were shaking hands and bumping knucks with the two performers.  This show was a lot of fun and everyone was getting down.

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*Árni2

The next morning we all pried ourselves from our warm beds after only a few hours of sleep to go on Iceland’s renowned Golden Circle Tour.  We saw geysers, trenches, rivers, waterfalls, and I even climbed a mountain!

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*Atop a mountain on the Golden Circle Tour

After months of trading emails with Moni and Hreinn, it was time to see Kajak at Harlem and I had very high hopes for this group.  They came through with flying colors.  This band has almost no definable genre and are innovative and unlike anything you will hear at Airwaves, or anywhere else for that matter.  Instrumentation of this band included great beats produced on a drum machine, a synthesizer, and an Indian Tabla drum.  The cousin’s dual vocals, high energy, and earthly visualization make this group a blast to see, especially in an intimate setting like Harlem.

After the show I got a chance to speak with Kajak backstage and set up an interview at Harpa to get some insight on where their totally unique songs come from.  Stay tuned for a preview of what is to come from this interview clip.

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*Backstage with Hreinn (Right)  and Moni (Left) of Kajak

That’s all from Andrew on this very long yet amazing day at Iceland Airwaves ’13.