Page created by Shannon Holt
Issue 01

 Neonme is:
 'One To Watch'

 2 23
 Neonme is the winner in the
 One to Watch category of the
 2023 Reykjavík Grapevine Music
 This year's award winners
 was shot by the great Magnús
 Andersen, who flew over from
 Stockholm to keep up this
 tradition, as he's shot our Music
 Awards series for the past 8

 Photo: Magnús Andersen

 8: Music Awards 7: Do all cobblers 14: An award for the
 Madness have foot fetishes? King of the Mundane

RIGHT HERE 6: Show me those
 northern lights, baby!
 11: Lights, camera,
 22: 2022 was a (mostly)
 delicious year

 Fist Fights and
 Awards Shows

Photo: Art Bicnick

 Life can be a trip sometimes. One moment you’re working from Iceland this year to determine which artists, albums and events
 home, leisurely writing and editing for international publica- were the best of the best. In some categories, like Artist of the
 tions, and the next you’re thrust into the driver’s seat of a street Year, the winner was a unanimous choice of all panellists, while
 mag on the cusp of its 20th birthday. other categories saw bickering evolve into bare-knuckle fights
 Not that I’m a stranger to the Reykjavík Grapevine — and and ugly crying before the panel could come back together in
 no, not only, as one intrepid reporter wrote, because of my consensus and an all-healing group hug.
 Photo: Dall-E 2

 partner’s affiliation with it. Hey, at least they spelled my name That’s how I imagine it all played out, anyways.
 correctly. No, I’ve been lurking around the cramped, highly- I’m not going to give you any spoilers here — my haphazard
 flammable halls of Grapevine HQ for 13 years and change, googling of “how to write an editorial” didn’t expressly advise
 interning, writing, reviewing, proofreading, copyediting, and against it, but it seems like the right path to take — but you
 more. I love and adore this ragtag little publication and it’s an should flip through to Josie’s great big Music Awards feature
 absolute honour to have been entrusted to put my mark on it on page 8 (I highly recommend reading pages three through
 at this juncture in its life. seven on the way there), and then learn more about our Artist
 Words: Cathrine Fulton

 But enough about me. Twists and turns in life are par for of the Year on page 14 and get a track-by-track runthrough of
 the course for every one of the 7.8 billion people on this planet, our Album of the Year on page 15.
 including (cue smooth segue) the artists the Reykjavík Grape- If your interest in the artists we’re spotlighting is piqued,
 vine is tipping its hat to on the occasion of our 2023 Music keep your ears peeled for an upcoming podcast on our Artist
 Awards. of the Year and then join us Jan. 20 at Loft Hostel for an honest
 Culture Editor Josie Anne Gaitens convened a powerhouse to god awards show with live performances from some of our
 panel of industry hotshots and musicians in their own right to winners. It’ll be fun!
 pore over every single snippet, sample and song produced in This will be fun.

 Our kitchen is open for
 A local favourite for over 20 years
 Late night
 dining until 23:00 on weekdays
 and 24:00 on weekends

 TAPASBARINN | Vesturgata 3B | Tel: 551 2344 |
The Reykjavík Grapevine 4
 Issue 1— 2023

 Josie Anne Gaitens, Culture Editor
 Josie is an arts worker, musician and writer from the Scottish Highlands. She was once
 erroneously referred to as the Queen of Scotland by a Malaysian newspaper and has been
 falsely using that title ever since.

 Iryna Zubenko, Journalist
 Iryna is a Ukrainian who has been working on the cross-section of media and technology
 for the past five years. While still figuring out what to do in life, Iryna’s love for travelling,
 unspoiled nature and Scandi design has brought her to Reykjavík. One day she’ll write
 a non-fiction book.

 Rex Beckett, Contributor
 Rex has been a fixture in the Reykjavík culture scene for over a decade as a longtime
 music/art journalist and as former synthpunk diva Rex Pistols. They are currently work-
 ing on a series delving into the influence of Garfield on queer millennials. Their car is
 named Renegade.

 Catherine Magnúsdóttir, Contributor

 Lunch Catherine studies social sciences in Germany and came to the Grapevine for the intern-
 ship mandated by said studies — and for fun, of course — before sticking around as a
 contributor. When she’s not trying to reconnect with her Icelandic roots, she’s usually
 watching video essays or attempting to finally come up with that one good story idea that
 she can actually finish writing.
 — 23:00
 Open 11

 Every Day

 Lea Dörschel, Contributor
 Lea is a 23-year-old German transplant living in Reykjavík. Five years ago, she left every-
 thing behind to move to Iceland, where she fell in love with the nature and the possibility
 for adventure. Besides travelling, one of Lea’s biggest passions is photography and you'll
 never find her out and about without her camera.

 Kim Wagenaar, Listings
 She’s been here long enough to forget why she even got here in the first place. If she’s not
 busy being a music manager, she’s accidentally bumping into things or drinking bubbles
 somewhere laughing at her own jokes. Someone’s gotta do it.

 PUBLISHER WRITERS FOUNDERS ⮕ Press releases The Grapevine is an independent
 Jón Trausti Sigurðarson Ragnar Egilsson Aldís Pálsdóttir
 publication. You may
 ⮕ General Inquiries Cate Magnúsdóttir Hilmar Steinn Grétarsson not agree with what we
 Iryna Zubenko Hörður Kristbjörnsson print, but at least our hot
 The Reykjavík +354 540 3601
 The Reykjavík Grapevine takes aren't paid for.
 Shruthi Basappa Jón Trausti Sigurðarson is published every
 Grapevine EDITOR IN CHIEF Rex Beckett Oddur Óskar month by Fröken Ltd.
 None of our editorial is
 directed or influenced
 Published by Kjartansson Nothing in this magazine by sponsors or
 Catharine Fulton Lea Dörschel
 Fröken ehf. Valur Gunnarsson may be reproduced in advertisers, and all
 Aðalstræti 2 PHOTOGRAPHERS whole or in part without opinions expressed are
 101 Reykjavík ART DIRECTOR CONTACT US: the written permission the writer's own.
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 +354 540 3600 LISTINGS The Reykjavík Grapevine
 Member of the Kim Wagenaar ⮕ Advertising is distributed in and
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 Icelandic Travel Industry 354 540 3605 around Reykjavík and SALES DIRECTORS
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 PHOTO & Aðalsteinn Jörundsson Iceland's route 1.
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 MEDIA EDITOR & Subscriptions It is also avaiable at all
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 +354 540 3604 major tourist attractions
Hverfisgata 6 | Reykjavik |
 Art Bicnick Helgi Þór Harðarson distribution@grapevine. and information centres
 is around the country.
 The taste of Icelandic lamb is unrivaled. Our pure bred lambs graze free in the pristine
wilderness of Iceland, eating luscious green grass, berries and wild herbs such as red clover,
Arctic thyme, sedge, willow, thrift and angelica. The end result is a tender fine-textured meat
 that is both naturally rich in Omega-3 and iron and infused with the flavor of nature.
 Icelandic lamb is a taste experience beyond compare.
6 The Reykjavík Grapevine
 Issue 1— 2023

 property is slightly less unaffordable).
 The average cost of a residential
 property in Reykjavík is up 50% since
 2020 and up 20% just since 2021. Adding
 another barrier for young people to enter
 the housing market is the fact that,
 according to Statistics Iceland, some
 53.000 dwellings are owned by just 5.000
 individuals or legal entities. Give that a
 moment of thought. That means 14,6%
 of all housing in the entire country is
 owned by people or entities who own
 more than one home or apartment.
 So how, pray tell, is a 24-year-old
 middle-class Icelandic person meant to
 move out when such a large percent-
 age of the country’s housing stock is in
 the hands of the wealthiest 10% of the
 population, who, the data shows, are
 most likely to own more property than
 their primary residence? And how, in a
 competitive market, is a first-time buyer
WHAT THE NEWS!? cash (likely the latter) to make it on their meant to muster up an offer as appealing
 own two feet in the world and the stats as those expertly playing Monopoly up

New Housing Statistics Paint
 begin to tell another story. and down the streets of Reykjavík?
 You see, never before did more
 Icelanders ages 25 to 29 live at home with With great difficulty

A Grim Picture (Of Statistics)
 mamma and/or pabbi than in 2021, with
 22,5% of them still sitting tight in the I’m reminded of an out-of-touch
 family abode — which we are absolutely campaign run by one of the big banks a
 certain their parents love just as much as few years ago highlighting the stories of
The kids are alright. And also not. they do. bright-eyed young people who success-
 Just to be clear, we’re throwing these fully bought their first apartment —
Words: Breaking news: fewer young adults than living with their folks was at an all time figures out without a hint of judgement. huzzah! — only those young people had
Cathrine Fulton ever are living at home with their parents low of 55,5% in 2021 — that’s significantly The housing market in Reykjavík is in their down payments topped up by the
Photo: … but also more young adults than ever down from the high of 62,2% measured absolute shambles. Real estate is prohib- generous bank of mom and dad. That’s
Julia Stiles are living at home? How can that be? It by Statistics Iceland in 2016. However, itively costly and rentals are too few, too not a scenario that is a reality to a decent
 turns out both are true, depending on sometime in that five-year span, a not far between and way, way too expensive. proportion of young Icelanders. If we
 which age ranges you zoom in on. insignificant proportion of those young It’s no wonder the figures show more had to venture a guess at who, exactly,
 As Stundin reports, the percentage of Icelanders realise they are lacking either adults at home in the capital region than it’s not an option for, we’d ballpark it to
 young people ages 18 to 24 who are still the life skills, gumption or the cold hard in other parts of the country (where be around 22,5% of 25 to 29-year-olds.


 Q: When Are The Northern Lights Strongest?
 Words: Catherine Magnúsdóttir Photo: Art Bicnick

 The magical beauty of the north- “The sun particles collide with northern lights in the meantime.
 ern lights draws a lot of people to those molecules, creating en- Even with increased solar activ-
 Iceland. In fact, a whole lot of peo- ergy, releasing it as light. So, for ity, we’d advise against putting all
 ple plan their entire trips around example the green lights come your hopes and dreams into epic
 the forecasted activity. So when from (ionised) nitrogen atoms and Aurora sightings if you’re visit-
 are the Aurora Borealis at their sometimes you have pinkish-red ing Iceland for a finite amount of
 strongest? And what, if anything, lights, which are more from oxygen time. The weather and a bunch of
 influences their activity? We went atoms,” according to Marcel. other factors will also play a part
 to Marcel de Vries, a meteorolo- Things like altitude, particle energy in whether or not the lights will be
 gist at the Icelandic Met Office, for and light wavelength also factor visible on any given night.
 answers. into the colours we see in the sky. “There are a lot of myths around
 The amount of solar activity the northern lights,” Marcel points
 “The northern lights are a result of also depends on the solar cycle — out. “A lot of people say that it
 solar activity hitting the geomag- the 11-year intervals at which the needs to be very cold for northern
 netic field of the earth, which sun’s magnetic field flip. That cycle light activity and that’s not true
 guides the material being shot out can be observed by monitoring in a scientific sense, but it is in a
 from the sun towards the poles of the rising and then falling activity more practical way. In order to
 the Earth. That’s the reason why on the sun, mainly through occur- see the northern lights, it needs to
 you can see them in polar areas rences of sunspots. On satellite be very clear, without any clouds,
 and not, for example, near the pictures they show up as dark and usually if you look at weather
 equator,” Marcel explains. spots on the solar surface, with patterns, the best chance to have
 Put simply, the surface of the more spots meaning more activity. a cloudless sky, especially here in
 sun can be an unruly place, with Marcel points out that sunspots the south-west, is when you have
 solar winds and explosions spitting are relatively cool (in the tempera- a cold wind from the north. There
 out particles in all directions at ture sense) regions of instability, may also be a lot of northern lights
 very high speeds. If the direction with explosions on the sun mostly activity when it’s cloudy — you just
 is Earth, then those solar parti- happening around them, spewing a won’t see it.”
 cles enter the upper atmosphere lot of material into space. Currently
 (meaning several hundred kilo- the sun is on an upward curve of
 metres from Earth’s surface) and activity, reaching its max in 2025
 collide with the molecules there. and promising a continued uptick in

 Stay like
 a local [ 8 hotels, restaurants & spas
 in the heart of Reykjavik ]
The Reykjavík Grapevine 7
 Issue 1— 2023

 Words: Rex Beckett Photo: Art Bicnick

 What are your favourite and most loathed on what shoes they pick, and it said

Shiny, Shiny, Shiny Boots Of Leather
 types of footwear? My favourite is just “Crocs: you see those little holes? That’s
 a handmade quality pair of boots that where their dignity leaks out.”
 do right by the foot. My least would
 be mass-produced crap that costs like Does shoemaking require having a foot
The Village People is a new series of interviews with the people who make life 10 euros and falls apart after a couple fetish? I can say that I have zero percent
in Reykjavík run in subtle yet crucial ways, while giving it colour and character. of steps. It’s not environmental and it foot fetish. But maybe some sort of
 messes up your feet. leather fetish. Not in a sexual way, that
 Daníel Magnússon (31) kind of came out wrong! Not judging!
 What about actually working with the Like a fetish for quality leather.
 Shoemaker (at Þráinn Skóari) shoe? That goes back to working on
 quality shoes. Sometimes you have to Any notable customer stories you can

 Lives in Kópavogur, be a chemist with different shoes and share? When I was an apprentice, this
 born in Reykjavík different materials. What bonds to woman came in really flushed in her
 what? Do you need to get new materi- face, really red, looking down and said, “I
 Most recent music, movie, show, or als? It’s kind of hit or miss. I can kind was wondering if you change zippers on
 book that left an impression on you: of suspect things, but it’s still kind of a leather products.” And I was like, “yeah
 Mob Psycho 100. It’s this anime about mystery. There are tons of materials used sure.” And then she says, “this is for a
 this little kid with mystic powers but he in shoes and you have thirty different movie…” She was so embarrassed that
 doesn’t really believe in himself and he’s soling materials. Some of those materials I was sure it was not for a movie. Then
 usually just really occupied with elemen- are not friends! You gotta do a lot of stuff she pulled out this full-head leather gimp
 tary school social standings. to get them to work together. It’s kind mask with a zipper on the mouth. She
 of a pain in the ass, but when you get it said she had cleaned it. And I’m like,
 What other profession would you like to done you’re like, “this will stay forever. If “Yeah! Sure! Let’s do it!”
 try if there were no limits: Astronaut. I I ever see that type of shoe again, I know I also had one guy bring a whip that
 wanted to do that as a kid. exactly what to do.” It’s fun and frustrat- needed to be sewn together. He said it
 ing at the same time. was for horses but, nah. You’re not using
 Did you ever expect when you were a kid that on horses!
 that you’d grow up to be a shoemaker? What does the footwear we choose say
 Not at all. I probably didn’t know it about our souls? We were just talking Any final shoe wisdom to share? Spend
 existed. Well, yeah, I did. It was a story about that. I found this TikTok video a little bit extra, you’ll save in the long
 I read as a kid, The Elves and The Shoe- because [an employee] likes wearing run.
 maker. But I never thought I’d be one. crocs and I hate them. The video was
 describing different personalities based


 Seljavegur 2, 101 Reykjavík,
8 The Reykjavík Grapevine
 Issue 1— 2023
 What will 2022 be remembered for? If on ‘While We Wait’ (which she also
 2020-2021 were “the lost years,” where released as a single) that really caught
 artists went insular and mused on people’s attention. “I’ve heard it playing
 solitude and resilience, then 2022, in around a bunch and I love it every time,”
 comparison, was the year of fresh starts; one of our judges commented, adding:
 a cautious but joyful movement towards “It’s a really great song and a total curve-
 Words: Josie Anne Gaitens

 normality. Larger-scale live events ball from her last record. It sounds like it
 Images: Magnús Anderse n

 and concerts returned, as did festivals could have been at home on one of Angel
 (welcome back, Iceland Airwaves!) and Olsen’s rock records, but it’s still very
 international touring opportunities. distinctly Salóme.”
 Once again, we were able to fill spaces Salóme Katrín is still a relatively new
 with voices, rub shoulders with strang- kid on the block: her first EP was only
 ers and dance the night away to our released in 2020. And yet with “The
 favourite songs. Live music: we love you Other Side,” she easily ticks all the boxes
 and we promise we’ll never take you for as if she’s been knocking out hits for
 granted ever again. years. Catchy lyrics, driving rhythm, a
see this as an honorary award for his life’s work: he’d be worthy

 That being said, the impact of delectably distorted indulgent guitar
“Svavar was the diamond of the Reykjavík Music scene. I don’t

 COVID-19 still echoes through every solo: it’s the sort of song you could easily
 region of the creative sector; this is a imagine a huge festival crowd roaring
 horror that will go out with not a bang, along to. In just a few short years Salóme
 but a whimper — and, unfortunately, Katrín has shown us exactly what she is
 we are the source of those whimpers. capable of. All that’s left is to see what
 While the true extent of the harm done she’s got in store for us next: we have a
 to the performing arts environment will feeling we won’t be disappointed.
 take years to unfold, studies have already
 begun to come out confirming what both Honourable Mentions: Ólafur Kram -
 artists and culture-consumers know “Aumingja Þuríður”, Bríet - “Flugdreki”
 instinctively — the post-pandemic land-
 scape is smaller, quieter, more expensive
 and more challenging to work in. VIDEO OF THE YEAR:
 But, as always, art finds a way, and
 2022 saw the release of a phenomenal BSÍ, “Jelly Belly”
 amount of extremely high-quality music BSÍ were Grapevine Music Awards
 from Icelandic artists. All in all, it was a winners in 2022, receiving the accolade

 strange and significant year for music. Song of the Year for their track “Vestur-
 To take stock of it all, the Reykjavík bæjar Beach.” Amazingly, they’ve made it
 Grapevine once again gathered a panel back into our hit list for the second year
 of some of the country’s finest musical running to win Video of the Year for the
of this title even if we hadn’t lost him this year.”

 experts to sift through the vast output music video accompanying their single

 Reykjavík Grapevine
 of the last 12 months, so that together
 we can celebrate those whose music
 reached us, stayed with us and guided
 us through the year.

 Prins Pólo, picture from 2019 Grapevine Music
 Awards, by Magnús Andersen
 Music Awards
 “Svavar was the diamond of the Reyk- thrown in to save us from utter despair.
 javík Music scene,” one of our panel- “There are times while listening to
 lists commented. “I don’t see this as an ‘Xiuxiuejar’ that I’ve had to replay a part
 honorary award for his life’s work: he’d again and again, just to try and figure
 be worthy of this title even if we hadn’t out how she’s making that sound,” one
 lost him this year.” panellist told us. “And the sounds—a
 “The presence of Prins Póló is such lot of them aren’t exactly ‘musical.’ And
 that you didn’t realise it was already yet, somehow, the whole experience is a
 all around till suddenly it was at risk,” totally addictive listen.”
 another added. “It only created a While all of these descriptors might
 reminder that his voice will continue to suggest a piece of art that’s exciting, but
 be heard all around — in his music, his not exactly… enjoyable, somehow that’s
 ARTIST OF THE YEAR: art and his undeniable ongoing influ- just not the case. While we accept Hekla’s
 Prins Póló ence that transcends the Icelandic music
 work might not be everyone’s cup of tea,
 it’s surprisingly accessible. Our judg-
 It is with honour and great sadness, that Svavar is survived by his partner ing team praised ‘Xiuxiuejar’ for being,
 we bestow the most prestigious award Berglind, their three children and many “both approachable and extremely
 of the lot to our dearly departed Prins beloved friends and collaborators. You creative.”
 Póló. Svavar Pétur Eysteinsson — a titan can hear from some of them and read “The album is a bold presentation
 of Icelandic music and culture — died more about the life and times of Prins of darkness and beauty,” a panellist
 September 29, 2022. He leaves behind Póló on page 14. confirmed. “It’s mysterious and capti-
 a formidable legacy, a mass of visual art vating, a journey to some beautiful hell
 and design, album after album of bril- ALBUM OF THE YEAR: I’d like to stay in.”
 liant songwriting and, of course, a host “Crank it up in the darkest months,” “Jelly Belly.” Is this a Grapevine Music
 of bereaved fans. Hekla, Xiuxiuejar they continued. “Let’s stare into and Awards first? We couldn’t be bothered to
 Svavar first rose to prominence as In a year that was characterised by the celebrate the eternal void of obscurity!” check in any great depth (we’re not real
 a musical artist in the 2000s as part of sheer number of — let’s not mince words journalists, we just do culture), but from
 the iconic band Skakkamanage (Svavar’s here — banging Icelandic albums, one Honourable Mentions: Ari Árelíus our lazy attempts at research, it certainly
 partner, Berglind Häsler, was also a stood out from the crowd. - ‘Hiatus Terrae’, Börn - ‘Drottningar seems so!
 founding member). The group released On paper, it shouldn’t work: an album dauðans’, JóiPé - ‘Fram’ To be honest, BSÍ — who consist of
 three albums, one of which, ‘All Over of theremin, voice and cello. Pitch that Sigurlaug “Silla” Thorarensen and Julius
 The Face,’ was nominated for a Kraumur cold and most would baulk at the idea. SONG OF THE YEAR: Rothlaender, and whose name either
 award. But the formidable Hekla Magnúsdóttir stands for Brussel Sprouts International,
 Svavar was a man of many talents, has once again proved all assumptions Salóme Katrín, The or is in homage to Reykjavík’s terrible
 which included, diversely; photogra- wrong with her third album, ‘Xiuxiuejar.’ Other Side bus station — were discussed by our
 phy, organic farming, event manage- The title comes from the Catalonian judging panel in relation to a number of
 ment, visual art and poetry. But it is word for “whisper” (the artist spent “I don’t remember the last time I heard different categories this year. Since the
 his musical work as his alter ego Prins much of her youth in Barcelona), and so many people excited about a song,” release of their debut album ‘Sometimes
 Póló that he is best remembered for. He is pretty apt for an album that sends said one of our judges of “The Other Depressed…But Always Antifascist’ in
 showed a unique ability to hone in on chills up your spine. But Hekla stays Side,” the winner of our Song of the Year 2021, the duo’s star just keeps on rising.
 the aspects of humanity (and often a firmly away from the B-movie horror category. The video for “Jelly Belly” was the
 very specifically Icelandic humanity at film expression that most people associ- And there’s a lot to be excited about handiwork of director — and Silla’s
 that) that are often overlooked and unex- ate with the theremin. In an interview here. Salóme Katrín’s heavyweight track childhood friend — Ugla Hauksdóttir.
 plored, offering them up to listeners in with this paper back in November, Hekla comes out of an ambitious 2022 album It features the two bandmates, plus a
 a warm, humorous and tender manner. described ‘Xiuxiuejar’ as having, “a Janu- made with fellow musicians ZAAR and couple of adorable child actor looka-
 As a result, many of his tracks became ary sound — really, really dark and cold RAKEL. 'While We Wait' features two likes, playing dress-up and deconstruct-
 unofficial anthems. From including the and windy.” We have to say, she’s pretty tracks from each artist, plus an opener ing traditional gender concepts. Oh, and
 Nokia ringtone in his tracks, to gently much spot on. Full of foreboding, deep, from all three playing together. The Julius wears a frog mask at some point,
 poking fun at the quintessential Icelan- dark noises that make you instinctively album itself is a fabulous effort, remark- but we’re not exactly sure what that’s
 dic phenomenon of ditching your loved wrap your blanket a little tighter, ‘Xiux- ably cohesive given its structure, and meant to mean, and we’re too scared to
 ones in favour of a hot beach holiday for iuejar’ invites listeners to explore the sets an interesting precedent for the ask.
 Christmas, this prince was a man of the intersections of ambient, electronic and future of recording collaborations. One of our panellists summed it up
 people. He saw us, and we felt seen. doom — with the tiniest sliver of light But it was Salóme’s second solo track thusly: “the space BSÍ takes up is fasci-
The Reykjavík Grapevine 9
 Issue 1— 2023
 To that end, in 2022 Flaar yr
 performed one of his most ambitious
 sets yet. As part of the RUSL sustain-
 able design festival, the artist didn’t play
 guitar at all, instead creating all sounds
 through interacting with different items
 on stage (including a flamingo garden
 ornament) that were rigged up with
 contact mics. In the spirit of the festival,
 all of the objects were discarded house-
 hold items, really proving the old adage;
 one man’s trash is another man’s trea-
 sure. Only in this case, Flaaryr’s treasure
 is ours to share.

 Honourable Mentions: BSÍ, Bjarki,

 Sævar Jóhannsson
 There’s a neo-classical movement
 sweeping Iceland these days. And yet,
 for every Grammy-nominated, interna-
 tionally touring Ólafur Arnalds, there’s
 a Sævar Jóhannsson: quietly putting out
 beautiful music, but only receiving a
 fraction of the glory. For now, that is. “I

 Salóme think he has a bright future ahead,” one
 panellist said, confidently.
 While Sævar has previously released
 a couple of albums under the artist name

 Katrín S.hel, 2022 saw him deliver his first
 release under his own name. ‘Whenever
 You’re Ready’ is a sparse, emotional and
 hauntingly beautiful collection of instru-
 mental pieces. The main focus is Sævar’s
 nating as a modern take on the punk delicate piano playing, supported by
 movement, where everything they put electronic elements and strings.
journey to some beautiful hell I’d like to stay in.”

 out includes a satiric mirror to our soci-
 ety,” they said. “It’s like activism with a
 “The title is apt,” one of our judges
 mused. “It’s as if he’s acknowledging
“The album is a bold presentation of darkness

 twinkle of humour in its eye. This unique himself that you might not know him
and beauty. It’s mysterious and captivating, a

 flavour lends itself particularly well visu- yet, but whenever you’re ready: he’s
 ally, so it’s no surprise that ‘Jelly Belly’ there for you to discover. His mastery
 — a video where the two members are of his craft is sure to bring his name to
 mirrored in child actors portraying a
 younger version of themselves having
 the forefront of the world of Icelandic
 composers in years to come.” “Árni is one of these
 fun but also dressing like grown-ups and
 playing with gender norms — is a great
 The You Should Have Heard This
 award is intended to acknowledge that
 people that if you don’t
 example of their work, and makes this sometimes the media doesn’t always
 already know who
 he is, you’ll almost be
 video worthy of this recognition.” get it right, and an excellent artist slips
 under the radar. Do yourself a favour

 embarrassed when you
 Honourable Mentions: Neonme - “The and make sure that Sævar Jóhannsson
 Flower Phallus”, Björk – “Sorrowful Soil”, doesn’t pass you by.

 find out you didn’t.”
 Jae Tyler - “Give Me That (Yeah Yeah Yeah
 Yeah)” Honourable Mentions: Final Snack,
 Bucking Fastards
 "Flaaryr really takes you on a journey in Neonme
 his live performances,” our judge said. Salka Valsdóttir is not an unknown
 “He navigates time, sound and space like entity in the Icelandic music scene. A
 some kind of magical octopus.” member of the mighty all-female hip hop
 Flaaryr was in Argentina during the photo- collective Daughters of Reykjavík, as well
 shoot. Archive photo by Art Bicnick as gritty, experimental rap duo CYBER,
 Salka has already firmly established
 herself as a significant player in the field.
 With a CV as impressive as this, it’s
 no wonder that when rumours started
 to swirl that Salka was set to launch
 her solo career under the stage name
 Neonme in 2022, people were hyped.
 “Neonme is one of the most excit-
 If that’s not enough to get you ing projects to watch develop, as
 intrigued, we’re not sure what is. The Salka already has a brilliant career as
 truth is that Flaaryr — real name Diego a performer and producer. She’s on
 Manatrizio — might not be well-known track to become one of the most excit-
 to all of our readers, despite being a ing producers in all the land,” said one
 familiar face and regular community panellist enthusiastically. “It’s thrilling
 organiser within the Post-dreifing scene. to see her work on a solo project and I
 But those who have been lucky enough can’t wait to hear how it’ll continue to
 to witness one of his performances first- develop.”
 hand know exactly how fun, captivating Salka released two singles last year
 and engaging he is to see on stage. as Neonme (our panellists in particu-
 “My daughter said it sounded like he lar praised the music video for her track
 had a whole band with him — she was “The Flower Phallus”), and performed
 amazed that one person could make all her first live solo show as part of the
 of these different sounds,” one panel- INNI showcase during Iceland Airwaves.
 list laughed. And it’s true: Diego’s use of Such was the excitement for her debut
 loops, pre-recorded and sampled sound that the building was stowed out. Those
 and different musical — and non musical who managed to squeeze themselves in
 — instruments makes for a set that’s just were well rewarded.
 as visually entertaining as it is sonically. “As Neonme, Salka artfully pairs
 From mirrors to alarm clocks, it’s never dreamy melodies, mythical soundscape

 Ugla ←→ BSÍ
 easy to predict what might show up on and eerie, sometimes violent Aphex
 stage. Diego even runs regular impro- Twin-ish beats into a lush universe we
 visation nights, ‘Allt er hljóðfæri,’ or all want to live in,” a judge described.
 ‘everything is an instrument’ — a name
 that pretty much sums up his approach Honourable Mentions: Sameheads,
 to music-making. KUSK
10 The Reykjavík Grapevine
 Issue 1— 2023
SHOUT OUT: linking them all.
Árni Hjörvar “Árni deserves a shout out for his
& Sigtryggur admirable work in the scene, work
 that’s already affected the sound of this
Baldursson generation of local indie rock,” said one
It should be noted that for this category, panellist.
two of the panellists each have close The rest agreed. “His depth of experi-
personal or professional links to one of the ence working at a world-class level as an
award winners — kind of an occupational artist, paired with his incredible enthu-
hazard of working in the arts in Iceland, siasm for the craft, is bringing a level of
but important to point out nonetheless. sophistication to the grassroots record-
Each took a step back in the decision- ing scene here in Iceland one could argue
making process when it came to their we haven’t seen before,” a second judge
respective “vested interest” in the name added.
of fairness. Our second winner of the 2023
 Sometimes, no matter how much Shout Out award goes to a man who has
debating and deliberation takes place, decades of experience of the Icelandic
it’s just impossible to pick one winner. music scene under his belt. A founding
For our Shout Out award this year — member of the iconic Sugarcubes (that’s
which seeks to celebrate those who have Björk’s first band, for those who don’t
made an outstanding contribution to know), Sigtryggur Baldursson was one of
the music scene in Iceland — our panel the most significant figures in the punk
quickly realised that there were two indi-
viduals clearly deserving recognition.
 The first is Árni Hjörvar: “Árni is one
of these people that if you don’t already
know who he is, you’ll almost be embar-
 rock scene of the 80s and 90s. He even
 appeared in the cult documentary film
 “Rokk í Reykjavík.”
 The list of bands and artists Sigtryg-
 gur has collaborated with would take up
rassed when you find out you didn’t,”
said one judge. For those who are maybe half of this article, but includes, to name They continued:
feeling a creeping sense of shame, here’s but a few, Þeyr, Kukl, Emiliana Torrini “Given the plans
the lowdown: Árni started out as a local and Ben Frost. Over the years his career announced by the
Reykjavík musician, playing in legendary has spanned genres and continents. A Icelandic govern-
2000s bands such as Kimono and Future recording artist, performer, broadcaster, ment for a new
Future, before moving to the UK to join musical director, composer, project music office, we
English indie-rock outfit The Vaccines. manager and producer: there seems no know that ÚTÓN in
Which is, you know, kind of a big deal. end to the number of strings in Sigtryg- its current forma-
 But even though playing with a huge, gur’s bow. Since 2012 he has held the tion is being phased
NME award-winning band is pretty position of manager of the ÚTÓN, the out. As such it’s
commendable stuff, our panel is choos- Icelandic music export office, providing important to take
ing to recognise Árni for a completely support for home grown talent to make this moment to
different strand of his work. Since their own debuts abroad. acknowledge this
returning to Iceland in 2020, Árni has “One could make the argument that absolute legend for
been working predominantly as a music Icelandic music export is synonymous his contribution to
producer and his name came up again with Sigtryggur Baldursson,” said our Icelandic music.”

and again as we discussed our favourite panellist. “Not only can we say that the
releases from the past twelve months. entire indie scene stands on the shoul-
From Kvikindi to BSÍ, Ólafur Kram to
Hekla — and many more in between — it
turns out Árni is a common denominator
 ders of giants called the Sugarcubes, but
 in 2022 he celebrated his 10 year tenure
 at the Iceland Music export office.”

2022: Judging the Year Icelandic album. The Album of the Year category was by far the most
 challenging to decide: there were just too many goddamn great re-
 is that we are sadly handing out our first posthumous award. It was a
 unanimous decision on behalf of the judging committee that Svavar
 leases over the past 12 months. Clearly, all of the writing and recording Pétur Eysteinsson — Prins Póló to his fans — should be named Artist
It’s cliché to say, but judging these categories is extremely hard. Our
 time unexpectedly gifted to artists in the previous two years has been of the Year. Svavar’s contribution to art, music, photography and per-
panellists spent weeks researching, listening, debating and sending
 put to good use. Notable, too, is the quality and production value of formance — to name but a few of his many areas of influence — will
late night emails insisting that this or that track just had to win a cat-
 these products. Icelandic music has never been sleeker, cooler, or be felt for years to come. We were lucky enough to speak to some
egory. Through our time deliberating and deciding, certain themes
 more put-together. of his closest friends and loved ones about the impact Svavar had on
emerged. The first is that 2022 can be classified as the year of the
 The second notable feature of the 2023 Grapevine Music Awards the creative scene in Iceland.

2023: the panellists Hrefna (Habbi) Helgadóttir edge with the local community.
 She also co-hosts the Make-
 range of local artists throughout
 the years, project managed the
 R6013 and Why not? Records.
 R6013 is operated on a pay-
 Hrefna Helgadóttir joined ÚTÓN/
 WorkWork podcast on creative last two Reykjavík Arts Festival what-you-can model and aims to
Josie Anne Gaitens Iceland Music during the pan-
 work which has reached #1 on and was a part of the Battle of provide a safe, accessible and fun
 30-seater venues. Originally from demic after working in music/
Josie Anne is the Culture Editor the careers chart in Iceland and the Bands jury for years. Her heart performance and recording space
 the Scottish Highlands, she first tech in London for 10 years. Her
of the Reykjavík Grapevine, as has listeners in over 60 countries. beats with the Reykjavík music for artists and concert-goers.
 moved to Iceland in 2019 and has expertise is using data to create
well as a musician and commu- and arts scene. Ægir has been part of the Rey-
 been hooked ever since. She is effective strategies to promote Ása Dýradóttir
nity organiser. She has worked kjavik music scene since his early
 a member of the arts collective music and artists, which in her Ægir Sindri Bjarnason
in numerous roles in the music Ása Dýradóttir is the bassist of teens, and performs with a num-
 Kvæðakórinn, as well as board current role she utilises to pro-
industry, from large scale fes- MAMMÚT and head of Reykjavík Ægir Sindri Bjarnason is musi- ber of bands, as well as recording
 member of the Icelandic chapter mote Icelandic music abroad and
tivals to booking tours in rural, Music City. She’s played with cian as well as the founder of the and releasing his own music.
 of also actively sharing that knowl-
 and participated in work by a big (literally) underground DIY venue

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THIS IS THE The Reykjavík Grapevine 11
 Issue 1— 2023


Þrettánd Celebrations
January 6 — Multiple locations at
multiple times

Despite becoming Christian in the
year 1,000, Iceland has firmly held
on to many of its distinctly pagan
traditions. January 6 is known as
‘Þrettándi’ (the thirteenth), and is
supposedly the night when all of the
elves come out and wreak havoc. For
some reason, Icelanders celebrate
this with bonfires and traditional
singing! Each municipality hosts its
own bonfire, with the city of Reyk-
javík’s taking place at Ægisíða at
18:30. JG

 Friendships In Vestur-
 as it happens with film, everything takes
 much longer in development. So, COVID
 was almost finished when we finally shot

 bær Are At Stake
 the film last year.”

 Doing impossible things
 “One thing I've learned during the last
 Icelandic cinema kicks off the new season with the premiere of “Villibráð” two years is how much being a film direc-
 tor is about trusting and collaborating,”
 CULTURE In the age of smartphones, our most admits Elsa. “The better that I get at
 Bringing the movie to life
 NEWS personal secrets are often stored away trusting and collaborating, the easier
Tertulia Festival in apps, folders, and notes on our Elsa co-wrote the script with playwright things get.”
 “Villibráð” devices. But what would happen if all Tyrfingur Tyrfingsson. “We were work- One of the key challenges Elsa faced in
January 12 to 16 — Multiple
locations at multiple times
 premiers in the of that sensitive information were to be ing on something else,” she recalls. “Then making the movie was playing the wait-
 Icelandic cinemas exposed? Director Elsa María Jakobsdót- this concept came about and we decided ing game. “There's a lot more waiting
It’s not often we get to share a on Jan. 6. tir’s “Villibráð’” (“Wild Game”) explores that we should try to make an Icelandic than I expected — waiting for finance,
brand new concept! Tertulia festi- that scenario, telling the story of seven version of this just as screenwriters and waiting for things to move along,” she
val, a music and dining experience Catch it with friends at a dinner party in Vesturbær
originating in New York, is hosting English subtitles who decide to play a game that puts their
its very first edition in Reykjavík! starting Jan. 15. relationships to the test. As secrets are
They will be hosting two differ- revealed and lies are exposed, the group
ent dinners, two breakfasts, and Words: is forced to confront the consequences of
one happy hour. Imagine yourself Iryna Zubenko oversharing in the digital age. Will their
dressed your best, enjoying an friendships survive the night, or will the
incredible meal and dreaming away Photos: weight of their secrets tear them apart?
on live chamber music in between Art Bicnick
courses. Check out more on events. & Supplied An Icelandic take on the What’s not to love? KW Italian story
 With a background in journalism and
 television, Elsa María Jakobsdóttir is a
 well-known film director and screen-
 writer in Iceland. She studied at the
 National Film School of Denmark and
 has received multiple awards for her
 short films. 2023, will see the release of
 both a TV series, and “Villibráð,” her first
 feature film.
 “Villibráð” is a remake of Paolo Geno-
 vese’s 2016 film ‘Perfect Strangers,’ a dark
 comedy with themes and characters that
 Elsa is certain will appeal well to Iceland-
RVK Feminist Film Festival ers. “It's based on a concept that has been
 remade all around the world: it's a dinner
January 12-15 — Multiple locations
 party with seven characters. We’re using see where that would go. It went very shares. “It can be extremely frustrating,
The Reykjavík Feminist Film Festi- the concept of the telephone game,” says well! We had so much fun writing it.” and you can feel your life wasted a little
val returns with its fourth edition, Elsa. Early on in the process, Elsa knew bit.”
focusing on all things horror. You “Our aim with this film is to enter- that she wanted to direct the film, even Unlike most Icelandic films, “Villi-
might have a love-hate relation- tain the Icelandic audience,” the director though she admits that making a remake bráð” is not a co-production, so it was
ship with horror films, but remem- affirms. Though she has won multiple of an Italian movie as her first feature was made with an entirely Icelandic crew.
ber that it’s a good opportunity to awards for her short films, there was never the plan. “I didn’t see that coming,” “I just loved how extremely qualified
acknowledge and celebrate film- something freeing for Elsa in making her says Elsa. and talented people are. It was just
makers who identify as women. first feature-length film specifically for While the script and idea developed so reassuring to have all these fantas-
The festival will also showcase films the local audience. “Nothing needs to be swiftly, production took longer. “We tic resources around me,” Elsa says,
competing for the Sister Awards translated. You don't have to worry that thought that this would all have been mentioning the crew’s skill in problem
(their short film competition) and nobody outside of this culture is going to really quick — like a perfect COVID proj- solving and overcoming every obstacle.
host a few networking events, like a understand it.” ect, because it's just seven characters in “The only option you have is to be doing
pre-afterparty with flash tattoos at a house,” says Elsa. “But then, of course, impossible things.”
Reykjavík Marina on Jan. 7. IZ
12 The Reykjavík Grapevine
 Issue 1— 2023

 be Reykjavík City’s issue, not ours.” She lation act. The act sets the decibel level
 adds that Tjarnarbíó is currently the most for different times of day and states that
 used stage in Iceland: “Nobody is doing a venue or business is not allowed to
 as many shows per week on one stage as impact the nearest building with noise
 we are.” that exceeds a certain decibel level.
 “It’s always difficult when we have
 Ensuring compliance with venues connected to another building,”
 loudness caps Helgi says. Speaking of the Tjarnarbíó
 case, he adds: “In that instance, the only
 According to the 2008 Noise Regulation way to lower the nuisance is to just keep
 Act, Tjarnarbíó and most venues in town the sound levels fairly limited. If they
 (with the exception of Harpa and Laugar- would like to have an increase in the
 dalshöll) have to adhere to a maximum sound levels that they have, they would
 loudness of 95 decibels. “That limits what have to make the renovation. I haven't
 we do here. Thankfully, not that much, heard of any intention of changing that.
 because 95 decibels is quite high,” Sara Until it is changed, they will just have to
 says. “But rock concerts are kind of out abide by the rules that have been set.”
 of the question.” “The issue with many of the venues
 “I feel very bad that I have to say ‘no’ and the bars in Reykjavík is that many
 to certain groups because of this,” she of them are old buildings, made of wood
 admits, while wondering aloud how and not very well insulated. They are not
 aspiring artists are expected to make a really suitable for having rock bands play-
 living from their music without access ing or having a dance club,” says Helgi. He
 to venues where they can showcase their also mentions that even though the insu-
 art without limitations. lation is better in newer buildings, leav-
 In Tjarnarbíó’s case, the only solution ing doors open and other actions result
 would be to completely dismantle the in higher noise levels. “We wouldn't get
 glass atrium connecting the theatre to that many complaints if the doors and the
 the adjacent residential building. “This windows were kept closed.”
 is a major operation and would cost so
 much money,” Sara laments. In fact, the A widespread problem
 cost would be too high for Tjarnabíó to
 carry, so their only hope is for the city to Tjarnarbíó is not the sole Reykjavík venue
 fund the renovation. “That's not going to with annoyed neighbours. Tóma Rýmið,
 happen anytime soon. They prefer it to a space managed by the Klúbburinn art
 be our problem rather than theirs.” collective, was forced to close its doors
 due to ongoing complaints from the
 Finding a win-win solution neighbours. Downtown venues Ameri-
 can Bar and Pablo Discobar also received
 “This building is a theatre. It's not going notices from the City of Reykjavík about
 to be anything else but a theatre — it noise disturbances. Gamla Bíó, an old
 would cost the city millions upon millions cinema that hosts various events, had
 to do something else with this,” says Sara. to install a sound limiter since vibra-
 “The perfect solution to our problem tions from the venue were impacting the
 would be to do something about the noise neighbouring hotel.

Reykjavík: A Music City
 problem.” “Tóma Rýmið is a very good example
 “I respect my neighbours,” she contin- of the city’s vision of how to do art,” says
 ues. “I don't want to trouble them, but at Sara. “They give artists a space that is

(At A Respectable Volume)
 the same time, they also need to under- leaking, probably has mould, and now
 stand that I'm just trying to run this on top of it, they get noise complaints.”
 cultural establishment. And it's never Sara believes that grassroot organisations
 been more important than right now to need more venues to display their art
 have a stage for artists.” and the recent closure of Tóma Rýmið
Downtown venues threatened by noise complaints campaign Sara believes that if the problem was demonstrates a lack of support for artists
 affecting more people than residents of from those in charge of the city.
 just three apartments, the city of Reyk- Helgi’s opinion differs. “They didn't
 Words: The past few months have been a head- of Tjarnarbíó, when asked if the rumours javík would be more urgent in their have a permit,” he says. “The soundproof-
 Iryna Zubenko ache for Tjarnarbíó. The cultural centre about the theatre’s closure are true. “But response. ing of the building wasn't enough to be
 and theatre located in the heart of Reyk- we do have neighbours, there you can able to have a concert without it being
 Photo: javík has been on the receiving end of see them,” she says, pointing to the adja- The authorities’ stance a nuisance for the nearby residents —
 Art Bicnick a number of noise complaints from its cent house. “They're so close.” Not just that's the reason why they didn't get the
 neighbours, sparking rumours that it close — Tjarnarbíó is directly attached The municipal department charged with permit.”
 may have to close its doors. As we enter to another building, so any loud sounds, probing noise complaints like those The issue of noise complaints in the
 the venue on a crisp and sunny December including deep bass or subs, affect the levied against Tjarnabíó is the Depart- music industry is a complex and multi-
 day, the question on everyone's minds is neighbouring residential property. ment of Health. “We receive quite a few faceted problem that requires ongoing
 whether Tjarnarbíó will be able to find a Approximately 10 years ago, neigh- noise complaints because of noise that communication between promoters, the
 solution to the noise issue and continue bours sued the theatre and, more recently, comes from venues and events down- city and residents. Tjarnarbíó is currently
 to serve as a vital hub for music and the venue has received multiple threats town,” says Helgi Guðjónsson, a project the main stage for artists who receive
 culture in the city. of a similar lawsuit. manager at the department’s environ- government grants to perform and Sara
 “I understand their complaints,” says mental division. “When we receive these hopes it will stay that way, with one
 The root of the issue Sara. “I would not be happy if there was complaints, we investigate them and try change: “We want to be able to receive
 somebody constantly playing music that to see if they have merit behind them.” artists in whatever form or loudness that
 “No, that's never gonna happen,” says was disturbing me and my peace. But Throughout our conversation, Helgi they choose.”
 Sara Martí Guðmundsdóttir, the director at the same time, I feel that this should refers to the aforementioned noise regu-

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