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iceland airwaves 2018

Iceland Airwaves Festival 2018

Inclusivity and creating space was a common thread which wove through the entirety of Iceland Airwaves’ 20th Anniversary festival. Iceland Airwaves is a four-day music festival in Reykjavik, Iceland. Thanks to Iceland Air and Iceland Naturally, WLUW’s Music Director, Carolyn Droke, was able to cover the festival alongside other industry professionals. This year, over 1,000 Icelandic and international bands were showcased. Iceland Airwaves was also one of the first festivals to achieve the Keychange initiative. Keychange is an international initiative which promotes equity in the music industry. They encourage music festivals to achieve a 50:50 ratio of female to male artists by the year 2022.

I was able to attend the Keychange award ceremony at this year’s festival. Icelandic singer and songwriter Emiliana Torrini was awarded the Inspiration Award for her work in pioneering a movement towards greater inclusivity in the music industry. Emiliana Torrini spoke humbly to the crowd after receiving the award. She conveyed the message that women need to consciously create space for themselves rather than allowing others to take it. Not only do women need to create space for themselves, but we also need to actively build and share spaces for other women;          

“Now is a very exciting time for women, a time to move forward through the old tar. Our journey has created many inspiring voices that empower us to put ourselves out there, to do the things we thought we couldn’t do. These voices bring changes and create spaces where once we were not welcome. We’re taking the credits we deserve, challenging the doubts within and supporting each other.

Something like Keychange helps empower women within our industry and like with the beginning of change in so many things in life the arts have to take the lead… so lets.”

Although I wasn’t able to see Torrini perform at the festival, I was able to countless amazing sets and discover Icelandic artists, as well as learn about Icelandic culture.

On the first day I arrived in Reykjavik, I was welcomed by an incredible breakfast spread consisting of pickled fish and pastries. I decided to go ahead a skip the Cod Liver Oil that was situated next to the food with accompanying shot glasses. I’m usually an adventurous eater but I figured I could get my omega-3’s in a more traditional way. We were immediately taken to a tour of Borg Brugghús, a large craft brewery in Reykjavik. We learned that Iceland underwent a long period of prohibition, which only ended when British soldiers who occupied the country during WWII were angry that they couldn’t drink beer.

The first act I saw was an Iceland artist Hildur perform an upbeat set in the Reykjavik Art Museum. Hildur sang in English and moved around the stage. After the show, we went to a house show put on by Icelandic artists JFDR and Gyda. They had set up a large couch in their living room and lit candles. They dressed in Renaissance clothing and played music inspired by the time period.

The second day of the festival was packed with music as well. I saw Gyda, who had performed at the house show the night before. Her instrument of choice as a cello. Her voice was incredibly quiet and angelic. It almost seemed to transcend this realm.

After Gyda, we went to another venue to see Icelandic electronic pop duo Milkywhale play. They definitely knew how to hype up a crowd. Milkywhale performed their lyrics in English, which was a trend that I noticed a lot of artists had taken up.

Snail Mail was the first American band that I saw in Iceland. It was my second time seeing her, but her voice was more resounding than I had remembered. I was really surprised at how little the crowd would dance. It was also interesting to see larger acts, like Snail Mail and Blood Orange, have a relatively small turnout compared to some of the other Iceland artists.

On the third day of the festival, I got to catch a live performance on The Current, Minnesota’s public radio station. Reykjavik's Daughters performed an insanely upbeat, definitely not FCC clean, performance. This group has been together for several years, and the number of members fluctuate from 5 to 12. Their main message is female empowerment and feminism. The group was asked to write and perform an anthem for the Slutwalk in 2014.

Vök was one of my favorite artist discoveries of the festival. Vök has played Iceland Airwaves several times in the past, and it’s clear how comfortable they are together on the stage. The even wore matching suits. The band consists of four members and is fronted by Margrét Rán. The indie dream pop/electronica band is signed to the Icelandic label Record Records. Synth-y chords opened their set accompanied by a low and steady bass beat. Fufanu was another great band I discovered that night. All the songs begin with a long introduction. They seem to draw inspiration from Joy Division, with grumbling vocals and steady, drawn out riffs.

Iceland Airwaves was an incredible experience. It was refreshing to attend a festival whose main purpose was to highlight artists who haven’t yet broken out into the mainstream. I hope to see more festivals following Iceland Airwaves’ example of a push to gender equity in music.

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Kero Kero Bonito is the wholesomness we all need

The UK-based pop group, Kero Kero Bonito performed to an absolutely giddy crowd this past Thursday at Thalia Hall. The general consensus? It rocked.

Thalia was bumpin’ with fans, clad in animal hats, KBB merch and rainbow-colored garb. I was bouncing off the energy given out by show-goers and felt an immediate change of pace from the usual reserved, dressed-in-all-black indie rock fans. You don’t see too many pop groups performing at Thalia.

 

The lights dimmed and the chanting started.

 

“KBB, KBBB, KBBB” hooted the crowd.

The four-piece band arrived and jumped right into playing songs off the new album, Time ‘n’ Place. Maybe it was my old-man ears but I had a hard time hearing Sarah Perry’s vocals over the drummer and bass player. Regardless, I was vibing.

Song three began and a toy stuffed animal flamingo greeted the crowd. Kero Kero playfully swung it around as she sung her most popular song, “Flamingo.”  Everyone loved it. As the set went on Sarah’s voice gained some gusto and the vocals started to sound much more full.

I loved the shout-out that Sarah made to college radio, thanking her fans for getting the record on the NACC chart. Another fave quote from Sarah, “I’ve been eating a lot of cheese lately and have been having a lot of nightmares!”

 

It’s hard to believe that anyone could have a bad time at this show. One fan almost fell out of the opera box because she was dancing so hard.

This was one of the most wholesome shows that I’ve seen in a while. Why sing about heartbreak and pain when you can sing about eating too much shrimp and turning pink like a flamingo?

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Photo by Kaylie Plauche

Kero Kero Bonito plays Thalia Hall

The UK-based pop group, Kero Kero Bonito performed to an absolutely giddy crowd this past Thursday at Thalia Hall. The general consensus? It rocked.

Thalia was bumpin’ with fans, clad in animal hats, KBB merch and rainbow-colored garb. I was bouncing off the energy given out by show-goers and felt an immediate change of pace from the usual reserved, dressed-in-all-black indie rock fans. You don’t see too many pop groups performing at Thalia.

The lights dimmed and the chanting started.

“KBB, KBBB, KBBB” hooted the crowd.

The four-piece band arrived and jumped right into playing songs off the new album, Time ‘n’ Place. Maybe it was my old-man ears but I had a hard time hearing Sarah Perry’s vocals over the drummer and bass player. Regardless, I was vibing.

Song three began and a toy stuffed animal flamingo greeted the crowd. Kero Kero playfully swung it around as she sung her most popular song, “Flamingo.”  Everyone loved it. As the set went on Sarah’s voice gained some gusto and the vocals started to sound much more full.

I loved the shout-out that Sarah made to college radio, thanking her fans for getting the record on the NACC chart. Another fave quote from Sarah, “I’ve been eating a lot of cheese lately and have been having a lot of nightmares!”

It’s hard to believe that anyone could have a bad time at this show. One fan almost fell out of the opera box because she was dancing so hard. This was one of the most wholesome shows that I’ve seen in a while. Why sing about heartbreak and pain when you can sing about eating too much shrimp and turning pink like a flamingo?

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Pitchfork announces Midwinter Festival at Chicago Art Institute

           Anybody who’s experienced a Chicago winter knows that it can get pretty rough, and by mid-February, the days can just drag on. Pitchfork has announced the perfect way to pick yourself out of the gloom with the first ever Midwinter Music and Art Experience.

 

           Held in collaboration with The Art Institute of Chicago, on February 15-17 Chicago’s most iconic art museum will host a number of bands and artists performing original pre-recorded compositions, unearthed recordings, and soundscapes around their halls and venues for a one of a kind experience. Pitchfork Festival Director, Adam Krefman, has crafted the event to “[open] a dialogue between mediums...creating a unique cultural event” for patrons this Winter. As always, Pitchfork is bringing an ambitious and culturally insightful way to interact with the music community in Chicago.

 

Jacqueline Terrassa, of the Women’s Board Chair of Learning and DevePublig Engagement at the Art Institute believes that “Midwinter expands the possibilities of what audiences can experience in at an art museum,” and we do as well.

 

Picture this – you walk up the Art Institute steps in the falling snow and bone-chilling cold. Into the warmth, you enter and are greeted by the other-worldly sounds of Mary Lattimore’s harp melting away any midwinter slump. As you take in the priceless art pieces by legendary artists such as Georgia O'Keeffe and Monet, housed within the museum, you come across a heavenly sound emanating from the soundscape demonstration by iconic ambient duo Stars of The Lid. Taking in the sounds of Euphoria, you enter into the Rubloff Auditorium and experience the out of body free jazz from the enigma that is Kamasi Washington. Sounds pretty life changing right? We think so too.

 

Tickets are set to go on sale to the general public Friday, November 16th at 10am CT. A three-night weekend base ticket is priced at $127.50, and single night tickets will start at $50. The additional performances will cost an add-on fee of $15.

 

We predict this is going to be the best thing to happen to Chicago all winter (and sell out quickly). Explore some of the WLUW favorites that will perform and make this event such a phenomenal time below!

 

FRIDAY, February 15:

 

Sudan Archives – Based out of LA, Sudan Archives is the performance name of Brittney Parks, who released a 2018 WLUW favorite of 2018 – the Sink EP. Her sensual brand of modern RnB jumbles together the vibes of neon lights, smoke-filled clubs, eastern strings, sleek electronica, and just simply exudes cool and calm. You can catch her sure to be slick set in the Fullerton Hall.

 

Mount Eerie – One of the most moving albums to come out this year was Mount Eerie’s Now Only and it could bring tears to your eyes thinking of the emotional possibilities of a Mount Eerie set a setting such as the Art Institute. The album was put out following the death of Phil Elverum, the man behind the Mount Eerie moniker, so you know the art and music he creates comes from a real place, deep within him. True emotion is what you’ll experience at his set at Midwinter. Not one to be missed.

 

William Basinski – Classically trained composer William Basinski has carved out such a highly regarded name for himself over the years within the avant-garde and ambient music spheres. One reason for his legendary status is his work entitled The Disintegration Loops. Regarded by many as one of the most seminal musical works of the 21st Century, finally released in 2003, it is one of the most hauntingly beautiful, melancholy yet tranquil pieces of art. Its extended loops and its sound of decay can lull a listener into a trance or give them the headspace to go deep within their own minds. Basinski will perform his gorgeous work with the Chicago Philharmonic on Friday, as well as perform for a second time at Midwinter on Saturday. You will want to be there to experience one of the world’s best living composer perform one of his career’s finest works.

 

 

Slowdive – With the triumphant return of Slowdive that came with 2017’s self-titled album, the legendary British shoegaze band will continue to grace the world with the transcending dream pop that they make sound so effortlessly and surreal. It is so good to think that their reunion was not just a one-off event, they’re here and they’re sticking at Midwinter and if you’re already familiar with the magic that is Slowdive, you can imagine how transcendent experiencing their music in such a breathtaking location will be, and if you’ve yet to delve into their swirls of ecstasy, do yourself a favor and give them a listen, and then bring a few tissues to dry your eyes when you go see them at Midwinter.

 

SATURDAY, February 16:

 

Deerhunter – Deerhunter recently announced the 2019 release of their latest album Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? along with a string of tour dates and surprised a few who noticed that Chicago was not listed as a stop on that tour. Well, …now we know why! And WLUW is ecstatic to be able to once again catch the performance from the Georgia indie rock legends who have famously incorporated shoegaze, noise rock, indie and punk, and old-fashioned rock and roll into their sets sometimes accompanied by the eccentric antics of frontman Bradford Cox. This is such a quality band who know how to do it right and are not one to be missed at Midwinter

 

Serpentwithfeet – Josiah Wise is from Brooklyn and brings to Midwinter his brand of experimental electronic gospel and neo-soul. His voice has a unique and powerful quality and with the release of his debut full-length Soil this year, he has placed himself as a stand out within the music pantheon that is impossible to label. His music is art in itself and that makes Midwinter and the Art Institute the perfect setting to see him perform.

 

Kamasi Washington – Many people have credited Kamasi Washington for bringing jazz at least a little bit back into the collective music consciousness. He is a saxophonist and bandleader for his juggernaut free jazz experience who put out two highly acclaimed releases in 2018 – Heaven and Earth and The Choice and his live performances are known to be experienced both rooted in the wild and classic jazz of yesteryear, yet feel totally of its time, modern and engaging. Seeing him and experiencing him should be something on every music fan’s bucket list and at Midwinter you can do just that – experience something out of our world – the world and music of Kamasi Washington.

 

SUNDAY, February 17:

 

Oneohtrix Point Never –Brooklyn based producer and composer Daniel Lopatin, has already announced that he will bring his entire myRIAD ensemble to Chicago for this performance. He is not only renowned for his award-winning experimental ambient and hypnagogic pop works such as “Garden of Delete” but also has scored and created visual pieces for galleries and museums far and wide. Knowing him, there is a good chance he will create something new and spectacular for this show.

 

Joeey Purp – What would this lineup be without a hometown hero? Joeey Purp is a rapper from, you guessed it, Chicago! As one of the integral parts of SaveMoney, including Chance The Rapper and Vic Mensa, he’s strong with a team but has recently ventured further out on his own sound with “QUARTERTHING”. The album scored a prestigious 8.3 scoring on Pitchforks review as well as a big red “Best New Music” sticker of recognition. His rapping has come to be loose and flowing, creative and concentrated on progress. He is bound to give a warm welcome to the fans and pieces at the Midwinter festival.

 

Smerz – Smerz is comprised of Catharine Stoltenberg and Henriette Motzfeldt who broke into the scene with 2017 EP “Okey,” following up with “Have Fun” on XL Recordings just a year later. Born in Norway and based in Denmark, the duo use elements of R&B, Chicago Footwork, and House music in their work which will be showcased just before Zola Jesus this winter. Other than making phenomenal music to bop to on your own or dance to in the club, Smerz reminds me of the casual-cool girls who you met in your senior year high school graphic design class. Someone who will exceed whatever limitations you put before them in the most graceful and normalized manner.

 

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A Q&A with Keys N Krates Keyboardist David Matisse

Keys N Krates formed in 2008, bringing live instrumental performances to the world of electronic music. Utilizing drums (), keyborad, and a turntable they have cultivated a unqie and fun sound that has stood the test of time. The trio will be headed to Chicago November 30th to perform at Bottom Lounge. In anticipation of the show, keyboardist David Matisse was able to answer a few of our questions before they hit the stage at the end of this month. 

Q. What/who influenced you to create music the way that you do – choosing the combination of drums, keyboards/synthesizer, and turntables?

 

A. There really wasn’t anyone influence. It was really natural the way we came together. Flo was a club DJ out in the city and I was a keyboard guy and artist doing gigs as well. Tune and I had already been playing together in other bands when we first started.  So it was all pretty organic. We started off just taking hip-hop samples of Dr. Dre and Tribe Called Quest and other iconic hip-hop acts. We would practice anywhere we could find room. Trying to figure out how to play along with the samples and then flipping them into something original that only we could play. We are huge fans of hip-hop so we wanted to make music rooted in that.

 

Q. You released your first debut full-length album, Cura, earlier this year. What is the meaning behind the album? Is this the start to the beginning of a new sound of Keys N Krates?

 

A. We were at a point where creatively we felt we had achieved everything we wanted to say at that point with the music we had made. We had done a lot with the sounds we were known for and weren’t interested in repeating the same sound again.  

We really took our time exploring new textures and ideas of where we wanted to take ourselves moving forward.  It’s still firmly rooted in Hip-hop but we sample ourselves a lot more now when we’re just jamming and we're exploring more analog sounds.

Cura means curiosity for us and we wanted to get back to that idea of being childlike in the energy of discovering new sounds and experiences

 

Q. You guys were here not too long ago in March at Concord Music Hall as part of the Cura World Tour, and now you will be back next month (November 30th to be exact), as the second stop on the “Closer we Get” tour presented by Silver Wrapper Productions at Bottom Lounge. What do you have planned this time around for Chicago fans?

 

A. We’ve been doing a lot of big stages over the years which is a lot of fun.  But there’s a certain intimacy you lose with the fans at that point. For this tour, we wanted to explore how it felt again when we used to play with the fans really close by you. In those small clubs or basement bars.  There’s an energy there that is really exciting and intense for both the fans and for us.

 

Q. What is the best part of making music for each of you?

 

A. There’s no one direct answer to that for any of us. Ultimately the process of collaborating together and having your ideas explored, collaborated on, and then released to the world to experience is so cool that we just keep wanting to do it over and over again.

 

Q. If you had all the money & recording resources in the world to record an album with one legendary artist, who would it be & why?

 

A. We’d record Gospel choirs and children’s choirs as well as huge string sections.

Tickets are still available for Keys N Krates 11/30 performance at Bottom Lounge HERE.

 

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