The ice-cold wind touched my face as I stepped out of the airport. The sun had yet to rise and I had an hour to wait until I would head toward Reykjavik. I grabbed a cup of coffee, sat down, and waited. After waiting and scrolling aimlessly through my phone, we were on a shuttle toward to the city. Passing in and out of sleep, the sun ceased to rise and it was already 9:30 am. Arriving upon our hotel, our radio media group napped until we were ready for our first venture at 1:30 in the afternoon.
The radio group met with our jet-lagged eyes (slightly less open than normal) and made our way to Borg Brewery. We ate Icelandic cheese, meats, and tried around 15-20 Icelandic craft beers. To top everything off, we finished our time at the brewery with the Icelandic schnapps, Brenevin. Everyone, except one colleague who chose to drink water, walked out feeling a bit buzzed to say the least.
We made our way over to a private dinner where we were blessed with the ‘Best Icelandic Chef of 2016.’ We were stuffed with 13 courses and wine pairings. Myself and the other radio personalities began to get to know each other more – exchanging laughs, stories, and knowledge about life, school, and travel.
The next day we made our way up to the northern city of Akureyi. Here in the small town of 18,000 people, I was captivated by the quaintness of the landscape, the lifestyle, and the architecture.
I explored the city on foot, snapping pictures on my journey and enjoying deep breathes of the cleanest air I’ve breathed (or so it seemed). Some of the artists I saw in Akureyi were Mura Masa, GKR, Glowie, Milkywhale and more, those of which can be found here.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Milkywhale who had the most amazing bio I’ve ever read. You can check out my whole interview with them here.
“Milkywhale is a bowl of Skittles combined with eight double espressos, topped with the mania of receiving both a new puppy and a trampoline on Christmas morning. Imagine an aerobics instructor in a 1960’s quasi-futuristic space station jumpsuit, with a giant “M” in the background meant to hypnotize you — like Zoolander at the Mugatu compound. Or, if you’re old enough to remember, a Rainbow Brite doll from the 80’s come to life.”
-The Reykjavik Grapevine
Other great artists that I interviewed consisted of Lord Pusswhip and GKR.
One thing that struck me about Icelandic culture and Icelandic people was their openness to other people and other cultures. Although there has been some controversy on the amount of tourists coming into Iceland, everyone was very inviting toward myself and the group that I was traveling with.
The synergy between the US, EU, and Iceland is growing to the point where cultures are blending and release amazing, quality music. The mayor of Reykevik said that in Iceland, “the alternative is the main stream in Iceland.” I believe this statement is a good sum up of Icelandic culture.
One of the most amazing experiences was seeing JFDR in a church. The crowd was silent when the two sisters were playing their music accompanied with a small orchestra. The artist that traveled the farthest to the festival was a New Zealand indie rock band called Fazerdaze.
One of the comments that I had gotten from locals in Iceland was that music is so popular because there is nothing else to do for entertainment. That’s another reason why I found many people who are musicians are in multiple acts.
The most interesting part about my trip was the Icelandic people. For example, I had the chance to meet one of the programmers of the Iceland Airwaves festival who had tattoos that read, “capitalism we have a problem” and “Is Jesus your friend?” which was tattooed on his outer forearm.
During our time in Akureyri, we were lucky enough to witness the first snowfall of the year.. After the first night I woke up, opened up my window, and saw a foot of snow that had fallen overnight. There was also some treacherous aspects of the first snow in Iceland. We had a member of our team slip, fall, and break her shoulder. Along with her fall, I also witnessed a four-car pile up on the bottom of the huge hill.
Later that morning, we went to a geothermal pool, which was incredibly relaxing. Apparently, locals go to the geothermal pools that reek of volcanic sulfur up to four times a week. While in the geothermal hot spring, we were able to watch a hip-hop show by Emmsje Gauti. I saw Gauti literally 4 times that day– all in different venues. Gauti played at the hot springs, my hotel, a venue and a local radio station. Gauti began his set outside of the geothermal pool. He ending up taking off his large winter coat and crowd surfed on the people in the hot spring.
After 2 days in Akuryri, we went back to Reykavik. Once we got back, we went to a press party. To get to the party, we walked through a man-made glacier. It simulated a real glacier and was made from millions and millions of pounds of ice. Later that night, I fell asleep during Fleet Foxes’ set, who played really well but the combination of sitting down and having etheral and laid back music was not ideal for my lack of sleep.
Reykavik got piles and piles of rain once we got back, which unfortunately impacted the turn out of the last night of events.
After running around for interviews, my Sunday night ended on a calmer note by watching and interviewing Lord Pusswhip. Overall, this was one of the most interesting concert experiences I’ve ever had. The people, the food and the music were out of this world. Icelandic culture is unique, growing, genuinely humbling and genuinely invited to foreigners.
To see more coverage on my trip to Iceland, check out my vlog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yG1Elkyv-NU