Published December 12, 2016
When Iceland Airwaves was started in 1999 the festival organisers were looking for a platform to bring in the tourists and push out the music. It worked, it really fucking worked. What started as a one-off weekend is now a full week’s block on the calendar. What was once an empty airport hanger in Keflavík is now every stage, bar, bookshop, stadium, yoga studio and hair salon in downtown Reykjavík. 101 is completely bloated, and the organisers recognize. Time to expand.
Iceland Airwaves 2017 will be held in both Reykjavík and Akureyri, Iceland’s culture capital of the north. It’s a long, scenic drive from the capital (about six hours in one push), but that is part of the point. Grímur Atlason, one of the festival organisers, confirms that it has been an aim of Airwaves for a long time to get visitors into the countryside, as well as to expand the event to Icelanders outside of the capital area.
Speaking of reaching out, GKR’s newest video—for “Meira” a track off his new EP produced by Marteinn—turned up on the US-based Mad Decent’s YouTube page in mid-November. It’s a massive shout out from the label run by party-maestro Diplo, which backs artists like Major Lazer, Sean Paul and Riff Raff. The same day the video dropped, Mad Decent called GKR “one to watch,” something that we at the Grapevine decided a year ago when we awarded him the coveted, ahem, “one to watch” award at our annual Grapevine Music Awards. Just sayin’. The big-loved video was directed by GKR and features mud, buggies, and technicolour skies.
For the last two and a half years, one of the Iceland’s most widely-loved singers, Emilíana Torrini, has been on hiatus. Well, not a real hiatus. More like a travelling with gypsies in Spain/singing in basements in Canada/fronting improvisational jazz bands in Berlin-type “hiatus.” She left her band in search of a “firework” feeling, and the sparks started to fly. Earlier this year a group from Belgium called The Colorist Orchestra approached Emilíana with the idea of “re-colouring” a selection of her tracks. She met up with them and performed five shows of sixteen reworked tracks with the group. Their musical and personal chemistry was something more like alchemy, so they extended their tour and decided to release a live album. On December 9th, ‘The Colorist & Emilíana Torrini’ was released through Rough Trade Records.
Video and computer games are becoming increasingly (sometimes terrifyingly) true to life. But while most put their first-person player in Middle Eastern war zones or the bed of the LA River, the latest hit puts you on the pixeled banks of Bankastræti, dipping and weaving through the crowds like to get to your Saturday night fav: Prikið. This past month, Emmsjé Gauti released his latest record, ‘Sautjándi november’, accompanied by the a video for “Svona er Þetta,” and maybe the world’s first computer game to be set in 101. The album is his second this year. We’re not sure what the prize is, but we’re pretty sure he’s winning.
While Gauti’s expanding into the realm of computer games, Kristín Lárusdóttir is expanding the study of Computer Music. In 2013, she was the first to graduate with a degree in Computer Music from an Icelandic Academy where she also studied classical cello and baroque music. On November 25 she released her second album, ‘Himinglæva’, the sequel and sister to her first album, ‘Hefring’. It’s thirty minutes of alone-time cello, vocals and electronics.