Retro Stefson are responsible for some of the rocking-est, dancing-est, most joyous live shows this fine publication has ever had the good fortune to witness. The young gang of merrymakers has been an Airwaves staple ever since first playing the festival back in 2006, and each subsequent return has seen them growing older (duh), stronger and better.
Now back with an excellent new album – Kimbabwe – and another notch carved on their belts, Retro Stefson are set to get us all in that spirit again on Saturday night. We e-mailed the very lovely Haraldur Ari Stefánsson to get the skinny on all his Airwaves-emotions, thoughts and feelings.
Who are you? What can we expect from your Airwaves appearance, and what can we expect of you in general?
Well I am Haraldur Ari. But Retro Stefson, we are seven young people from Iceland that like to play music. Our main goal is to enjoy what we do and make people dance. You can expect a great fest, and if all goes as it should you can also expect getting pretty sweaty!
What are some of the acts you want to see at this festival, and why?
I am looking forward to see Hercules & Love Affair, Moderat, Moses Hightower and of course a lot more. It is also interesting to bump into some event you know nothing about.
Are there any acts missing from the bill that you’d like to see on there?
No nothing that comes up to my mind at this moment. Of course, it would be amazing if Bob Dylan were playing!
Wow. There are, like, one million ‘international’ acts on this year’s schedule. Have you heard of any of them? Are you excited to see any of them? Do you believe this changes anything for the festival in general, and its spirit
Yes I’ve heard about some of them. I think it lifts the festival a bit upwards, gives it an international feeling, which I like. The city centre gets packed with a lot of people that share the same interests and you meet a lot of interesting people.
Looking back, do you have a favourite edition of Iceland Airwaves? And if so, why?
I don’t think I’m able to choose between the years, but of course there are some events that I can mention like Dubstep night at Barinn, The Magic Numbers and more.
A lot of our readers are first time Airwaves-visitors. Do you have any tips for them? What to see, what to do, what to avoid, etc? Where to buy records? Or a good place to grab a bite or get away from it all for a while?
It is important to dress well because it gets cold. Make sure you get a hot dog at Bæjarins Bestu before you go home, then it is easier to wake up the day after. Check out the off-venue shows, because they are often quite good and personal. Reykjavík has a lot of good restaurants, especially hamburger joints like Prikið, Vitabar, Búllan and Drekinn.
Best Swimming Pool: Sundhöllin and Vesturbæjarlaugin.
Best place to grab a bite: Vitabar, Santa Maria and Hamborgarabullan.
Best place to get away: Sundhöllin or walking by the sea, especially Ægisíða.
Best kept secret: The gingershot in Heilsuhusid (Klapparstigur/Laugavegur) costs only 150 ISK and cures your cold!
Given that most Airwaves-visitors won’t have a lot of time in their schedule to see the Icelandic countryside, are there any nature-havens close by that you’d reccommend?
Grótta at Seltjarnarnes, for example.
Who are your favourite Icelandic acts these days?
There is a lot to choose from, so I’ll just mention my favourite new Icelandic band, Moses Hightower.
A lot of international journalists like to ask: “How has kreppa affected the Icelandic music scene.” Do you think the question is valid? Do you have a preferred way of answering it?
I think the music scene in Iceland has benefited a bit from the kreppa. You concentrate on working with what you have and people help each other a lot, of course it is harder to play in other countries because we live on an island.
We’ll see you at Airwaves. Enjoy your stay in Iceland:)
Kimba is out now on Kimi Records (it’s probably only available via www.gogoyoko.com at the moment though, as physically pressing the copies can take a while).
Watch Retro Stefson perform Kimba!