There’s a palpable air of “we don’t care what anyone else is doing or if they like what and how we do” around the Paradísarborgarplötur (“Paradise City Records”) label/collective. It’s the quintessential hardcore/punk and beyond type of operation, ambitious yet somewhat mysterious, i.e. they seemingly do not dedicate much time trying to become the talk of the town; they’d rather just plod along, create on their own accord, and seemingly only for one another. Be it the raging and political metallised punk of Dys or the lonely, raw and tender crooning of Þórir Georg, Pradísarborgarplötur has something for almost everyone.
MORE SELF CENTRED THAN DISCHORD
Fannar Örn Karlsson, a member of bunch of PBP bands and one of the collective’s head honchos had a quick interworld chat with us and had this to say about the label’s unique position in Iceland: “The main objective is of course to be a D.I.Y. label and to create some sort of a platform for releasing music in a way that we’re comfortable with. It’s all a little vague still because we’re kind of testing the waters, trying to figure out how we can avoid compromises and still get music out there. Iceland can be difficult. With such a low number of inhabitants, changes within the music scene can be so drastic. Fifteen people are no longer interested or don’t have the time to be involved any more and suddenly there are no bands, no zines, no venues so you have to start over again.”
“My current goal personally, with PBP is to create a stable environment for our music and our art and figure out how we can continue to do things the way we want without relying too much on certain people being there or the stability of a certain scene.”
“Dischord Records is an amazing label and they’ve done really cool things in really cool ways and they’re a big influence on us.” In our conversation, I just had to make the comparison to the DC icon, something Fannar welcomed but put another spin on. “Dischord always had that archivist kind of feel to them, documenting what they felt important about the D.C. scene. At the moment we’re much more self-centred. Hopefully some day we’ll be in the position to be able distribute our records to a big enough audience so we can afford to be the archivists we would like to be. Oh yeah and we really like band shirts.”
A GIFT TO FRIENDS AND LOVED ONES
With Þórir Georg, aka My Summer As My Salvation Soldier, acting as PBP figurehead and best known musical entity, it was key to get him involved in the conversation what with his new record ‘Afsakið’ (“Apologies”) just having seen the light of day. The album sees him switching from English lyrics to Icelandic. “I’m aware of the fact that some people that enjoyed My Summer As My Salvation Soldier might not have the same connection with this album”, he says but adds that it’s not something that worries him. For him, the change isn’t strategic but a natural one. “Lyrics in Icelandic were popping up in my head with greater frequency so I ran with it and decided to make an Icelandic album.”
When asked if PBP was the appropriate home for him right now there was no doubt in the man’s mind. “PBP is just one of several projects we’ve got going and I wanted ‘Afsakið’ to be a part of that. I’m responsible for pushing my own album. When I released ‘Afsakið’ I didn’t really anticipate promoting it abroad, let alone in Iceland. Originally this material was intended as gift to friends and loved ones, and I didn’t play the material live, but then it outgrew that notion and has led me to this point where I’m sharing it with everyone that’s interested.”
NOT HYPERBOLIC, HONEST
Þórir and PBP opted to make all of their releases available for free downloads, thus going even more “punk” than the usual “trying to make at least the cost back.” How is this working out?
“We never sold loads of copies of anything we released before. There’s not much change really. Except now people can hear it,” Fannar says. Elaborating on the issue he adds that “even those who buy records often download them first to check them out and there’s a lot records that come out and it’s not very likely that somebody else will put our records online to distribute them amongst their message board friends. So to me, it can be a promotional thing. We’re losing money anyway so it’s really not a big issue for us. I could go on an ego trip and play the idealist card, but even though we do have ideals and consider ourselves to be an anti-corporate label, we’re so tiny and have got nothing to lose so it would be kind of hyperbolic and not entirely honest.”
Þórir concludes that “PBP’s goal is not to utilize the internet to create hype or push our stuff upon people. We just want it to be readily available anyone, wherever they may be.”
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