Iceland’s entry to this year’s Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) is Pollapönk, a four-piece band featuring members of locally celebrated punk rock bands Botnleðja (we totally gave them a legacy award at our inaugural music awards) and Dr. Spock, both of which competed in ESC in 2003 and 2008, respectively. Pollapönk’s contribution to Eurovision 2014 is a message song, loudly decrying bullying and prejudice, emphasising the importance of smiling, making friends and getting along since we’re all the same on the inside. What a great message for a pop song, too. We reached out to frontman Heiðar Örn Kristjánsson for a quick chat right before the group headed off to Copenhagen for the preliminaries before competing on the big stage Saturday, May 10.
Hæ Pollapönk! Congratulations on being selected to represent Iceland in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Can you tell us a bit about yourselves—why did you decide to enter the contest?
We created Pollapönk in 2006 when Haraldur Freyr Gíslason and I were graduating from the University of Iceland with bachelor degrees in education—in fact the first Pollapönk album was submitted as part of our final paper.
We started the band to write and perform ambitious music that children and adults alike could enjoy and sing along to. The songs are intended to relate to different age groups in an open and illuminating way. We entered the contest to get our message out to as many people as possible.
What’s the story behind the song “No Prejudice?” Where did the idea come from?
We wanted to try to make a song that was not a typical Eurovision song (if there is such a thing) with a catchy melody. We also wanted to try to write lyrics that had a message that would be a contribution to the on-going human rights struggle. Eurovision is a great platform to do just that.
In the song’s video, you wore both colourful jogging outfits and suits. Have you decided which you’ll wear on stage? And will you carry real instruments or cardboard ones?
We will have real instruments on stage, but we haven’t decided what we will wear yet.
Can you give us a sneak peek into what your live performance will be like? Will you use the rising platform? The wind machine? Loads of explosions? Confetti?
That’s top secret 😉
This isn’t the first time some of you compete at Eurovision—what lessons have you learned from your previous entries?
We don’t generally like the concept of competing in music, but this has nevertheless been a great platform for us to help make the world a better place with a message that the world needs to hear. The lesson we have learned is to celebrate diversity.
What’s your all-time favourite Icelandic entry?
The first one, “Gleðibankinn” by ICY [in 1986].
Who do you see as your toughest competition this year?
All the songs are good in their own way, but we look at this from a different perspective. We are in this to have fun and get the message across. It is not about winning or losing.
How will you celebrate when you win the competition? Like, honestly.
We’ll do it ABBA style and pour champagne over our cornflakes.
Will the band continue playing together after the song contest?
For sure, Pollapönk is here to stay.
Thank you very much, and best of luck!