OK so there’s this ‘new’ music festival making the rounds in Reykjavík (you might have noticed—you are reading a special Grapevine supplement about it). We think it’s exciting (this is why we are co-promoting the thing). The month of April needs more music related stuff in it (sometimes, Aldrei fór ég suður happens in March) and the festival seems of the composition and spirit that other glorious local parties have been known for (the aforementioned AFÉS, early Innipúkinn and Iceland Airwaves, for instance) and has maybe been lacking lately. Reading over the schedule, one can’t help but be impressed and, yes, excited!
However, we have been excited and subsequently brutally let down by promising ‘annual festivals’ in the past (Reykjavík Music Festival, Reykjavík Round Up, anyone?), so we have grown wary and hesitant to let our guard down to embrace new festivals. How can we trust they are not merely fly-by-night shindigs, as opposed to ongoing creative orgies that last for years upon years, building tradition and legacy? Getting all panicky, we called up one of RMM’s architects, Kimi Records founder and proprietor Baldvin Esra Einarsson, to interrogate him on his intentions.
Reykjavík Music Mess is really built around the Deerhunter concert,” says Baldvin. “We managed to book them, after a long bout of trying, and subsequently thought: Why not make more of this? Let’s book some more bands and create an event!”
What, Airwaves isn’t enough for you?
No [laughs]. The problem for ‘alternative music’—for lack of better term—in Iceland is that it just isn’t enough to have one weekend a year where new and exciting stuff is one display. That isn’t enough to broaden local listeners’ horizons and keep them informed about what’s happening in the music world. Local audiences and artists need more, and we are striving to provide that.
So you’re not in the lucrative ‘indie festival’ business for the money, eh? You’re not getting paid?
Ehrm. Not a lot, anyway. We want to make a good festival, that’s our number one priority. No sane person enters the indie music business in Iceland to make a profit, that’s for sure. Maybe if the thing sells out we’ll get a little extra pocket money, but we’re not counting on it. Our aim is creating a good festival, first and foremost. Exposing people to good and interesting music. That’s always been the aim.
Are you selling a lot of records under the Kimi and Brak imprints? Enough to get by? I love almost all of them, but they’re not exactly crushing Bubbi in the local charts or on the radio…
I suppose we sell on average around a thousand copies of each release on Kimi. Brak releases usually sell out, but the releases are limited to 200 copies. This is enough to make ends meet, usually.”
Are Icelanders buying this music? Do Icelanders like ‘indie music’?
I have no idea. What I quoted you are our average local sales numbers, what’s sold within Iceland. We also sell a lot of albums abroad, as we distribute internationally. But I do know that in Havarí, for instance, one of our biggest groups of buyers were tourists and foreign visitors. A surprising number of tourists to Iceland come here because of the music. You could even say they were our main clientele.
So back to RMM. Why?
Well. Several reasons. Mainly to create a nice festival, as I’ve said. But also because us at Kimi Records are interested in adding concert promotion to what we do. Our company goal is to bring music to the people on every level. And also bring music to us, get to know people that are making it and working in the field the world over. This is a nice way to do that.
Any more concerts scheduled?
Yes, we’ve booked the legendary Low to play here this June! And there’s more to come. It’s all happening.
Will there be a Reykjavík Music Mess 2012?
Sure, if the planet doesn’t melt like in that movie. It seems like a good concept and a worthy thing to keep going. This time of year, around spring, seems lacking in activities. People are already excited for spring, but there’s not a lot folks can do to let off steam. So here we are.
Finally, are there any news of Havarí? When will you reopen?
We are currently looking like crazy for a new location. We will open as soon as possible, I promise. Renting real estate in 101 is no picnic right now. It seems to be capital holders’ sincere will to completely kill downtown Reykjavík.