The silence of my house isn’t silence. It is the sound of my blood running through my veins and the electricity of my nervous system sending messages to my body. They told me that several times when I studied music, especially when I studied electronic music. The sound is just barely within my capability to hear it – a low bass and a high screeching of the natural systems of my body filling the space around me when nothing else exists to keep them at bay. However, I only really imagine that I can hear these things and what I am hearing is probably actually tinnitus.
Today I went to a writer’s meeting at the Grapevine offices. I met Gabrielle Motola there. She was one of three women in the room and a bunch of very nerdy looking men in the their twenties. I do a quick count of these things as a matter of habit now. Someone (Max Headroom, an editor) on a computer was in charge giving people advice on how to act around artists. The message seemed to be not to stalk Skrillex. Some of these men looked like they might ignore this advice. He suggested that I would be able to confirm his opinion that we (ahem… the artists) wanted to be left alone, which seemed to me at the time to be something of a contradiction should anyone actually ask my opinion about it. The type of recursive error that makes computers sad.
Several people were tugging on e-cigarettes, which still makes people look like tools as far as I can tell, something that smoking actual cigarettes also does, but without the cultural memory of a Humphrey Bogart or a Ava Gardner to validate it. Most of Max’s instructions were issued over Skype, which seemed to cut out at all the important parts. Which is fine and amounted to the first glitch performance of the day, not counting the series of glitchy phone calls that I experienced on the way to the meeting while trying to organize my daughter’s birthday party while driving the car back into town from Kópavogur on icy roads. Edgy performance art.
After a while, I went to Kex with Gaby and just missed a set by Ivar Pétur, either because he had just finished playing when I got there or because I was busy thinking about my hamburger when he was playing. I never found out which. The fries were burnt. This wasn’t Sónar, but it was related to Sónar because he’s playing at Sónar.
My daughter’s birthday is tomorrow, I thought to myself. So I’ll just have this one beer and then head home. I’ll go to Hurra later, which I’d already planned to do before I promised to write for the Grapevine. I’ll see Antimony and hopefully Börn and then head over to catch Sin Fang and Samaris and some guy named Todd, who is apparently popular in Iceland and is from a foreign country. “Why don’t they just put all the Icelandic bands on one night,” someone asked earlier in the day. Because that’s a stupid idea, I thought but didn’t say.
Unfortunately, I always make plans like this. I double book as if my life is one long flight to Paris and I expect people not to show up.
When I got to Hurra, Antimony started. RX, who sings, used to manage my band. This was intense. Am I at Sónar now, I wondered? Cold wave has only ever been my thing when it is smothered in a thick butter of noise, so this was outside of my usual sphere of listening, but I didn’t pick up a schedule earlier. No. I’m not at the festival, because I paid to get in here. But this is electronic music I thought. I had another beer. You’re kidding yourself, I said, you’re supposed to be at Harpa covering the show there. Everything else is equivocation.
Or is it?
I imagined myself at Harpa watching Samaris. And Sin Fang. And Todd something. Gaby posted a picture on Instagram. Erling Bang, drummer of Sin Fang, with his hand over his face. Was he tired or had he just had enough of that monitor sound? Or was he sweating too much? Did he need an aspirin? I would never know. My experience of Sónar (Reykjavik 2015 – Day 1) was a complicated one. An experience through the eyes of others and through the sounds of artists who were not performing at the festival.
I went to sleep and dreamt of electric sheep.
Alison MacNeil plays guitar and sings in kimono, an Icelandic rock band. She wishes there was a punctuation mark that made her less abrasive in emails. But only just barely.