“Gakktu hægt um gleðina dyr,’ it’s something like, ‘Calm down, take it slow,’” Árni says above the clamour of pinball machines and jingling tokens. “My dad used to always say it to me before I’d go out. It’s the best Icelandic phrase,” he assures me. The lights in Freddi Arcade are dark and neon at the same time, and the Space Jam pinball machine spews out sound effects from a speaker right above our heads. But Árni lives in the phrase. He keeps cool and makes generous with customers, rocking around his DJ kit on the desk.
On the bill he’s DJ Thaison—a character and craft that originates in a Best Buy in Tampa, Florida. “My family has a summer home in Florida and I wanted to spend some time with them,” Thaison explains, “and while I was there I went to Best Buy to look for this DJ setup. They didn’t have it and the clerk asked me if I had looked online. I told him I never shop online. He was so mad!” Thaison took note. “So I went home and ordered this thing for like no money. We went to Disneyland once that week, but otherwise I didn’t really have anything to do, so I just stayed on my balcony, drank Coronas and played it.”
Everybody’s got to start somewhere, but in Iceland no one starts alone. When Thaison returned from Florida his longtime friends, DJ duo Gervisykur, took him under their wings. They taught him how to mix and play at the right time. They gave him the confidence and encouragement to get after it. So he did. His first gig was at Tivoli to “a group of about six people, with one girl dancing. She was super nice though, she really liked the songs [we] were playing.” The encouragement keeps rolling in.
Of course, he likes to play old school hip-hop (who doesn’t?), but he maintains a wide perspective. Over the course of the set we’re chatting over he moves from “Never Too Much” by Luther Vandross to Willow Smith’s “Female Energy,” and straight on through to some Páll Óskar classics. “I’m always shouting in the crowds what I want to hear,” he says, “but I never get any contact. The only time I’ve ever made the connection was with Páll Óskar. I made a heart with my hands and he made half a heart back. That made me a man.”
Thaison’s fresh on the scene, and he’s got big dreams. “I want to be a pro DJ in Ibiza,” he says, “drinking cocktails like DJ Tiësto.” He pauses. “No, maybe not like DJ Tiësto.” The “gakktu hægt um gleðina dyr” settles in. Prikið now, Ibiza next. He’s making his way there, and we’re rooting for him. Viva Árni, viva Páll! That’s something like “shouts out to Páll Óskar.”
Want to know what else Thaison is about? Catch his set at Prikið on December 10.
DJ Thaison’s Top Five Tracks:
“Million” — Yemi
“Top Boy” — Skepta
“Paranoid” — Project Pat
“Turn My Swag On” — Soulja Boy Tell ’Em
“Meira” — GKR
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