Since 2010, the Icelandic electronica community has been rallied together by the annual Extreme Chill festival, a multi-locational gathering of the country’s best and most beloved electronic acts, along with very select international names. Now on the verge of its ninth edition, happening September 6-9 in various locations in Reykjavík, the festival has matured into a unique, cutting edge, finely curated event, with critically acclaimed artists, international partnerships and an emphasis on a gender-balanced program.
Artist exchange festival
“With our previous festivals, it was more like our friends were playing and it was a big party for the Icelandic electronic scene,” says festival organizer Pan Thorarensen, whom we caught up with over the phone as he extreme chilled in the Spanish sunshine. “Now it’s more focused. More people are coming from Scandinavia and Germany for the event and it’s more like an artist exchange festival, so it’s quite nice.”
Originally the brainchild of Stereo Hypnosis — the musical project of Pan, his father Óskar Thorarensen, and Thorkell Atlason — the first Extreme Chill took place in 2010 in Hellissandur, Snæfellsnes. Over the years it has taken place there, in Berlin, in Vík í Myrdal, and, for the past two years, in Reykjavík. The festival’s original location of Hellissandur had been very dear to Pan, but was unfortunately disrupted by local law enforcement in 2015.
“It’s a really unique festival and it’s like my baby,” says Pan, undeterred from the unfortunate incidents. “It’s a family business, we are doing it because we love it. It’s not about money. I don’t think it’s that many festivals that are really doing it from the heart. It’s quite special. I need to keep it alive.”
Underground & experimental
The artist exchange aspect of Extreme Chill comes from the festival now being part of the UP NODE network, which links a handful of underground Scandinavian electronic and experimental festivals. This partnership has proven greatly beneficial to the diversification of the lineup, as it allowed the organizers access to artists at the forefront of the scene in Europe. It also gave them opportunity to help launch Icelandic artists abroad, such as sending artists dj. flugvél og geimskip and Special-K to the Turku Modern festival in Finland.
This year’s festival will take place in Harpa Kaldalón, Gamla Bíó, Húrra and Fríkirkjan, and will also feature meetings and panels with the organizers of other festivals in the UP NODE network, as well as workshops conducted by Synthbabes.
“I think it’s a really different program now. I have met a lot of people now in the street and they are just amazed because it’s not just electronica,” says Pan. “We have Studnitzk, he’s the best jazz player in Germany now. Ragnhild May, she’s more an experimental artist. It’s really mixed and eclectic. Last year it was just pure electronica. Now there’s also more live bands, not just one guy with a computer.”
Info: Complete festival info and tickets available at www.extremechill.org
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