In a bright sunlit living room lined with antique furniture and tchotchkes, a group of friends are gathered around a large wooden table, pouring coffee and delighting over the theme song to The Price Is Right. More people arrive in a casual open-door-policy manner, making themselves right at home. The seven who are here are but a tiny fraction of the members of Post-dreifing, a sprawling music and art collective that is rallying grassroots, underground artists. Incidentally, they are also igniting a resurgence of indie rock and weird music in the Reykjavík music scene. And they are doing it together.
Post-dreifing is mainly focused on creating a platform for young musicians and artists to support each other and collaborate in terms of creating music, releasing projects and organising events. They operate as an egalitarian democracy and therefore do not consider any individual to be the founder or leader of the group. Although only a handful of them are here to meet, they make it clear that none of them speak unilaterally for the group.
Started with a bang
Formed in late 2017, Post-dreifing came together after a crazy concert called Lovely Great Time in an old studio space in Grandi. Over ten bands played, including GRÓA, Korter í Flog, asdfhg., Umer Consumer, and bagdad brothers. They each played a ten minute set with ramshackle gear, but the impact of the show had a lasting effect on the people involved.
“That was the first Post-dreifing show,” says Jóhannes Bjarki Bjarkason, of the band Skoffín. “Well, it wasn’t really a Post-dreifing show, but it formed out of that.” Shortly thereafter, things started to bubble.
Born at a time when the local musical landscape was mainly dominated by hip hop, Post-dreifing was formed by a loose group of friends performing in guitar-based indie bands, minimal electronic artists, and teenage riot grrl punks. However, the collective never aimed to define itself in terms of any specific style, but rather on values of self-sufficiency, anti-capitalism and collaboration.
“I don’t think Post-dreifing has an aesthetic,” says Hjálmar Karlsson, a member of the band Sideproject. “At least not, ‘here’s hip hop and this is what’s popular, let’s focus on this.’ It just started as a group of friends wanting to release music together.”
The common thread that ties them together is a focus on creating and playing music and supporting other people doing the same as opposed to selling or generating profit.
You snooze you lose democracy
“It has roots in anarchism and do-it-yourself, do-it-together sort of thinking,” says Snæbjörn Helgi Arnason Jack, artist name Faxacon. This is best reflected by their process of evaluating and approving new projects, which is done in general meetings where anyone involved in Post-dreifing in any way shape or form has the opportunity to take part.
“It’s not really a decision-making process,” says Auðunn Orri Sigurvinsson, bassist in Milkhouse and Skoffín. “Someone has an idea and we comment on that, and if we’re strongly opposed to it, if it clashes with our core values, of course there’s gonna be a discussion. Maybe we just don’t do it. But that’s never happened before.”
“We meet up and then the people who have shown up are part of the decision making,” says Ida Schuften Juhl, known as IDK IDA. “Everyone always has the opportunity to be part of it, but if you choose not to come then we don’t have to wait for that person to respond.” However they do try to stay organized and professional, keeping minutes of their meetings and posting them for all members to read and, if necessary, voice opposition to.
Haters back off
As for the aforementioned core values, everyone in the collective has their own opinions and views, but they agree on Post-dreifing’s general stance: Don’t Be An Asshole.
“I think the core basic values are anarchist, anti-capitalist, pro-feminist, all of this,” says Auðunn. “As long as you don’t hate a certain group of people for no reason. I’d say it’s human decency and just basic kindness of being a person. I think that translates really well into the whole group. I think everyone really shares those ideals. We haven’t ever had to say no to someone wanting to take part in Post-dreifing because they don’t have those ideals; we don’t appeal to such people.”
In fact, many members of the Post-dreifing family have been involved in recent movement of peaceful protests against the deportation of refugees from Iceland. A few have been tear-gassed and detained by police in these demonstrations. “Not every individual participates in all of these movements, but I think that at its most basic, Post-dreifing is anti-oppression,” says Jóhannes. “Whether that be oppression from the state, oppression from markets, or cultural oppression.”
The group is currently working on updating their manifesto to incorporate their ethics and values. “What we have talked a lot about was that we agree that art is inherently political,” says Ida, in regards to the re-drafting of said manifesto. Snæbjörn continues: “I heard a guy in an interview once say, ‘All music is political because it comes from the environment and the environment is political.’”
Build the stage
The collective’s goal, though, is primarily artistic. Their purpose is building and sustaining this platform they have created. For many of the emerging artists, this means being given a space to play live where they were unable to before. For others it means reaching out to new audiences and connecting with other communities.
“I played my first gigs through a friend group that are the same people who are in Post-dreifing, but it was just a smaller friend group back then,” says Atli Finnsson, of Sideproject. “I personally never had a gig before Post-dreifing.”
“The band I was in before was pretty big at the time and we would usually get an audience, but it was always the same audience,” says Auðunn. “We would never grow into any sort of mainstream. We had a song on the radio for two days but we always stayed really underground. When Post-dreifing started up we hadn’t played a show in a really long time. But because every one of us is in the collective, when we came back on the scene we filled the entirety of Húrra just because of this huge backing.”
The collective are as active as possible in creating live events, despite the shrinking number of venues to play in the city. Over 2018, they held a brief concert series at Bravó called Smá í tanna, where they built the stage by hand out of wood pallets. They credit the DIY basement venue R6013 and its founder, Ægir Sindri Bjarnason, as being instrumental to Post-dreifing, as the two started to take off around the same time. Still, one single venue is insufficient.
Soundtrack for beer sales
“The main problem is, except for R6013 there are no places to play,” says Hjálmar. “There’s Mengi, which is really good, but because of how it operates concerts are expensive there. Also, just this connection of alcohol and music. Music just being this thing when people go out to party. You can’t play a concert unless the bar thinks it’s going to get a profit, so you’re just a soundtrack for beer sales.”
Their other concern is the fact that many of their members and their fanbase are under the age of 20 (the legal drinking age in Iceland), which has previously resulted in bands being thrown out of their own gigs by doormen. Sometimes even being thrown off stage. “Even Húrra now has closed down,” says Auðunn. “That leaves Gaukurinn, which has a great soundsystem and a fantastic stage but it’s still a bar. That’s almost the only place you can play music except for R6013, which is an all-ages inclusive place.”
Throw a party
While Reykjavík is a hard city to play in these days, Post-dreifing have been able to put on their annual countryside Hátíðni festival with remarkable ease. Happening for the second time over July 5-7, with 32 bands playing over two days, the festival sprung from a hairbrained party plan from one Post-dreifing member.
“I went to Happy Fest a few years ago and I was so deeply inspired by the super crazy party that they were having,” says Snæbjörn. “I used to have parties at my place all the time, but now I live in a tiny little cellar and I couldn’t have any parties. I decided, I’m gonna have a party and I’m just gonna rent a county community centre and I’m just gonna invite all my friends to come there. It was set for the first weekend of January 2017.”
He invited bands to play–many of them current Post-dreifing members–he rented a PA and truck from his own pocket, and he ended up deeply in debt. However, with the collective’s help, they were later able to transform this party concept into the first Hátíðni festival.
“When Post-dreifing started, it sort of came up that it was something we wanted to do again, but now I had a lot of help and I didn’t have to rent the gear,” says Snæbjörn. “We just borrowed all the gear and it went really great. We broke even last time. It was perfect. It went so well that we’re gonna do it again in an abandoned primary school building of the tiny hamlet Borðeyri.”
Borrow, barter and debt
In order to throw the festival again without sinking into debt, the collective relies on a do-it-together model of lending, borrowing and volunteering. “When we go out to do this we try to keep all the money to a minimum,” says Snæbjörn. “We keep the ticket price to a minimum but we of course accept generous donations. We’re expecting about 200 people to come so we’re expecting to break even, but then if there’s any extra money it just goes towards having the next one or releasing more records, having more awesome shows in Reykjavík.”
They apply this same principle to the financial structure of their releasing platform, as well. They have to be willing to take one for the team. “We started out by all pitching in some money to make our first compilation, Drullumall 1, and we got some pretty okay money from that,” says Atli. “That’s just been used to fund releases and gigs. Another thing is that anyone who releases through Post-dreifing can decide if they just want to donate the money to Post-dreifing. I think some of the bands do that.”
This non-profit recycling system has been very effective for them so far and they believe that if they continue this way, it will be sustainable.
“If we keep doing it the way we’re doing now and we stick to the same core values, then it’s always going to keep going, no matter what,” says Auðunn. “I think we can go broke, I think we could go into debt, and none of that would matter because we would still be making music. We’re not recording this is fancy studios. We’re doing this on very simple, self-sufficient ways, which means that we’re never gonna have to stop this while we still hold the same core values we do now.”
The need to generate some money in order to fund their endeavours can come into conflict with their values, however.
“It’s very difficult being anti-capitalist and advertising it, because we live in a capitalist society, so we have to take part in it of course,” says Auðunn. “We can’t spend money to make music, give everyone the music and then spend money to make music and give everyone the music. Cause we don’t give anyone a salary. No one in Post-dreifing has ever received a dollar for their work. And nobody expects it.”
Yet they remain very optimistic about what the future holds for them. They hope to have their own physical headquarters soon and many members hope to someday own and operate their own venue. They want to bridge connections with similar communities and collectives in other cities and countries and book tours using the same financial principles. They would simply like to be able to live off their work.
“Post-dreifing is kind of a regenerative system,” says Jóhannes. “Because if someone cannot work on a project, they can always say, ‘Hey, I can’t do this’ and somebody steps in for them. It’s kind of like a relay race.”
Their biggest asset is their strength in numbers. Forming Post-dreifing as a group allowed them to build a network of friends who were creating music and art, which in turn allowed them to host more diverse events, which inevitably led to more projects and collaborations. It has grown organically from friendship, kindness, enthusiasm, consensus and gumption. They have created and continue to grow a unique, vibrant, ambitious and open-hearted community, where human connection is the greatest currency.
Sitting around the table, sharing cookies and coffee with these friends that go above and beyond to inspire each other’s art and bring it to fruition, one feels a true wealth.
“We’re all young, we’re all idealistic,” says Hjálmar. “We want to do a lot of things. We say a lot of things and put things out. How it’s been and how it probably will be for some time is just, why the fuck would you do all this work by yourself when we can do this with twenty, thirty or fifty people? Whatever we do or whatever impact, we’re just making friends along the way.”
Post-dreifing’s Hátíðni festival takes place July 5-7 in Borðeyri, Northwest Iceland. Tickets are 3000 ISK. For more information about the collective, visit post-dreifing.is. Follow them on Instagram and Facebook.
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