“I got this job kind of because of music.”
KUSK burst onto the Icelandic music scene after winning the local battle of the bands, Músíktilraunir, in 2022. She’s been steadily dropping new tracks following her debut album release, all while juggling her studies and a day job.
Kolbrún Óskarsdóttir, aka KUSK, 20, musician and student of theatre and performance
Since the University of the Arts is more expensive than other universities in Iceland, I feel like I have to support myself with a day job. I don’t make enough money and don’t want to view music and gigs solely through a financial lens. Alongside school and music, I work at Hitt Húsið, a youth centre for people aged 16 to 25.
A day at Hitt Húsið
I start work at 17:00 and finish at 22:00. I welcome people, chat with them, assist people who come to book our studio and I’m partly in charge of tidying up the studio. I also plan and host events such as concerts and clubs. It varies a lot, depending on how many people come to the centre each day. Sometimes, I just guard the place – the centre is open to everyone, so there needs to be someone at all times until it closes.
I do love this job. Sometimes I spend time at the centre even when I’m not working. Hitt Húsið is far from everything – it’s hard to get there by bus, so it’s challenging to get people to realise that it’s there. My favourite part of the job is when people come and say, “We saw a poster and we wanted to come see what it is.” Then, I show them around and present the centre’s possibilities. The hardest days are when few people come, and you’re mostly chilling. But it’s a very nice job in that aspect because I can do my homework and I can also just open Logic on my computer and make some new songs or finish other songs.
I love hosting concerts. We reach out mainly to up-and-coming bands who have just started or perhaps participated in Músiktilraunir and are growing their fan base. As a musician, it’s so much fun to offer other musicians and people in the same boat as I am a platform to come and perform their music.
This job wasn’t a thing until last year, because the centre would always close at 17:00. But then my co-worker Hrannar (stage name Óviti) and I, were asked to work this later shift.
Hrannar and I started making music together over a year before we got this job. We were always coming to the studio at Hitt Húsið. We got to know everyone working there. So, when the idea to have the centre open in the evenings came up, we were the first people they talked to.
We can relate to almost everything in each other’s lives because we’re together a lot doing music, and then we’re working at the same place. We work different shifts, but sometimes, the other one just comes to the centre and we brainstorm new ideas.
I limit the things I use the money for. It depends on how much I’m working and what my income is. Right now, I’m trying to be more mindful of where I spend my money. I’m very lucky to still live at home, so I don’t have to pay rent, and I can always have a meal at home or eat with my family, which is very nice for me as a young musician. But I would say the trick I use most is having two separate bank accounts. When I get paid, I transfer all the money into one account. So, each time I use my card, I have to transfer money from the other account. This way, I’m much more conscious about my spending.
Both Hrannar and I are releasing singles a day before our gig, which is fun because we get to elevate our programme by incorporating new songs. We’re also playing an off-venue gig at 12 Tónar, and we’ll play there with a live band, which is exciting because we mostly play with playback and vocals. I’m also excited to see all the artists playing this year. I’ve already made a list of all the artists I want to see and when and where they’re playing.
Catch KUSK and Óviti at KEX on Nov. 4. They hit the stage at 21:20 as part of the Iceland Airwaves official program.
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