From Iceland — Rounding Up the Musical Herds

Rounding Up the Musical Herds

Published September 18, 2009

Rounding Up the Musical Herds
Rex Beckett

After one of the most creatively prolific summers Reykjavík has seen in ages, we are now approaching fall festival madness. There’s a brand spanking new concert series on the menu bringing together pretty much everyone involved in the local music scene. Coinciding with the Reykjavík International Film Festival and the You Are In Control music, arts and media conference (so you know there’ll be lots of folks in town), the Réttir Reykjavík Round-Up runs from September 23rd until the 26th. Over the four nights they will bring together a wealth of local talent for action packed concerts at select venues.
Conceived of by several groups of musicians and people involved in the Icelandic music machine, initial ideas for the programme came together loosely over the Innipúkinn festival weekend this summer. I met with two of the event organizers, Eldar Ástþórsson of and Steinþór Helgi Arnsteinsson of new record label Borgin, to discuss how it all came to fruition and what’s to be expected.
“The concept is basically to bring together various elements of the music scene and celebrate Icelandic music,” says Eldar, “It’s a really good weekend because the You Are In Control conference is happening, so everybody was thinking of doing shows anyway. We kind of thought, why don’t we all come together and do something?”
The Name Says It All
Rather than pitting people against one another, the event converges artists, collectives, record labels, promoters and concert venues to make a stunning series for musicians to be involved in and for music fans to enjoy. In addition to their official partner RIFF, the series is bolstered by, OkiDoki, Kimi Records and their sub-label Brak, hardcore label Molestin Records, and new record label Kölski, to name a few. The series will also feature programming by, Weirdcore, CoxButter, Trúbatrix, the Melodica Acoustic Festival and an Eistnaflug 2010 teaser. As an active proponent and admirer of Icelandic music, the Grapevine is also part of the big happy family.
Every promoter, label and collective are in control of their own night and selects their line-up as they see fit. “Eldar and I are both really well connected into the Icelandic music scene, we’re really enthusiastic about it and have been for a long time, so we of course had some ideas about artists,” says Steinþór.
“We put together some names and then we talked to affiliates and they had some of the same names. We’re like the heads, and we try to get ideas from our affiliates and gather up a nice soup.” With the help of their booking commitee, they will then try to bring all of these elements into a solid and interesting programme.
Don’t Call It a Festival
The pair stressed to me that due to the nature of the programming and the focus on the local market, the event is distinctly a smaller form of music series rather than an full blown Iceland Airwaves-style festival. It is easy to find similarities, but the booking process, the events size, ticket price and the fact its solely being marketed within Iceland is what really holds it apart.
Rather, they see it as a warm-up to Iceland Airwaves. This being the main album release season for most indie bands in Iceland, they think it can do no harm to have two such events so close to each other. “I think Réttir will definitely support what’s happening with Airwaves, because if you like the experience you will thirst for more,” says Eldar. “Same with the bands. They like playing shows, so it makes it a pleasant experience for both the artist and the music lover.”
Additionally, their funding is grassroots based, relying only on ticket sales, with no government funding or corporate sponsorship. Nonetheless, all the artists performing are getting paid. They tell me they are not currently concerned with whether or not the event will become annual, rather focusing on highlighting the fruits of the music scene, here and now. 

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