Published October 11, 2013
If you’re reading this, chances are you live here or you’re in town for Iceland Airwaves. Why else would you be here in October or early November? After all, summer is over (although it was particularly cold and wet this year) and it’s starting to feel a lot like winter, but not yet Christmas.
A strategic decision was made two years ago to push the Airwaves festival back from the middle to the end of October/beginning of November. The idea, of course, was to extend Iceland’s relatively short tourism season, luring thousands of people to come fuel our economy at a less than ideal time of year. So here you are, perhaps unknowingly a victim of Iceland’s robust tourism crusade.
In his piece, “Come And Meet The Members Of The Brand,” on page 64, Haukur Már Helgason delves into this story—the Prime Ministry’s committee on the Image of Iceland and its legacy, Promote Iceland, which “aims to enhance Iceland’s good image and reputation, to support the competitive standing of Icelandic industries in foreign markets, to attract foreign tourists and investments to the country, and assist in the promotion of Icelandic culture abroad.”
As Haukur points out, Promote Iceland is the only item in the government’s budget proposal for 2014 that is exempt from cuts. Meanwhile, the future of Iceland’s healthcare system looks grim with the national hospital apparently in shambles. Its executive director just resigned, telling the media, “I will not be a part of driving the hospital off the cliff.” (More about that in “Nobody Likes A Balanced Budget” on page 12.)
Now, if you’re still reading this, chances are you’re at a café taking refuge from the elements (last year over Airwaves, winds reached 70 m/s, far exceeding hurricane strength of 33m/s), so you might as well find our fancy festival pullout inside.
Even if I was wrong about you being here for Airwaves (Hell, there are people living in Verkhoyansk, whose weather we check when we’re feeling down about ours!), the pullout should give you some insight into Iceland’s successful music scene.
And that is also part of the plan, you see! As the government’s Image of Iceland report stated: “Positive success stories are considered one of the most successful marketing tools today. […] One option is constructing stories of the success of Icelandic companies and individuals in all fields of enterprise, culture, arts and business. It is necessary to use poets, writers, photographers and sound engineers to deliver these stories convincingly.”
That’s not to say that there isn’t lots of genuinely great music being made here—there certainly is—and the musicians gracing our covers (there are three covers this time around) are just a few of those making life in Reykjavík more bearable—enjoyable, even!