Published October 9, 2015
Our current issue’s cover is beautiful. I hope you like it, I’m sure you do, but your opinion doesn’t really concern me, because I think that it is absolutely beautiful. Intrinsically beautiful. Unconditionally beautiful. Beautiful. Just beautiful. Heart-warming. Radiant. Touching. Its beauty reaches deep inside my very being, if such a thing exists, touching upon my innermost core, if such a thing exists. Every time I glance its way, I am filled with the warm energy it exudes, a pure joy that trickles down my spine and out my nerves and through my veins and pores, connecting me with the universe, with everything there is.
The image is wonderful, sure. It’s no wonder, either: some of the most talented people you’ll find anywhere came together, pitched in and worked together to facilitate the creation of that image that’s on our cover.
We do that kinda thing all the time though, and the resulting images rarely turn me into a gushing, pulsating pile of jelly.
This one is different. It’s special. Here’s why.
This is a picture of seven musical acts in a classroom in downtown Reykjavík. The man pretending to be a teacher is composer Úlfur Eldjárn, who has supplied me with a steady stream of moments of joy and beauty since the 1990s, first as member of a novelty act called Kósý, later as a member of bands like Apparat Organ Quartet, and now as an adventurous composer.
The guy throwing the paper plane is called Auðunn, and he creates music as Auður. I had never heard of Auðunn before encountering him in that classroom. He is a happy, polite young guy, and he shared his music with me when I asked him to. I have not stopped listening to his music since. It is great, from the heart, considered and ambitious. He also has an infectious laugh.
The blonde kid next to him is called Gaukur, but his rapper name is GKR. I saw him rap at some house party at five in the morning this summer, and his exuberance and cheer—the unbridled excitement that coloured his performance—invigorated and endeared me. At the shoot, I learned that he cultivates a disarming sincerity that brings warmth and heart to any room.
Those guys that are all covered in blood and shit, they’re a band called Misþyrming. They play good, honest black metal, and they are very sincere in their efforts and endeavours, always going to great lengths and putting in hard work to realize their unique artistic vision, which they are happy to share. At first glance, the world they create through combined efforts might seem harsh and unwelcoming, but anyone who devotes time to exploring and understanding it will find rich rewards.
The two punker girls, they’re called Alexandra and Júlíana. They are fun, fierce and they don’t take any shit from anyone. After witnessing them play several shows with the band they created, Börn, I can also tell you that they have developed a clear, brilliant vision of the art they engage in, and they work harder than anyone to realize it. What’s best is that they reach more people every time they play, which means an increasing number of us humans have a chance to reflect upon the philosophy they built and espouse (it is an important philosophy).
The two guys in masks, they are from a mysterious secret band called Vaginaboys. I was abroad when they became the most popular and exciting band in Iceland, and I really just kind of missed it. When I wandered into that classroom, I thought: who are these guys in white masks? It’s weird to wear white masks at a photoshoot. They should probably take them off.
I then came to understand that Vaginaboys are a secret band by choice, and then I heard their secret music and got an insight into their secret plan to spread their thoughts and love to more and more of us every day. After talking to them, I am certain they will succeed in achieving their goals, but I am equally certain that it doesn’t matter if they don’t, because some of what they’ve created is already heart-breakingly beautiful.
And then there are the sort of plain guys sitting by the window. They are me. But not really. They come from a tiny town that’s next to the slightly less tiny town I came up in, and they were isolated from the rest of the world like I was, and music provided an important and expansive window to all the colours of the world for them, as it did for me. I might be projecting but I’m pretty sure that happened for them as it did for me, because in tiny towns like ours nothing ever really changes.
They are called Rythmatik, and when they are on stage they glow like a thousand suns, exuding rays of light and happiness, because they love it and because of that moment when you lose your grip and all of the sudden you’re hanging in the air, weightless.
These are the seven musical acts featured on our beautiful cover: Rythmatik, Vaginaboys, Auður, Börn, Úlfur Eldjárn, GKR and Misþyrming.
These are the seven artists we asked to be on our cover to celebrate this year’s Iceland Airwaves festival, and we chose them because we like them and believe in what they do—but there are five thousand other musical acts appearing at the festival and in the city that week, and most of them are just as beautiful, and their stories are just as interesting and the worlds they create are just as fascinating.
Music, it’s fucking great. Go hug a musician today.
PS – be sure to download our monster Airwaves compilation that we’re posting next week. All the musicians donated their work for your enjoyment.
Book your day tours in Iceland right here!