This year Iceland will host Radiohead, Deftones and Die Antwoord during the Secret Solstice Festival from June 16 – 19. It’s a chance to enjoy the midnight sun in Reykjavík while seeing a great lineup of music. You could party in a glacier, enjoy a beer in a secret lagoon or take in the view from an epic boat party. It all depends on what you want.
It’s strange to think that this festival is only three-years-old. The solstice has been a cause for celebration for thousands of years. Yet at only three-years-old, the festival is hosting a lineup that many festivals around the world, which have been around a lot longer, would love to have.
I sat down to interview the man behind the festival, Fridrik Olafsson or Fred Olafsson–depending on where you know him from. But Fridrik or Fred, he’s the guy bringing Radiohead to Iceland.
Why did you start the festival?
I’ve been promoting parties for long enough. It was a natural step to take it to the next level. I was doing a party in an old club here called Factory and the party was around solstice. Ben Pearce was playing and we thought, ‘why isn’t there a festival here when there is 24-hours of sunlight?’ We’ve been playing with the idea of having a festival here for ages. You might as well celebrate the longest day of the year.
This is the third year. How’s it going with the festival? Have you passed expectations?
We are on-par with what a festival would expect. But for a third year, I think, we are out performing most third-year-festivals in the world. Just look at the lineup, the growth in capacity and the amount of people that are going to be here.
This year you have Radiohead, Die Antwoord and Deftones. How did you grab such big acts in only your third year?
We have a big team in the UK. We are part owned by a guy that owns three other festivals around the world. He specializes in getting people from the UK abroad. Last year we got people from the US without any promotion there. We’ve started promotions there and now it’s about even between the US and the UK. Iceland’s situated between the two with cheap flights–which helps.
What’s unique about this festival?
Having it in Reykjavík, with the amazing views around it and utilizing the hotels, the campsites and pool parties, have made it really a unique experience. The satillite parties have also gave it something special. We had our first party inside a glacier last year and the secret lagoon party, but this year we are having three parties in the glacier plus loads more interesting venues, including a boat party and a farm rave. You can combine your festival with site-seeing. You’re not just at the festival site and then stuck there. You can actually do stuff through the festival.
Has music always been an important part of your life?
My dad started the first independent record label in Iceland, Skífan. He sold that back 2000, but the record industry, selling physical records, collapsed. Basically, I grew up in record stores. I always wanted to work in music. I did other things like beverages, construction and other odd jobs, but I thought I would eventually become an agent. I ended up becoming a promoter. I started doing parties in London and Reykjavík. I moved back to Reykjavík three years ago to start this festival.
What’s your music? Do you have a specific genre you love the most?
When I was younger, it was R&B. My first CD was a mix album with Salt n’ Peppa, and, oh, God knows…MC Hammer? Yeah, that was my first CD. After that I listened to Queen, Pearl Jam and then Hip-Hop. Nineties hip hop was a big influence on me: Wu Tang, Busta Rhymes,…etc. Then Drum and Bass in the UK. At the time when Garage music started, you were either Garage music our you were Drum and Bass. I was definitely Drum and Bass. Now, looking back, I still love Drum and Bass, but I absolutely love Garage. My favourite type of music now is Deep House. You can see it in the lineup at Secret Solstice. We have labels come and do showcases on stage every evening.
The younger you, would he be surprised at all the people you’ve got to meet doing what you do?
That’s the thing. I’ve been running around backstage for six or seven years at festivals all over. I’ve been blagging my way backstage all over the world. I’ve been doing market research for years, running around Glastonbury with 13 wristbands on and getting in everywhere. So, I’ve met a lot of these artists before. Last year, booking Wu Tang, that was pretty fucking cool. I mean Radiohead is coming this year and I’m looking forward to just meeting Die Antwoord.
What are you most proud about achieving with this festival?
We keep our site clean. Iceland is a clean country and we reflect that. As of this year, we are completely carbon neutral. We are lucky enough to have clean electricity and we plug our festival right into the grid. We’ve managed to offset the pollution caused by the artists travelling here with clean air projects. We don’t have a negative effect on the environment. That’s something to be proud of.
What’s the most important thing to remember when attending the festival?
Meeting new people and the music. That’s what it’s all about. Even if you plan to see a bunch a stuff, you’ll probably miss half of it, but you’ll discover new stuff. That’s what a festival is about.
For tickets and information, check out www.secretsolstice.is
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