From Iceland — Grapevine Music Awards 2021: Shout Out - Rough Cult & Auður

Grapevine Music Awards 2021: Shout Out – Rough Cult & Auður

Published January 22, 2021

Grapevine Music Awards 2021: Shout Out – Rough Cult & Auður
Hannah Jane Cohen
Photo by
Art Bicnick

The Grapevine Music Awards 2021 Shout Out award applauds two stellar projects this year. First off, we celebrate Rough Cult for their innovative music videos and second, Auður for keeping culture alive during the pandemic.

Rough Cult

Rough Cult. Photo by Art Bicnick.

Shout Out: Rough Cult

Production company Rough Cult, the panel concluded, has a knack for elevating whatever song they’re entrusted to visualise. Composed of four key members—Baldvin Vernharðsson, Bryngeir Vattnes, Berglaug Petra Garðarsdóttir and Gabríel Benedikt Bachmann—the Cult has had their KoolAid in a number of surreal, unforgettable and inimitable music videos this year including “Píla” by Joey Christ, “Higher” by GusGus ft. VÖK, and “MASKHARA بشار مراد مسخرة”. by Bashar Murad.

“Rough Cult started out as a living room production company three years ago at our beloved Bergþórugata 27, 101 Reykjavík. Our four-bedroom apartment was turned upside down for production work all the way to throwing a concert for Menningarnótt 2018 at our balcony,” one of the Cult members explains. “There was a constant flow of artists from all over the world that kept the creative spark going as we grew our aesthetic.”

The group describes themselves as both a platform for artists and also an art collective to grow and experiment. Located not at the Barker Ranch—ok, we will stop with the Cult references—they are currently based out of Krókháls 6, the old Stöð 2 studio, where they’ve worked tirelessly on developing their style.

“We pride ourselves on building everything from the ground up—doing a lot from nothing. It’s all about the finished product and how you get there. If you use an 8mm film, VHS or an Alexa, it all comes down to what story we’re telling!” they say. “The name Rough Cult says a lot about us as we like to go our own way and step outside the box and try new—or old—things. We love analog. No idea is a bad idea.” [Editor’s Note: Extremely difficult not to make a Cult joke here.]

“They’ve been making excellent things consistently,” one panel member determined. “If you hear an artist is working with Rough Cult, you know it’s going to be something. They are upping the standard.”

The judge pointed to the “Píla” video—a particular favourite of the panel—as a prime example. In fact, one mention of it totally devolved the conversation into a long sidetracked analysis of the video. “That video turned a song that might have just been a moment into something that not only will you remember, but that you’ll show to your friends,” another panel member determined. “Even to your friends who might not be into hip-hop. Rough Cult has the ability to turn a song or a moment into something that has longevity.”

“It’s all about the finished product and how you get there… No idea is a bad idea.”

“The Píla video we released last year was a wild ride. We had just moved to our new studio and wanted to start off a new era for Rough Cult with a bang. Jóhann Kristófer approached us with the song and we immediately decided we wanted to do a green screen video to show off our crazy ideas and work with no limits,” they explain. “We got our hands on a Laowa probe lens and the ideas started flowing. Two weeks later we had the final product.”

They’ve since continued their greenscreen work in the aforementioned video with Palestinian pop star (and Grapevine favourite) Bashar Murad entitled “MASKHARA بشار مراد مسخرة”. The track, which feels super groovy until you see the lyrics, invites you into Bashar’s soul as a young queer man in occupied Palestine, navigating mental health, the lethargic chaos, and the overwhelming hopelessness of living in such a situation. That said, there’s a somewhat sanguine vibe to the whole thing, which is actualised by Rough Cult’s green screen work, which was actually shot on location in Palestine and Israel. In particular, there’s a rather moving shot of Bashar grooving in front of Israel’s famed “security fence” while it tumbles down. Let’s hope that becomes a reality one day.

“We want to pay the shout out forward to our friend Bashar Murad who lives in Jerusalem and is a true fighter,” the group concludes (and we agree) with. “Check him out!”

The Cult has many projects on the burner for 2021, and they end the interview with a simple statement: “2021 is the year to follow Rough Cult! Honestly.”

Check out Rough Cult on Instagram at @rough_cult. No word yet or whether or not they will direct the Grapevine’s upcoming foray into rap metal or enjoy applesauce with phenobarbital.

Secret Solstice 2019

Auður. Photo by Sigurður Ragnarsson.

Shout Out: Auður

Auður did drop an EP in 2020, but this Shout Out is to recognise his work in, as we called it, keeping culture alive over the pandemic.

Over the last 12 months, Auður lent his hand to many different collaborations with artists of vastly different disciplines, both famous and unknown. Our favourites included his fantastic song with up-and-comer gugusar, beautiful animated video by Águst Eli, RÚV performances with mezzoforte and Bríet and, of course, one cannot forget his capacity for livestream. Lastly, he founded a new studio space for local musicians alongside Krassasig. Nothing stopped Auður’s drive this year and that kind of optimism needs to be applauded.

To be honest, the panel was even hesitant to give him this Shout Out because he’s rumoured to be releasing an album in 2021 and knowing Auður, that’ll be sweeping all the awards this time next year.

You can read about all of the winners of the 2021 Grapevine Music Awards here

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