From Iceland — Slow Production Leads To Great Work

Slow Production Leads To Great Work

Published August 30, 2023

Slow Production Leads To Great Work
Photo by
Atli Þór Alfreðsson

 Examining the female-centred creative nucleus Marvaða 

Although wanting to escape the limelight of an interview, Arnbjörg María Danielsen boasts an impressive career in the cultural industry. Having worked as a director, curator, artistic director and producer, both domestically and internationally, Arnbjörg currently focuses her efforts on her newly established music label Marvaða. 

Described as a creative nucleus, the label is meant to connect multi-disciplinary artists through music and creativity. In addition to an operating music label, Marvaða is also set to open a live venue space, scheduled to launch in late September – as well as a fully-functional recording studio. 

Unlike many players in the industry, Marvaða’s ideas rest on the concept of due diligence, and imbuing their work with female energy. “If you’re not going to do it well, don’t do it,” states Arnbjörg. “It’s about fun and creativity, and female energy. Men can also have female energy,” she continues. 

I guess I’ve noticed that good things happen in Iceland, but for some reason they don’t last for long.

Grounded in the philosophical foundation of ‘Slow Production’, the nucleus’ mission statement is to give creative projects a persistent focus from inception to execution. 

Contrary to Icelandic creativity’s reputation as a free-for-all, Marvaða brings a refreshing new aspect to the scene. “I wanted to build a company with room for creativity. Not only to create, but to realistically follow things through,” Arnbjörg explains. 

“This is a collection of all my professional experiences, collaborating with artists close to me and who I want to work with. Most of us are women and some are mothers, so there’s female energy tied to this,” she comments.

A case in point is the artist VARNA GL, with whose music Marvaða jump started their roster. A Greenlandic artist, VARNA’s single “IDDORARPI (city)” was the label’s first release. Her album will also serve as Marvaða’s first LP issue. “We’ve known each other for many years through an artist residency I’ve managed in Greenland,” Arnbjörg says. 

Varna’s music has flown high, attracting the attention of major international music magazines – and rightly so. 

Female-focused, female-led

Evident in all sectors of society is Iceland’s culture of disorganisation. Iceland is notable for its lack of preparedness, often resulting in scrambled project execution. 

In Iceland’s art scene – most notably its music scene – a common strategy is relying too much on infusing upcoming projects with over-the-top publicity, often with minimal achievements to show for. What follows are ephemeral artists and labels leaving little trace.  

Life is short. Let’s create, and have some fun.

With Marvaða, Arnbjörg wants to shift the narrative by emphasising diligent strategies that will lead to fruitful and sustainable music careers for the artists. 

“I guess I’ve noticed that good things happen in Iceland, but for some reason they don’t last for long. You really need blood, sweat and tears for things to endure,” she notes. “I want this to grow slowly and steadily. I am trying to strengthen these artists so their career is more sustainable,” Arnbjörg continues. Despite being Iceland-based, Marvaða will work with international artists – they’re currently in talks with creators from as far afield as Nigeria and Indonesia. 

It’s an invigorating – and apt – outlook in an industry that’s male-dominated and short-sighted. 

Currently on Marvaða’s agenda is Varna’s upcoming release and the opening of their venue space in Reykjavík’s Grandi neighbourhood. “The idea is that we can host small events or concerts,” Arnbjörg says hopefully. “We plan to make this a functioning venue for Varna’s release party on September 29.”

“Life is short. Let’s create, and have some fun,” she concludes.

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