From Iceland — Coming To You Live From Lækjartorg

Coming To You Live From Lækjartorg

Published March 22, 2024

Coming To You Live From Lækjartorg
Photo by
Art Bicnick/The Reykjavík Grapevine

DRIF’s radio tower is broadcasting the Icelandic electronic scene to the world

Hljómturninn (“the sound tower”) is the freshly coined moniker for the small tower in Lækjartorg that once upon a time served as a ticket stall and kiosk. Now, it is home to DRIF: an electronic-music radio station that entered the scene in June 2023. After getting started with weekly DJ sets at Prikið, DRIF’s acquired the tower and ushered in a new chapter in their own space, which they’ve adorned with posters, a video camera to record sets, vinyl stacked and strewn around, coffee and sofas. Founder and towermaster Atli James, 23, (who releases music under Jamesendir) wants DRIF to boost the signal of a new generation of electronic musicians in Iceland.

Each week, DRIF streams live audio and video of sets from the tower, posting them to YouTube after the fact in an act of preservation that also helps amplify the DJ sets to the furthest corners of the globe. Atli James explains that “people can just stumble upon it, algorithms take it wherever and hopefully someone sees it.” He even shared that this is how he found inspiration and new DJs in his youth.

Towermaster Atli James wants DRIF to amplify the newest generation of Iceland’s thriving electronic scene to the world.

NYC-based DJ Word of Command has already found DRIF through YouTube. After reaching out to say he liked what DRIF was doing, he came out to Iceland to play a set in February. DRIF’s early Prikið sessions had a similar effect, drawing in the ear of Vienna-based DJ Samuel who was passing by while in Reykjavík last year during the EVE Fanfest. The Austrian DJ has struck up a mutual venture with Atli James, where they’ve gone to each other’s cities to play sets. Notably, the night of our interview, Samuel is in town to play a set at the release party for Atli James and collaborator LaFontaine’s new Lím Label.

Sonic Fusion Schedule

Many DRIF DJs host recurring shows at the tower. DJ Melerito De Jeré (also known as Juan M. Melero of Xiupill and PELLEGRINA fame), hosts a show focused on non-club music, with a new guest every week. When asked what he liked about DRIF, he praised it as “a space with an amazing potential to expand knowledge, art and culture. This city lacks spaces where artists can go to just chill and enjoy music in a less formal way.”


Another group putting the space to use is Plútó, the decade old DJ collective and radio show formerly housed at the now off-air Útvarp 101. At Hljómturninn, Plútó continues to explore their genre of boundary-pushing, underrepresented electronic music. As Plútó mainstay Gunni Ewok says of this new venture, “hopefully more people will get inspired by the shows on DRIF and help the scene grow while still staying connected to the roots.”

Paying Rent

In addition to electrifying the airwaves, DRIF has begun hosting monthly events at Radar — the next one is slated for March 8. The events serve not only to bring the music outside the tower, but also as a means to make some money — leasing a tower from Reykjavíkurborg isn’t free!

Asked what he envisions for the future of DRIF, Atli James underscores the need to just keep it going for now. “I want to last until summer,” he says. “When it’s warmer and brighter we can start having the windows open and making more events.” He points out “now we need to be holed up in the tower because it’s so cold and people don’t really know walking past that there’s anything going on in there.”

Summarising what DRIF is for him, Atli calls it “a window into the Icelandic electronic music scene.” That’s figuratively spot on for those abroad and watching videos online of Reykjavík-based DJ sets. But it’s also true for those who happen to be strolling through Lækjartorg and finding themselves curious about what’s happening in that iconic tower. Just peek through the window and witness the re-burgeoning Reykjavík electronic scene.

DRIF streams on, posting their weekly schedule on Instagram, and recorded sets on YouTube at @drifradio

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