From Iceland — Ólafur Arnalds

Ólafur Arnalds

Published October 17, 2009

Who are you? What can we expect from your Airwaves appearance, and what can we expect of you in general?
I am Ólafur Arnalds. You can expect pretty much the same as at any other concert of mine: Piano, string quartet and some glitchy electronica. You can expect a lot of new material, as I am just finishing recording my next full length album.
What are some of the acts you’ll want to see at this festival, and why?
There are loads of bands I want to see but I’ll probably miss. I will be in London, premiering the ballet Dyad 1909, which I wrote the score for, and I don’t arrive in Iceland until Saturday—just in time for my own show. I’d love to see Kings of Convenience but they are playing Friday so I’ll miss them. I definitely want to see Oculus as well, his live show is amazing.
This year sees fewer ‘large’ international acts on the schedule. Do you believe this changes anything for the festival in general, and its spirit?
I think Airwaves has always been about discovering new exciting acts rather than seeing bands that are already on the top. At least for me, the most fun is to go see bands I haven’t heard much about before. The Iceland Airwaves crew has always had a good eye for bands that will make it big just in the year after Airwaves.
Looking back, do you have a favourite edition of Iceland Airwaves? And if so, why?  
Not sure if I have a favourite edition, but my favourite moment is probably Whitest Boy Alive at Gaukurinn in 2007. They refused to stop playing, even when the lights were all turned on to signal people to get out, they kept on playing. Police came, ‘cause it was already after legal hours, but they kept on playing.
In the end someone took the power off the PA, but they just turned the volume up on their amps and still kept on playing. Everything was crazy in there, and occasionally the drummer would get really angry for some reason, throw his hat in the floor and walk off stage. Everyone else would just keep playing until he came back, like ‘ohh, okay, sorry guys,’ and kept on playing. This happened several times… no idea why… But everyone was having so much fun; they ended up playing for two hours.
A lot of our readers are first time Airwaves-visitors. Do you have any tips for them? What to see, what to do, what to avoid, etc? Where to buy records? Or a good place to grab a bite or get away from it all for a while?
A good tip for first time Airwaves-visitors is: don’t forget about the off-venue shows! Try to find out who is playing where and go see them. Some of these shows are much more intimate and fun than the bands’ main shows.
Given that most Airwaves-visitors won’t have a lot of time in their schedule to see the Icelandic countryside, are there any nature-havens close by that you’d recommend?
A short walk around the pond downtown at sunset can be very refreshing. In fact, I just did exactly that to freshen up before doing this interview!

  • When: Saturday 22:00
  • Where: Iðnó
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