BÖRN (“Children”) took the Icelandic punk scene by storm this year, playing all over the place, releasing a self-titled debut LP (which our reviewer LOVED) and even raising a little stir outside of the country. Although BÖRN have been active for upwards of four years, 2014 marks the first time they’re playing Iceland Airwaves—to celebrate this, we emailed singer Alexandra Ingvarsdóttir about the band, feminism and how miserable Reykjavík is.
Our reviewer Almar said that your album “properly echoes the misery of living in Reykjavík.” Was this your goal when you wrote the songs?
Not really, but we all live in Reykjavík and have had our share of shitty experiences. Sometimes you feel like you want to burn it down and spit on its grave, but for the most part I love Reykjavík.
What is the significance of the bloody nose and bandana on your album cover?
We wanted to have a cover that really embodied everything our album is about, feminism, body image and punk. This is what we came up with. We also included a Gorilla Angreb patch, because they are awesome.
For those that don’t understand Icelandic, your lyrics talk a lot about feminism and body image. How important are these topics to you as individuals, and what motivated you to make them a part of your band’s identity?
These topics are very, very important to us. As a band made up of three women and one man with disabilities, people often treat us in a way that’s belittling and disrespectful. We share similar experiences when it comes to society, such as strangers touching us and viewing our bodies as public property. We are angry and political people, and people tend to feel uncomfortable around angry women and angry disabled people, so making it the band’s identity came naturally.
Since you were interviewed by Vice, it seems like you’ve been getting a lot of attention, playing more and bigger shows. Has this been your experience?
It all started when we posted our video for “Bara hrós” that people started noticing us, but then the Vice interview received a lot of attention here in Iceland, and everything snowballed from there. We have been playing a lot of shows now and our fan base has been growing, but I don’t feel like we have necessarily been playing bigger shows. The biggest ones so far were the Norðanpaunk and Innipúkinn festivals, but those were booked before the Vice interview happened.
What does it mean for a DIY punk band like yourselves to play at a showcase festival like Airwaves?
Honestly? I have never attended Iceland Airwaves, except for seeing and playing off-venue shows. I kind of wanted to go, so we tried our luck for free tickets and got in. The money will then help us for our U.S. tour next spring.
Who do you want to see at Airwaves? And where are you planning to go for your stateside tour?
I’m going to see as much as possible! The foreign artists I want to see include Future Islands, The Knife (damn you, clashing schedule!), Girl Band, Perfect Pussy, BNNT, Yahya Hassan, Black Bananas, Ibibio Sound Machine, La Femme, and then there are several others I haven’t checked out yet. Domestic bands include Kælan mikla, kimono, Pink Street Boys, Saktmóðigur, DJ flugvél & geimskip, Þórir Georg and more.
Regarding our international tour, we are not 100% sure yet where we’ll play, it’s still in the planning stages.
You can catch Börn on the following dates:
November 5: Húrra at 19:10
November 6: Gaukurinn at 21:40
November 7: Dillon (off-venue) at 17:30
November 8: KEX Hostel (off-venue) at 14:00
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