föstudagur, maí 14, 2010

"Planeet IJsland - Het Laboratorium van de Popmuziek" - Article in Apollo Magazine by Dirk Steenhaut

Journalist Dirk Steenhaut - who has a particular interest in Icelandic music for a long time - wrote an article (in Dutch) about the Icelandic music scene entitled "Planeet IJsland - Het Laboratorium van de Popmuziek" for the Magazine Apollo (Issue # 3, April 2010).
Link to Apollo > Page 8-9

For the article Planet Iceland - The Pop Music Laboratory Dirk spoke to the big names in the Icelandic music scene of today.

Here are some interesting quotes I translated into English:
Valgeir Sigurðsson (Producer/Bedroom Community Label):
"Iceland is a place of contrasts. Every 15 minutes the weather changes. People here are not so easy perplexed: they are flexible, prepared for anything to come. In Iceland nobody stands in you way to become what you want: you don't have to prove a thing to anybody, except yourself. But you don't get a lot of support as an artist. The only reward for you creativity is your own satisfaction. Icelandic musicians follow their instincts. Rather do it yourself, than being dependent on someone."
Siggi Baldursson (Drummer of The Sugarcubes & many other bands, now in Steintryggur):
"Icelanders have a high opinion of themselves. We are isolated inhabitants of an island. If you're not going to fish, you have nothing to eat. So you take the initiatives and create a certain talent in improvising, qualities you find in our music."
Baldvin Esra Einarsson (Kimi Records Label):
"We have 60 music schools, where you can learn to play music nearly for free. The last 20 years about 30.000 kids learned to play an instrument and most of them started to play in a band at the age of 14. The kids don't think they can make money by playing music. They play just to enjoy themselves and to produce something they can be proud of. Nobody tells a musician what he has to do to please the audience. That keeps our music pure, honest and without compromises. Most bands believe in the indie-ethics: if they don't find a record company, they release the record themselves. Reykjavik is small, everybody knows each other, and that stimulates the solidarity. It doesn't matter if you play metal or reggae, if you need an amplifier or a cymbal, there is somebody to help you out."
Jóhannes Ágústsson (12Tónar Label & Shop):
"If it doesn't work, you just start over again. In a small community musicians, dansers, video artists meet each other the whole time. They exchange ideas and new alliances develop. New bands arise all the time. I'm still surprised how the local music scene innovates. Many foreigners are touched by the music of Sigur Rós and make a pilgrimage to Iceland to get to the bottom of their mystery."
Jóhannes refers to the motto of Einar Örn Benediktsson (Smekkleysa Label/frontman of Purrkur Pillnikk, later KUKL, The Sugarcubes, ... now Ghostigital):
"It doesn't matter what you say, it is what you do that counts."
Ási Jónsson (Smekkleysa aka Bad Taste Label & Shop):
"Essential was that the punks of Einar Örn's generation made a stand against their own culture. Rather than copying Anglo-Saxon bands, they sang in Icelandic. Today everybody goes on a tour abroad, but in the eighties travelling was more expensive than today and it was difficult to get a work permit. Purrkur Pillnik and KUKL were bands on a mission, pioneers who believed in what they did, and were prepared to make sacrifices to bring their music to the people. Long ago Icelandic records received a jeering laugh abroad, but with an original artist like Björk selling 16 million records, you don't have to fight against these prejudices. Nowadays the international music press is coming to the Iceland Airwaves fesitval every year in the hope to find new talent."
Árni Matthíasson (Journalist of Daily Newspaper Morgunblaðið):
"When you study violin in the States, you stay the rest of your life in the classic music scene. Here in Iceland that's not self-evident. Even as a member of a chamber ensemble, you have to play on a pop or electronic album for a living. An open mind is necessary to survive, but leads to compelling cross-pollinations."
Thx to Leo Verbeke.

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