The LungA Art festival is a yearly event held in a small bohemian town on the east coast of Iceland called Seyðisfjörður. In the middle of July people gather in this small town of only 700 inhabitants to enjoy the melting pot of various art forms.
Before LungA was Hljómstefna, first held in 1998. The idea of that festival focused on people interested in music, but the ideology was very similar as LungA, which is to combine various musicians in music making and boost peoples interest in music. The festival contained musical education, synchronization and concerts.
The festival lived through two consecutive years, but in 2000 the festival was changed with more effort put into widening the idea and focus on working with young people at the ages between 16 and 25 years old.
Throughout the years LungA has grown and has now become on of Iceland's biggest art festival for young people. From only 20 participants in the first year, the festival has been completely sold out for the last years. To celebrate LungA's 10 year anniversary in 2010, IMX chat to organizer Ivar Pétur Kjartansson…
When and how did LungA start?
The first official LungA festival took place in 2000. It started out of the restlessness of a few young and creative people. They were lucky to know Alla, the mother of LungA, who decided to start this festival with them. She's been the brain and heart of the festival since then.
What were the reasons for starting it?
It was the desire to do something creative that made this happen. 10 years ago there was not much to do for young people on the east coast besides sport, which is all good but for the kids who were not into sports the festival was very welcome. It showed them it's possible to have other interests.
Who was behind it and is the same people now?
Alla has been running the festival since its beginning with a group of young people, but that group has changed over the years.
Was there any kind of event like this in the town, music or otherwise?
No, not of this caliber. There's always been concerts and art events but nothing like LungA.
Why is the event geared more towards young people?
The festival in general is for all ages but the program is aimed for young people and the art workshops are only for 16-25 year olds. We want to give young people a chance to experience and participate in art and art related events. But we welcome all ages and we believe our program is exciting for everyone interested in art and music. We are also very happy to say that people 50 years and older get free entrance to the LungA concert.
Is there, or has there, been a music scene to speak of in Seyðisfjörður?
I think it's in the same proportion as bigger communities. The population is just much smaller so we maybe have 2-3 active bands going on at a time. We've always tried to give the local bands from the east coast a chance to play at LungA and for example both Bloodgroup and Miri played their first live shows at LungA.Is it the smallest music festival in Iceland?
No on the contrary it's one of the biggest festivals each year. LungA is not just a music festival. It's a week long art festival for young people with workshops, exhibitions, shows, performances and concerts. Over the week more than 4000 people visit the town. It's climax and best known aspect though are definitely the concerts that take place at the weekend.
Which bands have played so far? All Icelandic or any international?
We've had a few international acts in the last years and most of the biggest names in the Icelandic scene. I could name Trentemoller from Denmark, DJ Mehdi from France, Kasper Björke from Denmark plus Icelandic bands like GusGus, Bang Gang, Mugison, Minus, Trabant, Maus, Ghostigital, Botnleðja, kimono, Sudden Weather Change, Benni Hemm Hemm and many more.
Who’s playing 2010?
This year we have Bloodgroup with a string quartet, Hjaltalin, Seabear, Retro Stefson, Miri, Helmus und Dalli, Oculus, Óli Ofur, (Casette), DJ Flugvél og Geimskip and Muted/Hypno. These bands are all playing on the Saturday of the festival on two outdoor stages. On Friday night the Kimi Records summer fun tour is in town with kimono, Sudden Weather Change, Stafrænn Hákon and Quadruplos.
Have any foreign guests attended the festival yet? And what is the appeal aside from the music?
Yes every year we have people from all over the world visiting the festival, both to participate in the art workshops or just to attend the festival. Besides the concerts we have a lot of different events and
activities going on through the week and over the weekend. Besides from that Seyðisfjörður is always a beautiful place to visit.
10 years is a long time…what are you most proud of to date?
What we are most proud of is that we know many examples of people studying or now working in the field of art and music after having their first experience of it at LungA.
For more information, visit www.LungA.is
Source: Iceland Music Export (IMX)