Secret Iceland Airwaves Stories Revealed
Iceland Airwaves is one of those quiet success stories. Take an isolated island known for erupting volcanoes, add a mix of quirky local and international indie musicians, and the result is a music festival that everyone wants to be part of. In fact, this year the festival sold out months in advance for the first time ever.
There have been plenty of stories shared about the escapades of attendees over the past 12 years, but what about those backstage stories that you might never hear about? We got a chance to chat with a few key organizers, writers, and other music maniacs about their behind-the-scene experiences.
Dr Gunni, musician and writer: Last year I was working at the Airwaves media center and John Grant (The Czars) checked in. We chatted for a while, and later that evening I saw him play songs from his debut solo album “Queen of Denmark” album. John liked Iceland so much that he's been living here ever since and is currently making an album with Gus Gus.
Kamilla Ingibergsdóttir, Iceland Airwaves marketing manager: Sometimes it’s not only about the perfect show you saw, but that cute guy you met, the conversation you had with a new friend, or the awesome after-party you went to. High on my list is an after-party at Sirkús in 2006, where the floors of the already tiny bar had been raised, making it the smallest bar in Europe. You could actually touch the ceiling while you were dancing.
Wim Van Hooste, music blogger: What I like about the festival is the small venues, and the strange off-venue locations. It makes it quite easy to meet and greet the artists before or after a gig. In 2005 I went to see Hellvar at Grand Rokk (now Faktory), and there were only about 50 people at the club because it was Saturday night and most people were at the bigger venues with headlining acts. After the gig, I got to meet lead vocalist Heida, and she gave me a CD and asked me to help promote the band. Later on we became close friends and I even started a fan page for the band.
Egill Hardar, music blogger: Last year I spent the entire Saturday at Kex Hostel. I sat there for about six hours just drinking beer, listening to great music, and chatting with artists and friends that passed through. I saw Dad Rocks!, Sudden Weather Change, Hellvar and Kippi Kaninus. I also met quite a few artists there, including a Danish band that had gotten drunk on the flight over to Iceland, and they had to leave their drummer at the airport because his girlfriend was having a baby and he had to fly back home right away. They were pretty bummed out not being able to play but happy for their fellow band mate. It was just such a great day, and the atmosphere was so friendly and lively, that I wished it could have lasted forever.
Dana Hákonardóttir, Iceland Airwaves artist relations: My first festival was in 2003 when I got to see my favorite band, TV on the Radio. It was then when I said I love you for the first time, and when I realized how much I really love music. The year after that I had my most memorable experience when I was watching an Icelandic band, Trabant. The singer pulled out a champagne bottle, sprayed it all over the audience, and then threw glitter on us as well. He then stage dived toward me and my boyfriend and we had to hold him up. It was quite mad, and I've gone to the festival every year since.
Sveinn Birkir Björnsson, music writer: Once I did a phone interview with Matt Caughthran (The Bronx) for the Reykjavík Grapevine, but we had no photo to run with it. A couple days before print, I stepped out of the editorial office and spotted the full band just hanging about. We hastily rigged a small photo shoot, and then after they played their set we caught them backstage for some additional photos. We ended up running a photo of the band crammed into a toilet booth together, with Matt wearing nothing but a T-shirt and holding his junk in his hand.
Iceland Airwaves takes place October 31 to November 4, 2012 at various venues in Reykjavik