Thousands flocked to Reykjavik to party for three days of straight sunlight with some of Iceland’s best bands. We caught up with our favourite five.
Young Karin, Samaris, Alvia Islandia, GusGus and Class B all have two things in common. One being that they are all from Iceland and two that they all performed at Secret Solstice weekend in Reykjavik this June. The only summer festival where the party literally doesn’t stop, festival goers can party for three days straight in full sunlight. We spoke to five of Iceland’s best bands about the festival, how they started and what makes them unique.
How did you come up with the name Class B?
I was around 16 years old when I came up with that name, trying to be clever I guess! B is the first letter of my given name, so B stands for myself. So anything in class “B” is therefore a reflection of myself. The honesty of that name appealed to me and it just stuck.
How did you get in to rap and hip hop?
I’m in my thirties now, so I was turned on to hip hop and rap music in prehistoric times as far as the internet and current state of technology and social media is concerned. I think I was intrigued by the mystery of it first and foremost. There were no rap sections in the record stores back then, rap music was hardly ever played on the radio, you had to go out looking for it, looking for other people who were into it. People who had records you didn’t have, who could tell you things you didn’t know. Then at age 14 I started rhyming for myself and there was no turning back.
Who are you most looking forward to see play at Secret Solstice?
I love the idea of blending classics with new things so I have to say Wu Tang and FKA Twigs.
How did you both meet?
We met while surfing the waves of music on the internet.
Who were your biggest influences growing up?
Christopher Walken and Lisa Bonet.
How did growing up in Iceland help to develop your style?
It only smothers, bless the internet.
Did you always know that hip hop/avant-garde pop was your calling?
No, that’s not really our calling. We play internet type of music today.
What’s it like to be compared to the best of Scandinavian pop?
We’re too underrated if anything!
How did GusGus come to be?
A group of people were making a short film and decided to be a band after creating a soundtrack for the film. We were consequently offered a record deal by 4AD Records.
Tell us the inspiration behind the name?
The name is inspired by a German film called Angst essen Seele auf (e. Fear Eat Up Soul) where one of the characters, a bartender (Barbara) invites a client (Ali) home for some couscous. The way she pronounces it is very soft and sexy which implies that they won’t only be having a meal, but a feast for all senses.
How would you best describe your sound?
Our sound is made of irresistible grooves and haunting melodies wrapped in a warm electronic blanket.
Can you pin-point your best live show?
It’s impossible to pick one show out of the thousand great ones we’ve done. Hopefully our first Secret Solstice show will be one of them…
Your album Mexico was released a year ago, what have you got lined up for this year?
This year it’s 20 years since we made our first album which was re-released internationally on 4AD and Warner 2 years later and we are still delivering magnificent shows wherever we go. We are working on new material at the moment and hoping to create yet another GusGus album. But what is exciting us right now is our new record God Application which will be coming out on Steve Angello’s SIZE Records.
How did the three of you come together to make Samaris?
We met in music school in 2011 and wanted to make some beats and tunes together. It was January 2011 so every year in January we celebrate darkness by doing something crazy. last year we went to Sydney and next year we will go to Timbuktu.
What is it that makes Samaris so different from other electronic artists?
Our beats and tunes.
You pick your lyrics from nineteenth century Icelandic poems, how does that link up modern electronica?
When we were making our first demos we found a book with old folk songs and poems in the studio and decided to use them as lyrics for our songs.
You were big on the international live scene last year. Can you pick any favourites?
Ypsigrock in Sicily! The ice cream in Sydney, and the girls in Prague according to Doddi.
What’s it like being part of the Hip Hop music scene in Iceland?
My rap style comes from a flowing – dreamy place like my lyrics. The hip hop scene here is diverse and everyone has their unique sense of style. At the moment it’s a very dominant art form in Iceland and a popular form of expression.
You recorded your first song at 16. What made you want to get into music at such a young age?
I have always been around a lot of music, loving and living it, when I was 16 my family moved to Copenhagen while I stayed in Iceland. I was around a lot of people who are in the Icelandic music scene, mainly the electronic and hip hop’s creative energy, having access to studios made me want to experiment with my poems and thoughts over some beats, that’s when it hit me. I felt alive creating and putting my energy into eternity.
What sort of things are you looking for when you pick music to rap over?
Bass and melodies, I just feel it when a beat catches me and everything starts to fit. I love something dreamy, bubbly, soothing as well as I love old school sounds, drum & bass, just the feeling, something that understands me. No formula, just the flow.
We’ve heard you’re the official Hubba Bubba gum chewing champion and you like to distribute lollies and gum to the crowd at your gigs. Tell us more…
Getting the crowd who may not have listened to your music prior to the show can be difficult as far as getting them interested and involved. My songs are sometimes about blowing gum and eating candy so it’s a good way to get them involved. Who doesn’t want to blow bubble gum while listening to some great music.