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Interview With Iceland Airwaves

THE LAND OF ICE AND FIRE AND HIPSTERS

Say that you’re off to Iceland for your holidays and you will be greeted with Kerry Katona and prawn ring quips, and be reminded that they don’t allow camping in the frozen pea aisle. Ho Ho. But such inventive jocundity completely fails to realise the fact that Iceland (The Country) will do sexytime with your mind once you set foot there. If you play your cards right, sexy Icelandic people may even try to do sexytime with your sexyparts. And that’s before you’ve even broken out the Brennivín – the so-called national spirit of Iceland, and an experience akin to mainlining potato schnapps into your eyeballs.

It’s possible in fact that the sexy native elves and trolls were trying to do just that when they ensured clear skies and calm weather for our poking our noses around the south coast of Iceland, and into waterfalls, rainbow ends, and REALLY BIG ICECUBES. Not forgetting a cultural festival with a disco in a petrol station and beaches with the WRONG COLOUR SAND. See – we weren’t kidding about the mindfucking.

Spent from the flirtations of the south, Reykjavík now wanted its turn. Now we’re not sure if it had read the rules in quite the same way as the south, or maybe the elves just couldn’t be arsed to make the effort, but Reykjavík greeted us with the wholly more familiar squally rain and gentle gale-force breeze. Tiny though it may be for a capital city, Reykjavík has balls. It has creativity. It has colour. It has a big pond. It has outdoor swimming pools and has geothermically heated part of the sea. It has a comedian for a Mayor and a polar bear in the zoo (allegedly). It has hipsters and chic girls about town and normal people and musicians and artists and it has issued international arrest warrants for THOSE NAUGHTY BANKERS.

It also has Iceland Airwaves Festival; a heady mix of Icelandic bands, Scandinavian bands, and a smattering of UK, US and Canadian bands, squeezed into an eclectic selection of venues that either require a wristband and an optional amount of queueing, or that do not require a wristband but can require a lot of elbowing your way in – or none at all.

Reykjavik is such a teeny tiny city that everyone knows each other and no-one wants to be left out, so you will find as well as tUnE-yArDs smashing up NASA and Bjork doing that being-naughty-with-your-mind thing in Harpa, artists such as Soley playing in a bookshop and GusGus in a jampacked hostel foyer. You will bump into friends old and new. You will spot sights creative and bizarre (sequined buildings, bicycles covered in knitting – you know, that kind of thing). You will eat food tasty and unusual. You will drink alcohol potent and fund-challenging. You will rub shoulders with the Reykjavik glitterati without even realising. You may, if you look carefully, spot Jonsi.

In fact, Iceland will have its wicked way with your eyes and grey matter and we’re going to be first in the queue to go back for more.

Words: Elly Wakeling

Photos: Elly Wakeling  Jamie Boynton  Martijn Veenman  @littlegingerkid