Gather: Exploring Iceland’s electronic music scene


(electronic music) – Our Uber’s two minutes away. (electronic music) – Where you guys headed? – Iceland, actually. Like filming a series called “Gather.” (electronic music) – We just kinda check
out different gatherings around the world. Define gathering, right? It can be 10 people. It
could be 100 thousand. This one’s a music
festival called “Sonar.” – I didn’t lose my phone at the house. – Got my passport. Spectrals, testicles, wallet, and watch. – Love it. – Okay. So, Iceland is
basically this island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s on this volcanic vein. It was inhabited by Berserker Vikings that turned to poorest fishermen. And, then in 1945, after the war, all of a sudden we were rich, you know, and made so
much money off the war. As we say in Icelandic, “Blessao strio,” The Blessed War. We ride the wave of
economic growth in the West pretty successfully, and Iceland turns into this pretty wealthy country. Iceland is magical, and there is an energy here that cannot be explained. We don’t have any elves
or fairies here, you know. We have probably the most musicians that are successful per capita, I would say, in the world. I mean, they managed
to get ground traction of exposure because of
the tight-knit community and the events that are hosted here. It’s a small country, so word-to-mouth travels extremely fast. – Welcome to Iceland. – Alright, we just landed in the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik. – We’re gonna meet up with our boy, Bjarki, who is leading the underground
electronic music scene down here in Iceland. He’s doing a live show
here at Lucky Records, which is actually the largest record store in Iceland. Has a huge selection
of local artists on tap. Huge vinyl selection. I picked up a local paper here
on the side of the street, and it’s Bjarki himself. (electronic music) (electronic music) (electronic music) – Put music in the purest form, you don’t have any boundaries. You are free to do whatever. Free to be yourself. We are releasing music that is weird. It’s just like, also,
that we can reach into people that are weird, maybe,
more like us, you know. And, that is the beauty about it. (electronic music) (electronic music) (laughs loudly) – Dammit! (electronic music) (electronic music) (electronic music) – We loved this music as kids. Nobody understood us. – We were bullied by listening to it. – We were bullied. I was speaking to the headmaster. He was like, are you taking heroin? I was like, no, I’m not taking heroin. And they were like, no,
you are heroin junkie. And, I was like, I’m 12. – Hi there. I’m Pordur Jonsson, also known as Lord Pusswhip from Reykjavik, Iceland. Let’s get it. – I was like a little punk-rocker when I was, like, 11, 12 years old. I’ve been rapping with my friends in the neighborhood since, like, after I moved back from Cali. Oakland Hills is kind of
living outside of San Fran, and I came back… Ah, like, this kid was in America. That’s so cool. It’s so much easier, honestly, to get ahead here when you’re doing specific stuff like this. – Real. Finally left
Reykjavik for a little bit. Checking out Lord Pusswhip’s house. Definitely a little rural. Not too sure how to pronounce the town. Lord Pusswhip’s mother is a pretty well-known sculptor in Iceland. We’re gonna check out the house. Check out some of the artwork. – My name is Steinunn Thorarinsdottir, and I’m a sculptor and have been for 40 years. Come from Iceland, but studied in England and Italy, and I’ve been doing this for a long time. Since I came back, Iceland isn’t as Icelandic
as it used to be, like, artistically. For example, in music scene
and the art scene, in general. I think it’s becoming like a boiling pot of many different influences. And, that’s because of all
the visitors, for sure. But, also, the thing
with Icelanders is that many Icelanders go abroad
for studying, and so on. But, most Icelanders also come back. We sometimes say that
we are little bit, like, migrating person…that
you leave, but then, you come back. These people have been
bringing in new influences. New experiences. – Alright. Doing a little road
trip outside of Reykjavik. Probably an hour and a half out. Gonna check out a pretty cool waterfall. Not too sure how to pronounce the name. It’s, like, Gullfoss Green. Gullfoss Line. Gullfoss something. Not the most ideal driving conditions. It’s pretty wet. It’s pretty cold. Super snowy. Little tired. Little jet lagged. (trap music) (rap music) – Shit, dude. Look at this road, man. It’s so dark. – He’s all the way up there. – Met with Bjarki. He wanted to take us out to, like, one of his favorite caves where he plays quite a
bit with his friends. So, I don’t know. Get some firewood. Light up a fire. Check it out. – Looks like there is water… – Takes time to kind of understand what it is that you are
looking for in music. Does it have to have melodies? (electronic music) (electronic music) (electronic music) – Welcome to the Sonar. (electronic music) (electronic music) – Woo! (electronic music) (electronic music) – At this very moment in time, I help to run Falk Records. FALK means, “Fuck Art, Let’s Kill.” – Fuck art, let’s kill. – We release all sorts of weird music. We invite artists to
come and play in Iceland. Artists that are doing stuff that is not happening in
this country right now. – What’s the motive behind that one? – Because we’re fucking idiots. – Literally just got to
the VIP’s sound setup. Main stage. We were here
last night. Got pretty wild. (electronic music) As you can see, I’m a little… coming in slow this morning, but it was totally worth it, so, I’m pretty excited about tonight. (loud bass plays) – That’s cool. – Being a DJ is probably similar thousands of years ago or
hundred thousands of years ago when were just dancing
in front of the fire, and there was always this
leader playing music, banging the drums for couple days. It was always this somebody
who controls the rhythm, and leads the pack. Being a DJ is a little
bit of that feeling. You’re their leader. – Every location has its own song, and it’s, like, Iceland
isn’t different in that way. We are very young society. 60 years ago, we were living in turf huts. All these nations that
you are talking about are nations who have been huge societies of millions of people
for thousands of years. I mean, I don’t wanna
say that we are feral, but it’s the first word
that comes to mind. (upbeat music) – Thing one thing two. Should we go? – Okay. Let’s go. Get the fuck out! (distorted music) (electronic music) (electronic music) – It’s not just a festival. It’s an experience, which is cool. – Yeah. – But, it’s fucking dirty. – Too loud. (trap music) – The music scene in Iceland, it’s as great as people say, but it’s as shit as everywhere else. – Because we are so few, we are only 300 thousand people, everyone feels that maybe
they can make a difference. – At least, leave something behind in people’s minds. – There’s always this drive to, you know… We take something new,
but we make it our own, and I feel like it
translates into our music. There’s a very unique sound here. – Icelanders hear music from abroad and then, they misinterpret
it in a beautiful way. – The stuff that is really good here is on the par with anything out there. It really is. – All these bands have managed to make a living and get an eye
on the international stage from this tiny, tiny country
that’s like a small town in other countries. You know, maybe it’s that. Or, maybe it’s just ’cause we’re an island in the Atlantic, and there’s nothing you can do but. Drink. Fuckin’ make art. The last is my thing. (upbeat music) Jenny orgasms as she dies.

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