We Miss(ed) Iceland Airwaves
glamglare newsletter #24: the best music festival in the world
This year, we missed Iceland Airwaves. Our tickets from the canceled 2020 event were still valid, but a trip to Iceland just did not fit into our plans this year. However, we have been there in 2016, 2018, and 2019, and all three times, we had a major blast. The question remains, though: what makes a festival in the middle of the Atlantic at a rather unfriendly time of the year such a great experience?
First, of course, the music. If glamglare were given the opportunity to curate a music festival, the lineup would be similar to that of Iceland Airwaves. The programming is fiercely indie, and even the bigger acts would be at least one or two font size levels down at Coachella or Bonaroo. That gives you a chance to see European acts live that would not easily make it to the US, as well as to discover new artists. That is especially true for Icelandic music, which is incredibly rich and diverse for a country of 380,000 people. It is hard to imagine that you will leave Airwaves without a new favorite local artist.
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The second reason is the festival’s venues. Airwaves does not have a big stage, but the live shows happen in venues around the city, similar to SXSW in Austin or The Great Escape in Brighton. While that requires some scheduling effort and serious walking on the side of the attendants, it is also a more diverse experience. And Airwaves has especially attractive stages, from an Art Museum, over dedicated event spaces to rock clubs. There is also an “Off-Venue” component which is free for everybody and takes place in shops and bars during the day.
Third, the Icelandic capital Reykjavík is a beautifully strange place. At about 130,000 residents, it is a small city but feels even smaller than that. The city center, where most of the festival happens, looks more like a village. However, since it is the capital of a nation, a high density of venues, shops, restaurants, and bars can be enjoyed. Hopping between shows typically only takes a few minutes. Also, because the days are so short, most of your activity will happen in the dark, which makes the town even more magical.
The fourth reason: Iceland is a gorgeous place. Admittedly, we left Reykjavík only once for the Blue Lagoon, but it is no secret that there are many other natural wonders to see.
This year, we missed Iceland Airwaves, but we will be back as soon as we can.
Song Picks of the Day
Kane & James – Forever
“Forever,” the new single by indie-rock duo Kane & James makes for a fantastic backdrop to enjoy the vivid fall colors on a sunny day. The track delights with its sparkling, jangly-bright guitars and surprises with refreshingly unique harmonies. When asked about “Forever,” the New Jersey-based brothers Kane and JamesMarady say:
“Forever” is about finding love in places you would least expect to. Like in a song or in a memory. Then, doing everything in your power to hold on to that feeling.
This feeling is beautifully captured in “Forever,” out now via Good Eye Records. Listen to “Forever,” our Song Pick of the Day:
Connect with Kane & James here.
Kuni – Sleep Baby
Kuni is the moniker of Rome-based artist Eleonora Danese. Her debut single is the dreamy, bright track “Sleep Baby,” out now on Factory Flaws. It is not meant as a lullaby, but it does have a calming effect, and you can well imagine it inducing sweet dreams on a poolside afternoon nap.
Eleonora says about the song:
“‘Sleep Baby’ is my way to say to the other person ‘There is so much more I could say to you to make you understand me better but I won’t because that would hurt way too much’. It is my way to show how protective I am of their feelings. I love to share stories and things about my past, because I feel very attached to the past itself, but I know I can’t always say everything. Oversharing is kind of a problem for me and trying to control it shows just how much I care about who I am sharing with, since stories about us are also about others and often generate unexpected feelings and reactions that aren’t always good for the ones who are listening.”
Listen to “Sleep Baby,” our Song Pick of the Day, below:
Jack Rose & KC Thorpe – Be Alright
Jack Rose is a young singer, songwriter, and TV presenter from Ashford, Kent, in the UK, who teamed up with producer KC Thorpe to create the blazingly beautiful “Be Alright.” It is the first collaboration between the two, although they have known each other for many years. When I asked Jack to tell us a bit more about the song and its production, I was hoping for some cool little blurb but wasn’t prepared for this kind of heartwarming story. Jack says:
I have worked with Kevin since I was 13 and his wife actually went in to labour with their first child during my first ever recording session, so having worked with him for so long and having such a good connection, it was it was a pleasure releasing a track together.
Here’s to many more of such glorious productions because “Be Alright” is the perfect little mantra and a reminder to believe in yourself and never give up. It’s a refreshingly straightforward upbeat track, without any distracting bells and whistles, just 100% positive, feel-good vibes.
Listen to “Be Alright,” our Song Pick of the Day:
Connect with Jack Rose here.
Caroline Rose – Love / Lover / Friend
NYC singer, songwriter, and producer Caroline Rose artfully captures one moment of confusion in a relationship. As the intensity of the song ebbs and swells between an acoustic guitar line and orchestral blasts, you absolutely get what Caroline says about the song:
“When I was younger, I remember having so many feelings it felt like I would explode if I didn’t express them somehow. This felt similar to that—very pure and direct.”
Listen to our Song Pick of the Day, “Love / Lover / Friend,” on your favorite streaming service or below on YouTube:
Nico Paulo – Now or Never
Having left Portugal for Canada’s Saint John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador, artist Nico Paulo released the mesmerizing and utterly beautiful “Now or Never.” It marks the first single from her upcoming album, out due April 1st, 2023, via Forward Music Group. This is one of the songs I wish I could make EVERYONE to hear. It is as tender as it is assertive and as fragile as it is powerful. Shortly put, a true gem of a song. But this is not yet all, because “Now or Never” is accompanied by a quiet, inviting video, shot under the pink moon of March 2022 on location, directed by Nico Paulo and Sarah Kierstead and shot and edited by the latter. Asked about “Now or Never” Nico says:
The lyric “kiss me now or never, hold me close or let me go,” is one of the first lines I wrote and it has stayed relevant to my experiences ever since. This line has haunted me for almost a decade and recent experiences of loss and reconstructing of the self helped me to finally transform it into a song.
While I am sad to hear that an experience of loss kicked off the creation of “Now or Never,” I am sort of glad it did. And I can relate to the feeling of loss too. Music, breathtakingly beautiful music like this, helps.
Listen to “Now or Never,” our Song Pick of the Day, and watch the lovely video too:
Connect with Nico Paulo here.
Anna Mieke – Seraphim
“Seraphim,” the new song by Irish singer/songwriter Anna Mieke is woven out of intricate guitar play and rhythms and will for over five minutes not let you out of its gentle grip. It is one more beautiful single from Anna’s new album “Theatre,” out Friday, November 18. She says about the song:
“While writing this song, I was listening to a lot of Juana Molina from Argentina. She has really interesting vocal rhythms going on. ‘Seraphim’ touches on loss, the ‘passing on’ of grief, and the different ways it’s expressed. But, for me, there’s something really uplifting about the song too, and having family and close friends in the video really means a lot.”
Listen to “Seraphim,” our Song Pick of the Day, on your favorite streaming service or watch the video directed by Anna Heisterkamp:
Pitou – Dancer
Pitou is an Amsterdam-based artist who we fell in love with earlier this year. Her new single “Dancer” is another highlight from her upcoming album “Big Tear,” out in Spring 2023. While the song never leaves its acoustic roots, she and eight musicians built the track out of many different sonic elements that beautifully vibe together.
Pitou says about the song:
“This movement, from dark to light and back again, sometimes feels very violent. Like a natural phenomenon, waves, that you are forced to give in to. I’ve been thinking about these waves, and how I would like to be more graceful in the surrendering. Make it less of a fight, and more of a dance.”
Listen to “Dancer,” our Song Pick of the Day, on your favorite streaming service or watch the video below:
This Week on Our Turntable
Find all album tips in our favorite albums list.
Meet the Artist: Spaces of Disappearance
Spaces Of Disappearance is the project of Barcelona via Chicago singer, songwriter, and producer Elaine Davis. We have been following Elaine and her music for quite a while and admire the way she uses her rich vocals and production skills to create dark and sometimes unsettling electronic soundscapes. Today, she released her third EP, “Virtue.”
Listen to the EP below and then read on to learn more about Elaine’s musical journey:
How did you get into writing and producing music? Who were your early inspirations?
I started writing music because I was first a singer, and I began thinking of how to sing my own thoughts and ideas. I found it so much more rewarding than singing songs written by others. I initially organized a 4 piece band, but I became increasingly intrigued by electronic production, particularly from artists in the early 2000´s, producers like Nigel Godrich, James Murphy, and Grimes. Electronic production allows me to explore more sounds, feelings, and rhythms than I ever thought possible. In short, total freedom to experiment. Also, I am a terrible guitarist so that wasn’t really an option!
We saw you first performing live at CMJ in 2015. Solo shows for electronic musicians can be challenging, but you nailed it. Do you remember your first live performance? What setup did you use?
Initially I experimented with having a live bassist on stage with me, and then later a live drummer. But I found that as I was doing 100 percent myself in the studio and 99 percent on stage, it wasn’t helpful to try to schedule around other performers and organize the movement of their gear. My setup has evolved as a way of taking what I’m doing in the studio and making it manageable for a very small woman to take on the road. Live setup is very complex for electronic musicians and I enjoy the challenge.
How did your live show change over the years?
Again, I´ve pared it down to just myself and limited equipment. I´m always trying to find new ways to be animated onstage and still be able to play, trigger samples, manipulate things, and sing. I enjoy using visuals when possible because they add an artistic element and I use video artists that can formulate a vision they get from listening to my music.
Where do you find inspiration for your songs? How do you turn them from an idea into a finished product?
Of course inspiration is everywhere. I often write about the intertwining of the personal and political because I find it difficult to write directly about larger issues without sounding trite or didactic. I like to be out and about to get inspiration so the quiet time of the pandemic wasn´t the best for me! Sometimes I start with a line of lyrics, sometimes, with a melody. I always begin with a purpose though; I´m not one to just push buttons or fuss with beats just to experiment. Everything is in service to the song in my head.
Tell us more about your new EP, “Virtue”!
I did not find the pandemic particularly helpful to my art, unlike some others who thrived creatively in the quiet time. I ended up spending a lot of time engaging in other things that were not music. Like many, I was often glued to news outlets and social media feeds to pass the time and I was surprised by how different perspectives were globally about what was healthy, or more specifically, “correct” behavior in response to the pandemic. I started thinking a lot about the concept of being virtuous and how it is weaponized and reduced to very simple black and white terms depending on context. From that I wrote songs in various styles, dealing with themes from the limits of online connections, to the exuberance of simple pleasures, to the exploitation of the artist, and the joy of breaking out of these isolated, but comforting spaces.
You moved from Chicago to Spain. How did this influence your music?
I feel like I’m just beginning that journey in a sense because the pandemic limited so many opportunities to mingle with new people and explore my new environment completely. I think it will be more influential in the future as I am now immersed here, but I am not sure how exactly. I know that I am very relaxed and joyful whenever I am in Barcelona. I am not sure if that is the best thing creatively but it is the best thing for me as a person!
What is next for Spaces Of Disappearance?
I will be having a release show in Barcelona, hoping to release a video, and I would love to tour in the next year in Europe. At the moment I am also trying other things in the creative world outside of this project so who knows where they will lead. I am still always writing songs though and experimenting so I´m going to see where that leads me. I am feeling very free and that is a good thing.
Thank you, Elaine, for the insights! We won't be able to make it to Barcelona in time for your release show, but we're looking forward to seeing you here in NYC again, hopefully one day.
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