Icelandic Music Awards: 2020 Nominees Announced

Hatari at Iceland Airwaves 2019

“The 2019 music year will long be remembered for many reasons. The creativity and daring of Icelandic musicians did not escape anyone’s notice, neither here at home nor abroad,” a press release from the Icelandic Music Awards states. The press release highlighted Hildur Guðnadóttir’s Oscar-winning music for the film Joker as well as her score for the TV series Chernobyl, adding that there were also many fresh faces and exciting new developments on the scene.

Rock band Vök received the most nominations this year, with eight in total for their album In the Dark. The bands Hatari, Sykur, and Grísalappalísa have each received five nominations.

Within classical and contemporary music, the Iceland Symphony Orchestra boasts five nominations this year, and the Icelandic Opera three. Pianist Ingi Bjarni Skúlason’s album Tenging received the most nominations (five) within the jazz category.

Hildur Guðnadóttir, unsurprisingly, has three nominations in the category of music in film and theatre. Of Monsters and Men has been nominated for Album of the Year, Rock Song of the Year, and Music Video of the Year.

A full list of the nominees is available in Icelandic on the Icelandic Music Awards website.

Death of 100,000 Farmed Salmon Could Have Been Avoided

salmon farming fish farming fish farm salmon farm Bíldudalur - Arnarfjörður - Arnarlax - laxeldi

Some 570 tonnes of dead salmon have been removed from Arnarlax’s open-net fish farms in the Westfjords, RÚV reports. Nearly 100,000 fish died when cold temperatures forced them to swim further down in their nets and rub up against them. The rubbing creates wounds which eventually lead to the fishes’ death.

Deaths could have been avoided

According to the Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST), this is not the first time such an incident has occurred in Arnarlax’s farms. In early 2018, farmed salmon died in the same location, Arnarfjörður fjord, for the same reason. Stundin reported earlier this week that the Food and Veterinary Authority had not conducted an independent evaluation of the incident at Arnarlax’s farms, rather the reported numbers had come from the company itself.

According to Kjartan Ólafsson, Arnarlax’s board director, the dead fish account for 4% of all salmon in the company’s farms. Kjartan suggested that the deaths could have been avoided had the fish been slaughtered in December, before January’s extreme weather hit. He adds, however, that the casualties are not above what’s expected in the aquaculture industry. “There was algae in Norway last year and the mortality rate there was maybe close to 20%. So I think people in this industry can generally expect between 5-20% mortality.”

Foreign ships carry risk of disease

Several foreign ships are currently docked in Arnarfjörður to assist with harvesting farmed salmon. The Federation of Icelandic River Owners (Landssamband veiðifélaga) has argued that it is difficult to ensure such ships don’t carry diseases which could infect wild Icelandic salmon. In an interview with RÚV, Gísli Jónsson of MAST admitted that the ships were a weak link when it came to ensuring a disease-free environment, though they had gone through a risk assessment.

On the Rise

GDRN - Guðrún Eyfjörð Jóhannesdóttir singer

In March 2019, Guðrún Ýr Eyfjörð Jóhannesdóttir, better known as GDRN, was called up to the stage at the Icelandic Music Awards.

Then she was called up again.

Then a third time.

Then a fourth.

In a single night, less than a year after releasing her debut album Hvað ef (What If), the 22-year-old musician had snagged four awards: Best Female Singer, Best Pop Album, Best Pop Song, and Music Video of the Year. In her acceptance speech, she encouraged upcoming artists: “Let yourself dream. Dream really big.” But dreaming alone is not what put those awards in Guðrún’s hands: it was also hard work, a go-getter attitude, a commitment to honesty, and a bit of luck.

It may be not seem so remarkable for a single artist to be awarded four times in one ceremony in a country of 350,000. But this is Iceland: what the music scene lacks in size, it makes up for in might. Its ranks are filled with international legends and local ones (interestingly, with very little overlap); self-taught rockers and highly-trained virtuosos; veterans who have been taking to the country’s largest stages for decades and teenagers releasing their first singles, freshly produced in their bedrooms. Perhaps the most exciting among all of these groups are the rising stars: those artists, like GDRN, whose first ventures into the spotlight – though confident, and capable – make you excited for what is yet to come.

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City Turns Down Union Offer, Strike Continues

City of Reykjavík strike

The City of Reykjavík turned down Efling Union’s third contract proposal yesterday, RÚV reports. No further meetings have been scheduled between the parties. Efling members employed by the city continue a general strike, affecting preschools, primary schools, welfare services, and waste management.

Third union offer rejected

A meeting between Efling and city representatives yesterday afternoon ended without a resolution. In a notice published yesterday, Efling expressed disappointment that their third offer had been rejected by the city. The offer proposed paying staff a work-related premium “in recognition of professional responsibility, work load, work-related costs, and other factors.” The premium would vary based on occupation and workplace and would not be included in the base salary for calculating overtime.

A statement from Efling’s negotiation committee harshly criticising the city was published alongside the notice. “We condemn your hypocrisy, silence, and lack of responsibility,” it stated. “Our demands are just. Our fighting spirit is strong. Striking is our right.”

Mayor defends city’s offer

In a radio interview this morning, Efling Director Viðar Þorsteinsson accused Reykjavík Mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson of attempting to derail the discussion using “mathematical gymnastics.” The Mayor defended the city’s offer, saying it entails a substantial “correction” of low wages, as Efling is calling for. “People have to understand what is being offered, but instead we continually hear big words, that suggest that no wage hikes were being offered,” the mayor stated.