Let’s talk about Iceland Airwaves 2019. The music festival has been an unmissable landmark in the country’s social season, the epitome of coolness and a cultural touchstone for the past 20 years. It’s brought bands such as Florence and the Machine, Coldplay, Kraftwerk, the Flaming Lips, and Fleet Foxes to the country, making international musicians accessible to this tiny island nation. Perhaps more importantly, it’s also brought some Icelandic musicians to the rest of the world, as the festival has attracted international attention to the unusually productive music scene. Icelandic music is by now an export bringing in serious currency, as well as probably the most successful tourism advertisement you could imagine. (If I had a dollar for every tourist that came here because they fell in love with Sigur Rós…)
Earlier this year, members of the band Hjaltalín surprised their fans by releasing their first single in five years. Even though the band’s members are all active in other projects, the innovative group seemed to be in hibernation for years, with many assuming that we’d seen the last of them. Turns out, Hjaltalín hadn’t quit. It hadn’t even been hibernating. Life just got in the way.
Nearly one half of all immigrants in Iceland come from a single country: Poland. Polish nationals were among the first foreigners to start settling here in the modern era, initially drawn by work in fish processing plants. In the early aughts, a boom in construction drew them in even greater numbers. In recent years, younger Poles have been flocking to the country for jobs in tourism and other industries. Their community as a whole now numbers 20,000.
Following the winding outskirts of Reykjavík, a gravel road jostles you toward a wooden hut. The strong scent of herbs emanates from the doorway. Before you can enter into the warm space, Tryggur, a charmingly fluffy Labrador-collie mix, sidles up to you in shy greeting. He leads you in and sits down patiently amongst a colourful collection of yarns, waiting for a pat while his owner talks over the sound of gently bubbling pots.
The year is 1996. After spending several years in Sweden, Anna Kristjánsdóttir moves back to Iceland. She struggles to find a job, and when she finally does, harsh bullying leads her to quit. Anna is a public figure, though not everyone looks at her in a positive light. But it’s not living abroad that has made her an outsider: Anna is trans.
To be completely honest, Icelanders aren’t known for their cosy interactions with strangers.
Ask Iceland Review