Supreme Court Takes Up Slayer Suit Against Secret Solstice Festival

slayer lawsuit secret solstice iceland

Iceland’s Supreme Court has accepted an appeal by American thrash metal band Slayer against the organisers of the Secret Solstice festival.

Slayer performed at the 2018 festival and allege that they were never paid for their performance.

In a 2020 ruling, organisers of Secret Solstice were ordered by a Reykjavík district court to pay a sum of ISK 20 million (USD 138,900; EUR 143,800) to Slayer. Despite some ambiguity in communications regarding the payment, it was determined that Slayer should be compensated with the personal assets of the organisers.

Read more: Former Secret Solstice Organiser Bankrupt

However, earlier this year, the decision was revisited by the National Court, which then acquitted Live Events, the former organisers.

With the former organisers in bankruptcy, representatives from Slayer have claimed that assets were misused during the bankruptcy, and that there is precedent for payment obligation in such cases. After the festival’s bankruptcy, it was sold to several different legal entities. Confusion arose after public statements by one of the directors of Live Events, which claimed that all debts would be settled. Now, the Supreme Court of Iceland is taking up the case.

Central to the case is whether the statement in question was general in nature, or whether it constituted a binding contract.

The Supreme Court has taken up the case partly because it believes that the case will have broader importance in setting precedent in cases of payment obligation with multiple debtors.

Former Secret Solstice Organiser Bankrupt

Secret Solstice - Laugardalur - tónlist - tónlistarhátíð

Solstice Productions, the association that organised Reykjavík’s Secret Solstice Festival between 2014-2018, has been put into liquidation, RÚV reports. The ruling was made in Reykjavík District Court on May 27. The company made headlines last year for owing the City of Reykjavík and past performers, including the band Slayer, which had sued organisers after only receiving partial payment for performing at the festival.

In April 2019, it was reported that Solstice Productions owed the City of Reykjavík and other parties a total of ISK 42.5 million ($354,000/€314,000), a debt that the capital’s district commissioner had unsuccessfully attempted to recover four times. Icelandic rap collective Reykjavíkurdætur also blasted the festival last year for failing to pay them and then asking them to perform for free the following year. Earlier this year, Friðrik Ólafsson, Solstice Productions’ CEO, was sentenced to pay Slayer around ISK 20 million ($149,000/€132,000).

Festival’s New Organisers Planning 2021 Edition

The company Lifandi Viðburðir ehf. bought the Secret Solstice Festival trademark in 2018 and held the 2019 edition of the festival. The 2020 edition of the festival was postponed until next year due to the COVID-19 epidemic. A representative of Lifandi Viðburðir states that company has settled with all Icelandic artists that previously performed at the festival, including Reykjavíkurdætur.

Note: A former version of this article incorrectly stated that Secret Solstice Festival was bankrupt. It is the festival’s former organiser, Solstice Productions, which is bankrupt.

Reykjavík Approves Another Secret Solstice Festival

Reykjavík City Council approved a contract with representatives from Secret Solstice music festival for three days of concerts in Laugardalur from July 21-23, RÚV reports. The festival is heavily in debt to the city and has also been accused of neglecting to pay artists. The production company that took over the festival last year point to its previous organisers are responsible.

In April it was reported that Secret Solstice owed the City of Reykjavík a total of ISK 42.5 million ($354,000/€314,000), a debt that the capital’s district commissioner had unsuccessfully attempted to recover four times. The freshly-signed contract outlines a repayment schedule from the festival to the city amounting to ISK 19 million ($154,000/€138,000). It also stipulated that the city will contribute ISK 8 million ($65,000/€58,000) in funding to the festival, on the condition that it be more family-friendly than in previous years. The festival organisers are also required to return the Laugardalur area in the same condition as they received it before the rental period.

Past performers sue

Metal band Slayer, who headlined the festival last year, is reportedly suing its organisers for only having received partial payment. The band says it is still owed ISK 16 million ($133,000/€118,000). Icelandic feminist rap collective Reykjavíkurdætur has also recently blasted the festival, saying that not only were they not paid for last year’s festival, but they’ve also been invited this year to perform for free.

Secret Solstice May Relocate Amidst Nonpayment Complaints

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1555062230097{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]The Secret Solstice music festival owes the City of Reykjavík a total of ISK 42.5 million ($354,000/€314,000), RÚV reports, a debt that the capital’s district commissioner has unsuccessfully attempted to recover four times already. The news comes amidst multiple complaints from previous headliners and performers who say they still have not been paid for taking part in previous years’ festivals. Nevertheless, representatives for Secret Solstice insist that this year’s event will go on as planned – with or without the city’s involvement – and will be the “biggest and best yet.”

Performers say they haven’t been paid

Secret Solstice has been held annually in Reykjavík since 2014. In that time, festival attendance has gone from 8,000 attendees in the first year to upwards of 15,000 in 2018. The festival has hosted dozens of big name international acts such as Bonnie Tyler, Deftones, FKA Twigs, Foo Fighters, The Prodigy, Radiohead, and the Wu Tang Clan, among others. This year’s headliners include Black Eyed Peas, Patti Smith, Pussy Riot, and Robert Plant. However, although Solstice Productions, the company that previously managed the festival put on an additional large concert with Guns ‘N Roses only last year, it seems that numerous Secret Solstice performers have yet to be paid.

Metal band Slayer, who headlined in 2018, is reportedly suing the festival organisers for only having received partial payment; the band says it is still owed ISK 16 million ($133,000/€118,000). The Icelandic feminist rap collective Reykjavíkurdætur has also recently blasted the festival, saying that not only were they not paid for last year’s festival, but they’ve also been invited this year to perform for free.

Representatives for Secret Solstice have stated that the festival was sold to a new company, Live Events, and as such, is not responsible for settling previous festival debts incurred by Solstice Productions. Live Events is registered to Guðmundur Hreiðarsson Viborg, an economist who resides in the Canary Islands. “The alleged debt has absolutely nothing to do with Live Events, as the company was not involved with previous festivals,” read a statement issued by Secret Solstice lawyers.

Relocation under discussion

Secret Solstice has a contract with the City of Reykjavík that should allow it to hold the festival in a large park in Laugardalur neighbourhood every summer until 2020. This location has proved controversial, as residents in the surrounding neighborhoods have complained about festivalgoers’ persistent drug use as well as organisers leaving the festival grounds strewn with garbage after the end of the event.

Organisers have pledged to address these complaints but may not be able to reconcile with the city so easily. In light of its outstanding debt, in fact, the City of Reykjavík has stated that permits will not be issued for the 2019 event unless ISK 11.6 million [$96,699; € 85,788] of its debt is paid by April 1, 2019.

As such, Secret Solstice seems to be considering other options for festival locations. RÚV reports that representatives for the festival met with the mayor of the Ölfus municipality in South Iceland on Wednesday about the possibility of hosting the event there. According to an announcement made the same day, negotiations are underway with Fákasel, a restaurant and horse park located about half an hour outside of Reykjavík, to possibly stage the event on their spacious property.

Ölfus mayor Elliði Vignisson noted that a festival of Secret Solstice’s size is perhaps better suited to being held in a less populous area. And while nothing has been decided for certain about the relocation, he’s open to the idea: “You should never say no until you’ve first said maybe.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Reykjavíkurdætur Blast Secret Solstice Business Practices


Feminist rap collective Reykjavíkurdætur has a bone to pick with Icelandic music festival Secret Solstice, Vísir reports.

According to a recent Twitter post, Secret Solstice still hasn’t paid the band for their performance at last year’s festival. They have now been offered a non-paying slot at next summer’s event, opening up for notorious Russian feminist punk activists Pussy Riot.

Víkingur Heiðar Arnórsson, the new manager of the festival has now responded. He says that while the festival has struggled financially, it has plans to pay the remaining artists they owe money in due time.

A new company, Live Events, has been founded to run Secret Solstice. The company is registered to Guðmundur Hreiðarsson Viborg, an economist who resides in the Canary Islands. Guðmundur initially explained to Vísir that paying old debts was the job of the old managers. But current manager Víkingur’s statements seem to contradict this, as his plans are to pay the artists owed before the sixth installment of the Secret Solstice festival, scheduled to be held next summer between June 21 and 23.

Víkingur admits to having offered Reykjavíkurdætur a non-paying slot but adds that opening up for Pussy Riot, one of the main attractions for this year’s festival, is worth a great deal in and of itself. In his view, Reykjavíkurdætur would be playing one of the most valuable slots, with peak attendance all but secured. According to Víkingur, this is his way of making up for last year, when Reykjavíkurdætur were unhappy with their slot.

He adds that he personally told the band that if they didn’t approve the deal he would be willing to meet with them again and find them a paying slot earlier in the day.

This article has been updated.

Robert Plant to Play Secret Solstice

Robert Plant

British rock singer Robert Plant, of Led Zeppelin fame, will headline the sixth Secret Solstice festival, set to take place in Reykjavík this summer. He joins a line-up previously announced, featuring Rita Ora and Martin Garrix.

Robert, who turned 70 years old last year, is best known as the singer of rock band Led Zeppelin but since the band’s dissolution in 1980, he has performed as a solo artist. He’ll be performing at the festival with his band, the Sensational Space Shifters, who also played with him on his 2017 album, Carry Fire.

The Secret Solstice festival will take place June 21-23 and the performers that have already been announced include Martin Garrix [NL], Rita Ora [UK], Morcheeba [UK], Foreign Beggars [UK], Pussy Riot [RU], Kerri Chandler [US], MK [US], Mr. G (LIVE) [UK], Jeremy Underground [FR], XXX Rottweiler [IS], Boy Pablo [NO], Smash TV [DE], Högni [IS], ALXJ [DE], Ari Árelíus, Auður [IS], Bensol [IS], Captain Syrup [IS], Chris Hirose [DE], Clint Stewart [US], ClubDub [IS], Dilivius Lenni [DE], Doctor Victor [IS], Exos [IS], Ingi Bauer [IS], Jóhann Stone [IS], KrBear [IS], Mike The Jacket [IS], Monello [DE], Nitin [CA], Oktav DJ [IS], Pink Street Boys [IS], Ragga Holm [IS], Ricoshëi [US], Rokky [IS], Séra Bjössi [IS], Sprite Zero Klan [IS], Vibes [IS], and Vom Feisten [DE].