You may find it uncouth, or perhaps even reprehensible, for the journalist of our paper to write a review of his own music…but frankly, I think it’s a good idea, but not for the reasons you might have guessed. Before I ultimately decided to go through with writing this Epic work, I wanted to hear what our editor, Benjamin, thought. Being someone seasoned in dealing with acclamation (not to kiss his ass), I figured, beyond our usual editorial protocol, that what he would say was worthwhile. He said:

“Sure, go for it, might take a look at the copy when it’s ready and give it a going over, but I don’t see why not.”

So I thought, why the hell not.

Though Futuregrapher, dj. flugvél og geimskip and myself received a fair amount of press coverage in the local Icelandic media, I think the story of how we all came together for our 19.9 show at Mengi should be told in full. Considering how I’ve covered both Árni and Steinunn, the two artists above mentioned respectively, I think detailing how it all came together would at least be informative into how these artists create. In fact, let’s go in reverse, just for the fun of it.

Let’s head back to the bow that we took in front of thirty one people, at the end of our evening. Fréttablaðið (The Free Paper) penned our show “Tónleikar fullir af ást (Musicians full of love)”. Of course þórdur, my friend, the man who wrote the article, gave it that title, and Steinunn gave some very kind words about the event. Normally, I think one would be able to say that favoritism had run amok, but on this occasion, it was actually true.

People who know me, or at least have access to a Facebook account, are well aware of the amount of Status updates I offer each day. In fact, if I were someone else, I’d find it quite annoying that someone was hogging up so much of my own personal Facebook wall space. However, lately, I have found it somewhat imperative to write such statuses, after all, I am an immigrant to Iceland.

Now, that itself isn’t really that interesting. In fact, it’s a bit dull to simply detail the story of yet another immigrant in a foreign land – a generic recant of the same old, boring fish-out-of-water story we’ve all heard a thousand times, but for me, it was the most stressful and taxing experience of my life. This last year has been utter hell for me.

For a litany of reasons, this year stressed me out beyond my capacity to function normally. It was the year I indebted myself massively, moved abroad, broke up with my partner, changed jobs, started school, left school, struggled to find work, struggled with substance abuse and generally was an asshole to a lot of people I know, all along forwarding one singular purpose – to be my own person in a place I wanted to be. That place, as it turns out, is Iceland.

To use the cliche, long story short, I am writing this piece from New Jersey, after having obtained my residency and future prospects in that country. For that, I couldn’t be happier. Frustrations about work and rent aside, I am generally in a good place now…but that is only a recent development.

With all of the excesses of the summer, festivals, drinking, partying,”casual dating”, arrogant tirades, slipping up on my medications and generally not-giving a fuck, I became something that I find no great pleasure in admitting – a sad, pathetic and crazed drunkard, and a mean one at that, to the point where I myself have been actually banned from places like Paloma Bar for my utter jackassery. In the wake of bullshit, I ended up quite miserable and alone, feeling like I had tarnished the one and only things that probably mean anything to people you meet in this world, trustworthiness and reputation. In my typical manner, I blathered about this state of affairs night after night on the web, droning on, raging, complaining, essentially calling out for help. Unless you’ve totally forgotten the title of this article, it shouldn’t come as a surprise where this is going: enter Árni and Steinunn.

Let it be said that without these two individuals the show probably wouldn’t have even happened. In a very dark moment, both Árni and Steinunn offered a tremendous amount of support to me in going through my issues. More than I can admit in this post. not to sound sanctimonious or excessively emotional, they essentially steered me towards something better; an avenue with which I could get out of my circumstances. That meant meetings, sobriety, and new priorities. It meant abandoning stupid ideas about myself and retaining the best aspects of my past, and for that I will be grateful. I want to be the person I wanted to be when I was fifteen, not the person that has become more cynical and hardened by twenty-seven.

Back to the show. At the end, after our business was settled, Steinunn posed for a picture outside of the venue before I went home.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUxbfYu1Zyc?hl=en"><img src="http://rokmusik.co/wp-content/plugins/images/play-tub.png" alt="Play" style="border:0px;" /></a>

My performance was what it was, that’s all you’ll get out of me, but I’ll point out thanks to Arnar Birgisson for beating those skins black and blue during songs like Cries Of Youth, Josefin (which I turned into a “hopeful” cover of Hjaltalín’s Suitcase Man), Process Of Industry and E-Esc, which had almost no technical or syncing flaws on his end and in fact really emboldened the songs, and Steinunn for assisting me with smoke and EQing my set before the performance – she really helped make me sound better. What I’ll say is that this performance of mine made me question whether or not I should still sing – I’ve always been really insecure about my voice, and have frequently wondered if a Lou Reed – Leonard Cohen sprechestimmed approach is wiser for my limited range and frankly unremarkable timbre. As well, it made me wonder if watching an overweight, balding man (me) dance with against a sophomoric light show and un-equed musical track is something an audience wants to willingly see. I haven’t got Kanye-like charisma, thankfully. I’d much rather take my cues from people like Árni and Steinunn. People left after Steinunn, which depressed me a bit, even before hearing m, but I guess we’ve all got things to do. At the same time, I was too busy annoying Arnar off by being out of sight; sorry about that, pal.

As for the latter. Steinunn’s show I actually witnessed from behind a locked door. If you can believe it, with my infinite wisdom, I actually managed to lock myself out of Mengi’s artist area backstage, in search of a bathroom. I suppose I have this idea of the musicians being out of sight until the performance begins – like maintaining the artifice of the event, keeping things sacred. Anyways, it would have been a lot easier to just go to the toilet in the audience area, but instead I went to Eymundsson, totally nervous to perform. When I returned, I found myself having to press my head against the glass sliding doors to hear. I can imagine that it was quite an amusing sight for Árni’s son to witness. Eventually, I managed to get ahold of Árni at the front area, placing his records in order on the stands, and he kindly let me back in. After a few words with my never-boring friend Tóti, I sat down and listened.

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<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZLKicnzPhQ?hl=en"><img src="http://rokmusik.co/wp-content/plugins/images/play-tub.png" alt="Play" style="border:0px;" /></a>

Steinunn’s set, from what I could tell outside on the patio, was consistent with what we love about her: fun, pleasant, uplifting and light-hearted. She really knows how to make the audience smile, and she does so without pandering to them; she simply is herself onstage, and people respond. It’s almost surreal how natural it seems. Normally, you might suggest that she might be pulling our legs, but in earnest, having known her for a few months now, it becomes clear that she truly isn’t – she really is who she says she is,unafraid of being who she is, and god knows we need more people like that in the world. Her light show was her own design – a colorful display of shapes wheeling about, piercing through her dazzling light show: spinning, laser green orbs, screened in smoke.

In between Steinunn and Árni’s set, I spent the time incredibly nervous, thinking about all of the things I had to realize before the night was over, consuming nearly all of Mengi’s generous and plentiful fruit, nut and soft drink supply. It was during this time that Steinunn had arrived with a sandwich and smoothie she had made a home for me, which, by the way, were both incredibly tasty. Árni’s child explored the backstage area, rocking his Spiderman outfit.

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<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Cs9wu4yqi8?hl=en"><img src="http://rokmusik.co/wp-content/plugins/images/play-tub.png" alt="Play" style="border:0px;" /></a>

Back further to Árni’s set. Behind his various electronic tools and Steinunn’s projections, he ran through his demanding Acid with new tracks such as ‘Ray`s Pizza’ and ‘Val Kilmer hefur snert mig’. Speaking of the former, if you heard Ray’s Pizza, you heard both me and Steinunn recount the happiest moments of our lives, which is particularly valuable to me at the moment, because I detailed an experience with my grandmother, who is terminally ill. It astonished me to know that he would be using the track on his upcoming record, Skynvera. His performances are refreshingly animated – he doesn’t just stand there by any means. You are a part of his work, and the legacy of Weirdcore RVK really does seem present in his show, and that is a very difficult thing to live up to, from what I understand, indeed. I can’t claim to know more about that time than what I’ve heard and seen written. I wasn’t here for it.

When people starting filing in, people who knew Árni and Steinunn filed in and greeted them as old friends. I have to admit, I felt a bit awkward, as I’m still getting myself situated in Reykjavík. That will come in time, or so I hope. Being an immigrant here is a full plate as it is, so anything beyond that is a genuine and welcomed bonus.

Prior to the show itself, I was scrambling to organize my quick trip back to New York, as I haven’t seen my family, including my grandmother, in over a year. Throughout that day, I made every effort I could to tie up loose ends. A few days earlier, Árni, Steinunn and I met over coffee at Árni’s place. Kría, Ingi and Frímann were there, too. We recorded the aforementioned track for him for Ray’s Pizza and conceptualized the performance. I had no idea how much Árni was into Kiss, Phil Collins and even, most surprisingly, Kenny Rogers. For the fun of it, let’s meditate on that fact for a moment:

Before we met up, we had a pretty lengthy Facebook conversation, which, at the time, included our friend, Hordur, “M-Band”, before I realized he was in Berlin, probably kicking ass and taking names. Before that conversation, the clear message that Árni and Steinunn read a message that basically said help, and answered it as true friends do.