It is time to introduce another lady in my ever growing transglobal seria “I love Icelandic music because…”. Besides a big Ministry fan, she’s very fond of Icelandic music since the late 80s.

Hello Jen, please introduce yourself. 

Hello Wim, my name is Jen, and I am an American music lover. I have worked in a few record stores and collected CDs for many years.

Sugarcubes Icelandic Music wallWe know each other for 10 years now. We never met IRL. I forgot how our ‘Belgian-American connection’ started….

I was looking for MySpace friends back in 2006 that had similar tastes in music. And I stumbled upon Wim Van Hooste. His personal page was all about The Sugarcubes. His catchphrase said “The Sugarcubes are the greatest band that ever was.”

On his profile player was “Give me gold” by the Icelandic band Hellvar. Which to me was reminiscent of The Sugarcubes’ song “Gold”.

What was your first contact with Icelandic music…

My first introduction to Icelandic music was when I was watching Saturday Night Live, one night. Hosted by Matthew Broderick, promoting his new film, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and a weird post punk alternative band called the Sugarcubes performed live in the show. I have their recordings on mp3 today and realized why I liked it so much. Both Björk and Einar Örn, sang in an echo effect. The most I remember about the performance was Bjork’s teased hair, decorated with a giant barrette on the side. This was my first taste of Icelandic music in 1988.

Besides the Sugarcubes what other Icelandic music did get a place in your growing collection.

A now closed indie record store in Buffalo, New York, who sold Sugarcubes CDs had a sign in their section, that said ‘see also Unun’. So I bought “Super Shiny Dreams”, and loved that. On the back of the CD was an e-mail address of which I sent a message back in around 1997. My first e-mail ever was from Dr. Gunni, Unun’s bassist, who would later become a pivotal person in my Icelandic collection.

Smekkleysa post Dr Gunni‘You’ve got mail’ (2003) : Rokk í Reykjavík DVD

He would later trade me 12 Sugarcubes bootlegs straight from Þór’s cassettes in exchange for some root beer and cream soda. I did get to meet Heiða and her husband Elvar in my hometown while they were traveling from Hudson, New York to Toronto.

Jen Hellvar t-shirtYou never visited Iceland, do you have future plans?

It is still on my bucket list to get a passport and photograph the glaciers of Iceland. I would love to visit the Bad Taste record store to see if I can still view anything left from the ‘Lobster or Fame’ presentation from years ago.

Sykurmolarnir 2006 poster 2I know you collected a lot of material by The Sugarcubes. Do you have any favourite stuff in your collection?

I do have a collection of Sugarcubes and Björk rareties. Working at a record store allowed me to special order multiple CD singles that were not regularly kept in stock in stores. Not to mention Björk releases a lot of singles, so from 1993 to 2007, up until “Volta”, I just bought everything. It’s definitely hard to pick a favorite item. But it’s probably my two versions of “Life’s too good” on vinyl and matching posters, from the 20th reunion gig, designed by Me Company. Sykumolarnir 2006 poster 1I really enjoy the memories I have from Björk’s “Vespertine” tour. It was well documented the way I remember, on the ‘Royal Opera House’ DVD, and I actually have a bootleg CD of the show. I was front row in the Opera House in Toronto. This is mostly because, I love what Matmos did for her. They sound so awesome live.

I noticed you are putting the focus on an American band lately.

I have never supported local music, until a year and a half ago. I went to see an 80’s tribute band called, Nerds Gone Wild. They focus on new wave hits of the 80’s including A Flock of Seagulls, Duran Duran and Depeche Mode. They are a group of 5 people of extensive musical backgrounds and many years of experience. They play live every weekend and sometimes 2 to 3 times a weekend, all over Western New York. As far as Rochester, NY to Erie Pennsylvania.

Takk takk Jen!

Jen Ghostigital 2008Jen with Curver and Einar Örn of Ghostigital (2008)

- Wim Van Hooste