Interview about the OE2Iceland Project and ‘Berliner’ Orange ‘Ear Concerts
They are a couple based in Berlin with a strong passion for gorgeous music. Since five years they are running the Orange ‘Ear Concerts: small, independent concerts which take place in their living room in a former shop.
Jo (46) is an educated artist and geologist. Nowadays she is working in publishing production and typesetting.
After his studies at the art school, Frank (51) has worked a long time as a video engineer at several TV stations, until he became a freelance cameraman and videographer.
At the Orange ‘Ear concerts we pool our experiences of our professions and passions to produce very intimate live videos. Frank is handling the 5-6 cameras, editing the videos and mixing the sound. Jo is responsible for the multitrack sound recordings and curates the concerts. She is always on the hunt for outstanding musicians, not fixed on genres but on noteworthy, inimitable music. Orange ‘Ear is proudly non-profit and makes its live videos available to the artists for free.
When was your first visit to Iceland and what was the occasion?
We visit Iceland the first time in 2003 as unsuspecting tourists for a camping and hiking tour. We were immediately caught by its nature, the quality of northern light, the mentality, and the people’s individuality. Since then we satisfied the yearning to this wonderful place, as often we can afford a journey. During these trips we travel with our trustworthy bit of camping gear around the ring road, make daily hiking tours where ever we want to stop, not only fixed on special sightseeing spots. Staying in nature, experience the wide landscape, feel the own smallness, inspires us most of all.
Already found a favourite spot on the island in the North Atlantic?
So, we have collected a lot of favourite spots of Iceland in our hearts: Lón, Fjallahöfn, Klofningsheiði, Berufjarðará. But, strange enough, the spot that is mostly connected with this ohhhh-Iceland-feeling for us, is the Isbuðin in Hagamelur/Reykjavík.
But, as more as we stay there, as more we got curious on the way of Icelandic living and culture. Especially during our stay in 2010, when we were producing ‘Goða Ferð’, a DVD about travelling on the ring road by bus, we got a first hint of what is possible in this small, very creative, and individual society.
Also during this journey our first live music shooting in Iceland spontaneously came true: We asked one day at the gas station in the town of Flateyri in the West Fjords about the legendary Tankurinn studios. After a number of rapid phone calls, a detour through a bar, and a closing concert at the local music school, the recording engineer took us on a tour of his studio, which is built in an old round concrete tank of a former whaling station. The following evening he had organized an impromptu recording session with three bands for us.
This experience triggered slowly the idea of OE2Iceland, but it took some more years we got it done.
Why are you so attracted to Iceland and its music? What makes Icelandic music so special for you?
We are attracted by individual, in some kind weird and outstanding music, which deeply touch us. We are looking for such a music in all kind of genres and all countries. It turns out, that our searching is very successful in Iceland. In the agile Icelandic music scene are a lot of virtuous, striking musicians, who produce very individual and diverse music. Here, we always can discover new sounds, can be astonished about newly formed bands and can be sure to hear fantastic songs.
Could you name some of your favourite artists, albums and/or songs? Or even a favourite video as well?
Our brand-new favourite is DJ flúgvel og geimskip. But also Kælan Mikla strongly impressed us. The longest known favourite is our dear friend Lay Low. And there are so many others like Antimony, Kira Kira, Grúska Babuska, Prince Póló, Hekla, …
As video we like to mention: Forgotten Lores’ “Sprettur”
In May 2015 you came to Iceland for your project ‘OE2Iceland’, Orange ‘Ear Concerts. Tell us about the idea behind the project. Please tell us about the crowdfunding and the practical organization…
The idea behind the project is simple: We just wanted to bring our two passions “music” and “Iceland” together. Therefor we planned to keep a bunch of video- and sound recording equipment with us on the three-days ferry cruise to Iceland in order to run a mobile recording set-up, which will be spontaneous and professional enough for all kinds of music capturing, open for any surprise. To have a little financial freedom, we started a crowd funding campaign to cover a part of the transportation costs. It turns out, that we had a lot of fun shooting the pitch video (the first time ourselves in front of the camera), a lot of work of set up and promotion, and a good time by observing the progress of the campaign. In the end the great support of the Orange ‘Ear friends and even from unknown people all over the world was overwhelming and an additional incentive.
Because the Icelandic way to get things done is very different from the German mentality, we forced us to leave our over-organized behaviour behind us and we reached Iceland only with a good packed car, a long list of musicians we would love to get in touch with, and open minds for any chance of collaboration on our way.
The first week of the journey we took a lot of refills in Reykjavík’s coffeehouses while we had many great appointments with several impressing musicians. Also, with the fantastic support of our Icelandic friends we end up with a lot of promising shooting plans. So, the productive part of the OE2Iceland Tour could start. The next three weeks we were almost shooting every day another band. It depended on the choice of the artists what kind of video was produced: live-at-stage, play back, improvised sessions or even composed music videos. We were so surprised that most of the musicians were so trustful that they bump up with their brand new, unpublished songs. Now we are so proud to show up with a couple of first releases. But the best experience was the intense and creative cooperation we had with all those people.
How was your stay at the ‘Saga Fest’ Festival in the South of Iceland?
In the end of our journey we did the main-stage recording at the first Saga Fest on the Stokkseyrarsel Farm. In the pioneering spirit of this ambitious festival we had the unique possibility to capture a lot of young local bands in a very special atmosphere. Lucky as we are, the marvelous sound guys of Ofur hljóð/ljós provide us the direct audio-out recordings from all tracks out of the main desk.
Back in Berlin, there is still plenty of post production to do, and we are looking forward to exciting releases over the next few month.
You also shot some videos of Icelandic musicians in your ‘living room’-set up studio at Berlin as well. Was there a (big) difference in working with Icelandic artists than with other musicians you had in your space before?
We observed one big difference, working with Icelandic musicians: with non-Icelanders we often make the plans for a concerts weeks in advance. In contrary, the Icelandic musicians just bump up as a surprise, work then very concentrate and straight, before they disappear again.
And the Icelanders told us another thing: they love it to play in Germany, because the audience is very quiet and attentive and has interest in buying the CDs as souvenir.
What are your future plans? Berlin-based and/or Icelandic plans?
The short term plan is to host Kælan Mikla on 14. August for an Orange ‘Ear concert.
The long term plan is: þetta reddast!
Everything will be alright
– Wim Van Hooste
More information about Orange ‘Ear can be found here: