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Sóley's guide to Reykjavik

Sóley's guide to Reykjavik

21 November 2012, 10:30

While the wind might be glowing a gale outside, the sun is firmly and resolutely shining over Reykjavik as we head along the shoreline to an old fishing restaurant to catch up with one of the city’s most sought after musicians, Sóley

Iceland Airwaves is in full swing at the time of our meeting, and Sóley has already been touted as one of the highlights of the festival following a breathtaking performance at Iðnó the night before. Finding time in a packed schedule featuring twelve performances for Sóley over the next few days, we catch up with the Reykjavik native to find out more about her home town, and to hear her tips for making the most of what this special city has to offer.

A lot of people rave about Reykjavik – as a native, what is it about the town that you think makes it so special?

Maybe they fall in love with it because they’re told to fall in love with it… I don’t know… I had an American friend who came here for a visit and the first night he got really homesick, because it’s not very American here. And then it took him a few days… Usually, people are like ‘wow! I came here tonight and I love it!’ but he was the first one who thought it was a bit weird, that there was no Starbucks here! And then a few days later, he was like ‘I love it here, I want to have a home here!’ So I think in the end, people always enjoy it when they get into it. Because Reykjavik is quite small, the centre is small and just staying here is nice, you see the same people… and living here is nice, I really enjoy it. But it’s not the best city to try and close yourself off and try to work on something, it’s not a good city to get lost. Because you always meet people, there’s always something going on, so it’s really hard to be on your own. And everyone’s individual here, so it’s really hard to step out from the party!

Would you say Reykjavik is a good town in which to be a creator?

As I said, it’s small, the music scene is small but there are still so many bands and artists and musicians from Iceland, but it’s mainly the same people playing in three different bands or something. Also, when you know everyone making music… I’m just trying to think back to before I started making music, and when I was a teenager, I attended every Icelandic concert and was teally in love with Icelandic music. There was a lot going on and has been since I started listening to music. And then you go home and think ‘well, I love all this music and I love this and this and this’ and so for five years or something, I only listened to Icelandic music. Then I went home and I started making music like, you know the band Múm? It sounded really like them because I was really interested in the music they were making. So it just starts, and then you get to know people – i’m in a band called Seabear, and they’re all a bit older than I am, but when I joined that band, I got into that scene. It’s small, but you know everyone and you can think ‘oh, I need a bass player to play on my album’ and you know the guy to call. It’s a lot about favours to each other.

Which Reykjavik based bands should we be listening to?

I would say… ok, let me do some name dropping…

Skuli Sverrisson. He’s a bass player, he’s my favourite Icelandic musician. Then there’s a band called Tilbury and Borko who just released an album. Heavy Experience – one of my band members is in that band… And I’m going to see Dirty Projectors at Airwaves! Sin Fang, the other band that I play in are playing at the same venue, so we’re just going to stick there.

If someone was visiting the town for just a few days, where would be the three places you made sure to take them?

I’d go a swimming pool, definitely. I love swimming pools. I used to have a favourite one when me and my boyfriend lived in the west end of town, a bit of a posh and expensive area. And there’s a swimming pool there called Vesturbæjarlaugin, but now we’ve moved to the other side, the east side, and I have a swimming pool called Sundhöllin about two minutes away from me. It’s the oldest one in Iceland and there’s a pool inside, but there are hot pools outside and it’s amazing, it;s so old. And the women’s locker room is like a labyrinth, it’s really funny.

Then I’d probably take them for a ride. It’s nice to see the city and also the countryside. You don’t need to go far to see something really nice.

Where should music fans be heading?

There are a lot of gig venues and Harpa is really nice, it’s quite amazing. But unfortunately they’re closing down a lot of venues here in Iceland. They’re closing down a really big venue called NASA which is about 800 capacity, but also Fríkirkjan, it’s a church near the pond which is a really nice venue also. Ot Iðnó is a really nice house, a nice venue. Although they don’t have a sound system, so if you want to do a show there, you have to rent one. I don’t understand why they don’t have one because a lot of bands have their shows there all the time.

And finally, what’s coming up next for you?

I have a tour coming up in November, a two week tour opening up for Of Monsters and Men, which is going to be interesting. Then after that, i’m going to come home and make a new album. That’s my plan. I have some things in here , some things down here , I just have to sit down and think.

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