Category Archives: Svanlaug Árnadóttir

‘Smukfest’: Did the Danes find a way to have it all in one festival?

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Have the free-spirited Danes done it? To hold a festival where children run around collecting bottles with a smile during the daytime, and a Danish a rapper lights up a joint on stage without no one doing so much as raising an eyebrow – despite it being illegal in Denmark. And by night the festival is taken over by techno music, luring the crowd into mosh pit madness.

Pandeia presents to you Skanderborg Festival, or Smukefest, held in the middle of Skanderborg’s most beautiful woods; a festival where people can charge their phones, forget them overnight, and still find them laying there the morning after.

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Smukfest is Denmark’s next biggest festival, run completely non-profit by 12,633 volunteers who all work for “fighting against loneliness”, as they state on their website

55 % of the guests are locals from Jylland, but despite being mainly for Danes, Pandeia took a look at this unique event that is undoubtedly the most beautiful festival in Denmark – living up to its name.

Being very well-organized with limited ticket sale, the biggest perk of Smukfest is that you don’t end up spending all your time queuing.

The scenes are arranged in the midst of trees with lights hanging in between, creating a cozy and relaxed atmosphere. ‘Hygge’ is a Danish word that translates very badly to English – the best attempt is to translate it to ‘cozy’ and Skanderborg festival is the definition of cozy.

Despite all the coziness, there are plenty of attractive and exchiting concerts to attend. A vast number of musicians play every year well known names as 50 Cent, Bastille, Skrillex, and Go Go Berlin filled the scenes of Smukfest.

Some guests don’t book their tickets just for the music, but rather for the purpose of enjoying the atmosphere and having a great time with other guests. Plenty of guests come year after year, and even whole families attend together.

banner?Politeness and comfort dominated the ambiance; I was never pushed aside by the crowd, kid you not. Only that one time I thought it would be a good idea to stand upfront for Skrillex performance, an electronic dance DJ, in the middle of a mosh pit, that I was pushed back and forth. Needless to say it was a bad idea; I am not even 160 cm tall. The sweat and jumping didn’t seem to bother the teenagers who enjoyed it to the fullest, well along with my grown up friend who dived in too.

If the mosh pit wasn’t for you,during the daytime you could listen to more relaxed music from various Nordic countries, some of Denmark’s biggest rappers and pop bands, as well as some international ones too.

Nevertheless, Smukfest was not perfect. 50 cent, the biggest name performing at the festival, was a complete disappointment for many of the guests. “He just wasn’t good” was a common reply when asked about his concerts.

He entered the big stage with a golden chain and cab, looking ready to entertain, but ended up disappointing the crowd with a dull and powerless performance.

20140806_201647It seemed for a while like the concerts would turn out alright when he sang the lyrics “I am a V.I.P.,” sprayed water over the audience, and the performance slowly picked up the pace. When he finally sang “Candy Shop”, the crowd leaped in excitement.

It did the trick and worked up the crowd for a while.

The end was a mystery to all, as 50 Cent left the stage his band kept on playing well-known songs from different bands, like “We will rock you” with Queen, and as the crowd was left to party on its own (which was not a problem to it), it was left to wonder if 50 Cent had gone to bed.

Considering a bad choice of one artist, or perhaps just a bad night for 50 Cent, was the only downside of the festival that offered this variety of music, you should not miss out on this festival if you plan to visit Denmark in 2015.

Do we recommend this for non-Danes? Yes for sure, but be prepared to listen to a lot of Danish music – don’t worry you will be glanced away by the magic of the festival, kindness of people and well, let’s face it, the amount of consumed beer; the Danes know how to drink their beer – and become very friendly when with a drink in hand.

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If you have an unfulfilled craving to experience a Danish festival – that has it all – without exhausting yourself with queues or impoliteness, Smukfest is the one to go to. Families, young people, children, teenagers, too drunk and yet friendly people – it has it all. The Danes certainly managed to host a festival that has it all.

Take look here at the website for music for next year.

 

 

How one of Iceland’s most prominent singers went from singing alone to singing worldwide in only a couple of weeks

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Pandeia got a moment of Ásgeir’s Trausti busy schedule after he finished playing at Skanderborg Festival (Smukfest) in Denmark, and right before he flew off to his home in Iceland.

Despite Ásgeir Trausti’s young age of 21 and his relatively short career, he is one of Iceland’s biggest stars at the moment and is a long way into his international career. This summer he made a quick stop at Skanderborg’s lively music festival located in Denmark to play his music.

What is unusual about this young singer is that his father writes some of his lyrics and he did not really sing in public before he became famous.

His sudden and unexpected popularity came about when Ásgeir met a record producer in Iceland and for fun they decided to record a few of his songs. Ásgeir said: “One day I simply met Kiddi, our soundman, and gave him some songs I had recorded and we started playing around with the recording. And a few weeks later we sent a couple of them to the radio, and that is how the ball started rolling”.

“It just exploded in 2012 and I decided to dedicate myself to it for some time.”

Ásgeir never planned to play to more than for himself. “I never really planned to play music in front of other people or become a musician at all, I only wrote for myself. I have been playing since I was 6-year old but I never thought I would take my music further, publish it or play it in front of other people.”

Before Ásgeir knew it, he was well-known in Iceland, held an international record deal in his hand and was starting to prepare himself to leave Iceland to tour around the world. He describes his doubts and feelings on how he was not (in any way) ready for this journey:

“I had never actually sung in front of people before, and therefore I had absolutely no experience. So I jumped into the deep end with this without being ready for it at all. I knew it would be very difficult for the first few months, the first years – it still is difficult.”

Today his band has become well-known in the Nordic countries, Europe, Japan and Australia, and is making a break into the American market. “It is at the starting stage in the U.S.,” said Ásgeir modestly, despite having had two successful tours and a newly published record there.

He emphasises this is still all very new to him, “it takes time to learn and get into the whole thing and it is still all very new to me: even though we have now played more than 300 concerts I am still getting used to the whole idea.”

Ásgeir mentions that he is very self-critical on his performance on stage and he has a hard time feeling satisfied with his performance; he describes feeling nervous before entering stage every time. “I used to think that having a glass of red wine before going on stage would fix my nerves, but somehow it did not do the trick so now I result in having a cup of tea before going on stage with my buddies and having a chat with them.”

Despite Ásgeir’s stage fright his focus is still on his music and the crowds experience for every concert. It is important to stay focused he said: “it is important for you to find your place before going to stage, it is a mindset you need to get into.”

He smiled and added: “I have seen such progress since we first started: it is all going better now, I knew it would happen at some point.”

Previously their music was only written in Icelandic, but the band started translating their lyrics into English 2 years ago. “The main reason was that I was going abroad and wanted to reach to as many people as possible. It made more sense that it would be on a language that everybody understood,” said Ásgeir.

His band was not at all sure of how the feedback for translating into English would be at the start:

“There are a lot of people who like the songs in Icelandic. I was not sure myself when we started. I honestly had no idea how this worked: if it mattered if we sang in Icelandic or English at all. So we had to take a chance with this and simply try it in English”.

“But it has definitely been beneficial to do so, there are certain countries who only know our music today in English.” he adds.

Most of the Nordic countries still play his music in Icelandic, apparently making Trausti a little happy as he smiled and added “I think it is great that they play it in Icelandic.”

“It felt very weird for the first weeks to sing my songs in English, but today I’m used to it,” Ásgeir describes.

Recently Ásgeir started writing his songs in English, saying he is tired of translating. It should not concern the audience who prefer the Icelandic lyrics as he has not stopped writing in his own language.

Regarding making new music there is not a set plan to make it  at the moment said Ásgeir. “It is rather hard to write music while we are touring, the only free time we have  is spent sitting in a bus, so whenever I get home I try to have time to go to the studio and record some new music.”

About the start in Iceland, Ásgeir mentions the band had to go through a bit of transition cutting down members before touring abroad: “we had a whole brass band on stage with us along with seven band members. In Iceland it is not expensive to tour in so we could do whatever we wanted there.”

They changed the band’s structure without having any problems in only a couple of weeks before leaving, almost everybody in the band are guitar players who can play almost any other instrument, which made it easier.

Obviously the band has become very close touring together: “it is like family, it is an annoyingly tight group we have here,” said Trausti. With all his focus placed on the music he says that it only makes their music better to spend so much time together.

Despite Ásgeir’s short time in the spotlight, he has caught well-deserved attention worldwide.  Still, with his feet on the ground, modesty and determination to get even further,  it will certainly be exciting to follow up on him work in the future.

With  all the variety of music Skanderborg festival has to offer, Trausti certainly fit in  the goal of making it “Smukfestival” – the prettiest festival in Denmark.

Written by Svanlaug Árnadóttir

Just another volcano eruption: watch online

 

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Bruce McAdam

It may have caught your attention that a volcano has erupted, yet again in Iceland. That island can’t seem to stay out of trouble. The name of the troublemaker this time isn’t any easier to pronounce than last time,  the volcanos name is ‘Bárðarbunga’, good long pronouncing that!

At this moment it the effects of it do not seem to be disturbed flight traffic, but the final effects are still unknown. The eruption is believed to go on for another week, or up to a month.

Icelanders are staying calm and even put up a camera for the their residents to watch the volcano erupt live. You can take a look at it here.

You can follow up on newest videos and photos from the University of Iceland’s Institute of Earth Sciences Facebook page.

Your holiday almost got cancelled yesterday. It still might.

Jón Ragnarsson’s photo. Fimmvörðuháls eruption in Iceland in 2010.

THE ERUPTION OF Iceland’s volcano Eyjafjallajökull (the one world didn’t seem to be able to pronounce) in 2010 stopped half of Europe’s flight traffic. Iceland’s president Ólafur Ragnar Grímson later warned Europe about Katla, one of Iceland’s most powerful volcanoes, with these words: “The time for Katla to erupt is coming close“.

Well he might be right on that. Yesterday, Katla – which is in fact one of the world’s most powerful volcanoes and known locally as being the most dangerous volcano in Iceland – let its residents know it was still there.

A sudden glacial flooding in the Múlakvísl and Jökulsá rivers originating from Katla occurred yesterday. Sulphur pollution that rises from the glacial flood can be dangerous – if exposed to people it can cause them to lose consciousness.

The government declared an “uncertainty level” for the Katla volcano and people were advised to stay away and ‘keep their cellphone very close’.

Glacial floods like this can be caused by various factors, such as eruptions, rising lava, steam vents or newly opened hot springs. All of these can cause glacial ice to quickly melt, accumulate under the glacier and then release – in this case, the effects seemed only to be flooding.

Fortunately, there are currently no signs of an impending eruption at Katla.

However, Katla has been showing signs of unrest since 1999. Geologists predict it will erupt in the near future. It is being closely monitored. An eruption could have ramifications for both the locals and the wider international community.

There’s no smoke on the horizon yet, but there might well be soon. Watch this space, and the skies, for signs of Katla’s might.

Words: Svanlaug Arnadottir

Let’s play Pogs again

 

James Burke

Sitting on the ground of your school yard, feeling disappointed, after having lost your favourite Pogs card to your friend – oh the frustration, do you remember? Those good old days when we played pogs in our school breaks instead of staring at our I-pad!

Yeah, once upon a time Pogs ruled the world..

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mira

If your memory still hasn’t caught up, Pogs is the popular game most of us remember from the 1990s. The name originated from the juice brand POG, juice made from passionfruit, orange and guava, where the bottle caps could be used to play the game. It is still not known if the game originates from Hawaii in the 1920s or 1930s or from earlier time; possibly the 17th century, from a Japanese card game called Menko

Pogs did become a big distraction for many children in classes and caused many arguments on the playing field. The game ended up being banned in many schools, because children kept the pogs they won from each other and schools condemned it as a form of gambling. It was banned in numerous schools across North America and in European countries as Sweden, Iceland, Germany and the UK.

So go on, dig up your pogs from your basement, attic or back shelf – wherever you hide your pogs trophies (we know you didn’t throw them out!), and introduce it to your nephews and nieces and see what they think of it, maybe it is time for a comeback!

 

 

 

Northside: Can we do it again?

 

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After an hour long lead-up, the excitement in the crowd had reached its zenith and Robyn came on stage in her cosmic outfit wearing outer-space inspired leggings: a blue shirt with a red bib over – looking a little like Superman.

Robyn started the show with the song “Be mine” and Northside Festival guests in Aarhus in Denmark seemed very pleased with the selection of the song.

Newest single with Röyksopp

Robyn and Röyksopp just released a short-album together called Do it Again last May and started a tour through Europe and North America, beginning at Sonar Festival in Spain. Robyn and Röyksopp have collaborated before on their tracks “The girl and the Robot” in 2009 and the song “None of Dem” in 2010 and now continue their successful collaboration.

 

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You and Me Together, Stars Forever

Under the clear sky in Aarhus,Robyn sang the song “Stars 4-ever”, the concerts were a mix of Robyn’s old and new songs. When Robyn ended her song “Dancing On My Own” she turned her back to the crowd, hugged herself dancing ‘alone’ and let the crowd carry the song out – nobody in Northside Festival seemed to dance alone through the night.

Robyn greeted the audience in Danish, “Hvad så?” (How are you?) and continued, “People of Århus, how are you holding up? Are you warming up?” The crowd immediately replied ‘yes’ as it had waited through an hour-long warm up beforehand and Robyn didn’t waste any more time talking and started singing “Call your Girlfriend”.

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Disco Heads on Stage

After finishing “With Every Heartbeat”, Robyn ran off the stage as it was prepared for the income of Röyksopp, the Norwegian electronic music duo from Tromsø.

Röyksopp made their entrance on stage with all members of the band wearing a disco ball on their heads. It was a full face-covering disco ball hat that they kept on the whole performance. The DJ, standing in the middle of the stage, wore a gigantic space helmet.

The new single “Say It” began and Robyn entered in a big balloon like jacket, that was blown up on her back and she had on her trademark buffalo shoes. She started the song laying on the floor replying to Röyksopp´s “I want you” refrain with the response “I want you”, and bounced on her back on the floor dancing in an almost trance state that ended in somewhat a turtle-like dance.

It was like a spaceship had landed on the stage in Aarhus.

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Do it Again

The performance was artistic and full of raw energy. Robyn’s dance was untamed. “She is so fucking dirty” said one of the male audience members, as she danced solo on stage.

At the end of the song “I’m in love with a Robot” she laid down over a keyboard as part of her performance as an act of the performance to seem exhausted and when the song was about to fade out, suddenly a staff member poked her and took the tiny keyboard out. It wasn’t quite clear if it was planned or not.

After almost two hours of dancing and marching on stage the performance came to an end with the song “Do it Again”. When the song seemed to have ended, the music turned up again and the worlds ‘DO IT AGAIN’ boomed into the park and the two bands played on for a while longer.

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An entertaining and mind-blowing performance that Robyn and Röyksopp put up for the guests of Northside, that obviously had been the result of a lot of effort. A truly artistic show that was more than worth watching!

Northside is a festival held in Aarhus, Denmark that has grown quickly in the last five years, with over 25 000 guests in attendance last year. It was first held in 2010 as a one-day festival with only a Danish line-up. It has grown every year and now features big names like Arcade Fire, Franz Ferdinand, Bombay Bicycle Club and The National. You can find more information at their website.

 

Svanlaug Árnadóttir 

SPOT Festival 2014: very good, but very Danish

General Mood 11 - SPOT

THIS WEEKEND, SPOT festival was held in Århus: bringing music, film and an interactive festival to the usually sleepy Danish city. With an open mind, Pandeia Culture headed to the festival with the aim of exploring it’s desirability to a larger European audience.

The bands playing were predominantly Nordic: something we had worried would put us off, at the risk of it’s being niche. However, we were surprised to find a fantastic mix of performers and music types; from heavy Danish rock to electro/hip hop collaboration efforts.

Despite some cultural differences (namely the lack of dancing), the relatively small scope of the festival and a certain tendency to talk at seminars and speeches in Danish – despite its promotion and boasts of a European air – the music, atmosphere and overall experiences  were amazing.

Kidnap on opening night 

At the opening night Reptile Youth, a post-pop-electronic band known for its wild live shows performed  with a show to remember.  Full of energy and raw power, the band made a legitimate attempt to get the Danes to dance their shines away.

Lead singer Mads Kristiansen kick-started the night by jumping off stage and crowd surfing in the middle of the act: his unfailing enthusiasm bringing  the crowd slowly to life. The performance ended when Kristiansen jumped down to the audience after a long powerful dance on stage, grabbed a girl and ran carrying her out and through the doors to the backstage as his a final act. The doors were shut, the band left the stage and the performance was over. Or was it? What an ending!

Artists Show 9 - Reptile Youth 7-2

Reptile Youth

Artists Show 3 - Reptile Youth 2

Reptile Youth

Artists Show 6 - Reptile Youth 5

Reptile Youth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hip Hop: a tale of  two continents 

KIDD

KIDD

The festival offered all the best of Danish music, all from the hip-hop-pop singer Kill J that took the crowd away with chilled tunes

to the rap star KIDD, that made every teenage girl in the audience scream. Despite not being exactly to the Pandeia team’s taste (…Danish…Rap) we had to hand it to KIDD: he did work the crowd into a frenzy.  A rarity, KIDD had the crowd was dancing and jumping – when KIDD went on his knees to add some drama to his performance (as it wasn’t dramatic enough already) it seemed like every teenager in the room wished to be him.

 

The following day, US Hip Hop Artist NOTE the rydah performed in a collaboration with Danish electro artist Simon of “When Saints go Machine” in an act entitled ‘League of Extraordinary Gentleman”. The performance included a small video showing behind the scenes clips of their work together, followed by the finished article being performed on stage. The two made an intriguing team, and the show was enjoyable through it’s expression of two music types and national cultures working together on one stage.

 Danish Music: A Study 

Panamah, a Danish pop electronic group filled the music hall with a light show and a remarkable performance that left the audience moved. The room was completely dark and the light show made sitting on chairs feel like an experience, it was an adventure that the audience was taken on.

Aarhus Jazz Orchestra

Aarhus Jazz Orchestra

Denmark’s own Will Smith or ‘Vild $mith’ played in a tiny crowded room singing one of Denmark’s biggest hit ‘Crazy today, sick tomorrow’ (Vild I dag, syg I morgen) – it seemed the band took their words of wisdom seriously as they were seen the day after with what seemed to be a good hangover.

A refreshing change was found in the Aarhus Jazz Orchestra’s performance with Emil de Waal and Spejderrobot of the music of Kraftwerk. Drawing  in a large – if slightly older- crowd, the music was light, entertaining and professionally performed. In this performance, perhaps more-so than some of the younger bands, there was a real feeling of quality and structure about the show.

 

‘Watch out, Europe…..’ : Pandeia Recommends 

All female rock band Nelson Can provided a completely eye opening experience for all those attending. The girls had a confidence and beautifully brazen ‘f*ck you’ attitude to each song, almost oblivious to the packed out room in front of them as they performed a set of songs guaranteed to be the perfect tonic to anyone going through the more bitter stages of a breakup. Their set was professional, the standard of their live performance was astonishing, and the group were one of the few we could see ourselves following loyally in the future. Their magnetism truly draws in a fan base set to stay.

Danjal

Danjal

Slightly left of field, but completely enjoyable, was a performance by ‘Danjal’ – a Faroese performer who had gathered a rag tag bunch of musicians to play a unique and enthralling mix of folk, tango and Balkan music (if it can be categorised at all). The uniqueness of their sound really brought something to the festival:  a welcome break to the – at times – monotonous continuation of all male, all Danish, rock bands.

Heimatt

Heimatt

Pandeia found a star performance in Heimatt, a folk-style band of 5, performing with such vigor and talent it would put more popular bands in that genre  (we’re speaking to you, Mumford and Sons) to shame. The group’s enthusiasm for the songs they played during the set was obvious, infectious and – if we’re honest – more than a little heart warming. The music had us wishing we could go home and listen again, just so we could jump around madly to the tracks more freely than the friendly but not nearly manic enough audience of their show would allow. We hope, with sincerity, this band finds all the fame and recognition they deserve in the future.

 

A Great Festival: But for Everyone? 

This festival was not a disappointment, but equally not as ‘European’ as it claims. Pandeia gladly recommends it to Danish residents:  if you want a small scaled music festival offering a little bit more  – documentaries and talks along the side –  this is the right festival to go to. The small size makes it easy to get around so there is no stress to make it between concerts. However, given the small scope of the event and the tendency – despite its claims – to orientate itself to a Danish audience, it is only the bands (rather than SPOT festival itself) we can recommend wholeheartedly to anyone looking to travel.

It was a chilled music festival: SPOT managed to do it right. Well organized, plenty of food, volunteers, happy smiles and, most importantly, Nordic high quality music. Feeling completely exhausted after the festival – Pandeia is content.

Goodnight, SPOT - we're exhausted

Goodnight, SPOT – we’re exhausted

 

Words: Rachel Barr and Svanlaug Arnadottir
Pictures: Martin Nauton