Dazed embark on an epic journey to the riotous party hitting the northern-most capital in the world
Spread over five days of eclectic line-ups from international acts like Hercules & Love Affair, Hurts, Rolo Tomassi, Robyn to Icelandic bands and London's own Mount Kimbie and James Blake, the annual Iceland Airwaves Festival sees the crowds from isolated Reykjavik come out to play for the all-week festival. Taking over the actually not-so-icy city's best venues, from the 600 capacity venue NASA to the smaller bars like Apotekid, the festival that stretches as far as parties in the Blue Lagoon, a natural hot spring resort 13km outside of the city with jacking parties, whilst back in the centre we saw DJ sets from Alex Metric and Moderat. We catch up with a couple of our favourite acts out on the trip to find out how they fared over the last few days...
Dazed Digital: What are you working on at the moment? How is your label going?
Mondkopf: My next album is almost ready for mastering, and in January I'm going to prepare a new live show fitting its mood for the opening of La Gaité Lyrique in Paris, with an emphasis on visual work. Asphalt Duchess which has been my label for the past two years is going through some changes...
DD: How was your gig at Iceland Airwaves? Was the crowd like what you'd expected?
Mondkopf: It was great, the audience was warm and diverse which is important to me! Some people came to thank me at the end so it must have been enjoyable... And I hadn't the slightest technical problem whereas every band I watched during the festival had some. I wouldn't have missed this for anything in the world. I enjoyed it pretty much. Now I want to come again and DJ there!
DD: What's next on your itinerary?
Mondkopf: Congo! For a special partnership project initiated by the French festival Les Siestes Electroniques and Fool House. Then Amsterdam, Athenes, and Rex Club in Paris.
Dazed Digital: How did your gig go at Iceland Airwaves? What were the main vibes of the festival?
Esoteric Gender: It was great to be a part of Airwaves, it's the time when venues make an extra effort on sound and lighting, which gives us even more energy on stage, makes it easier to connect with the audience and create an atmosphere.
DD: Do you go every year as a Reykjavik native? What is it's impact on the town?
Esoteric Gender: Well, all four members of our band are actually from different countries: the UK, France, Quebec and Denmark. But we've all been living here for quite a few years. Now, to answer your question, this was actually our very first Airwaves. But even when you don't go to the official festival, you can really feel the town going crazy. Every other shop in Reykjavik turns into an off venue, you cannot take a step without stumbling onto a - usually really good - concert. It's quite unique considering Reykjavik is such a small town.
DD: How would you describe your music to anyone who doesn't know?
Esoteric Gender: We recently found a term that fitted quite well our music: trip-rock. Basically, it's a mix of "epic" electronic music and rock, but we're always trying to keep it very melodious as well as energetic.
DD: What is the story behind your band name?
Esoteric Gender: We are all students, and it came naturally when we realized that all of our study fields were somehow connected to gender issues. It also fitted quite well the lyrics of the songs, often political and feminist. It's a fascinating subject. And by "esoteric", we meant that the concept of gender isn't always as well-defined as one might think. We like the mystery behind that name. It doesn't mean we deny any gender differences, but neither does it mean we agree with what roles society and culture assign to men and women.