Archives: November 2011

The indian in Me

Handmade graphical clothes, jewellery and the Indian in me. What´s it all about? On a Saturday morning we sat down with Inga Björk and got to know a little more. Inga graduated from University of Icelandic Arts as a fashion designer in 2008 and has been sewing and designing her own line ever since. She is an independent  designer who has also produced her own jewellery line under the same name. All the clothing in the line is hand- coloured and sewn, and is inspired by multiple spirituality of Indians and their detection of individuality and uniqueness of things.

What was the dream in the beginning, was it to be a fashion designer?

Well my grandmother used to sew everything on me when I was little. Also it was just me and my mom, and she didn’t have a lot of money. So that was also the reason that almost everything was homemade-sewed, that is, our clothes. My grandma used to teach me a little bit when I was younger, and the craft of making clothes was always very present.

As a matter of fact I refused to take sewing lessons when I was at junior high, but I came around later and started to enjoy to make handmade craft. In collage I decided I wanted to be an artist, but I took a design turn-around when I had to choose my major, from that time I was sold.

When did you get your first sewing machine?

I could always try out my grandmas sewing machine, she worked at Henson and at one point in time she owned a factory sewing-machine from them, which I thought was a fascinating thing. She also let me try leftovers to try the machines that she owned. Then I started to sew on my mothers machine, then I bought myself my own overlock- machine, but I got my first when I graduated collage.

I once got a panties pattern for kids from my grandmother, I have sometimes sewed panties for kids because I think it has a good history, because originally this pattern was for my own panties. So I have made some panties.

Well this isnt a market, right, to buy designers panties for kids?

No maybe not, but maybe if you could do it with something extra special.

Well but this area is very political anyways, right?

Well yes, you cant do anything under the sun when you are making underwear for children, that’s a thought.

What else do you burn for, what else is your passion?

Arts and drawing has always been my passion, and I try to keep myself in shape by sketching for my fashion design. That’s why I think its great to use graphics and drawings to print my own patterns on fabrics. I think it is very important, because we live in Iceland where we only have few shops, its not easy to buy fabrics and specially made prints from abroad, that’s why its great to have your own prints and fabrics, so you don’t have the same fabrics as everybody else.

It can be a problem, for example after the crises, people are interested in sewing their own clothes, they don’t hesitate to imitate others designs. It is a question of principles, I am a designer, and I would be very happy if I could make a living out of it one day, that is why I think its very difficult for me to be ok with somebody copying my designs in the future. It can be a plus also if people do something that is a little bit alike something else, to use for themselves, but it’s another story if they systematically produce something that is not their design, just to sell for a lower price or something, elsewhere.

Do you think that designers should have a stronger voice in these matters?

I think it’s a little difficult, because the title to be a fashion designer is not a protected working title, it’s a question about respecting others intellectual property, some people just don’t have the same ideas about this. It is also not possible to draw the line and say, you can only be a designer if you have the education, it’s a gray area, really.

But its great to see people being very experimental, I have been working since the crisis in a textile shop, and I saw many young women to try to sew something easy, they got the idea and made it happen so I am very excited about that. Icelanders are very practical, they are always thinking about the weather, they are always thinking about things that can last. And well, of course, about what is the newest trend. They are sometimes stuck with the crowds opinion, instead of taking their own decision.

Well it has been said that clothes represent who you are, but if you have a position, you are not wearing artistic things. How do you feel about that?

I think its kind of funny that people have to have a front, for example when you are in high positions, that they cant be like they want to be. Its funny that the image is definitive on your persona.

You started out sewing your own clothes and colour your fabrics in your place, how was that?

Well that was ok, because I have two rooms, I could jump into things. I thought of it as I could save money by having the work under the same roof I lived in, it would save me transport and time to begin with. Then you could maybe build up a tiny inventory stock.

“I really think I have some kind of ADHD”

The apartment, is on the top floor, in the attic so it has great light and the neighborhood attracted me, even though I got the place by accident. But I really think I have some kind of ADHD, because when I was working everything was all over the place, in every room, and I never finished things completely I had no structure. But now I have a working space elsewhere where I can structure my work better, and have things in their own place etc.

But can you make a living by being a designer?

I think that you have to have a side job to begin with, but maybe someday you could try to stock up your products, so that you can have things if people want to buy your designs, that is, you don’t have to then sit down and make the things people order.

That’s why I think that the work space I have outside the home now is a stepping stone for me to be a full- time designer, because I look at it as a full time work to be at my work space, then I come home and this division helps a lot.

Do you feel obligated to wear your own designs?

I design clothes that I want to wear myself. There are many designers that do not design for their own taste or even for their own gender, for example if you work for a large company. I usually mix it together, both my own and others peoples designs, because I take interest in many other designers.

What is your favorite piece of clothing?

I shopped a lot of vintage, I always look at old clothes, how they are made and what materials they are made of. But I´ve been buying a lot of accessories, for example by Icelandic designers, I can use it endlessly with almost all my wardrobe. If I had more money I would definitely buy more expensive things like clothing. I also think that it is very good for many designers to make accessories, because its easier to sell, and also for them to put their own  artistic vision out there.

Do people say that Icelandic designs are expensive?

Yes, its common that people complain that Icelandic designers clothes are expensive, but if you look at it, you could buy something’s for the same price in Kringlan – the shopping mall that is mass produced and not unique.

What is this thing with the intermediary commerce trade – straight from the designer to the buyer stuff that you are involved in?

Hmm, I think that the girls that founded this thing at first, thought of it as an introductive method, that is a way to give young designers to be seen and heard by hosting pop-up markets for them to sell their designs.

It is a very good thing, they are choosing people in that apply for participation, and they often choose designers that have not been in the limelight before. People think it’s a great thing, to come and chat with the designers. Well, and as for me as a designer, I can meet my clients and hear what they have to say about my things and that is fantastic. Its precious to be on the spot. Its also useful for the buyers and shop-owners to come, and see what is new in the field of design.

“But I´m an Icelandic designer, that I can assure you of”

Are they others in the pop-up markets your competition?

No, I think that in general, we have a mutual trust between us. The designers try to be enlightened about what is going on with others, and the respect-atmosphere is present. You do not imitate others and you share the joy on the pop- up markets.

Is the designer world in Iceland going bad, as in everything that is old must be made again?

Well I think its not bad at all, maybe if you are always doing the same doodles over and over again. But if we don’t preserve the great things we had and know how to make, we will loose the knowledge and things will disappear.

For example, there is only one old lady left in Iceland that knows how to make a certain wire- structure thing. This craftsmanship will maybe vanish if we don’t cherish those things we value from the old days.

But people are a little too focused on those things have to be inspired by Icelandic traditions. My patterns are inspired from Indian cultures, and then all of the sudden some people don’t believe that they are made by an Icelandic designer, because they are not inspired by Iceland and Icelandic traditions.

 Well its not a puffin, lava or moss, is it!

No, its certainly not inspired by those things. But I´m an Icelandic designer, that I can assure you of.

The Indian in me, are maybe you 1/8 Indian, is that it?

No I have not been asked about that, directly. But my point is, that when I´m asked if my designs are Icelandic I tell them that it comes from many things. When I was a child I was always collecting stones, many different kinds, and my mother found them everywhere. I made tons of jewellery.

The thing is that the Indians are so spiritual, they believe that stones have powers and the nature as a whole. The patterns and the materials from there are also very fascinating.

“we are like sheep’s – one sheep buys something and all the other sheep do the same”

And the jewellery making…

I started very early, in collage produced a lot, and sold in stores and such. I am a fashion designer, so I think of it as a part of my artistic self. It goes hand in hand with my clothes, they are unique and every piece has a meaning.

I´m a huge collector, sometimes I think I have to stop at some point. It’s a mania in someway, but you´ll have to watch yourself. It’s a thing that I have to have in mind. (Inga laughs at herself at this point).

Back to business, do you think Iceland is too little for fashion?

We are so few, we are like sheep’s – one sheep buys something and all the other sheep do the same. Everybody owns some things all at the same time, just in time that it goes “out of fashion”. In the outlands its not like this, because I think individuality is more present. People are too quick to judge you sometimes, by your outlooks. But so many things are positive.

Tell us about the positives

Well, the innovation level in design and arts is very high here on our little island. In my opinion, that is fantastic.  Many things are happening here that are not even commerce, events, organizations, projects, databases and many other things that are great. The technology is a definite participant for our positives in our information seeking designers world.

What do you think of it all, some final thoughts?

Well to sum it up, you have to be a little egocentric to make it in the design business and its important that you believe in what you do. I would love to have a public-relation person employed though, to do all the stuff that has to be done- marketing etc. Well that’s a thought at least.

My designs are various, every piece is unique, for example comfortable clothes, different kind of jewellery and patterns. As a designer or an artist, you are always quoting stories, something that you sense or experience and that is what I think about when I´m asked to describe my designs at least, that they are inspired by the Indian in me- in whatever context you´d like to put it in.

We leave Inga´s apartment with a smile on our faces, reminded of that uniqueness is all around us,we just have to dare to go or own ways, even if that is with the crowd or not.

IBA – The indian in me
IBA – The indian in me/clothes

Interview: Ása Baldursdóttir
Photographs: Nanna Dís

Futuregrapher

This time we head out to the west-est part of Reykjavík for our interview. There we meet Árni Grétar or Futuregrapher as he is better known, a high profile electronic musician. High profile by Icelandic standards anyway. If you are at all into the electronic music scene here in Iceland chances are that you have come across this guy at one point or another. He is not only a frequent act at various concerts but also co-founder of the newly founded and highly noticeable label Möller records and organizer of the Braindance consert series. Since Árni is himself between apartments at the moment we meet up with him at his girlfriend’s place. Her name is Þóranna and again if you are into the electronic music scene in Iceland, you might have heard of her as well under her alias Trouble. One of the first things I notice when we enter her living room is the beautiful ocean view. This came as a bit of a surprise as this is a basement apartment. Living on the coastline clearly has its benefits or in this case, having a girlfriend that does. Well enough dribble from me. Let the interview begin!

Why did you decide on the name Futuregrapher?

I remember it clearly. It was during the Gay-pride weekend in 2007. I was sitting on a bed, belonging to my, at the time, parents-in-law trying to think of a name to put on a new MySpace profile for the music I was making on my own, that is outside my band. And it just kind of came to me, Futuregrapher. It just sounded right, maybe because I was taking a lot of photographs at the time. You know: Photographer, Futuregrapher. Then I “googled” it and nothing came up, so that was that.

 When is it that you start making electronic music?

I have been making electronic music since I was about thirteen years old. My father, who was very musically oriented, played guitar and was always playing some music at our house. Bruce Springsteen, Pink Floyd, Genesis and stuff like that. He one day brought home a keyboard when I was about thirteen. At the time I was listening to Chemical Brothers, Underworld and Prodigy and had noticed some keyboards in their videos. So as soon as I saw this huge keyboard I thought to myself “this must be something good“. Before that I had been practicing playing guitar and saxophone. I started to fool around with the keyboard, started to make some beats and I haven´t been able to stop.

“dancing is my favorite thing to do”

You dance a lot on the stage while playing concerts. How did that come about?

Well that´s a story. When I first got the opportunity to play live I wasn´t sure how to do it, that is what equipment to bring. I called the event organizer, Bjössi Biogen, and asked him what I should bring to the concert. „What are you using“? He replied. When I told him that I used a bunch of equipment he said it was up to me. So, not knowing how to play live I brought almost all my gear, the whole studio. When the concert finally started I realized that there was no way for me to control all this equipment on stage. Maybe some people are able to control that many devices on their own, I can think of Fu Kaisha in that respect, but not me. So after that I decided that the best thing was to limit what was actually being played live on stage. So now I make a background for my tracks and then I use Ableton Live to play short loops I have prepared at home live on stage. This opened up the possibility for me to dance on stage. Which is good since dancing is my favorite thing to do. Dancing on stage short of became my hallmark.

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I heard you grew up in a small town. Where was that and how was the music scene there?

I grew up in Tálknafjörður, a small town in the west part of Iceland. There wasn´t a record store in Tálknafjörður so all the music I was listening to I had to order by post from Þruman, a legendary record store that used to be in Reykjavík. I called them a lot to buy records through the mail and when I finally met the guys running Þruman they asked me if I would like to start a small branch extension of the store in Tálknafjörður. Since my family was already running the video store in our Tálknafjörður I said sure. This was in the summer of ´97 and I was fourteen. But for the most part the people of Tálknafjörður where listening to Icelandic “sveitaballa” music (it is basically Icelandic country/dance music). The few listening to alternative music were me and my friends.

Your record store didn´t ignite an electronic “explosion” in Tálknafjörður?

No, but later my friends, Haukur and Jónas, and I started an electronic band called Equal which took part in Músík Tilraunir (a music competition for young musicians) and we made it to the finals. When we returned home there were a few new local electro bands.

Equal was active for some years. We played some gigs here in Reykjavík and released an album, which is currently unavailable, but I have been thinking of maybe uploading the album to the Internet sometime soon.

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Engihjalli Ambient

Can you tell us about how you make your music?

Sure. First it has to be said that I listen to a lot of music, of every kind. This is what inspires me and this inspiration fills me with a pleasant feeling that makes me take a seat in front of my computer to make music. Usually I start with finding a nice pad-sound, or maybe a melody played on a midi-input device or the computer keyboard through Ableton Live or Reason. Then come drums and bass.

“inspiration is crucial”

I have also made music while feeling bad and that always ends up in the songs being very dark. But making music comes pretty naturally for me. When I start I usually have an idea in my head of how I want the song to be and usually the end result is pretty close to what I imagined. Although, it has to be said, that I wished that I was better at mixing songs.

But anyway, inspiration is crucial. Without it, or without the help of the muse as I sometimes say, I can´t finish a song. For me making music is a spiritual process. I think music making is a spiritual craft, not a physical one.

Have you ever had a draught period, spiritually speaking?

No. I think I have been making music constantly since 1996. I´ve made a whole lot of tracks no one has ever heard, with the exception of a few friends maybe.

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Tjarnarbiogen

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Can you tell us about Möller records? How did that come about?

Me and Jóhann Ómarsson (a.k.a Skurken) started Möller records. Jóhann asked me come over to his place to eat some bacon flavored snacks. He likes to have people over and also likes his bacon snacks. It sounds like a bad date and in retrospect I guess it was. Anyway he was playing some tracks of his new album, which then had yet to be released. I had been releasing some EP’s of my own and was interested in relishing some more music so we just decided to start a record company. Originally we named it Tom Tom records.

It just so happened that at the time Jóhann’s friend Þorsteinn (a.k.a. Prince Valium) had been planing to release his own album, an album that Jóhann had a hand in mastering, so there straight away we had three artist on the label. Soon after I heard from Tonik and Steve Sampling who also were interested in releasing their albums so in the first month (we started it in January) it became quite big.

After that we started to make our own CDs and we opened a website, which has been very popular since the opening day. There you can stream all our albums order them, or buy MP3s´. To my amazement people are still buying the old albums, which came out in February and April.

Later I decided to start a concert series under the label called Braindance (or Heiladans in Icelandic). I kind of did it out of necessity since the Weirdcore events had been cancelled. Were various artist are playing, not only the ones that are signed on our label. It is a short of an assembly, once a month. It´s held at Hemmi & Valdi, on the third Thursday every month.

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Worm Is Green remix – “Around The Fire (Futuregrapher 43 Mix)”

What´s in the future for Möller records?

Muria just released his six track mini LP. I am personally very excited about that. He isn´t well known in Iceland but people should recognize his little brother Jónas (a.k.a. Ruxpin). And we also just released a new compilation album, which we hope to make into a regular thing. The idea is that young or new electronic musicians can send us their tracks and if we like them they would be featured on the next Möller compilation disk. We plan to make two, maybe three of these a year. Later we plan on releasing the first official PLX (Marlon & Tania) EP album, currently a work in progress.

“Möller, it doesn´t get more Icelandic than that”

You said that the label was originally named Tom Tom. Now it is called Möller. What´s the story behind that?

It´s a funny story actually. Tom Tom is a well know international name for a type of drum or drum sound. So during our bacon snack meeting we came up with the Tom Tom name and both liked it. We decided to check out it´s availability, so we “googled” it and descovered a lot of companies using the name Tom Tom. There is a Tom Tom Club, Tom Tom jewelry shop, Tom Tom Children Hospital and etc. We thought that one more couldn´t do any harm. But then there´s the huge Tom Tom GPS company in Holland and they have an Icelandic branch and some lawyers working for them over here. So when we started the company and got some media coverage they were quick to spot us.

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We got a letter from them threatening to sue if we didn´t change the name. The lawyers even had some suggestion for a new name of our company, all pretty absurd, suggestion like Bang Bang records or something of that kind. But we had to change the name. And we decided on Möller records because we love Helga Möller (the Icelandic singer), especially during her period in the band Þú og ég. Möller, it doesn´t get more Icelandic than that. It even has the Icelandic letter Ö. Since then I´ve met Helga and she is thrilled with the name.

So what is next for Futuregrapher?

Continue working for Möller and organizing the Braindance concerts. I am also working on my first LP, called Hrafnagil. Originally it was supposed to come out this year (2011) but I decided to re-record it using new studio techniques I´ve been working on. So I guess I´ll release it next year. Plus I´ll try to continue playing concerts that hopefully is giving me the right idea of how my music is perceived and what people like. People actually seem to enjoy the music I do that has a faster beat more than the more relaxed stuff. And they still seem to enjoy watching me dance.

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We say goodbye to Futuregrapher in Trouble’s basement apartment and head home with a smile on our faces. We drank coffee there. Coffee is good.

Note, since the interview took place Möller records have also released a new album by Intro Beats. Check out Intro Beats and all the other Möller artists at www.mollerrecords.com

 

futuregrapher.com
soundcloud.com/futuregrapher
facebook/futuregrapher
raftonar.is/futuregrapher-tungata – Free EP
raftonar.is/futuregrapher-tomtom-bike – Information about last LP

Interview/editing: Hallur Örn Árnason
Camera: Björgvin Sigurðsson
Photographs: Nanna Dís

Shadow Creatures

With qualified people that have attained success its possible for one to assume that they must be stern, driven, and well, not so friendly to the none-initiated. Not so for the sisters shadow, these two sisters form the outskirts of civilization that is Mosfellsbær (look it up if you don’t believe me) have an effortless aura that puts you at ease as soon as you walk into their five meter high and vast studio space. Initially reluctant to get up from their work, even on a Sunday, we manage to sit them down on a sofa and ask them a few questions about their inspiring label.

Pray tell us, who are you and what do you do?

Edda: She’s Sólveig. Sólveig: And she is Edda and she is a fashion designer and I’m an architect and why are we speaking for each other? (they start laughing in a very easy manner of siblings that know every inch of each others personality). Sorry we’re being idiots, can you cut this out of the interview?

No, we want you in your natural state and habitat. But we are very nearly still drunk from last night! Like I said; In you natural state. Alright, no worries.

How long has the company been running now?

Just over a year, we started up in June 2010, we had our anniversary not long ago, but we were so busy that we missed it. What, you did nothing? Not yet anyway, we will probably open a workspace/birthday celebration soon. You’re invited officially, and you have it documented on that recorder there.

What was the catalyst for starting up Shadow Creatures?

Edda: We had always talked about doing something together, and when Sólveig moved back home in December 2009, the ball started rolling from there. Sólveig: I can´t recall us sitting down an deciding on doing something together, it just happened that way, wouldn’t you say? Edda: It’s true, all of a sudden we just had the company up and running, magic force of life!

Sólveig, you had been studying in Denmark and Edda had you been working in fashion before you two got together?

I had been working on silk printing my own graphic design and pattern-making while in University, which I finished in 2008 but I have been working at this since 2006 roughly. I was a part of the whole hoody madness that swept the nation in 2006/7.

In the Naked Ape?

Yes, I sold sweaters. Sólveig: You made a killing! Edda: True but it was a lot of work to do alongside studying. It must have been nice to have a little extra income? Haha yes, but in my memory I’m not really rich but more overloaded with work and poor on time.

Sólveig, you finished your studies and came home probably not expecting a lot of work to be had?

I moved home because I got a job. I was applying for jobs all over the Nordic countries, one of which was back home and that gave us the chance to start this. The architectural industry is not what you might call interesting today.

With your different skill sets, is there a clear division of who does what?

Edda: In many ways there is, Sólveig is much more technically adaptive than me, with computers and such, whereas I’m more involved with sketching, prototyping and sewing, what I’d call the fun stuff but Sólveig is also left with the finances. Sólveig: Not so much anymore, but that is only natural, we both have our strong points, some of which we brought from our studies and some by birth, that we bring into it from our studies, that helps us quite a bit as we have a broad spectrum of skills.

Does that mean you do everything yourselves?

Sólveig: Most things, we got a graphic designer to do our logo, and everything that needs printing we have done at Letterpress but other than that we do everything ourselves, and yes not the bookkeeping, that is a luxury that we afforded ourselves, we wouldn’t be here if I’d have continued doing that.
Edda: You cant master everything, but while we are building up the company we try to do advertisements and such. But clearly you’d want a professional to do these things for you. Most of the photography we have done for ourselves. Edda: hehe, we sent Sólveig on a photography course and got our cousin Aldís to model for us.
But isn’t that only natural for a startup, you put the reigns fully in their hands?
No no we like to be involved, I don’t think we could just hand a project over to someone and just wait to have it returned to us.

Kiosk?

Yes, there were nine of us that started it, but it’s just really a great platform, not only do we all get input from each other, and moral support, dividing the workload. The main factor has to be we share the rent, running a store on your own is something that a small label in Iceland can hardly do, some have tried and have gone bust in quite a short space of time. The customers seem to like it too, having such direct contact with the designer.

I had intended to ask this question a bit later but you sort of brought me onto it, what is the state of the industry now?

The growth is quite rapid. Still? Well… that’s a good question. It did jump post collapse, now we find that the impetus is driven from abroad, for instance a group of people from here just started up a company in Denmark and we find that people are starting up companies and coming to us rather than trying to go at it alone.

What about your own exploits into other markets?

We have been to three showrooms already, two in New York, and then one in Paris. It must be a bit surreal though, going to these places and standing there selling your wares for professional buyers? For one it’s really difficult and tiring, and with the first one we went to we realized quite quickly that this wasn’t our market, we had nothing in common with the other labels there and that the buyers weren’t looking for us. Now on the other hand we have picked showrooms that designers we like have gone to, and we feel more at home in. This we are doing in cooperation with Íslandsstofa (Promote Iceland), through a grant and that is an immeasurable help.

You just won the Coca Cola light prize at the Reykjavík Runway fashion competition.

We feel we got the best prize! Cause we got a cup, we’ve never won anything. What does this prize entail, is there any follow up? Well, Ingibjörg the owner of Reykjavík Runway she is essentially opening up her own PR business where she takes designers under her wing and guides them in going abroad, for instance she will be going for us to New York.

You produce everything abroad?

Yes we did try and have a part of our last collection done here at home but it proved much too costly and we wouldn’t have been able to charge anything close to a regular price for our wares. Edda: The price here was a real shock to us.

Where do you have your clothing produced?

At the moment it’s all produced in India and we are really happy with the service we are getting there, they specialize in organic materials and are a fair-trade company. That is really important to us to have our products certified and eco friendly. Sólveig: Hopefully we will be going over there in February, to meet the people that we have been emailing for more than a year now. You feel you know these people and you’ve never met them, I even dreamt them the other day.

As you say it’s been just more than a year that you have been working with them, without as you say having met them face to face, that must require a high level of trust. Has it all been plain sailing?

Edda: There has been no trouble with this company. Sólveig: The only thing that is worth mentioning is that they might not realize just how expensive it is to ship the product to Iceland. We want them to send us it all in one go, whereas they have in the past sent it in batches when they are ready. You’re sort of going ohh! can we afford it at this time?

I assume the shipping must be almost half of your total expenses?

Sólveig: Sometimes, it’s more than that, we had a shipment come in the other day where the cost of shipping, vat, etc. was 130% more than the actual production cost. Edda: That was a huge shock, I felt like I had beds of pearls of sweat on my forehead as I handed over the card. Sólveig: Its just ridiculous when you think about it.

Are there no tax rebates for Icelandic startups that you could apply for?

Edda: No, well RANNÍS has a rebate in the form of a grant but other than that there is no support being given to Icelandic production companies, which I personally think is stupid. Sólveig: It’s not been made easier at least.

Long term plans?

We have put the mark high, to do the best we can. It would be nice to be able to do this full time, to be fully dedicated to it. Major success would be a nice bonus but not the main aim.

Having just seen your new collection, I’d really like to know where you get your inspirations?

Edda: They are more often than not a spurge of creativity, through visual cues, in pictures or forms and patterns of course, but then you have to add a certain mood and colour. That is the core of it and then it just evolves from that. It’s just a case of bringing out what is in our mind at each time, thankfully we are on the same wave length. Sólveig: Yeah, she will say something and I will finish what she started saying, and so we work ourselves into a frenzy when we’re brainstorming. The collection is heavy on geometric lines. Yes, the female body is naturally soft and curvy and the strictness of the geometric forms of the collection contrast and compliment that at the same time.

Famous last words?

Don’t do drugs, stay in school and study architecture but don’t work at it.

With that odd but useful sentiment, we leave the Creatures to their devices but we will keep a close eye on the work they’ll do in the future, great things to be expected.

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Interview: Guðni Rúnar
Photographs: Nanna Dís

Beer Van Geer

On a rainy afternoon I head over to Stofan, a newly open small cafe in the center of our beloved smallest big city of the world. My date is with a Dutchman, an artist/computer geek I have been repetitively bumping into at various concerts in the course of the last two weeks or so. Nanna Dís is supposed to meet up with us as well. Officially to take photographs but I have a sneaking suspicion that under the mask of the photographer lurks the face of an vary editor here to spy on my modus operandi as it is only my second interview. Nanna Dís and the Dutchman arrive at almost the same moment, we order a round of coffee and plant ourselves in the only sofa available at the busy cafe.

So, who are you?

My name is Beer Van Geer and I´m from Der Haag. I have my own media company called Universal Media Man (universalmediaman.nl). I studied digital media at an art school in Utrecht.  It is the only school in Holland that combines art, media and technology. So I did a lot of different things there, there the aim is to combine all media together really. After I graduated I started my little company. I mostly work as a freelancer but I also hire other freelancers. I do a lot of different stuff, from commercial projects to more artistic projects and all that stuff that I do is interactive.

Beer shows us a video of himself operating his graduation project, a short of interactive media box, ideal for helping out festival go-ers finding something that appeals to them. The hypothetical festival guest steps into a big box where he is confronted with a huge mirror displaying control buttons hovering over his reflection. By raising a hand and waving at the controls you change a moving image that is located in the center of the mirror. That moving image could be of a musical act playing at a particular festival for example. If you happen to see something you like you select it, expanding the center image and having it reveal info about where and when the particular musical act will be performing.

All we know (Info): www.universalmediaman.nl

All we know (Demo)

How many of these boxes are there?

I haven´t sold the idea to festivals jet, so I have only made the prototype. But it was stored in a place that got squatted and squatters trashed it, took it apart and used its walls for isolation in the sealing. So now there isn´t a box left. Although, I use the same mirror technique in other projects.

Next he shows us a video of a hospital security system he designed. It is based on similar mirror control technique. An example of a more commercial project he says. To me it looks the same as the surveillance system seen in Minority Report.

How did you end up in Iceland?

It was because of a project I was working on with Mind Games (mindgames.is). I was making an application that works with neuron feedback devises where the goal is to train you in meditation.

In this project, called the Dagaz Project, I work with mandala figures, geometric figures from Buddhist art used by monks to meditate. You can actually find them in every culture. Here in Iceland you have them in the patterns of you wool sweaters.


I first got interested in the mandala figures when I was traveling in south east Asia and started to notice their spiritual culture. They really have an good system to enable people to practice spiritual matters. For example boys have to stay in a temple there for a period of at least two weeks in their lifetime, after which they have a chance to learn more about meditation if they choose to.

In Holland we don´t have anything like that at all. Sure we have churches, but they´re all empty. And sure we have monks, but they are hidden away from society. The connection to the spiritual world has disappeared. But at the same time we have constructed devises that can measure the brainwaves. In the Dagaz Project we tried to adopt Eastern meditation ideas to Western standards by combining the mandala figures and Western brain wave measurement devises.

The Dagaz Project is an app that works with a device that you place on your head. This device picks up data about your inner state. When the program starts you´ll see a large circle in the middle of the screen. As you get calmer the circle gets smaller and smaller until finally it disappears. Then you have reached the next level. Now the mandala figures appear, dancing around a point in the middle of the screen. The figures and their arrangements get more and more impressive as you get calmer.

Dagaz Project (demo)

This is futuristic stuff! As me and Nanna Dís marvel at the dancing triangles on his computer screen Beer starts to tell us about his newest project.

My new project is related to the Dagaz Project. It is a synthesizer for feedback devises. That is, it is a synthesizer that visualizes feedback. It works like an open system so you can link it to different frequencies. For example if you connect it to a heart monitor you can emulate your hart rhythm with it. It links feedback to visual parameters. The synthesizer is set up visually around various gravity points witch effect particles that float in space. There is a main gravity point in the center and there are more points around the center. Each point has an gravity alternation slider witch can change the patterns, making it possible to create endless different forms, shapes and dynamics.

Beer points to his computer screen at something that looks like a windows media player plug-in while me and Nanna Dís pretentiously nod our heads pretending to have understood what he just said. He goes on explaining his newest work that is inspired by the geometry of nature, both on macro and micro levels. As we continue to pretend to understand I start to suspect that he must realize that his complex explanation concerning the geometry of nature as an open system is waisted on island hicks like ourselves. It must be his good manners. I decide to direct the interview on to, for us, more comprehensible topics.

Grapeme (demo):

You are also involved in an online concert program. What´s that and how does it work?

It is called Hyphae and it is a series of live electronic concerts wich are streamable online. The first one was the Extreme Chill concert at Kaffibarinn last June featuring Skurken, Tonik, Beatmakin Troopa, Orang Volante, Plat, Steve Sampling, Murya and Futuregrapher.

The Kaffibar concert is accessible in its entirety at: www.livestream.com/hyphae/video

The concept is about streaming electronic music from many different locations creating a synchronized global party and at the same time giving new up-and-coming musicians a bigger platform.

We have had two of these concerts already and they have been well received. Our first priority was to stream top quality music through the internet but now in the upcoming events we would like to add some interesting visuals to the streams. So most of the artist playing in upcoming shows will have some sort of a visual aspect to their performance, hopefully resulting in an more pleasurable viewing.

The next concert is on the 26th of November and for the first time it will be a stand alone Hyphae concert. The first two times we linked the concert to other events happening at the same time, the Kaffibar concert was for example linked to an art festival in Holland. On the 26th we plan on having concerts happening in different locations around the world at the same time. Musicians playing in different countries will together form the official line-up.

The Hypae II concert will feature musicians live from four countries (USA, Canada, Denmark & Netherlands). The concert starts at 19:00 (GMT) on the 26th of November. You can watch it online at http://www.hyphae.nl/ or, if in Iceland, catch it on screen at Kaffibarinn.

Do you feel that Icelandic electronic music compares to what is happening in other countries?

Yes, definitely. It is of very high standard and frankly I am amazed of the number of good electronic musicians in Iceland. Here it feels like everyone has a music identity or is involved in music in some way.

You think you will be coming back?

Yes, I plan on coming back very soon.

Interview: Hallur Örn Árnason
Photographs: Nanna Dís