Reykjavik Music Mess

From the 24th to 26th of May, the independent music festival “Reykjavík Music Mess” will be held for the third time. 17 bands will perform between Volta and the Kex Hostel in central Reykjavik. Mr. Wolf spoke to festival director Baldvin Esra Einarsson before the event’s kickoff about celebrating the festival's unique character without compromise. 

Listen to Reykjavik Music Mess on Soundcloud:

What was the original idea behind the “Music Mess” when founding it in 2011?
The basic idea was to create a festival that was not typed to a specific format. It’s just like a musical happening and that’s what the name “Reykjavík Music Mess” comes from. We just throw things together, a heap of music and stuff. Basically that was the origin of the concept.

What kind of bands and music do you want to have playing at the festival?
Basically we just have music and bands that I generally like. My assistant and I make the decisions but I probably have the final say. If I don’t want to do something, I don’t do it.

Has the festival changed over the last three years?
Yes, it has been in constant development through those three years. In the first year we were kind of big, we had bigger names. After that we decided to turn it a bit down and to grow steadily instead of just blowing up. We are just making a name for ourselves and slowly building up to a recognized festival. It has been easier to get support like that and to get bands to play. So it is just a fun weekend.

Where do you see yourself compared to other Icelandic festivals like the “Iceland Airwaves”?
I think every festival has its own style and we don’t want to go into the direction of the Airwaves because we feel like the Airwaves is enough. More festivals of that kind would be a kind of an overkill. Our focus is going to be on a smaller scale. Maybe the bands playing here will become a bit more famous in the future but we’re not going to increase the number of venues or the number of bands.

So do you have a kind of a unique position in the festival scene in Reykjavík?
There’s nothing unique about this festival in general. It’s just a festival, there’s nothing amazing about in particular. We just want to have good music. We are not pretending to be anything else.The goal is to have fun. There is only one thing we are the first at maybe: this year we asked artists to design visual remixes of the bands based on their promotion material.

These works will be shown on the opening event at the Kex Hostel on Thursday but they can also be seen on the internet.

How did you choose the three acts from foreign countries this year?
We have two bands from Australia this time and the reason for that is that my assistant is from there. So she just called a few friends and asked around and so we found these two bands PVT and DZ Deathrays who were willing to come for a weekend. And then we have Withered Hand from Scotland and that’s basically a band that I’ve known for a while and I always wanted them for a concert here in Iceland.

In the last years you had big acts playing here like Sin Fang for example. Which acts of this year’s lineup could follow into their footsteps you think?
I think Icelandic bands now are bigger than before in general. We have “Bloodgroup” who have been doing quite well and we have “Mammút” which are quite popular also. Then we have a kind of a new band called “Monotown” who are the headliners on Sunday and they have been doing really well the past few months. In terms of Icelandic acts they are a bit more known than internationally maybe.

Finally, what are your expectations for the festival and what are you looking forward to most?
I’m looking very forward to seeing the foreign bands. And also just to hang out with good people. That is maybe the most fun aspect so I basically expect a good time.

Words and photography: Alexander Ballas