|Homesick for Reykjavík at Christmas|
|Written by Iceland Review|
|Tuesday, 03 January 2012 11:10|
One man who can’t bear to be away from Reykjavík is Snorri Helgason. Formerly of Sprengjuhöllin, but now going it alone, this singer-songwriter can never be too far from his home city, or a pylsa. Especially at Christmas time.
I met up with him in an East London record store before the holidays, where he told me all about it over—what else?—a strong black coffee.
Snorri has a Viking-esque beard that belies his youth, an Iceland-hipster standard issue woolly hat, wears a thick scarf against the cold and has a warm handshake.
Snorri moved from Reykjavík to London last year. For someone who is so associated with the Reykjavík music scene, it seems a strange choice.
“I wanted to get out of Iceland, and the music scene there,” he says. “Yes, it’s close and collaborative and that’s brilliant, but at the same time it can feel claustrophobic. With my solo career, I wanted to break away from that.”
Snorri had been touring extensively in Europe, and was now ready to go back. No, scrap that; he was desperate to go back. He told me that he misses the food, his friends and the Reykjavík music scene. I could see why.
“The break worked. I love London, but it didn’t inspire me like Reykjavík. It’s that ultimate break-up thing—it’s not you, it’s me,” Snorri explained.
As if to prove this, Snorri returned to Reykjavík for the annual Iceland Airwaves festival in October, and played a staggering 11 shows in four days.
How’s that for a statement of intent? “It’s easier to just turn up and play as a solo artist, so I’d thought I’d go for it.”
I told Snorri that I couldn’t make Airwaves this year. “Oh,” he says, “you should have come. It was really good this year. I played in coffee shops, house parties and Harpa.”
Harpa is the new concert hall in Reykjavík, of which Snorri is clearly a fan. “It’s beautiful,” he says. “My girlfriend doesn’t like it because she says it blocks the view of the mountains, but I think it’s a small price to pay.”
Snorri told me that the new concert hall, however controversial, worked well as a venue at the festival. “You could just hang your coat up and spend the evening going from room to room listening to different artists.”
Gallingly, Snorri told me that even the northern lights turned up at the festival, and put on a spectacular show.
Snorri told me all about the making of his recent album, Winter Sun. He said that the close network of musicians in Reykjavík made it so much easier; Sindri from Seabear agreed to produce the album after a New Years Eve phone call, Sóley, another Reykjavík luminary plays on the record too.
He makes the whole recording process seem like a meeting of friends, and deceptively easy. Listening to Winter Sun, it’s a formula that clearly works.
I ask Snorri for the secret of a good night out in Reykjavík at this time of year. Without hesitation, he says, “house parties.”
“Find a good house party, that’s where it will be at. A couple of beers downtown maybe, and don’t forget the pylsur—they are the best in the world,” he said of Icelandic hot dogs. I pointed out that Snorri might just be biased. He laughed.
Snorri and I went on to discuss the first big snowfall that arrived in Reykjavík recently. He told me that a friend had sent him a photo of it, and he had felt a pang of homesickness. He confided in me that he really missed the city.
”Reykjavík is a big part of me’ Snorri said. “It’s a big part of my consciousness. The houses. The places. The people. It’s all very important to me,”
And with that he put on his hat and headed for the door. I had a feeling Snorri would be booking a flight back home to Reykjavík just as soon as he got to his laptop.
Edward Hancox –
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 January 2012 18:14|