MOKB in Iceland : 5 Questions with Dr. Robert : Baldvin Einarsson (head of RMM, Kimi Records)

After traversing the wonderful countryside near the capitol city we took it upon ourselves to find the best of Reykjavik itself on day two. We started out with a visit to the hip new hostel Kex. This is a hostel in name only, as it is lodging, restaurant and tour guide all in one. While many have visions of European hostels as places you would rather forget the Kex Hostel was everything a hipster traveler requires. Lunch at Kex was amazing, it allowed us the ability to sample various Icelandic fares at reasonable prices (while we loved the Nordic cuisine, we are still working on enjoying the dried fish!). We would return to Kex throughout our stay for food or drinks (you gotta try Reyka vodka). The food throughout our trip was amazing we ate mostly Icelandic cuisine (Snaps and Vox were two highlights but also dabbled in Indian food during our stay). The rest of the day was spent wandering the main street of Laugavegur. With an abundance of boutiques, art shops and the Phallic museum (seriously a museum devoted entirely to the shape of male genitalia) Reykjavik, while small, has plenty to keep you busy. With sunlight nearly 24 hours a day the night time is when Reykjavik really comes alive. The weekly Runtur (Icelandic pub crawl) goes on until all hours of the night with bars staying open until 4 and sometimes 5 am. The venues for the RMM were stellar with both Club Nasa, Kex Hostel and the Faktory providing a great atmosphere to find new artists. We were lucky enough to catch up with Baldvin Einarsson, the mastermind behind the Reykjavik Music Mess and Kimi records.

Dr. Robert: How did you come up with the concept of the Music Mess? How has it changed from year 1 to year 2 and where do you envision it in the future?

Baldvin Einarsson: We were just trying to book Deerhunter to Iceland, and it did, at the time, make a lot more sense to make a festival around that show. And we came up with the concept of Reykjavik Music Mess, a strange line-up of all kinds of music, that we thought was good. The first year edition was though a bit to big in retrospect so we decided for this year to tone it down a bit and keep building it up from there. This years edition was smaller, with fewer bands and on smaller venues. Next year we are aiming at going somewhere in between those two editions. To have fewer bands, but bigger venues (but not more venues, two are enough). We are also thinking about getting an artistic director from outside Iceland, in order to enhance the international feel of the festival.

Benni Hemm Hemm – FF ekki CC (by Næsarinn) from Máni M. Sigfússon on Vimeo.

DR: I loved the diversity of the two nights. Did you curate the lineups to make the first night more experimental music and the second night more straight ahead?

BE: It was the original intentions yes, but in a different way. Then we started booking, and the line-up changed a lot and we kinda just ended
like this. But the basic idea of RMM is to present something that normally isn’t presented together. I think we managed to do that.

DR: 3. How did you start Kimi records? What do you look for in artists to sign? How important is it for you to get awareness for your artists in the U.S. music scene?

BE: It started in 2007, and just mainly out of unwillingness to get a normal boring job. And we just look for bands that are first of all good in our opinion, we can’t tie ourselves to a certain style or genre, since the scene is that big in Iceland. We also try to focus on working with nice people, that is always important. We are of course always trying to raise awareness on the label and our artists abroad, but it is of course very difficult because we are a small label with a
limited budget. But getting recognition abroad is vital to us, since the Icelandic music market isn’t that big.

Prinspóló – Landspítalinn (The National Hospital) from Skakkapopp on Vimeo.

DR: Describe the Icelandic music scene. I was so amazed when we arrived at how small the population is considering its artistic output, what allows this creativity?

BE: The Icelandic music scene is pretty great these days, many bands are working very hard on there music and careers. We have had a few international successes these past years and that is also helping a lot. Young musicians in Iceland have the courage and ability to stand out and present something good and creative and are not suppressed into being something they are not. They have the freedom and ability
to have their own voice, that is something that is important.

DR: What bands (either Icelandic or from Belgium) should we be checking out?

BE: You should check out our label in general. I firmly believe that most music we have released is good, and anyone could find something that
they like. I strongly recommend Snorri Helgason, Benni Hemm Hemm, Sin Fang, Borko Reykjavík!, Prinspóló and Sudden Weather Change. All different artist with their own distinct voice and immense talent. Albums with all these artists can be bought at our new label store: :)

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