Icelandic Music Writer Wim Van Hooste

If you didn’t know it already, Iceland is a country booming with music of all genres. Notable music writer Wim Van Hooste, who is from Belgium, is a top Icelandic music blogger. I recently sat down to have a chat with him about his love of Icelandic music and a special musical event he’s organized in honor of his birthday.

How did you get so interested in Icelandic music in the first place?

In 1987, while I was studying, I would always listen to the Dutch radio. One day, they aired the Sugarcubes single “Birthday,” which was getting a lot of attention in the UK. Later on, I watched a special program about The Sugarcubes on Dutch television. I got inspired and went to the library so I could read and learn more about Iceland, the country of ice and fire. I studied the history of The Sugarcubes, a band formed out of 3 other bands that were popular in the early 80s: Tappi Tíkarrass, Þeyr, and Purrkur Pillnikk. All three were featured in the documentary about the rock scene “Rokk í Reykjavík (Rock in Reykjavik), released spring 1982.

What do you think is distinctive about Icelandic music?

Icelandic people are very creative… probably because in wintertime, they stay inside during the dark days and keep themselves busy by writing, painting, doing handy work, making music, etc. Almost all Icelanders know how to play a musical instrument because there are a lot of music schools around.

Icelandic folks are also very independent – the Do It Yourself (DIY) principle is popular – and they strongly believe in themselves. They want to create something unique, different from their neighbour.

What are your top Icelandic bands at the moment?

My most favorite bands are: Bang Gang, Ensimi, Ghostigital, HAM, Hellvar, Jan Mayen, Prinspóló, Reykavik!, ruddinn, Sudden Weather Change and Vicky. But of course, I like a lot of other bands.

How did you get the idea for this musical birthday party?

Last year, I missed the Iceland Airwaves Music Festival for the first time in 6 years. This year, I want to do something special to compensate for this fact. In the past, I used to always visit Iceland to celebrate my birthday, which is on the 24th of May. This year, I realized that I’ve been a friend of Iceland and its music for 25 years (1987-2012). In addition, 30 years ago, the director and Oscar nominee Friðrik Þór Friðriksson made his rockumentary about the music scene from 1981-1982, during Iceland’s late-punk days and early new wave days in downtown 101 Reykjavik. I had the idea to make this birthday also my birthday party. My love for Icelandic music started with The Sugarcubes hit “Birthday.”

What is the goal of this party?

The goal is to bring old and new bands together on stage. The bands Fraebbblarnir and Q4U will be performing their own songs from the movie. The younger bands will cover songs featured in the documentary by FÞF. It’s the first time that these bands will make a tribute to this documentary.

What kind of response have you gotten to this party?

Most bands were easily willing to perform on my birthday party annex concert.. even on a Thursday night in downtown Reykjavik, in one of the most notorious and famous live venues. I spoke on the Icelandic national radio station about my Birthday concert. National newspapers wrote about it, too.

For more information on Rock in Reykjavic, visit rockinreykjavik.blogspot.com.

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About Christine Thelen

Christine is a music writer, photographer, and English teacher living in New York. She's been writing for Short and Sweet since 2008 but writing about music since 1999. She loves photographing and interviewing bands most of all. Notable interviews include Underworld (England), Supergrass (England), Gorky's Zygotic Mynci (Wales), Hefner (England), Zero 7 (England), Nylon Union (Slovakia), Clinic (England), Hundreds (Germany), Nive Nielsen (Greenland), Alcoholic Faith Mission (Denmark), Captain Fufanu (Iceland), and the Postelles (NYC). Watch her on the ShortandSweetNYC Youtube Channel.
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