Sam Healey writes about Skeltr’s pioneering trip to Reykjavik Jazz Festival
as international ambassadors for Jazz North and northern line.
One Saturday morning we woke up early – A much anticipated gig was finally upon us – Reykjavik Jazz Festival.
Craig and I had wished to play in Iceland since long before we knew each other, this wish was made ever stronger by working closely with Graham Massey (one of Bjork’s producers and writer of ‘Army of me’) he had mixed and co-produced our debut album and had told us of the joys of the Icelandic crowd, the city of Reykjavik and the incredible love for live music.
We were greeted at the Airport by Scott Mclemore, a talented drummer and husband of the Festival Director, Sunna Gunnlaugs who had originally contacted Jazz North to book us having heard our song Monday Flavour on the Gateshead Intl Jazz Fest review video.
As we travelled to Reykjavik, we witnessed our first experience of the breathtaking Icelandic scenery – truly a place like no other. My phone photos on our drive do it no justice whatsoever….
We arrived at the venue, a historic former Potato bunker! an incredible place, built into the side of a hill over looking the City centre, the whole venue is being renovated into a hub for the arts, with workshops for artists, performance spaces for musicians and social areas for all forms of art and their creators to meet. Truly a venue that would inspire and encourage any group of artists in any city.
We set up and sound checked alongside Una Stef, a band of a magical and friendly musicians headed up by Una Stefánsdóttir – a super tight and funk filled band. As the guests to their great nation, we went first and opened the nights proceedings. The crowd were all gathered in the venue, staring with an Icelandic stare that makes you feel like you should put some serious effort into your gig. Maybe it’s because it’s cold… who knows.
The sound was handled by our friend who previously lived in Manchester, Baldur Rafn Gissurarson. a local to Reykjavik and a legend in Iceland. A master of live and studio sound. Look him up if you need the finest quality sound in Iceland. We were ready to play, the audience were set to go, so we kicked off with a tune from our first album, Monday Flavour, and worked our way through a 45minute set to finish with the first ever skeltr song, ‘let me change’
What struck us most was the concentration and appreciation from the audience. Their energy and enthusiasm was such a strong part of our set and was valued after a having set off from Manchester airport 14 hours earlier. Having finished our set and watched Una Stef do their thing – we spent a good couple of hours engaging with the audience, venue owners and festival organisers who had all taken time to come and watch us perform, they had great feedback, advice and encouraging words for us which was very welcome.
After our gig we were taken into Reykjavik city centre for a little night time tour of the city, safe to say, it was great fun. We magically arrived back at the airport at 5am and 29 hours later, we were back in our rehearsal room in south Manchester – planning our return to Iceland 🙂
Big thanks to Nigel and the Jazz North team for facilitating our trip in many ways as well as being the first point of contact for Sunna – as the first Northern Line artists to play Iceland we hope we have begun a healthy and plentiful relationship between Iceland Jazz scene and Jazz North.