A powerful and mystical land. Creative, friendly and unique natives and the home of the shit jumper (in my opinion). Welcome to Iceland.
I have a long-standing love affair with Iceland. I first came here around the age of 19. I was looking after the PR for a wild Icelandic band called Gus Gus, which included a man with a pink moustache (he grew it for the annual Tom Selleck competition), a man who always wore pineapple suits – I only just remembered that, not related! An amazing singer called Earth (maybe my first style icon actually) and a man who wore nail varnish and had the kindest heart I had ever met until that time. They also, collectively, introduced me to the joy that is what I call the ‘shit jumper’. I mean this in the best possible way – I love a good shit jumper and have even done parties in their honour.
With a lot of wind blowing through, Icelanders love to keep warm, and with sheep in abundance all over the nature of the land, they use their wool to good use, and make some really interesting jumpers.
Made from this guy:
The first time I came to Iceland, I was told of the delicacies of eating a sheep’s head (including eyeballs), of ‘men and meat night’, where men bond, take their tops off and dance around (in a masculine way). I went horse riding on the pure bred Icelandic horse (Icelanders are so strong on keeping the horses purebred that, if an Icelandic horse leaves the country, it is not allowed back in!). I saw geysers explode from the earth, and I went to the world famous Blue Lagoon to bathe in the mystical naturally hot waters whilst steam rose around me. It is an amazing place, although Icelanders don’t really go to this one.
There are geo thermal pools all around the country, the energy of which you could use to power the whole of Iceland. Imagine that – no electricity bills are needed (although for some reason they still pay them – might want to check on that).
I have traveled a lot, but I have not been to any country with so much POWER as Iceland. And I really mean to write that in capital letters. I don’t mean the kind of power that Gordon Brown (wrongly, in my and many others opinions) thought he should put on them on the terrorist list, after the Icelandic bank crash of 2008. My friend told me that this was the year of the flat screen TV – every Icelander suddenly realised they could get a bank loan so bought flat screen TVs and the banks didn’t realize until too late. I visited Iceland not long after this happened and the only reaction I saw from the Icelanders of being put on the terrorist list (well, I think it was a reaction) was whilst walking past a shop window. In the window display was a brown t shirt and written on that t shirt was ‘Brown is the colour of poo’. Since the bank crash, the people of Iceland decided to take over the banking system, I don’t know much about it, but I have heard it is going well!
They have amazing senses of humour in Iceland, unlike anywhere else. Dry and always with a side smile of childlike fun. And they don’t let things get to them. A popular Icelandic saying is ‘Þetta (pronounced ‘thetta’) reddast’ – which means, “It will all work out” – and it generally does.
Back to the POWER in the land, though. Iceland is known as the land of fire and ice – volcanoes, geysers, waterfalls (it has the most powerful waterfall in Europe – Dettifoss), Glaciers – including the mystical Snaefellsjokull, which is where Jules Verne’s book ‘Journey to the centre of the Earth’ was based. You can see it in the background here. I can confirm that it is cosmic.
And check my amazement at Jökulsárlón, the glacier lake:
The Sun never sets in the summer and hardly rises in the winter. They are also visited by the magical Northern lights, which are the most breathtaking natural gift of earth I have ever seen; night time rainbows of pure light energy that dance in the sky. You can feel so much magic in the land and air.
I have worked with a few Icelandic bands and festivals since my first visit – FM Belfast being one of them. Literally the most joyful and good vibes band I have ever worked with. They made a song called ‘Underwear’ which was about running down the street in your underwear when you’re bored. Why not, better than going on facebook.
I also worked for a festival called Airwaves, which is a great festival of mostly indie music, held in various venues around Reykjavik – launderettes, libraries, restaurants, theatres; the whole city transforms. And I now work for ‘Secret Solstice’, the festival held over summer solstice (longest day of the year). It is on for three days and the sun literally doesn’t set the whole time you are there. Crazy action on the pineal gland with that one. Last year was the first one and a lot of fun! I walked past the mythical-fairy-queen-goddess, Björk, on the actual day of Solstice (June 21st) whilst she was hanging out at the festival. I swear I could just feel this light energy breeze walk past me. She is almost too magic.
In the winter time, Icelanders do get bored. It is cold, it is windy, it is dark (there are only about 3 – 4 hours of daylight in the darkest months). I lived there the winter just passed and it is very weird when you wake up and it feels like the middle of the night. If it snows, it is beautiful, as everything is covered in white and feels so pure. But, if it rains, it is very grey and dark. A beautiful thing that they have harvested, is the ability to channel their boredom and get creative. Which is a skill we all have and we all need to use. I remember first coming here and whoever I met and whatever job they did, they also did something creative – they were an artist, a singer, a designer, and all very good! There was none of the fear that a lot of the world seems to have. “Can I do this / what will people think?” They just do it. They follow their heart. Because they want to and because they can.
The Icelanders are so honest and true, which is beautiful. They also, some hidden more than others, still have this natural connection to their land. A connection that so many of us have lost in the modern world, with the rise of huge concrete buildings as the land diminishes and over-population encroaches. The current population of Iceland is only around 330 thousand, and most of the people are based in Reykjavik, which is one of my favourite cities in the world. Most of the shops are on one main street, where I have spent a lot of time walking up and down. They have some really unique designers and some great thrift stores also.
I love the rocket church close to the main street, which I am sure will take off one day.
It is also worth checking out the Einar Jonsson museum, a lot of his works are in the garden of the museum and are really special! I am not hugely into sculptures, but there is something about his works. One of my favourites is ‘Protection’, I took the photo below after my first Icelandic snowfall.
Something like 60% percent of the people believe in elves, trolls and fairies (check this out). And due to the land connection, there is a natural shamanistic element to Icelanders, if you meet the right people, you may be invited to take part in an Icelandic Sweat Lodge or learn of their Shamanism roots. They generally know about the mythology of their past, which is steeped in Norse Mythology and the Icelandic Sagas.
Aside from the beautiful Icelandic horses, there are also whales, puffins and friendly cows.
I hope this country, whose biggest money maker is now tourism (it used to be fishing, I know quite a few fishermen now), retains its natural beauty, retains its purity, retains its reverence and way of being, whilst welcoming us outsiders to its land. And I hope we respect the land, people and traditions in return.
So here is a video that I took with my friend, whilst on tour around Iceland. I guess this could be the birth of cosmic pineapple. you can really see the beauty of Iceland, cleverly masked as a pineapple’s tour diary. Well, you could if I had put the camera around the right way and shot it properly
Suggested film to watch: Hross i Oss
Some good Icelandic bands to check
Festivals to check:
This post was written by Kim Booth