Oléna Simon performed tracks from her solo project at September’s GRASSROOTS with Fannar Ásgrímsson on beats and production.
The two of them, along with Jónas Thór Guðmundsson, are also a part of a three-piece music group called Asonat. Although they consider themselves an Icelandic group, they’re very much international: Jónas is living in Estonia, Fannar Ásgrímsson is in Iceland and French vocalist Oléna Simon plans to move to Japan.
Though, Jonas says, “Despite this constant moving around, we are in total synchronization toward how the music should be.”
Their new album “Connection,” was released at the end of September, and has been well received by the press. The record landed on the number 1 spot at WRAS Radio 88.5FM in Atlanta and Nordic Playlist rated it as one of “10 Unmissable New Nordic Albums” alongside Ásgeir’s “In The Silence” (Iceland) and Love To’s “Queen of the Clouds” (Sweden).
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Hello from Harare, Zimbabwe! In just a few days I will be heading over to Zambia where I will begin my Fulbright-mtvU project. I will be exploring how young people assert individual and collective identities through participation in music culture on the Copperbelt in Zambia.
I have been in Harare, Zimbabwe since early September thanks to funding I received as a recipient of the NYU Gallatin Dean’s Award for Graduating Seniors. This is my third time visiting Zimbabwe and working with Magamba Cultural Activist Network, an organization that creates and promotes alternative media. Most notably, I have assisted with the organization of their annual music and arts festival “Shoko.” While in previous years I was unable to attend the festival because the dates conflicted with my classes at NYU, I was finally able to attend this year as a graduate. It was amazing to be able to attend the vibrant and diverse festival as well as reunite with many close friends and colleagues!
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Tokyo is one of the largest cities the world, with around 30 million people living in the metropolitan area. It’s also the most densely populated city on Earth. Tokyo is crowded, and it took me a few weeks to get used to it. Or, perhaps more accurately, it took me a few weeks to accept that going anywhere means being constantly surrounded by people, especially on the trains. It’s not exactly pleasant, particularly during rush hour or last train when station workers push people into train cars with a slab of cardboard.
Commuters jammed in on a Keihin Tōhoku Line train at rush hour, a shot I snapped on my mp3 player.
A cardboard-wielding station worker, waiting for the right moment to shove people into the cars for last train.
It’s one of the largest festivals in Iceland with more than 800 shows happening over a five-day period all across Reykjavík. Most artists are from Iceland, but there are also folks coming in from as far as New Zealand, and as close as the UK.
This year Airwaves’ 7,000 tickets sold out by mid-October. Since it’s a showcase festival—premiering up-and-coming local and international acts, similar to SXSW in Austin, Texas—there are a large number of industry and media folks coming as well. It’s not just a festival for rising talent, though—The Flaming Lips, Caribou, The War on Drugs, Ásgeir and Jungle are also on the line-up. I got an industry pass along with other festival directors, music producers, label owners, media personalities, and managers. I’ll post a re-cap after the festival with a write-up about shows, pictures from the photo pit and videos of performances and adventures around the festival. Suffice to say, I will not be sleeping for five days.
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As I await my departure for Accra in November, I thought I could answer some of the most common questions I receive, rundown some of my preparation and detail what I hope to do. I am lucky to live in the Bay Area, home to many organizations built for the preservation of the arts and arts education. I have spent the last months meeting with teachers, employees and heads of music programs of all kinds. It has been a fantastic time to learn, gather resources, make contacts and gain insight into the world I hope to join.