21 year old GKR is an up and coming hip hop artist from Reykjavík and one of a growing number of acts in that area and RnB getting a load of attention at home but also starting to get some outside of Iceland too. It feels like the scene, if that’s what it is, is growing fast right now and that this edition of Iceland Airwaves could well be the biggest one yet for that genre, especially homegrown. I’ve seen some exceptional rap shows at Airwaves over the years but take a look, for example, at the mouth-watering line-ups at Húrra on Wednesday and then in the Art Museum on Friday. GKR himself is very deserving of your attention, his shows are sure to be busy.
Hello GKR (or can I call you Gaukur?), where are you and what are you doing?
Já halló. You are more than welcome to call me Gaukur because GKR stands for Gaukur, you can also say G-K-R, it doesn’t matter. I’m just in bed, at home, answering these questions, after that I’m going to my studio to make some bangers with my man BANGERBOY aka MARTEINN. It’s 00:30 right now.
How long have you been making music? You’ll be a new name this year to many Airwaves goers.
I studied music when I was younger at Tónlistarskóli Reykjavíkur and played the piano but that was only for about 4 years (Fun fact: I was in class with the Pascal Piñon sisters). Since I remember I’ve always had a head full of ideas craving to create something, not music particularly, just create, in general. But I recorded my first rap track in the summer of 2012, I guess that’s when I started creating music for real.
Are you the Icelandic Kid Cudi? That’s what it says on last.fm.
No I’m not the Icelandic Kid Cudi, I am the Icelandic GKR (or at least I think I am). Kid Cudi is definitely one of my main inspirations though, I listened a lot to him from age 16-19. I’m 21 now and if it weren’t for Cudi I probably wouldn’t have had the courage to start this music career all on my own. I’m happy if someone catches some Cudi vibes from my music, a month ago a guy came to me and said that my song “1” made him tear up, I was very pleased to hear that, probably one of the strongest complements I’ve received and it’s brave of him to admit that, because I don’t know him at all. By the way I didn’t even know I had tracks on last.fm, maybe Cudi put my music up there???
Do you feel like part of a scene? There are quite a few new and young acts coming through this year in hip-hop and RnB.
I do feel like I’m a part of a music scene here in Iceland but I don’t want to be put in only one category. I am happy that the hip hop acts support me, they support me a lot and I truly appreciate that but I don’t want to become looked at as “just one of the guys in the scene”, I think that distracts the ears/eyes from the art itself. And also I don’t want to limit myself to one genre, I want to be able to play with indie bands or electronic acts etc. It might be weird of me to say this but I just want people to put my art in first place, rather than judging me by the hype, if that makes sense. Maybe I’m wrong though, you know, they say all exposure is good exposure, maybe it’s just because I’m new to this and I’m a bit afraid.
Both of your official Airwaves shows will be in the excellent Húrra venue. There’s rumours that it may be not be around much longer. That would suck, right?
Hahaha oh man, I just realized that I am playing TWICE at Húrra after reading your question, I thought I was only playing on Sunday, nice, the line-up at Húrra on Wednesday is good! Also the line up on Sunday (special shout out to my man Lord Pusswhip).
OK, to the sad part of this question, yes, if the rumours are true that’s a real sad thing. I am not at all pleased with the attitude towards Reykjavik’s downtown culture from the people building these tourist shops and hotels.
I would much rather want to go see a local Icelandic talent at a crowded venue with a crowd that arrives there only to have fun, than going into a tourist shop to see stuffed toy puffins, plastic viking helmets and the Icelandic flag in the format of a refrigerator magnet. Who knows, maybe some cool place will open up somewhere else if Húrra closes, downtown becomes a tourist place and the party is going to be moved to Grandi (the bay area). By the way, I was very happy to see that NASA is a venue for Iceland Airwaves because I have so many wonderful feelings related to that place, feelings that I would never get after a look into that "wonderful new tourist shop”.
You appear on several lists of acts not to miss this year. What can we expect from your Iceland Airwaves shows?
I’m only going to give away this: If you come to my show, doesn’t matter where or when, I want you to forget the sad, skip the worries, stress or just anything related to negative thoughts. I want people that attend my shows to do whatever makes them happy, whether it’s to jump, dance, sing, stand, sit, drink, laugh, talk, I don’t know, I mean if you’re in a sad mood, it’s okay to be sad, just embrace it and try to turn it into a positive or something. JUST FEEL FREE, there is no need to be shyyyyyyy
I love people that turn up with me when I play live shows, when you feel that mutual energy, from an artist to the crowd, it’s a great feeling man.
Finally, do you have any advice for people attending Airwaves or visiting Iceland for the first time?
My best advice would probably be: Go see GKR, I’ve heard he’s an amazing rapper and like a great guy too.
Serious advice: You might have to wait in line, for a while. Make sure you enjoy that time. I’ve made a lot of friends from past Airwaves because I waited in a line and it kind of became a part of the experience.
I’m looking forward to Sophie and Skepta. Sophie is playing at nasa which is my favourite venue this year. Future Brown and Gangly are acts I’m also interested in seeing live. I will also try to see as many of the up and coming Icelandic acts. And of course I will go see the classic Icelandic artists/bands that play every year, they always deliver, Icelandic people are super talented I must say.
I can't disagree with that last sentence! As discussed you can, and you probably should, catch GKR playing at Húrra on the Wednesday night at 20:40 and on Sunday at 21:40.
And you can also catch GKR off-venue at these times (and possibly more too!)
Friday 18:00 at Bíó Paradís
Saturday 15:30 at Íslenzki Barinn
Saturday 16:30 at Laundromat Café