One of the more exciting aspects of Iceland Airwaves 2015, now just over 2 weeks away, is the return of the iconic Reykjavík venue, NASA. It’s going to be a real treat to get back in there having had more than a handful of incredible nights there in the past. I was always likely to head to NASA at the first opportunity, but it’s even more certain now that we know that Wesen will be the first band on that stage on the first night of the festival. Wesen are a new band, but not a new collaboration, between Júlía Hermannsdóttir from Oyama and others and Loji Höskuldsson from Sudden Weather Change and others. These guys have a great past and the handful of songs as Wesen that I’ve heard are great.
So it made sense that the first of this year’s Iceland Airwaves preview interviews would be with the first band I’ll be seeing on venue. Luckily Júlía also thought this was a good idea...
Hello Wesen, where are you and what are you doing?
I'm sitting at my kitchen table at home. I just had dinner and coffee down the street at Stofan Café, but I'm still feeling too lazy to organize my make-up drawer like I said I would.
Do I call you Wesen or WE$EN? Do you mind?
No we don't mind, whatever you prefer is fine. I've been alternating the spelling between Wesen, WESEN, W€$€N & ₩€$€₦, partly for fun, partly to mess with people, partly in hopes that it will work as a spell and the band will make us rich in the future somehow.
You guys are well known in the Icelandic music scene from Sudden Weather Change and Oyama and Loji's solo work. Is it right that you two actually worked together before any of that?
Yes that's right. We both grew up in 104 of Reykjavík so we've known each other since we were 13 or 14 years old. In 2004 we worked together as wall-painters and that's how we started We Painted the Walls, our first band. We've both worked on a bunch of different projects since then (plus I went and lived in New York City for over 4 years) but we always worked well together so it's about time we got back together.
You have three fabulous songs released via soundcloud right now - what's the plan for releasing more stuff?
We've completed a 10 track album that we're super excited about releasing to the world. Our songs were already good but then Árni Rúnar Hlöðversson (of FM Belfast) stepped in as producer and godfather of Wesen, which brought the whole thing up a notch. Or like two notches. We haven't made a final decision on how or exactly when the album is coming out, but we're aiming for some time this winter.
Is it great to be playing an opening slot at the first night of this year's festival?
Yes. It's a great way to kick off the festival and we're pumped to work hard this year. Also, this will be our 10 year anniversary of playing Airwaves together. Loji and I last played Airwaves as We Painted the Walls in 2005, which was also the very first airwaves performance for both of us. A real teenage dream.
What about being the first band back in the legendary NASA venue for Airwaves, you must have both played there before I guess - how exciting is it that NASA is back in use?
I've never played there before but I saw a lot of bands there as a teenager, including some great ones at Airwaves '04 and '05, so I'm way excited about it. I'm glad NASA is back and that this time I'll be taking the stage, hopefully setting a good example for some ambitious teens out in the crowd.
What can Airwaves goers expect from your shows?
Loji is usually very funny and charming but tends to be clumsy. I'm not that funny but I keep him on track and I'm very honest and put my heart into it. The songs are catchy as f, I'm sorry to sound smug but they are, and I hope they'll leave you wanting more.
Finally, do you have any advice for people attending Airwaves or visiting Iceland for the first time?
The Reykjavik Grapevine is a fine local publication that's a way better guide to Reykjavík than I will ever be. My main Airwaves advice is probably just: If you're like me and always try to pre-plan your schedule down to the minute, it's good to have a backup plan to avoid total disappointment in case the popular thing you wanna see is way too crowded. Speaking of crowds, being friendly and kind to the people around you pays off. Check out the off-venue schedule too, but don't overdo it – listen to your body and don't feel like you're missing out if you need to chill between shows. Drink tap water, it's the best.
You can see Wesen, WESE, W€$€N or ₩€$€₦ several times during Iceland Airwaves 2015:
The main show is in NASA in Wednesday 4th at 7:30pm, and I will see you there. There are also all these other chances to see them
WED 4/11 @ Bíó Paradís, 3:00 PM
WED 4/11 @ Nasa, 7:40 PM (official)
THU 5/11 @ Nordic House, 2:00 PM
THU 5/11 @ Kaffibarinn, 4:45 PM
THU 5/11 @ 12 Tónar, 6:15 PM
FRI 6/11 @ Kaffihús Vesturbæjar, 5:00 PM
SAT 7/11 @ Hlemmur Square, 4:00 PM
SAT 7/11 @ Húrra, 8:50 PM (official)