Director of the Office of Film+Music and Special Events, Kate Becker shared her experience at the Iceland Airwaves Music Festival.
It is somewhat hard to believe that a little more than a week ago, I was leaving Reykjavík after a fabulous five days of music and fascinating meetings with Iceland’s music industry leaders. I got invited there unexpectedly. In April 2016, 28 music industry leaders from the Nordic countries came to Seattle for four days This Nordic Music Export industry group was comprised of music industry leaders from Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland. While here, they visited Sub Pop, attended KEXP’s Grand Opening, hosted panels and the interviews with local industry experts and attended a very special show in the space at the very top of the Smith Tower, compliments of musician Kris Orlowski. The Office of Film + Music had the distinct pleasure of hosting these folks. We talked at great length about Seattle’s creative economy and City of Music ™ strategy. One of the people who is most intrigued was Siggtrygurr Baldursson (aka ‘Siggi’). Not only was Siggi the drummer in the Sugarcubes, but he is also the director of Iceland Music Export.
Months after their visit, Siggi got back in touch to invite me to come on a hosted trip to Reykjavík during the Iceland Airwaves Music Festival. The goal of my participation was to be on a panel talking about Seattle’s music economy, and participate in a roundtable with Mayor Eggertsson and the Reykjavik City Council. Of course, I said yes.
On November 4, 2016, I was honored to be a panelist on a Music Cities panel that included Bengi Unsal (Southbank Centre Director, London), Scott Fetters (2112 Director, Chicago), and Tim Renner (Berlin Minister of Culture), moderated by Bjork Blondal, Reykjavik City Council President. A robust conversation ensued with many people from international cities interested in growing their music strategies and economies.
Other highlights of the trip included a lunch with Mayor Eggertsson and the Reykjavik City Council. Seattle is Reykjavik’s only American Sister City, and so I was delighted to take Mayor Eggertsson a Louie Gong Eighth Generation blanket with warm wishes from Seattle. I was also taken to meet President Johannesson and First Lady Eliza Reid at their home, which was an extraordinary event. All of this was going on during Iceland Airwaves, Reykjavik’s big music festival.
I was very proud to see Seattle represented on several stages at Iceland Airwaves. Notable Seattle acts, both of which were in large, full venues with international crowds were The Sonics and Digable Planets (not a Seattle band, but Ishmael Butler is Seattle-based now, and Tendai Maraire and Thaddeus Turner from Seattle performed with Digable Planets). City of Music™ hometown pride!
I flew back in time for Election Night in Seattle, but was so very honored to be hosted by the City of Reykjavik and represent our great city at an international music conference and festival.