The Roman Catholic college on the far eastern edge of UofT’s St. George campus. Home to media theorist Marshall McLuhan who presciently penned the phrase “the medium is the message” decades before the birth of the Internet.
“Old Vic,” at the heart of Victoria University’s quadrangle.
Northrop Frye was one of Vic’s most famous faculty until his death in the mid-90s, and even today his presence is felt on campus.
Recently, while researching scenic locales for my first photo trip to Iceland, I got a real kick outta watching music videos shot locally by some of my favourite bands such as múm, Bjork, and Sigur Rós. All of which happen to be from Iceland. Turns out, not surprisingly, that Iceland’s wild and woolly landscape makes a great backdrop for some inspiring music videos… or maybe it just says something about the kind of music I like. In any case, I thought it would be fun for me, and cool for you, to put together a “Top Ten” list of inspiring music videos. Some of the locales, such as Reykjavik, and the black sand beach near Vik, we did actually get to in March of 2014; others are at the top of my bucket list. Please note that I’m not gonna try and be comprehensive here: these are ten songs and/or videos I happen to like. There’s nothing magical about the number 10: feel free to add your own favourite Iceland-themed music videos in the comments section below!
The Sugarcubes, Birthday
Reykjavik circa late 1980s – a bird’s eye view (you’ll see what I mean…) and the hinterland. Funky brollies, and a Wonderland-ish dinner party. Hipster before it was hip to be hipster (“Don’t call me ‘hipster'”).
Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindI, 2004) took the refrain “emotional landscapes” to heart when he directed this video. The CG looks a little dated, but the over-all effect works. One of my favourite Bjork songs… and videos.
And then there’s Sigur Ros, still my all-time favourite band. More than just minimalist post-rock musicians with roots in punk and classical music, they’re also keen supporters of video art. Don’t believe me? Check out the tour documentary Heima, or especially Valtari Mystery Film Experiment. Better yet, see them live. Meantime, enjoy this small selection of videos from my list of personal faves…
“Glósóli” (“Glowing Sole”)
Arni & Kinski’s dark, beautiful childhood fairytale set in Iceland’s volcanic desert highlands.
Fun fact: this is the first song I ever heard from Sigur Ros, in the climactic scene from Vanilla Sky. In August Jacobsson’s video, Iceland’s elements are interpreted in dance by a troupe of actors from Reykjavik.
Hoppipolla (“Hopping into Puddles”)
How Vikings grow old. Shot in the residential neighbourhoods of Reykjavik. Used in the soundtrack to We Bought a Zoo.
Untitled #1 (aka Vaka)
Floria Sigismondi’s video of childhood as post-apocalyptic (well, post-volcanic) fantasy won the 2003 MTV Europe Music Awards for Best Video.
Steindór Andersen – Hugann Seiða Svalli Frá (with Sigur Rós)
Iceland in black and white! Traditional rimor (alliterative rhyming) folk song with scenes shot around Breiðafjörður, a wide shallow bay which separates Westfords from southern Iceland. I can’t tell who shot the video, whether this is an “official” Sigur Ros video or fan art, archive footage or current, but the imagery matches the music perfectly.
Beyond Sigur Ros…
múm, Green Grass of Tunnel
Okay, this video is even heavier into graphics than Bjork’s Joga, above, but the scene is inspired by a real-live lighthouse: “Iceland is shaped somewhat like a dragon, and this was on the dragon’s forehead,” according to band member Gunnar Orn Tynes in an article at The Age.
So there ya go… ten music videos shot in Iceland. I had a heckuva time choosing just ten. Sigur Ros alone has more than ten videos worth watching before taking a trip to the Land of Fire and Ice. So does Bjork. And Iceland is no two-band wonder; maybe it’s the long, dark winters, but for whatever reason Iceland has an outsize music scene. Heck, even the country’s airline is on the act, sponsoring a music festival and producing a stream of music anthologies they play in-flight and that you can buy from those duty-free carts the flight attendants push around. And, I mean, people actually buy them. We did… There’s also a growing list of websites with pages devoted to music connected in one way or another to Iceland _ I won’t insult you by googling that for ya, but now you know the stuff is out there.
These are only ten music videos, and in no particular order. What are your favourite music videos shot in Iceland, by Icelandic acts or others? Add links in the comments so I can check ’em out before I plan my next trip to Iceland…