Normally Margeir Ingólfsson has a quite short way to his place of work. Most of venues are in the near of his home, like the Harpa, where he will play his gig in a few days at the Sónar Reykjavik. The capital of Iceland is rather small, but has a tremendous music and club scene. More and more people from the continental Europe are visiting the island in the north. Margeir was one of the pioneers of electronic music in his country, at the age 16 he had his first job as a DJ. Today he’s not only djing, he’s also part of Gluteus Maximus, a live project together with President Bongo from GusGus. And he has started the ‘Blue Lagoon‘ compilation series, named after the famous spa in the near of Reykjavik, which third part was released last year.
Do you remember your first visit to the Blue Lagoon?
Yes, I visited the lagoon very early as a little boy with my dear grandfather. He had psoriasis, the skin disease. I went there quite a bit with him, because the water really helped him.
How did you come to the idea to start this compilation series?
Of course the place was also magical back then. Even more so, really. It was just an open space, no spa or anything. It was just the water, the power plant, and all that fog. I remember, while I was swimming around, I imagined how amazing this could be, if we added some music to the mix! I guess that’s when the idea was born. And now it’s almost ten years ago since we released the first compilation, which was a huge success, went gold and is now completely sold out.
Why, how and when did you start to DJ? And how was the situation then compared to today?
Well, when I started DJing… it was 25 years ago! There wasn’t so much of a DJ culture. Everybody wanted to be a guitar player! All the cool cats wanted to play the crazy guitar solos like their 80s heroes. But somehow I got fascinated by the mix, how to blend two different tracks together. So I decided to learn the trade and spent countless hours with shitty equipment!
When I was 16 years old, I saw an ad in the newspaper. One of the hotels was looking for a DJ and I applied even though I was way too young and didn’t have the experience. I had been DJing a bit in school but never professionally. Soon after that the hotel club became the most popular club in the city. With me behind the decks!
Back then I had to push electronic music to the dance floor, but I had to show patience. The crowd wasn’t ready even though I was. So in the beginning, I had to mix it with some cool and nice music from the better known bands, for example The Cure, Depeche Mode and The Talking Heads.
Did you have any musical idols when you’ve started DJing?
My musical heroes when I was a little boy were WHAM! hahahaha…
I was so extreme that I even had a duvet cover with pictures of George and Andrew.
But when I started DJing my heroes were the best hip hop groups of that time: Eric B. & Rakim, Public Enemy, NWA and Jungle Brothers.
And your most remarkable gig?
So many to choose from. At Secret Island in Sweden, on top of Esja, the Reykjavik landmark mountain, at the Eiffel tower …
The Icelandic music scene is getting more and more famous in Europe and in the rest of the world. What is your secret?
The cliché would be to say that all the collision of extremes in the nature inspire us, but I think it’s a little bit more simple than that. I think all the music schools that we have around the country, in every little town… is our little secret! And even people that aren’t musically trained, like me for example, want to be in a band.
I guess we are inspired by the quote by Einar Örn (Ghostigital and The Sugarcubes): „It doesn’t matter what you know how to do – it matters what you do!“
And of course the Blue Lagoon, which is always special! I had a big gig there again during Midsummer. It was extra special and sold out. Magical!
It’s the third Sonar Reykjavik Festival, how are your experiences so far?
Sonar is by far my favourite festival in Iceland. Finally, my passion, advanced electronic music, is being appreciated. Not only by the festival visitors but also by the authorities, the city council, travel industry and beyond.
All my Sonar gigs have been amazing, both my DJ gigs in Reykjavik and Barcelona, but also our live shows with Gluteus Maximus, that have raised our profile a lot.
And I look so much forward to my Sonar Copenhagen gig in March!
In the last years more and more tourists come to your country, Sónar is a rather young festival and last year Secret Solstice, also with focus on electronic music, took place for the first time. How do you see and evaluate this development?
I think it’s great, that foreigners seem to appreciate our country more and more. Not only the nature which is of course spectacular, but also our culture – especially our current contemporary artists. We should welcome the visitors and try to learn from them as well. But we have to be careful, as we need to preserve the city centre and limit the number of hotels. Many of them are replacing important clubs and concert venues. Who wants to visit a city full of hotels, souvenir shops and nothing else?
For a musician and a music lover I celebrate all the new music festivals that are trying to establish themselves.
Now we have at least four very important music festivals in the city… Iceland Airwaves, Sónar Reykjavík, Secret Solstice and ATP (All Tomorrow’s Parties).
Together with Bongo you are Gluteus Maximus (Latin for gluteal muscle). Tell us a little bit about this project. When did you start, what about the funny name?
We have been friends for a long time and business partners. Then one day this name came to us and we had to do something about it. We started very slowly in 2007, doing a remix here and there. When I come to think of it, we’ve never given this project our 100% attention. But slowly we have been putting more and more effort into this project. Maybe there will be an album soon?
I guess the name is typical of our sense of humour – but of course the message is clear: If you want to dance, you need to work on your Glute!
The live gigs are great fun with parts outside of music like artistic elements and weightlifting in a humorous way …
Yes, it’s called entertainment, so we try our best! There’s nothing entertaining about two guys looking at a computer screen. Well, unless you’re Kraftwerk.
What about your leisure time, what is your programm to relax from dj gigs?
Well I don’t have a lot of free time. But when I do I spend it with my two lovely boys… or do some gluteus exercises with yoga and pilates!
What would you recommend the people, when they come to Sónar. What should they visit or check out in or around Reykjavik?
Visit some of the warm pools (Vesturbæjalaug and Sundhöllin are my the favourites), mingle with the locals and hike mountain Esja!
In the last years you had a very special and charismatic mayor in Reykjavik: Jón Gnarr – comedian, actor and a formerly punk. But he didn’t stand for reelection. But do you think, he will try to stand fort he presidental election? What about his chances?
I sincerely hope so! We need change, our current president has stayed in his role for too long. That is not healthy. He’s in a group of controversial leaders that won’t stop leading. Among them are Ali Khamenei and Robert Mugabe. Need I say more?
I think Jon Gnarr has a very good chance of election. I loved every minute of his term as a mayor of Reykjavik as he’s not the typical politician – funny and honest at the same time. Not afraid to admit it, if he’s wrong and he says sorry, if he does something wrong. And sometimes he simply said that he didn’t know the answer or what do to!
Your plans for 2015?
Planning some nice travelling, both for DJing and for fun. USA, Canada, Sónar in Copenhagen, G! Festival and Secret Island in Sweden plus some adventure time in Indochina!
Hopefully we’ll find a time to finish our album as GM. But no one is pressing for it, except ourselves. So there’s no rush really. If it comes, it comes.
Sónar Reykjavík 2014 – Festival impressions
DJ Margeir – Blue Lagoon Vol. 3 (hfn music)