Phia Icelandic Tour Diary Part 3

Image Courtesy of Phia

Owls of the Swamp and Phia are currently touring Iceland and Timber and Steel is lucky enough to be presenting their exclusive tour diaries. Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here of Phia’s Tour diary.

22nd – 25th August

Over the next few days we did a lot of driving around the Westfjords (a fjord is where the ocean eats into the island). Driving around Iceland has plenty of beautiful, relaxing moments (seeing wild seals in the ocean, listening to great Icelandic music while checking out the scenery (check out Mugison, he is awesome) but also some rather exhilarating moments (breaking down on what we dubbed the “death roads” – gravel roads about a car and a half wide with no barrier between road and cliff face, and driving through mountains in one-lane tunnels where if you see an oncoming car, one of you needs to pull into one of the small alcoves spaced along the tunnel! We dubbed this “nooking”).

Finally at 8pm we arrived in Djúpavík, a tiny little place nestled on one of the fjords surrounded by huge mountains and a beautiful waterfall. We stayed in the cosy little hotel there, where we were fed paprika soup and fresh cod on arrival, and played after our meal, all warm from the food and reception we received.

In the late morning we headed over to the abandoned tank. The story goes that in the 1940s people built a house on the rock which was the home of Djúpavík’s “hidden people” (fairy-like people part of Iceland’s mythology) despite a lot of people thinking it was a bad idea. And disaster struck – the herring catchments (which the factory relied on) dried up and never came back. You don’t want to piss off the hidden people. So now there is this beautiful big old disused tank, which you have to enter through a pipe. Check out the video of when Sigur Ros’ performed there. The natural reverb inside is amazing, you sing one note and a 100 voices bounce around and back at you. We all recorded one song inside, it was a magical experience. Will be uploading on YouTube very soon!

We are always running late for things and today was no different as we decided to stop and swim in one of Iceland’s natural “hot pots” (hot waterholes in the rock). So we were running late for our gig at the Museum for Sorcery and Witchcraft in Hólmavík, a little worried as our contact person is listed as Sigurður the Warlock… But in fact the gig went very well and he even conjured up (see what I did there) a place for us to stay that night to save us a 3 hour drive to the next place!

The next day we had a lengthy brunch and discussed how the tour had changed us. It has made me a lot more aware of all the different ways of making a living from performing – if you can build up a good network, getting out of the cities is a great idea – people really want to hear original music! I’m really pumped to book some more DIY tours through Germany now. All of us remarked on how the love of performing originally brought us to music, and playing gigs in small towns where not many gigs happen (as opposed to playing in bigger cities competing with 100 other gigs on the same night), has let us just focus on the performing side and not on the stresses of trying to pull audiences etc. Such fun.

That night in Suðureyri it was the last gig of the tour, and as such we were all infused with an overwhelming sense of nostalgia and affection, though it could have also have been the very generous glasses of red wine we were given before the show. As usual it was such a pleasure playing with the crew – we had Josh [VideoDay] winning the audience over with his wry humour and enigmatic, pop anthems; Kendy [Gable] and Dave [Keane] with their beautiful heartfelt country/folk tunes, and Daniel [Jonsson]’s bittersweet alt-folk melodies.

Now all that is left is the 3 day Melodica Festival in Reykjavik – over 40 acts, 4 venues, bring it on!

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