On Sunday, I went to see 'Screaming Masterpiece', a documentary on the music of Iceland.
A staple of beautiful tunes mainly from Sigur Ros on my favorite radio stations made me very curious to know what made these Scandinavian nations click when it came to such ethereal music. I've read features about Reykjavik and how much of an amazing music scene the country has, and this seemed like a good chance to figure out what it's all about.
The soundtrack features Iceland biggies Bjork and Sigur Ros as well as more obscure artists like Mum, Mugison and Slowblow. The documentary wasn't very helpful in pointing out why their music is as good as it is, but one statement early on in the film made sense (I paraphrase) :
In a country of 300,000 people, an album selling even 200 copies may be considered successful. Since there isn't much money in this success, bands go out and do their own thing. Since the musicians don't have to kowtow to commercial interests, the music tends to be purer in intent which arguably translates to better quality.
As for the rest, a lot of stock shots of Iceland's majestic beauty are interspersed with the most eclectic samples of music and artists that can come out of a country 103,000 square metres in area with 300,000 people. Maybe, as some other interviewee says, the weather helps (which may explain the music scene in Seattle or Portland being as vibrant and creative as it is).
Also, technically Iceland isn't Scandinavia since they have a culture and history that is completely different from the Scandinavian nations.
A mostly entertaining 88 minutes on Sunday night was capped by a guy making a pass at one of two desi guys (yes, I and a friend) walking down a lonely road in Capitol Hill. I'm not sure either of us was very flattered ( even if it was a girl I didn't find attractive at all, I'd feel differently), but the whole incident was funny enough to laugh about. Maybe we should post a Stranger or Craigslist 'missed connection' ad to inform the guy that neither of us swings the other way and that he'd be better off looking elsewhere.