Because of the international nature of Skrapt festival, it’s export concerns and to make as much impact as humanly possible, this diary is written in English. Skrapt Festival took place in the lovely capital of The Faroe Islands, Torshavn, on the 7th – 9th July.

FRIDAY 07/07/23

“There’s space for this” says Kristian Blak, the grand magus and miracle man of Faroese music culture as we discuss the state of music festivals in the islands in the oh so hip Circus bar in downtown Tórshavn, the capital of The Faroe Islands. And things are good, really good you could say, as there are festivals all year around in this small society (p. 54.000) covering a wide array of music styles. But this, a festival focusing solely on experimental, boundary pushing music, is something entirely new. “They are going all in,” said the unusually knowledgeable taxi driver to me as we made our way from the airport to the capital. I started to think about the seeds that had been sown for the festival in the last months and years. I remember one of my students, now friend, Heðin Ziska Davidsen, talking about his dream of setting up an exclusively experimental music festival in the Faroe Islands. “I know one guy in Klakksvík and one in Tórshavn,” he said, only half-jokingly. Shortly after though, he and Sunneva Háberg Eysturstein, one of the owners of Sirkus, put up electronic music nights called “ravlitt”, a clear indicator for things to come.

When her brother, musician and musicologist Knút Háberg Eysturstein, attended Iceland’s foremost experimental music hub, The Extreme Chill Festival, last autumn, a giant lightbulb appeared above his head. Connections were made and Pan Thorarensen, one of Extreme Chill’s founders was on board. As was Sunneva’s co-worker and owner at Sirkus, Jóel Briem.

Let the games begin.

Even if the festival’s manifesto is tactically vague (“Our aim is to give people the best of the best, the sharpest of the sharp and tingle your tangle in ways you didn’t know you wanted”) the goal is quite clear and became even clearer after tonight’s proceedings. To bring a “hip” festival with modern metropol vibes to the capital. Pure and simple. With both Visit Faroe Islands and the Faroese music export office in tow, the festival revolves around the downtown Reinsaríið venue. The music stage is outside, a poetry reading took place inside and mouth-watering food trucks are parked nearby in the street.

It was Eksil publishing house (and more), run by Kim Simonsen, that introduced a wide array of poets this night: Iona Lee (Scotland), Guðrið Poulsen (FO), Grug Muse (Wales), Vónbjørt Vang (FO), Dania Tausen (FO) and Durita Midjord (FO, Rannvá Glerfoss did the reading for her as she could not make it). A powerful session I must admit, strong “performances” and the room quite taken by the magic that can be conjured up by words!

Marianne Winter (FO) opened the festival after a bombastic introduction by the singer from local fire souls Joe and the Shitboys. Winter offered some really tight neo-soul, carried on by her seismic charm and powerful delivery. One to watch for sure. Icelander DJ flugvél og geimskip put on a brilliantly fun show, really engaging the audience with her left-of-centre pop and quirkiness. Imagine The Residents by way of Björk with a whole lot of wholesome funny bones.  Ghost Notes (FO) was next up, delivering dark, deep and quite the stomping hip-hop beats. Ayphin (FO), La Leif (UK), Supervisjón (FO) and Janus Rasmussen (FO) then carried us into the night.

More “skrapting” tomorrow!

Arnar Eggert Thoroddsen, at the hotel 62° Hotel, Tórshavn, summer 2023

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