Kasper Bjørke: "If the world was going to end, I would go to Iceland"
“Íslandsvinur” is a term you will be familiar with if you’re Icelandic. It means “friend of Iceland” and basically applies to anyone who visits Iceland more than once.
By Kári Gunnarsson
Kasper Bjørke is a Danish music producer and DJ, known for his delicious and always-interesting explorations into different soundscapes. As a DJ, Kasper has performed around the world at some of the most renowned clubs, but Iceland is the place he keeps coming back to. Having been to Iceland more than 20 times, Kasper is a frequent collaborator with Icelandic artists and a great friend of Iceland.
When was your first trip to Iceland and how did that come about?
“The first time I visited Iceland was in the early 2000s, I am actually not sure what year exactly. I was booked as a surprise act for a Danish high school class that had won a competition on MTV sponsored by Sony. The prize was a trip to Iceland, so I went there with the class, played a gig and did the classic tourist tours: the Golden Circle, the Blue Lagoon etc. It was a fun way to experience the country for the first time.
Since then I have been to Iceland over 20 times – I have lost count over the years. I have attended Airwaves around 10 times and performed at the festival 5 or 6 times. I’ve also played at Sónar Reykjavík, as well as various events organised by my dear friend, DJ Margeir. I have also performed at the Lunga art festival in Seyðisfjörður, East Iceland. But I’ve also spent many holidays in Iceland, without playing any shows, just hanging out with friends in Reykjavík, or doing amazing hiking trips around the country. My dear Icelandic friend Jón Atli Helgason, aka Sexy Lazer, and I have a music project together called The Mansisters. We’ve performed both at Airwaves and Sónar – as well as numerous bar and venue gigs around Reykjavík.”
What were your expectations of Iceland before you came here for the first time?
“Honestly, I didn’t really know what to expect, I knew very little of the country at the time. But as soon as I got to Iceland I had a strong feeling of belonging, like I was home. It’s a strange thing, but I have heard other people who are not from Iceland say the same thing. I really do feel at home in Iceland and was immediately struck by the beautiful landscape, the roughness of the nature, the crisp air, hot springs and the warmth of the people. And oh, Icelanders know how to party! I am still amazed by their energy. And I guess that’s also part of the reason I kept coming back for more. However, in recent years, as I have gotten older and more responsible, the nature and just being there have become the biggest attractions for me. I still love to party and perform in Iceland but now I tend to go home earlier - so I can use my waking hours more efficiently.”
"The best holiday ever"
It almost sounds like you feel Icelandic.
“I think the country has so many qualities. Besides all the things I already mentioned, there is also the food: I love the local fish and the lamb, even the tap water tastes amazing. And yeah, it’s hard to describe this sense of belonging, but it’s almost like I lived in Iceland in another lifetime. I could easily see myself moving there with my family one day. I often daydream of buying a cottage by the coast, totally isolated but still close to Reykjavik. That would be magical. If the world was going to end, I would go to Iceland.”
Do you have any particularly memorable experiences from Iceland?
“Well, it’s really just a compilation of small but amazing experiences. A couple of summers ago, I was on a 5-day hike with some close friends and we stayed in this little cottage, sleeping in bunk beds, going on long hikes during the day. The first day was a 9-hour hike which included climbing a 1300-meter mountain and wading through glacial water that was so cold that I had never felt anything like it. It was like daggers to the skin. I had lost my luggage on the plane, so I bought new hiking boots the day before we set off on the hike. However, they were too small and my feet were killing me, so I changed into my sneakers and hiked the rest of the way in those. It turned out to be the best summer holiday ever, even though it was super cold with showers of rain or snow. We walked through the most magnificent landscape without ever meeting a soul. I really love this sense of isolation. On another occasion my girlfriend and I spent a few days at Hotel Búðir, located nea Snæfellsjökull glacier. It was off-season so the hotel was almost empty. The location is just stunning and the restaurant and hotel was pretty amazing.
I have DJ’d at Kaffibarinn so many times and always gotten super drunk and had a blast (like everyone else in the bar). One occasion that really stands out is when Norwegian musician Erlend Øye grabbed a microphone and began to sing over the records. People freaked out. I think we crowd surfed from the bar too.
I absolutely cherish going to Sundhöllin for a dip in the outside hot tubs whenever I am in Reykjavík. I think the whole building is so beautiful and it’s somewhere I have to drop by at during every visit, preferably every day while I am in the city.”
Do you have plans of coming back to Iceland?
“I hope to be back at the end of the year for Airwaves. I also hope to come back next year with my son and girlfriend. He will be two years old by then and I think that will be a suitable time for him to see his second home.”
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