Planet: Reconnect

Iceland's Bjarki, who is part of our selection of our 2019 Faces of We are Europe selection, opens up about his perception of Europe, memories of a rave from Trip Record, ecological commitment and why people should be mobilised for European elections.

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As an Icelandic citizen, what is your perception of Europe?

Iceland is an everlasting part of Europe, member of NATO, EFTA, EES and other national cooperations, but not EU. Personally I consider myself as a European as Icelanders are. We don’t think it is necessary to be a member country of EU to be a European. Iceland, Norway and Switzerland are not in the EU but those nations are definitely Europeans. Over the years I have travelled throughout the continent, perhaps performed in all it’s countries. I easily see what unites us and also aware of the things that divide us. Europe today is mostly a peaceful and lovely place to be in. However we must show compassion towards foreign refugees, most important help them thrive in their own countries and stop destruction of their homes and families and of course welcome them to Europe. In the future there is no place for nationalism.

!K7 Records · Bjarki – ANa5

Can you share one of your best memory in Europe as an artist?

There are many great once but I still think the best memory for me as an artist to the vision I believe was to create a rave in a cave with friends from Trip Records in Iceland. To see people have full freedom to enjoy music without any interference or stress of any kind, with free food and drinks for our ravers and experienced unity for 12 hours. It was magical. Costed a lot, but we didn’t do it for the money but for enhancing the Icelandic underground scene. 

Do you believe in an European identity?

Yes, at least partially. All countries have their characteristic and their own traditions in art and in way of communicating. However it keeps me warm when I think of the similarities all countries in Europe share. Every mother, father or any individual love their family and their most important wish is to live in peace and harmony, to be able to raise their children, enjoy with friends and live happily. My believe is that around 99% of the world’s population want that.

In your opinion, who are the key cultural figures in Europe at the moment? 

I can mention Bono for his ONE foundation and attention on extreme poverty. Despite being largely apolitical Bjork has been very vocal for nature conservation in Iceland and globally, Elton John for his AIDS foundation and support to LGBT minorities, Amal Clooney a human rights lawyer and feminist role model. Radiohead for their fundraising concerts and Thom Yorke for being an advocate for environmental protection and climate change awareness. There is Greta Thunberg who has quickly rose to prominence who started the first school strike for climate change, today other countries in Europe are doing the same. Watching someone like Greta who is born in 2003, stands up demands answers. I believe in youth. #friday4future #climatestrike #schoolstrike4climate

You are known for your ecological commitment but as an artist whose work exists in the public sphere, do you feel a greater responsibility towards any kinds of activism? 

I’m responsible as a consumer, human for what is happening in the world, pollution, waste, global warming, discrimination and other matters affect our way of living and our society. Unity and peace is what I believe in and most of us who are within the dance music culture feel the same way. I am an activist but can only express my concern, hoping to be heard by others, the people who like my music and perhaps their families and friends, my way of living and the little I can give to charity. My generation and the younger ones do not accept that our future is in jeopardy because of shortsighted world leaders.

As an artist who play all around the world, do you think there are solutions to limit environmental impact of air transport? 

In this is the fundamental contradiction some say we need air transportation in order to get things done. In my power I am starting to limit my air transport by staying in European countries while touring and travel by trains when I can. Do you remember the Paris agreement on global warming 2015? While dedications from every corner of the world argued in countless conference rooms hundreds of private jets waited in on the airports of Paris to to bring them home. However there are changes on the way in transportation like Electric cars, electric buses and in Iceland we are having our first electric ferry scheduled in June. However nothing in air transportation is on the horizon. At some point I would like to encourage other touring artists who perform every weekend and sometimes up to eight times a week to rethink their travel arrangements.

What does it mean to you to be in the We are Europe cooperation? Professionally and ideologically?

For me it is an honour since I have my interest growing on environmental matters and my believe in freedom and being safe within Europe. Being able to communicate with others and exchange ideas, listen and experience different cultures.

Do you think people should be mobilised for European elections? If so, why?

Democracy is probably a very heavy and slow system, but nothing else is better so we are stuck with it. I happen to love it and I have the strong believe that everyone should vote, especially young people. They tend to bypass all elections, are not interested in politics for some reason. That is maybe the why extremist to left and right are so loud in Europe. But times are changing.

“Europe is a way of living, which should not exclude people because of race, gender, sexuality, colour of their skin, for Europe we must be for equality.”

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