"Iceland is a very open-minded and laid-back place." – SKE speaks to Diana Sus
SKE: When commenting on any mildly-observant remark that foreigners make about our island, Icelanders will—nine times out of ten—employ the trite and rather Yoda-like saying: "Glöggt er gests augað" (although Yoda preferred the object-subject-verb order, "Much to learn, you still have," as opposed to the object-verb-subject). The ubiquity of the maxim, which translates into "Perceptive is the foreigner's eye" (or, strictly speaking, "guest's eye," which doesn't sound particularly good), speaks to the Icelanders' obsession with their island, for all Icelanders behave toward Iceland as if it were a cherished only child, miraculously conceived through costly artificial insemination: a rare genius, amid a sea of bourgeois troglodytes. In this way, I imagine, the Icelanders are, most of them, rather like the character Mouse in the Matrix, eagerly awaiting Neo's reaction to our cherished Woman in the Red Dress. These thoughts crossed my mind as I reviewed my question list for Latvian musician and actress Diana Sus, who recently released a video to the song "Just Begun," dedicated to the Icelandic town of Mosfellsbær; nigh every question was permeated with a kind of pathetic, national pride—and for that I offer my sincerest apologies. But what can you do? ... anyhow, we spoke of music, Iceland and Latvia.
Viðmælandi: Diana Sus
Photo: Agnese Blaubarde
SKE: You released a song (and video) called Just Begun, which is dedicated to Mosfellsbær. What inspired it?
DS: I have been lucky to live in Mosfellsbær and to watch Esjan every day through my window, which has been a great luxury. And I have some great friends here. As spring kicked in, I wanted to give something back to it, something beautiful, if possible. Or close to it at least.
SKE: You are from Latvia but had lived in Iceland for the past year. Why Iceland? And do you plan on staying for long?
DS: My way to Iceland was rather adventurous, but it was the open ambiance of music here that lured me into staying. Iceland has taught me not to plan too much, but, as it stands, I plan on staying until I graduate from my music program.
SKE: Is there a mixtape or an album in the works?
DS: Right now I am working on improving my performance and vocal skills, but in the meantime I am working on a draft for my first solo album. I may also release a few singles and a video clip, filmed in Iceland.
SKE: On your Youtube channel you perform a cover of Kaleo's Save Yourself. What other Icelandic musicians do you like?
DS: My all time favorite is Hjaltalín. I would love to collaborate with them one day. Others that I really enjoy: Hjálmar, ADHD, Júníus Meyvant, Ragnheiður Gröndal, Sigur Rós, Atli Örvarsson, Múm .... Ahh, there are so many! (Fun fact: The Kaleo song is not only a cover of their song, but also a kind of reminiscence of their live video: They did it on a block of ice. I, however—on the tiniest island.
SKE: You are studying at the Akureyri School of Music. What have you learned?
DS: The best course I've taken so far would be Sound Recording by Haukur Pálmason— he's a real magician. Also, I've finally started carving out some jazz, and hope to keep on making film music.
SKE: In Iceland, we have a saying: "Glöggt er gests augað," meaning that guests, or foreign visitors, often have a more perceptive eye than residents, or natives. What you like and dislike about our island?
DS: Iceland is a very open-minded and laid-back place. "The whole town's buried beneath snow?" "Yeah, no worries" … This brings out the freedom for creativity. Icelanders are also great at supporting and believing in each other. Maybe sometimes this "laid back" attitude is not the best for planning—but it's fun. Also, while living here, I can feel that the tourist industry is changing the vibe.
SKE: What Latvian musicians would you recommend to Icelanders?
DS: My all time favorite project is Dabas Koncertzāle ("Nature Concert Hall"). Others to add: Franco Franco, Polifauna, The Bad Tones, Alaska Dreamers, Anneli Arro.
DS: The Book of Tea, a witty essay about the Japanese tea tradition. Puns and poetry are what I love.
SKE: Anything you'd like to add?
DS: I am working on a new music festival for Akureyri. More information about the festival will be presented at the end of May, but so far it looks very delicious. Also, I would like invite readers to my first concert on the 12th of May at Hlemmur and on the 14th of May in HOF (Akureyri). It will be a blend of jazz music, my own songs and spring vibes.
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PS. The aforementioned video was made in collaboration with Dice Throw Films, RecMore Media and the Zikurats Knowledge Center in Latvia.
(SKE thanks Diana for the chat and looks forward to hearing more music. Below you will find a few songs by Latvian musicians, recommended by Diana Sus.)