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  • Writer's pictureParadís Sessions

Air Waves and Sessions

Updated: Nov 9, 2020

Sessions! So we took a diversion from our live proceedings during the festival, to capture some of the amazing, new international bands in Reykjavik. Live and unplugged.

London band Benin City, out on Tjörnin

We had the most fun chasing up and down Reykjavík, following artists, finding new ones, ad hoc meetings for making something spectacular. Reykjavík during Iceland Airwaves is a special place, and connecting to that energy can bring about some very special moments.


The first session in our Airwaves series was completely unplanned. We're always interested in brilliant new music, and London band Girlhood certainly fit that category. On our session shortlist in the lead-up to the festival, we hadn't managed to schedule anything - for one reason or another.

Watching their mesmerising set on the Thursday, at Húrra, it was clear. We had to get an unplugged session. Just the vocals. A cappella. The plan was set. A quick word with Sarah, in the band, and then the manager. A run through of the concept, our idea, and we were go.

Tessa and Sarah in the moment. Magic

20 minute run for the camera (safe at home - good lesson, there) followed by some miscommunication about the location. Turns out a street corner is the absolute perfect place when your company is this talented.

On to Friday, and we caught up with London electronica band Benin City. The idea was simple: take away the electricity and keep the spoken word, the brass, let the vocals shine through. A little nervous, but well-rehearsed, this one was really a pleasure. A couple of run throughs, lots of swans singing, the wind blowing on a beautiful sharp day in the city.

Benin City in the background: Setting the scene

When you take something like a song, written, performed and recorded in a particular way. It has very distinct meaning, especially to a band or artist. Then we change the rules, change the emphasis - making things unplugged.

What comes is a sort of experiment, really. The focus is different, the energy is different. The song takes on new meaning, to both the artist and the audience. Listening over our session again and again with Benin City, it's amazing how their version of 'Double or Nothing' for us is so different to the one on the album. Yet, both have power and make you feel, make you think. Just in different ways.

You can see all our Airwaves 18' sessions here.

(all pictures captured by Patrik Ontkovic)

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