Eurovision: A song that unites

2016 marks the 30th anniversary of “Söngvakeppni sjónvarpsins”, Iceland’s pre-selection competition for Eurovision. Among this year’s exciting contestants are first timers Vala Höskuldsdóttir and Sigríður Eir Zophoníasardótir – known together as the band Eva – who say that they’re bringing a political message to the contest. I caught up with Vala and started by asking, how it came about that the two of them decided to compete in it.

adsf
Vala Höskuldsdóttir (pictured) and her band mate Sigríður Eir Zophoníasardóttir, a.k.a. Sigga, have written a song about “the refugee problem that ” Europe is currently facing. They will be performing it in Söngvakeppni sjónvarpsins.

“It was a kind of an epiphany. We just got an office space and we were a bit lost in regards to what to do with it. And then we got a chance to think outside the box. We have this whiteboard at our office where we list the band’s upcoming projects and ideas and one day Sigga [a.k.a. Sigríður] simply wrote: “Write a Eurovision song”. Then she admitted to having had this dream for years, to perform at the Eurovision Song Contest.”

Was this also a dream of yours?
“No, not really. I have already experienced reality TV when I was 18 years old and took part in The Icelandic Idol. I felt it was total craziness, so for my being it was hard to dream about doing something like that again. But Sigga has promised to take good care of me and we’re all grown up now so I believe things will be different this time.”

Wait, so you’re saying that the pre-contest is basically reality TV?
“Well, theoretically speaking it is. I mean for someone like me, who comes from the world of theater, Eurovision is television entertainment and just as much reality TV as The Bachelor or Survivor. Which can be fun, and if it’s on good terms then we’re happy to be a part of it.”

“Eurovision has often been a platform for politics, although Iceland hasn’t taken great part in that panel so far. We’ve been focusing more on the love ballads…”

Vala tells me that after she and Sigga started talking about this – seriously talking – they decided that if they were going to compete, then it had to be on their terms and it had to have a point. So they asked themselves: What does Europe need to hear?

“And for us that question had an easy answer. The first thing that came to mind was the problem we’re facing in regards to refugees. And that problem is ours, not the refugees’. We have problems accepting people who are looking for safety. We need to stick together now and try to look at things from a different perspective. If we weren’t so scared, we might see that this doesn’t have to be such a problem. The song is basically about that.”

The matter of refugees has been much disputed all over Europe – how do you imagine the song will be received?
“I don’t know. It will be interesting to see, if a big percentage of Eurovision fans are afraid of the migrants and refugees of Europe.

I find it rather likely that more songs in the final contest will be addressing this problem. Eurovision has often been a platform for politics, although Iceland hasn’t taken great part in that panel so far. We’ve been focusing more on the love ballads, with the memorable exception of Pöllapönk who sang away prejudice.”

Sigga and Vala.
Sigga and Vala are bringing a political message to Eurovision.

Well, it will be exciting to see if you’re right, if performers from other countries feel the urge to confront the situation. But why did you see Eurovision as platform for that? 

“Well we recently published a song called “Makríllinn” [e. The Mackerel], which was inspired by a speech that Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir [an Icelandic actress] gave at the Gríma ceremony [Icelandic theater awards], where she talked about how important it was to use every window you get – every opportunity – to say what has to be said. And Eurovision is such an obvious window of opportunity.”

Talking about your work and your band I noticed that in the beginning you mentioned the band’s “office”, where you have this whiteboard for the band’s – not only gigs – but “projects”. So do you perhaps see yourselves as something more than a band?

“We have difficulties putting ourselves in a box – at least we haven’t found the right one yet. We both come from the theatre and are interested in politics. But we’re also just a band of two women. It’s complicated. And the same goes with the music itself. We’ve tried to pinpoint it, and so far the best description is ‘a country based,melodic feminst pop-punk with a witty, folkie undertone’. But you’re right, we definitely see ourselves as something more than a band.”

“At one point we wanted to have the lyrics translated into Arabic – that would have been fun!”

Your popularity has increased a lot over the last year. I have a feeling that the lyrics have much to do with this, do you agree?
“Yes. I think we’re a bit different when it comes to our lyrics. Our melodies are nice but the lyrics speak to people. And maybe that’s what’s missing in music today; lyrics that speak directly to the people. Our concerts are more like a conversation with the audience. We want to write songs that unite people.”

This seems to be a bit up and coming in art today, at least here in Iceland, sincerity infused with a bit of comic criticism.
“Definitely. I feel like that’s the best way to people’s hearts, to play both ways – to both admit you’re a part of society and also point out the comic and tragic sides of it.”

adsf
“Multiculturalism is profitable in so many ways – it adds spice to life,” says Vala.

Can you tell us a bit about your song, “Ég sé þig” (i. I see you), for the song competition?
“I’m really happy about it. It paints a beautiful picture of what Europe could be looking at if we step up our game and start welcoming everybody. Multiculturalism is profitable in so many ways – it adds spice to life. And the song talks about how we’re all so different but at the same time we’re all in the same boat, which we don’t want to sink.”

In the pre-selection competition all songs must be performed in Icelandic. But have you already translated your songs into English, or do you have different plans?
“We’ve discussed this back and forth. At one point we wanted to have the lyrics translated into Arabic – that would have been fun! But at the end of the day we came to the conclusion that since the lyrics are a very important part of the song, it would be best for it to be performed in English since it would reach most people that way.”

Speaking about the song’s message, what are your thoughts on the statement that people who want to have boarders opened, ‘are not thinking things through’, that they ‘are simple minded’?
“Living together, and being a part of society, will always be complicated. Each society is filled with minefields. We need to dare to deal with things, tackle each other and find ways to disarm those mines. That’s life. It’s also very complicated to only live with Icelanders. I think it’s really complicated to live with a lot of groups of our society. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it.”

adsf
Last year 260 songs were submitted to Söngvakeppni Sjónvarpsins, the Icelandic pre-selection competition for Eurovision, but only 12 were chosen to take part. Those songs, including the song by Vala and Sigga, will be broad-casted live on RÚV on February the 6th, 13th and the 20th.

All photos/courtesy of the band Eva.

Blush

    Blush was founded in 2011 when it started selling high quality sex products. The goal from the beginning was to change the market and take the discussion about sex products to a higher level. Today Blush provides professional services in a pleasant environment that fulfills different needs, both for individuals and couples. Blush respects diversity and wants to set a good example in all of its messaging to target audiences. Sexual health and equality in sex is important and Blush wants to focus on those issues through education and open discussion. Blush works in a socially responsible manner for society, their customers and the environment.

    Check out Blush’s website: https://blush.is/

    Omnom Chocolate
    - award-winning chocolate maker

      Omnom Chocolate is an Icelandic craft chocolate company based in Reykjavík. We produce handcrafted chocolate from organic cacao beans sourced ethically and sustainably. We’ve developed direct relationships to create premium chocolate with fine flavor cacao beans.

      Our creative flavors are carefully crafted by meticulous chocolate makers. The cacao beans are roasted, winnowed, ground, and refined into melty-smooth chocolate.

      Omnom’s process is one of constant exploration, invention, and experimentation. If it doesn’t please us, if something isn’t absolutely delicious, there’s no reason to be doing it. So, we always start with our taste buds and follow our instincts. Our team searches for the finest ingredients in the world and new ways to improve chocolate. This obsession with knowing where our ingredients come from has led us around the corner to dairy farms in the Icelandic countryside and all the way to rainforest cacao farms of Nicaragua.

      In only a few short years, we’ve grown from our 50 sq. m. petrol station space and become an award-winning chocolate maker. Now, with our headquarters in 101 Reykjavík, our chocolate is sent out around Iceland and all over the world.

      At the end of the day, our goal is to make chocolate.

       

      Nasdaq

         

        Nasdaq (Nasdaq: NDAQ) is a global technology company serving the capital markets and other industries. Our diverse offering of data, analytics, software and services enables clients to optimize and execute their business vision with confidence.

        With over 4,300 employees in 39 offices around the world, at Nasdaq we all contribute to the success of the company and its culture, and each one of us has the ability to make a difference. When it comes to our core mission and values, we embrace the role of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIB) as a fundamental driver of our corporate growth, workplace culture and market development. We strive to create a culture that embraces the power of different perspectives—a culture where people’s unique backgrounds and different experiences helps us fuel innovation and support our clients around the world.

        Our unique position at the center of the capital markets allows us to see firsthand how these values have redefined corporate culture and success, deepening and accelerating our own commitment to champion inclusive growth and prosperity, as we strive to create more equitable opportunities to help people of all backgrounds reach their full potential. Most notably, we published our diversity statistics for the first time in 2020. These metrics serve as a quantitative assessment of where we are today and help determine what strategies we need to adopt to enhance diversity in the workplace. We recognize that we have much work to do, but we are steadfast in our commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive culture—one that reflects the communities in which we live, allows all employees to be their true, authentic selves and fosters individual growth and achievement.

        As we move forward together, we will continue advancing diverse ideas and perspectives that help fulfill the promise of a more inclusive and prosperous world. We aim to set the pace for rethinking capital markets and economies anywhere and everywhere. To learn more about the company, technology solutions and career opportunities, visit us on LinkedIn, on Twitter @Nasdaq, or at www.nasdaq.com.

        Blue Lagoon
        - One of the 25 Wonders of the World

        Named by National Geographic as one of the 25 Wonders of the World, the Blue Lagoon is a shimmering expanse of warmth, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Its unique geothermal seawater
        comes from 2.000 meters within the earth where seawater and freshwater converge in a tectonic realm of porous lava and searing heat. Propelled by extreme pressure, the water ascends to the earth’s surface, emerging enriched with silica, algae, and minerals—the elements that endow Blue Lagoon geothermal seawater with its radiant, healing properties.

        From its humble beginnings in the shadows of a geothermal power plant, Blue Lagoon has evolved into a world of wonder, now encompassing two hotels, three restaurants, three
        geothermal lagoons, a subterranean spa, a renowned line of skin care, a thriving research center, and a wealth of spa and refreshment facilities.

        Achieving harmony with the volcanic landscape, the lagoon and its surrounding architecture embody the unification of the man-made and the natural, and adhere to the highest principles of sustainability.

        The Blue Lagoon. A wonder of the world. A world of wonder.

        Landsbankinn
        - leading financial institution
        Landsbankinn

        Landsbankinn is a leading Icelandic financial institution. It offers a full range of financial services and is the market leader in the Icelandic financial service sector with the largest branch network.

        The present bank was established on 7 October 2008 but the history of its predecessor dates back to 1886. The bank is owned by the National Treasury of Iceland, which holds 98.2% of its share capital, and other shareholders who own 1.8%.

        Landsbankinn’s strategy is to provide comprehensive financial services that meet customer’s needs. It emphasizes providing exemplary service to customers, developing e-banking for their convenience, increasing the efficiency of support functions, modernizing its technology and ensuring effective utilization of its balance sheet.

        The bank’s vision is to be exemplary and its role is to be a trusted financial partner.

        Special emphasis is placed on promoting a performance-oriented culture in the bank. To follow up on the implementation of this strategy, the bank has defined key goals which are measured regularly to determine progress. These goals include, for example, customer satisfaction and loyalty, profitability, cost efficiency and the correlation between risk appetite and employee satisfaction.

        Landsbankinn wishes to lead the development of a sustainable society in Iceland by integrating economic, social and environmental concerns in its operations. The Bank aims to ensure that both its owners and society at large benefit from its activities.

        It intends to achieve this aim by building solid infrastructure and a strong team of 1.100 employees, by listening to its customers and by respecting and encouraging its employees to actively participate in their community. Landsbankinn was a founding member of Festa, a Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, and is a member of the UN Global Compact.

        Landsbankinn has been a proud sponsor of the Reykjavik Pride since it was first celebrated in Iceland.

        Dohop
        - get inspired
        Dohop

        Dohop allows people to find the cheapest flights available with just one click. Founded in Reykjavik in 2004, it is the only Icelandic company of its kind and quickly became the go-to tool for finding cheap flights among the locals. Dohop finds the best deals among hundreds of different airlines and online travel agencies, to make sure that the user is getting the cheapest price. Dohop also offers hotel and car rental search engines, so users can make all of their travel bookings from a single website.

        Dohop‘s specialty is finding so-called “self-connect” flight options, which can save travelers money by booking a ticket through two or more different airlines. The ability to look for these self-connect option is what sets Dohop apart from its competition, as it can save people hundreds of dollars on certain routes.

        More recently, Dohop has developed a unique product called Dohop Go!, which allows users to check for the cheapest available flights from their home airport. This tool is perfect for those who are looking for travel inspiration but are not willing to overpay for their flight ticket. Dohop Go! is now available in the Dohop Flights App, both for Android and iOS, along with its traditional flight, hotel, and car search engines. “

        VSÓ Ráðgjöf

           

          VSÓ Ráðgjöf er alhliða ráðgjafar- og verkfræðifyrirtæki sem leggur áherslu á trausta og faglega þjónustu sem tryggir viðskiptavinum hagkvæmustu lausnir hverju sinni, skilar raunverulegum árangri og stuðlar að samkeppnisforskoti.  Á skrifstofum VSÓ í Reykjavík og í Noregi starfar yfir 80 manna samhentur hópur verkfræðinga og annarra tæknimenntaðra starfsmanna.

          Macland
          - for all your Apple needs
          Macland

          From starting out as a proper startup with only a good idea and the need to change things, to becoming an established company with 6 employees. Starting from scratch and expanding organically has allowed us to love our expansion and take our customers on the ride with us.

          Macland is located at Laugavegur 23 (101, Downtown Reykjavik)
          For all your Apple needs. We are here.

          Ísey skyr
          - once tasted never forgotten

          Our Story
          Once upon a time, 1,100 years ago in fact, Nordic settlers began arriving in Iceland. They brought with them the skills and knowledge for producing skyr. As time passed, the know-how and recipe for this nutritious food slowly faded out elsewhere in the Nordic region. Luckily, the Icelandic skyr-making tradition continued.

          For centuries, Icelandic skyr formed a cornerstone of the national diet, helping to keep people strong in living conditions that were often harsh. On family farms countrywide, it was the women who nurtured this dairy and passing on both the recipe and the original Icelandic skyr cultures from mother to daughter.

          Ísey skyr builds on this remarkable legacy. It was some of those very same women, the recipients of their mothers’ expertise, who, around 90 years ago, taught Icelandic dairy scientists the art of skyr-making. The production process is more high-tech these days, and the quality standards more rigorous. However, the basic recipe and the use of original cultures to ferment the skimmed milk remain the same. Protein rich, fat-free, creamy and delicious – Ísey skyr is as relevant to consumers now as it was all those centuries ago.
          This is our secret and you are in on it

          You can read more about Ísey skyr on our website.

          Contact Us


          PGlmcmFtZSBzcmM9Imh0dHBzOi8vd3d3Lmdvb2dsZS5jb20vbWFwcy9lbWJlZD9wYj0hMW0xNCExbTEyITFtMyExZDI3ODQyLjM0NzA2NDA3OTU4ITJkLTIxLjkwMDg1MDg1NzkxODQyITNkNjQuMTQxNzA3ODE2NzAyMDEhMm0zITFmMCEyZjAhM2YwITNtMiExaTEwMjQhMmk3NjghNGYxMy4xITVlMCEzbTIhMXNlbiEycyE0djE0MzMzMzc5MTUyMjYiIHdpZHRoPSIxMDAlIiBoZWlnaHQ9IjEwMCUiIGZyYW1lYm9yZGVyPSIwIiBzdHlsZT0iYm9yZGVyOjAiPjwvaWZyYW1lPg==
          Thank You. We will contact you as soon as possible.