Land of fire and ice

Singer-song­writer John Grant has cu­rated a Nordic mu­sic fes­ti­val for Hull UK City of Cul­ture. Dun­can Sea­man re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - 6/MUSIC -

Singer-song­writer John Grant may have grown up in the West­ern United States but in re­cent years his heart has found a home sev­eral thou­sand miles away, in Ice­land.

His last two al­bums, Pale Ghosts and Grey Tick­les, Black Pressure – which were both top 20 hits in the UK – were recorded in Reyk­javik while in 2014 he was called upon to co-write Ice­land’s en­try in the Euro­vi­sion Song Con­test.

“I feel like I’m slowly be­com­ing part of a com­mu­nity,” he re­ports. “I’m learn­ing the lan­guage more – it’s been a huge chal­lenge, I have to say – but I have a solid re­la­tion­ship with an Ice­lander, that makes a big dif­fer­ence. I like the peo­ple a lot, I like the way they are... peo­ple don’t sweat the small stuff up here nearly as much.”

Later this month the 48-yearold will per­form at North At­lantic Flux: Sounds From Smoky Bay, a four-day fes­ti­val of con­tem­po­rary Nordic mu­sic which he has cu­rated for Hull UK City of Cul­ture 2017.

The idea was orig­i­nally sug­gested to Grant by Chris Clay of the City of Cul­ture team and Andy Bry­don of the in­no­va­tive arts or­gan­i­sa­tion Cu­rated Place. “I’m just chuffed to be asked to do some­thing like that so I said ‘yes’,” the singer says.

“They know that I am ex­cited about all things Scan­di­na­vian and very re­motely I have some strange con­nec­tions to Hull too be­cause of some of my favourite artists com­ing out of there like Tracey Thorn and Cosey Fanni Tutti and the whole Throb­bing Gris­tle thing and Lene Lovich, an­other of my favourite singers – she spent time in Hull as well.

“I’ve al­ways heard that Hull was very bleak and that it was a rough place – and that sounds re­ally good to me.”

Pulling to­gether an ad­ven­tur­ous bill – that ranges broadly from clas­si­cal to punk but “cer­tainly has an em­pha­sis on the elec­tronic” – took over a year’s work.

From Ice­land there’s GusGus, Só­ley, Sykur and Fu­fanu, from

I’ve al­ways heard

that Hull was very bleak... and that sounds re­ally

good to me.

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