By Jae-Ha Kim
January 18, 2011
Olafur Arnalds has a unique background. The neoclassical artist used to play drums for several hard rock bands back home in Iceland. Currently on tour promoting his latest album “…And They Have Escaped the Weight of Darkness,” the 24-year-old composer revels in meshing classical compositions with electronic chamber music and a touch of rock.
“It is fun,” he says of his shows. “I travel and meet people when I’m touring and when I’m not I live in downtown Reykjavik. Being 24 in Reykjavik is a fun thing. I wouldn’t really want to live anywhere else.” For a chance to win tickets to Arnalds’ shows, visit www.olafurarnalds.com/tour-dates.
Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?
A. Krakow, Poland. It was actually great. That city is amazing. It’s a shame not more people think of going to Poland for vacation. It’s a stunningly beautiful country with some of the nicest people you will find on this earth.
Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?
A. My absolute favorite is my family’s summerhouse. It is only an hour away from Reykjavik, in a forest by a beautiful clear lake. We have a few kayaks and I like to go kayaking on the lake.
Q. What are your favorite hotels?
A. I’ve probably stayed at more than 100 hotels in the last couple of years, but my favorite must be Hotel G in Beijing. Very cool interior design and you can choose the color of your window with the switch of a button in the room. I have tried very hard to persuade the management staff to use the master control to write my name on the outside of the building with the window colors, without much luck! And the floors are so soft that you don’t really need the comfy bed. I stay there every time I go to Beijing, if not only for the friendly staff and nice food then the iPod docks that are in every room. That’s something that should be in every hotel.
Q. What are your favorite restaurants?
A. I’m not very big on eating. In fact I wish there was a pill that could erase the need for food. I’m also a vegetarian, which limits my options a bit. My favorites that I can think of are both at home in Reykjavik: A Naestu Grosum, which is a vegetarian buffet place, and Hamborgarabullan, which makes amazing veggie burgers.
Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?
A. I hate to say it, but it would be my work essentials: a laptop and a sound-interface. If I get an idea and feel like making music, I get really annoyed if I can’t. And my toothbrush, that is important, although that is also the most frequently forgotten item.
Q. What are your five favorite cities?
A. Seoul, South Korea; Beijing; Antwerp, Belgium; Reykjavik; and Krakow.
Q. What kind of research do you do before you go away on a trip?
A. I usually don’t. I don’t like being too organized.
Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?
A. I would really love to take a long vacation sometime soon, traveling around Southeast Asia. I also really want to go to Cairo and see the pyramids. India is high on my list. It is one of my life’s goals to see all the ancient wonders of the world.
Q. What is your best and/or worst vacation memory?
A. I had a few days off the last time I was on tour in China so I traveled around a bit and walked a couple of miles on the Great Wall. That was a really amazing experience. I don’t really think I have a bad vacation memory, thankfully.
© 2011 JAE-HA KIM
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