Looking for something to do? We’ve got you!
October 20, 2022
📸: Arni Hlodversson
This multi-instrumentalist, producer, composer, and DJ, who has produced a multitude of Icelandic hits (there are lots of hits you don’t know about), chatted with us about his vinyl obsession, explained that the Reykjavík’s downtown denizens call themselves ‘rats’ and bragged a tiny bit (in an adorable way) about his brother recently playing with the orchestra in the city’s fantastic Harpa concert hall. Read on to learn more about all that and his perfect day in Reykjavík — which all happens within a 12-block radius of where he lives. Follow along on this ‘rat’ plan, and you may just run into Iceland’s most famous red braided DJ along the way. (In which case you should say hi, he’s super friendly.)
First stop, no surprise, a record store. More like the record store. DJ Hermigervill describes Lucky Records as the Amoeba of Iceland…but better and with free coffee. “They have a massive selection of vinyl, CDs, and a huge Icelandic section. Probably every Icelandic record you can buy is for sale in this store.” So it’s a hang out, a place to buy the latest/greatest music in Reykjavík, and there’s a small stage where they sometimes have live performances. Obvious place to while away the morning.
Next up, swimming in a geothermal pool. But not out at one of those tourist spots, this is the central pool in downtown where the locals do some laps or just hang out in the hot tub and catch up on the news of the day. “Going for a swim is the national pastime here, everybody goes at least once a week,” says Hemi. “I always say it’s a bit like the Romans how they met in the baths in the Forum back in the ancient Rome…I would say a lot of important political decisions are made in the baths.” Which makes it seem like it’s going to be intense…but you don’t speak Icelandic so you don’t need to worry about getting caught up in some local intrigue during your dip.
After your healing trip to the pool + healthy dose of local gossip, you’ll be ready for some tasty fare. And what better than a tricked out food hall (with a Melrose Market vibe) that has a little something for everyone: pizza, steak, gelato, herring and even Mexican food? “When I moved here first many years ago, Hlemmur Food Hall didn’t exist, it was just a bus depot where the junkies hung out…people would be kind of afraid walking past it. But now it has been cleaned up and it’s a nice mix between fancy and casual food that’s always full of people.”
DJ Hermigervill’s next tip is to get a little fancy for the evening at Harpa, Reykjavík’s stunning concert hall where a relative of his recently performed. “We have an excellent orchestra in Iceland so basically after you have eaten it’s time to go and see the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra play in our concert hall where the acoustics are absolutely amazing. I’m so proud my little brother just had his first concert with the Symphony Orchestra, he plays bassoon!” Plan ahead and check out what is happening at Harpa and the adjacent venues, here.
Post Covid this legendary — but relatively teeny — record store decided to diversify into the bar/late night business and it’s a development that’s been very well received by locals. “It’s much smaller than Lucky Records, and they serve delicious drinks and bring in DJs that play the weirdest music they can find — there’s this guy that plays 78 RPM records he has from the 1930s that are wonderfully strange.” He adds, “it’s a great marketing strategy for a record shop — once you’ve had a few drinks you’re definitely going to buy a record or three.”
But where are you staying? DJ Hermigervill’s suggestion — Kex Hostel — actually has a Seattle connection. “Many times KEXP has recorded live sessions from Kex Hostel, I don’t know how that’s happened, but their sessions are available on YouTube and elsewhere.” He also adds, “it’s a great place to stay in town — and just a few blocks from my house.” Which everything good seems to be!
Charles Runnette is the Creative Director of the ST Content Studio and a freelance travel writer. His work can be found in Bloomberg Businessweek, Condé Nast Traveler, The Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, The New York Times among other publications.