Cover photo: Víðir Björnsson
For a feature in Groove 162, our writer Alexis Waltz went to Iceland to experience a rave as exclusive and unique as only a few are these days. Nina Kraviz took the roster of her own Trip label to a cave three hours from Iceland’s capitol Reykjavík for, well, a Rave In The Cave. Apart from Nina Kraviz herself, the two Icelandic natives Bjarki and Exos (see his 10 all-time favourite Icelandic records here), the Russian producer Nikita Zabelin and the Detroit legend K-Hand played heavy sets under a rock massif. Alexis Waltz, Víðir Björnsson and Thimothée Lambrecq documented Trip’s trip to a cave for a rave.
16. Rave In The Cave
Nina Kraviz invited party people from all around the world to her Trip label party in a remote cave on Iceland. Nikita Zabelin from Moscow, K-Hand from Detroit as well as Exos and Bjarki from Reykjavík joined the rugged Chicago House and brittle Detroit Techno loving Siberian DJ and Producer for a very special event.
15. Rave In The Cave
Three big white coaches pick us up at a non-descript parking lot in the center of Reykjavík. A cheerful crowd of party people takes off for a three hour bus ride through the alien landscape of Iceland.
14. Rave In The Cave
Bob is our tour guide. We all hope to get a duckface selfie with Nina Kraviz, he jokes. The surprisingly serious Techno quiz asks for the names of the Belleville Three, Techno’s founding fathers. A young partygoer hesitates, writes “The Black Madonna”.
13. Rave In The Cave
After stops for sandwiches and beer, the buses leave the road and roll over black rubble. The sea is to our right, a red rock massif soars to our left. The final distance we have to walk, the wind piercing through our clothes.
12. Rave In The Cave
“We are basically here to save you from yourself,” says an Icelandic ranger.
11. Rave In The Cave
The rock wall opens at a seemingly random spot into a cave twenty or thirty meters high, accommodating about 150 people.
10. Rave In The Cave
The violent wind has settled down. The unique space sets a certain composure and concentration against the gigantic landscape outside.
9. Rave In The Cave
Water drips down from the rocky ceiling. The DJs reside under a small tent. There is no VIP area, just a puddle of water behind the decks. K-Hand lets the overdesigned structures and smooth surfaces of contemporary club music loose and sweeps us away with primal, noisy grooves.
8. Rave In The Cave
The crowd is as diverse as it can be. Some are young, some old, some hip, some casual, some are dressed in black and some colorfully. Some are tipsy, some high. Every approach to the musical experience, to partying is represented.
7. Rave In The Cave
Exos from Iceland plays crystal clear techno. But the driving grooves never have him lose his sense for the unique atmosphere.
6. Rave In The Cave
The land rovers, cars and trucks look like the base camp of an expedition. Four mobile toilets are set up on a trailer, the party people treat themselves to free beer and water from cardboard boxes. In the evening, the sun comes through. Some take a break from dancing and chill out in the lush green grass next to the cave.
5. Rave In The Cave
Nikita Zabelin’s Techno sound has a rhythmic complexity that sounds archaic and futuristic at the same time. Stretched vocals create an irritating psychedelic effect.
4. Rave In The Cave
„We are really connected to music and we are emotional about what we do,” Bjarki explains: “We want people to feel the same. We want them to enjoy it the way we enjoy it. By taking people out of their comfort zone and making them feel a bit ‘Uh-oh, what´s gonna happen?’, they are putting their trust in us. They are not here because it’s cool or because they are proving something to anyone. It is tough, three hours on a bus. You come here and you probably have a moment of “Now what?”. There is not much to do besides listening to the music or behaving like monkeys in the wilderness. Putting people through this experience is something we enjoy a lot.” Bjarki hesitates. “I think this is how parties were like in the nineties: people had no idea what’s gonna happen.”
3. Rave In The Cave
Layering multiple grooves and soundscapes on top of each other, Bjarki’s live set unleashes an improbable, unmediated energy. It is a bizarre mix of unmixable things, comments Nina Kraviz. It does not makes sense – until it does.
2. Rave In The Cave
„Iceland blows me away,” Nina Kraviz explains. “In Central Europe, you don’t experience real winter anymore. I love the cold climate. The weather can change as quickly as in [Siberia]. One time in winter, we were stuck on the road in a blizzard, listening to Exos’ ‘My Home Is Sonic‘.”
1. Rave In The Cave
At 10pm, the busses return to pick us up. Bjarki’s music fades away as the ravers grab a final ginger beer for the ride.