Looking for something to get your weekend started? Amsterdam, we have the perfect party for you. On Friday 27 July, every corner of Melkweg plays host to the most exceptional and surprising art of this year’s graduates. Featuring art presentations, speed dates with talent scouts, talks by the The Construction Club and music by Le1f, Countess Malaise and Zgjim, this all-round art experience is not one to be missed. In anticipation of ARTY PARTY, we caught up with Countess Malaise—the Icelandic hip hop artist combining audio, visual and her own brand of aesthetics, who’s not afraid to tell you the truth.
You have a history in painting and graffiti. How does your experience with visual art feed into your music?
I guess I have a slightly different perspective and approach to music, which also makes me approach painting differently than others. I think these two parts of me equally influence one another, even though I am maybe not so aware of it most of the time.
What inspires you and the visuals accompanying your music?
A harsh reality and my mental state inspires me. But also cinema and art.
Your work is a far cry from mere aetheticism, often broaching subjects that are considered taboo, for instance concerning rape culture. How important do you consider it to bring such subjects to the conversation and break the taboo?
It is extremely important and it has proven to be factual. Because just recently people started paying attention to rape culture after the #MeToo movement went viral. Survivors have been crying for help for decades and just now their voices are being heard. We are tired of being silenced and we are not crying anymore, we are demanding justice and equality for all.
Present in both Iceland and The Netherlands’ underground rap scene, how do the two cities compare and how far do they nurture young hip hop artists such as yourself?
I remember going to shows at Melkweg, Paradiso, De School/Subbacultcha, Paradiso Noord/Progress Bar and other parties, and thinking to myself “Damn, I wish I’ll get to play at events like these one day, this is amazing!” And then some months later I’m booked for Progress Bar and now I am about to play at Melkweg! It’s wild and I owe a lot to my friends and family, for helping me out and supporting me. In Amsterdam LYZZA has shown me so much love, I remember meeting LYZZA about a year ago before she came out with her Powerplay EP. She was doing visuals for Zgjim at 0T301 at the time and I just really loved her energy. We followed each other on Instagram and I found out that she made music. I was so excited to know a WOC producer, it really inspired me… because all of my producer friends at that moment were all white and all dudes. LYZZA booked me to play my first official gig in December last year, at her first party with her team X3 at W139. That is the first time I felt part of the music scene in Amsterdam. I got to know so many amazing and inspiring artists that weekend. I felt accepted, I felt safe.
How important is it to have events such as ARTY PARTY to promote and showcase exceptional young artists?
In Iceland it’s kind of a different story because Iceland is small and there aren’t many parties happening there—definitely not anything like the parties here in Amsterdam. Those parties are for sure not inclusive, queer and art-based events such as the events I have done here. I can really feel the rape culture and racism in the air in Iceland and I get way more nervous doing shows there, probably because all my abusers are Icelandic. So it’s way more of a harsh environment to perform in because a big part of the crowd knows at least one of my abusers and might even be their friend. I have even seen people that used to bully me in elementary school at my shows and when I say bully I mean they used to call me racist names like “Thai whore” (I’m half Filippino) and threaten to rape me if they saw me outside of school. Performing in Iceland for me is actually much like taking part in a mental war. But making music with my friends and hanging out with my family there is so much fun, so that’s how I keep focused and sane.
What can we expect from you at ARTY PARTY?
I’m serving you raw and sincere energy, with a side of horny goth, garnished beautifully with “biiih wtf?”