Prins Póló is the solo venture of one Svavar Pétur Eysteinsson (joined in concert by his wife Berglind and their friends), who made his first appearance on Reykjavík’s stages in the early noughties playing with twee quirksters Rúnk (“Masturbation/Repetition”) and quickly made a name for himself as a unique, fiercely independent and perennially DIY-minded artist. Throughout the decade, he further cemented his reputation through his work with indie rock outfit Skakkamange (where he is also joined by his wife), before making a name for himself as a hyper-creative cultural instigator-slash-entrepreneur, founding and running an independent book/music/art/design store-slash-music venue called Havarí, which doubled as a cultural hub and meeting spot for Reykjavík’s artists and musicians in the decade’s latter half.
A graphic designer by trade, Svavar further made a mark on Icelandic underground culture by creating book jackets, album covers and posters for his contemporaries, honing his uniquely original, ever-evolving aesthetic while actively supporting local artists.
Despite many successes and impressive projects, Svavar seemed destined to forever remain in the underground, an artist’s artist, influencing popular culture from the sidelines as his uncompromising attitude ensured he would never appeal to the masses.
As the years have passed, Svavar’s aesthetic remains just as eccentric, his stance just as uncompromised. But something weird has been happening lately. Svavar Pétur’s various projects (the latest one is a line of vegan sausages) have been gaining fans in the unlikeliest of places, and chief among those is Prins Póló.
The Prince’s rise to glory has been a slow and steady build-up that no one really saw coming. It finally reached a tipping point during the summer of 2014, when the band exploded all over Iceland’s airwaves via top pop hit “París Norðursins,” which was embraced equally by every facet of Icelandic society, from ‘modern rock’ radio to commercial MOR stations to vapid tabloids and TV stations.
All of the sudden, Prins Póló is everywhere, beloved, revered and celebrated. The band of 2014, without doubt or question. And the best part is: aside from a natural, gradual evolution, his approach and aesthetic have remained consistent throughout, as dedicated to the DIY spirit, as supportive of the underdog, as inclusive and welcoming as ever before.
words by Haukur Magnusson / Reykjavik Grapevine
photo by Baldur Kristjánsson © / Reykjavik Grapevine