Woo-a-hoo. Another chunk O’ bands have been announced for Airwaves 2014. And I’m extremely pleased as there are a lot of Icelandic bands I haven’t heard yet, and the ones I have are classic. So far, there are 61 bands that have been announced, 40 of which are Icelandic.
Non Icelandic bands include Future Islands, Farao, Emilie Nicolas, and The War on Drugs will be closing the festival with the Flaming lips. Also, Zhala, Spray Paint, and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard will be there.
This round of bands goes to the Icelanders though. There are so many good bands coming, Oyama will be there. And Rökkurró as well. Þórir Georg, Kaleo, Endless Dark, Kippi Kaninus, Brain Police, Beneath, Fufanu, Epic Rain, Skurken, AMFJ, Kontinuum, Ophidian I, Var, Atónal Blús, Mafama, Vio, Lucy in Blue and Conflictions as well.
Links to all the Icelandic bands music will be on my Iceland Airwaves page, and you can learn more about the festival here as well as see the entire line up on the Iceland Airwaves official website. The festival is definitely going to be another goodun!
And I leave you with Þórir Georg’s cover of Heya but Outkast. It’s an oldie, but I love it:
Simple yet energetic and noisy, there’s a new album from a new band in Iceland; I need you to go to hell, by Knife Fights. Consisting of Sigurður Angantýsson (Vocals, guitar), Helgi Pétur Hannesson (drums), Gunnar Petur Hauksson (Bass), and Þórir Bogason (synth and guitar.) Knife Fights have released the perfect summer album.
I need you to go hell is chock-full of modernized noisy 90′s American west coast style rock. A smorgasbord of The Breeders, Jane’s Addiction, R.E.M type sounds, with a dash of grunge. The opening riff sucks you right into the smooth-ish track, Stay Forever in Doubt, and rolls along into more raw, rock/punk tracks such as Gnarbone, one of my favorites on the album.
They’re on Soundcloud, you can stalk them on Facebook, and you can listen to and/or purchase the album on Bandcamp. It’s $10, and I promise you’ll get your money’s worth, every time I hear the thing I like it more.
As there is little out there on the band, this is my first attempt at an interview type thing. I emailed them a bunch of questions alongside my nonsensical ones and Siggi was nice enough to reply with answers:
1. I know you’ve been around in a few forms for a year or two now, what do you officially consider your start date? We released our first video sometime in October 2012 and had our first gig in April, 2013 so somewhere around that time I guess. This project had been gestating for a long time in my head so it’s hard to tell.
2. Can you tell me a little about how you started, and why? It all started when I decided I was finally not shy about singing anymore or at least that I really wanted to overcome my shyness. I had slowly been learning how to play guitar in my early twenties so it took a lot of time to feel comfortable writing music and singing and stuff. I had difficulty being the focus of anybody’s attention really. By the end of 2011, I had actually written a bunch of songs or riffs and started recording them on my Macbook Pro. Really hi-fi stuff. I started sending them to my talented music friends who then offered to help me flesh it out and maybe form a band, which we did. God bless them.
3. What other bands have you all been in before or are in now? Our drummer Helgi Pétur and bass-man Gunnar are both in an awesome band called Gang Related. Helgi is also in legendary punk band Morðingjarnir and recently started playing with our pal musician Þórir Georg. Busy man really. Our newly recruited synth-and-guitar man Þórir Bogason is of course the leader of the wonderful Just Another Snake Cult.
4. Who are your musical influences? I’d say these are my basics: R.E.M, Pavement, Bowie, Pixies, Springsteen, Built To Spill, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Cure, The Smiths… you get the idea. With Knife Fights I just wanted to make something loud and contemplative at the same time. We were conscious about not just repeating our favourite music but rather just go with whatever we feel like. We don’t really care what we sound like as long as it keeps us interested. I also think that music is very therapeutic and that you can really tell if a musician is sincere or not in their approach. That’s what unites all my favourite art is that it seems to stem from this need that we have to communicate something or other.
5. If you had to describe your style what would say? I’d say my personal guitar style is melodic, sloppy, wired, spaced out, organic and very un-professional. Our bassist Gunnar is like a bastard child of Jaco Pastorius and Fieldy. Drummer Helgi possesses a machine-like quality while also being really organic in his approach and Þórir’s synth-playing puts Tangerine Dream to shame. Basic.
6. You’ve been playing a lot of gigs in RVK, are we going to see you at ATP or Airwaves this year? Airwaves maybe. Depends on wether we’re deemed worthy of entrance. ATP would be amazing obviously. Buttloads of awesome bands there this year.
And of course, my nonsensical questions:
1. What is your favorite place in Iceland to play? Harpa concert hall was really nice and grand but I think honestly Dillon Rock Bar is always the most energetic and fun. It’s all good though. I’ll play anywhere.
2. If you combine all of your favorite colors, what do you get? Turquoise, pink and orange make this kind of dark olive green. Which is nice.
3. What are 3 of your favorite little known bands of Icelandic origin? I’m a little biased here but I have to say Gang Related, Just Another Snake Cult and Þórir Georg.
4. If you could be any creature playing your favorite song, what would the creature be? And what is the song? I have a deep fascination with gorillas so I’d be one of those and the song would be ‘The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite’ by R.E.M. It brings instant childhood nostalgia and mixed feelings.
Give them a listen, and if you’re around Reykjavik, keep your ears peeled as they are playing a lot of live gigs these days.
This was an exciting bit of news to wake up to. Kimono, the veteran Icelandic post-rock/metal/whateverelseyouwanttocallthem is crowd sourcing for a vinyl release of their three albums for their 13 year anniversary. This is one of my favorite bands from Iceland, and it will be incredible when this comes to fruition. I wrote a blog post on them a while back, you can read it here.
They are using Karolinafund, think Icelandic Kickstarter, and the incentives are some of the best matched incentives I’ve seen in a while.
If anything, you just really have to go to the page to see the video, it’s a who’s who of Icelanders, and it’s funny. Trust me, the video they put together on the fund page is worth the click alone.
So share this with everyone, your grandma, your dentist, the crush you get your coffee from in the morning that you want to impress with your musical knowledge, EVERYONE. I really want this to happen, and so do you.
It seems that when an artist matures, they feel the need to leave their old style and branch out into the new. This can be discouraging to some listeners, and exciting for others. On Lay Low’s new album, Talking about the weather, the new, slightly more complex sound chooses to embrace the past and brings it along instead of dismissing it entirely. The more I listen to this album, the more I appreciate it, and it definitely is the best I’ve heard so far in 2014.
Lay Low, Lovísa Elísabet Sigrúnardóttir, has been in the Icelandic music scene for almost a decade now. She’s in the famous Benny Crespo’s gang, and she has been putting out solo albums since 2006. Recently, she charmed the sox of the interwebs by doing a cozy live stream concert from the living room of her home. I’ve said before that she has an ability to make any size crowd feel at home, and even over the web she managed to make the listener feel as if they were hanging in her living room.
I’ve compared her previous albums to birth-children of June Carter and Nancy Sinatra. And they are all excellent lo-fi country-esq masterpieces. And the new album, while different than the others, maintains the quality a Lay Low fan would expect. Each song is a single on it’s own, but is made greater with it’s accompanying album mates.
Talking about the weather starts out very classic, her voice strongly leading us into a familiar Lay Low guitar beat. But then the listener is quickly introduced to the new gang of instruments and complexities. The vocals become more full, backed up, and instead of folk/guitar vibe the album titled track develops into a bluesy joint. It’s the perfect introduction to the hybrid of styles the listener will hear the rest of the album.
Gently, has a very strong 90′s Cardigan feel, and just as the song speaks of rolling down the street, the song is so smooth one gets a sense of smoothly rolling along. In the dead of winter reminds me enough of 70′s Marianne Faithful that after listening to the album the first time I had to revisit my Faithful catalog.
Like tubing down a gentle river beer in hand, sun above -the album rolls along peacefully. In One of those nights, she sings: “I try to keep my emotions from climbing up high, but there’s something in that song.” Whether she meant it as a metaphor for love, or pertaining to an actual song, it’s hard not to be taken over with a calm, happy emotion when listening to this album, each and every song.
Currently, the album is available from her website in CD or Vinyl format. You can follow Lay Low on her facebook page, hear more of her stuff on Soundcloud. She will be here in the US at the Iceland Affair music festival in Connecticut mid October. I suggest seeing her live, as her shows are always surprising, and a lot of fun.
And there it was, Saturday night. Taste of Iceland’s Reykjavik Calling in Cambridge, MA at the Middle East Club. Three Icelandic bands acting as ambassadors of music coming together with two local bands to bring Boston a cross-cultural event. Reyka Vodka supplied the alcohol, and a slew of Icelandic sponsors all helped in the event.
Hermigervill, or as he became known; Hamburgurville, started the show off with a high energy set. The crowd was instantly sucked in as he danced right along with his set. He gave a shout out to Reykjavik’s Harlem bar, as well as delivering a hip hop version of “Glugginn” by the old peace loving Icelandic hippies, Flowers. near the end he gave another nod to the Icelandic Reggae band Ojba Rasta with a remix of “Jolly Good.” The man rocks a theremin like nobody’s business.
Hermigervill always performs with an incredible amount of energy, bobbing in and out to and fro with such speed and vigor it’s tough to snag a clear pic. He was dead center when I hit the clicker on the ole camera, but only his ghostly remains were captured, he’s that quick.
There was so much energy in the crowd and on stage, so nobody could fault him as he attempted to squeeze one more in. Unfortunately the powers that be stepped in, and that was that.
Next up, Boston locals Skinny Bones played. A drum, a Guitar and a little Moog creating a pleasant set of shoe gazing rock.
Sin Fang, Sindri Már Sigfússon, was next. The crowd was in for it, as Sindri gave us samples of new bits as well as reworkings of old bits, while some bits stayed the same. He was joined on stage by Skinny Bones for a collaborative version of “Young Boys.”
Speaking with Sindri before the show, he mentioned we can expect new music from him shortly, and of course he’ll be touring in the future.
The Love Experiment was next. Dance, funk, jazz, soul…. Too many styles to list, all wrapped up in almost an hour of jamming on stage. There seemed to be a bit of freestyle jamming going on, especially once Joined by Unnsteinn Manuel Stefánsson and Logi Pedro Stefánsson of Retro Stefson.
3 out of 7 ain’t bad, and that’s what we got from the Retro Stefson camp. Unnsteinn Manuel Stefánsson and Logi Pedro Stefánsson joined by Hermigervill came on stage, bringing the Retro Stefson unique dance style with them. Perhaps the alcohol had been flowing a little too freely, or perhaps I was just in a good mood, but I really got into their set, though I will whole-heartedly deny any and all rumors of dancing…
To end the evening, all of the musicians came back on stage. There were sax’s, guitars, theremins and synths. A lot of singing and hanging out and of course, a cover of Lauren Hill’s “Ex Factor.” Because, why not?! Definitely a great way to end a great night.
I harassed Logi Pedro about Highlands, his new side project with Karin Sveinsdóttir. They are working away and hope to have something early 2015. They will be playing at Iceland Airwaves in November as well. He was nice enough to answer one of my questions: What animal, what song?” to which he replied “a lion, singing wrecking ball by Mylie Cyrus.”
And finally, let it be known that after Hermigervill’s set, and much to the chagrin of all in my household, I will very shortly own a Theremin… it’s time
Taste of Iceland is coming back to Boston this week with food, art, and of course the free concert, Reykjavik Calling. The event goes March 14th through the 18th, with Reykjavik Calling happening Saturday, March 15th.
Iceland Naturally has been putting Taste of Iceland on for 10 years. A cooperative marketing outfit, Iceland Naturally promotes all things Icelandic and Taste of Iceland is their signature event. Supported by a large community of Icelandic sponsors such as Icelandair, Icelandic Group, Islandsbanki, Reyka Vodka, City of Reykjavik, Icelandic Glacial Water, Blue Lagoon, Keflavik International Airport (KEF), Landsvirkjun, Promote Iceland, and the Government of Iceland, the event brings an Icelandic representation of cuisine, art, literature, and music to North America.
This year along with the concert at the Middle East Club, there is a Reyka vodka cocktail class at the Liberty Hotel, a Photography exhibit the 555 Gallery, and all event long you can sample Icelandic cuisine at Rialto. Go here to read more about these events and RSVP as some events are limited.
Every year Taste of Iceland delivers different artists from Iceland to North America for a concert called Reykjavik Calling. The artists not only play their own material, but pair with local artists creating interesting collaborations. They coordinate with local radio stations, in Boston’s case WERS, to pair the musicians and this year Boston will see The Love Experiment and Skinny Bones on stage.
In the past, acts such as Lay Low, Pétur Ben, Snorri Helgason and Sóley have all played. And this year, Retro Stefson, Sin Fang and Hermigervill are playing. All three musicians deserve their own write up, but as that would make for a rather long blog post I’ve just put a snippet and links to more. If you click on their names it will take you to their Soundcloud pages, and I’ve embedded my favorite tracks available via Soundcloud above the artist.
Retro Stefson are a supergroup of sorts, they’ve grown and adapted over the years, but their live gigs still remain high energy and fun. And while the members of the band have branched out into things of their own, they always come back together to entertain the masses.
Hermigervill, AKA Sveinbjörn Thorarensenis a remix master. He has remixed quite a few of Iceland’s top artists, as well as creating original sounds. His original work reminds me of the carefree and happy days of BS2000 and it’s enjoyable pretty much anywhere you’re listening to it.
I’ve written about Sin Fang before and every year I see him at Airwaves he’s running around mad playing as often as he can or selling artwork. His new album, Flowers, justifiably has earned accolades across the globe, and I hear he’s been playing new material all over Reykjavik so I’m hoping he brings the new stuff down here.
The Concert is Saturday March 15th. Doors are at 8pm, gig starts at 9. It’s free so I suggest you show up earlier than later, and RSVP here. This really is a powerhouse of Icelandic musicians, and the possible collaborations between the artists could make for quite the concert. If you are into all things Icelandic I also suggest you follow Iceland Naturally on Facebook as they frequently keep you informed of Icelandic things that may be happening around where you live.
Taste of Iceland only gets to come to a select cities here in North America, so Bostonites, get out and enjoy what they have to offer. For all the details, times, RSVP’s and dinner reservations, go here.
Hermigervill was ever so kind as to answer my 4 nonsensical questions:
1. What is your favorite off-venue Airwaves joint to jam at? There are now so many off-venues at Iceland Airwaves, it’s hard to pick! Last year, Kex Hostel hosted a really good program, and I had a very memorable show there.
2. If you combine all of your favorite colors, what do you get? I get a song. I see colours when I make music.
3. What are 3 of your favorite little known bands of Icelandic origin? a) “Þú & Ég” was a great 70′s disco thing which was big here, but never made it out of the country, despite several attempts. b) “Grísalappalísa” is a raw punky rock kind of band, which usually isn’t my cup of tea, but there is some special energy going on there, especially during their phenomenal live shows. I just did a remix for them which should be out soon. c) “Highlands” is a new project consisting of my friend and bandmate Logi Pedro and singer Karin Sveinsdóttir. This will be big, that’s all I can say!
4. If you could be any creature playing your favorite song, what would the creature be? And what is the song? Any kind of bird. I love birds, and spent my childhood summers on a remote island, in close proximity to arctic terns, puffins and eider ducks. This bird would probably be playing the Blade Runner soundtrack by Vangelis.
And here we go again, another year another festival. My favorite festival of the year is only a half year away. Last year, 150 of the 216 bands performing at Airwaves were Icelandic. With a good deal of diversity it’s good to have a head start in knowing what you’re going to see. So follow this page, and I will update it when new bands are added.
I’ve sorted the musicians loosely by genres, and as the list grows so will the genres they are classified under. The link will take you either to a blog post I’ve done on the musician, or to their Soundcloud page. To see a full list of all artists at the festival and for more info, check out the Iceland Airwaves website. And you can purchases packages for the festival here, at Iceland Air.
Last year’s band list is located here, and if you are new to Airwaves and want to learn more, here is a list of my previous posts on the festival. Here, you will find my recap posts of last years festival as well.
So here are the Icelandic bands so far:
Electronic / Dance
|Good Moon Deer||Hermigervill||Nolo||Samaris|
Rock / Punk / Not “Electronic/Dance”
|Atónal Blús||Brain Police||Epic Rain||Grísalappalísa|
|Just Another Snake Cult||Kaleo||Lucy in Blue||Mafama|
|Þórir Georg||Var||The Vintage Caravan||Vio|
Metal / Hardcore
Hip Hop / Rap
The Soundcloud playlist for Iceland Airwaves 2014: