Monthly Archives: September 2018

My favorite 10 things to do in Reykjavik

I’ve put a top 10 list of places I frequent when in Iceland list together.   9 favorites, and 1 that I am eagerly waiting to try out.  The great thing is, you can do most of these things all year round.  These are places and things outside of the regularly mentioned attractions and off-venue gigs that you may have heard of.  It’s just my favorite spots to hit while I’m in town for Airwaves.

otwi

1. On tour with Ívar

On tour with Ívar is one of my favorite walking tours around the city.  You’ll go down partially hidden alleyways, drink local cocktails, eat local food and the tour ends with a beer.  As a member of FM Belfast, Ívar has been in the Icelandic music world for quite a long time and he has a lot of great stories of the old and new Reykjavik.  I would suggest booking sooner than later as he books up quickly, especially during Airwaves.  You can book at the link provided above.

Lucky

2. Lucky Records

Lucky records is a massive music hub.  Typically there are bands playing during off-venue before, during, and after the festival.  The shop is pretty massive so you can shop and listen to live music all at once without feeling crowded or drowned in sound.   A lot of the Icelandic bands playing Airwaves will have music available at most the music stores and I suggest you get it while you can as a lot of it isn’t available off the island, And if it is you’ll pay more for shipping than your record.

fischer7inch

3. Fischer

Tucked neatly behind the city center in an old Icelandic house is Fischer.  Ran by a very musical family and their friends, the house/store has a cozy old Icelandic feel that’s quite warm and welcoming.   Throughout the shop there are displays of olden time “remedies” for common ailments all coming from an old book they also have on display.  They sell bespoke items such as sustainable tooth brushes, soaps, shampoos, and perfumes.  They also sell a 7′ that is handmade with the store soundtrack which was created by Sin Fang, Jonsi, Kjartan Holm, and Alex Somers.  If you want one I would suggest getting there at the beginning of your trip as they are handcrafted and with the influx of festival goers chances are they will be sold out sooner than later.  One of my favorite things about Fischer, is the mighty guard dog Atlas.

12tonar

4. 12 Tónar

Another of my favorite record stores in Reykjavik.  Go in, get a bit of coffee and browse both levels of the shop looking for new and used music.  As with Lucky’s, the owners and employees are very nice and really knowledgeable about the Icelandic music scene.  I have found absolute gems for great prices downstairs in their vinyl bins.  They also may have bands playing during the festival so watch out for schedules.

whynotplotur

5. Why not? Plötur

This is fairly new to Iceland.  A new underground record label that will most likely have basement concerts at RS6013 later in the festival.  True underground and off the mainstream Reykjavik experience.  It’s a DIY label and I highly suggest you check and follow their Facebook page for updates and notices of when bands will be playing.  They have a great catalog of music already and if you dig what you hear you need to pick it up then, as it’s rather difficult to get otherwise.

smekkleysa

6. Smekkleysa Plötubúð

Smekkleysa is an old staple around Reykjavik.  Smekkleysa records, (Bad Taste records) was the baby of Björk and Co, and the record store carries a lot of classics and current releases.  Kiddi, the man behind the counter has been part of the music world as long as anyone and is quick to answer any questions you may have about music current and old.

messinn

7. Messinn

I typically grocery shop and live off cucumber and tomato sandwiches all throughout the festival, money is better spent on vodka I say.  That being said,  I always try to hit up Messinn at least once during the festival.  A few years ago I surveyed a good deal of my Icelandic friends and asked which restaurant in Reykjavik has the most true to form and best tasting Plokkfiskur (fish stew) in town.  It was unanimous that Messinn was the place, and they were right.  Served right in the skillet the food here is really good, and the atmosphere cozy, it’s perfect for the November weather.  I would suggest getting a reservation a day or two before attempting to go there as they always tend to be busy.

braudco

8. Brauð & co

I’m not a big cinnamon bun fan, but this place made me one.  They also carry quite the assortment of bread that you can get by the slice or full loaf.  I typically grab my bread here for my breakfast and lunch during the festival.  It can get busy, but it’s worth the wait.  One of the better Icelandic secret spots you’ll find in the city.

mandi

9. Mandi

It may seem weird, middle eastern food in Iceland, but Mandi is the saving grace of almost every late night in Iceland.  They’ll be open after the bands stop playing, and out of all the late night food spots this is the best in the city.  It will busy with locals most nights but it is well worth the wait.  Typically, I grab food to eat then and food for breakfast in the morning.  It’s a very social place so it’s easy to meet new folks and learn about unannounced gigs and after-parties around the city.

vegan

10. Veganæs

And finally, but not least, Veganæs.  This is a new place located in Gaukurinn, A bar and possible Airwaves venue located in downtown Reykjavik.  Veganæs is a new outfit ran by Linnae and Krummi.  Linnae has been a staple for vegan food in Iceland for a long time, and her partner Krummi is in the Icelandic bands Mínus  and Legend.  I haven’t had a chance to eat here as they just opened, but it is one of the first places I plan on hitting once getting to the island.  Other great vegetarian/vegan places in Iceland are Kaffi Vinyl, and Gló

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Icelandic Bands of Iceland Airwaves 2018

And here it is, the complete list of Icelandic musicians performing at the 20th anniversary of Iceland Airwaves 2018.  It’s under new management so there are probably a few more surprises coming our way, But here is the list of everything we know.  So get digging in and learn about all the new stuff you haven’t heard before.

I’ll be doing a few blog posts with tips, recommendations etc… And this year I’ve started a series on the first time Icelandic musicians, you can see the first post here.

You can see my past Airwaves photos here, and my tips for a pleasant Airwaves as well.

Once again I’ve created a loosely sorted, by genre, cheat sheet for the Icelandic bands.  Out of the 225 bands set to perform, 139 are Icelandic.  This year the Airwaves team massively improved their line up page, you can search and sort by genre and country, but the genre sections is rather precise, so I’ve kept the categories rather broad here.  To See the official Airwaves line-up page, click here.

With Icelandic bands it can always be hard to categorize their music styles as one of the greatest things about them is their ability to snag and grab their favorite things from all over the musical spectrum and make it work for them. So these lists are just general nods in the direction you may be looking for, for example, the Dance table, they sit right on the edge of electronic and dance pop/rock and beats. But I tried to focus on the prominence of a lead singer and the beats of the bulk of their songs in deciding which side to place them.

At the bottom you will also find the Spotify playlist for the entire festival.

Categorizing some bands can be extremely difficult as they run borders are freely through genres, so if you feel a band needs to be moved into a different category let me know and I’ll change it.

Singer/Songwriter / Folk / Indie Folk
Árni Vil Árný Árstíðir Ateria
Axel Flóvent Árstíðir Ateria BeeBee & the Bluebirds
Birgir Hildur Vala Ingibjörg Turchi Júníus Meyvant
Lára Rúnars Ljósfari Matthildur Moonbear
Snorri Helgason Sóley Special-K Teitur Magnússon
Ylja
Rock / Pop Rock / Indie / Dance / Dance rock
Agent Fresco Amabadama Ari Árelíus Ásgeir
Auður Berndsen Between Mountains Bláskjár
BRÍET Ceasetone Daði Freyr Einarindra
Elín Harpa Febrúar GDRN Grúska Babúska
Helgi Hildur Himbrimi Hinemoa
Högni JFDR Karitas Kayak
Kiryama Family KRÍA Máni Orrason Mighty Bear
Milkywhale Mórókóar Moses Hightower Mr. Silla
Munster Shakes SiGRÚN Svala
Sycamore Tree Sykur Tara Mobee Una Stef
Valdimar Var Vasi Vicky
Vio Vök Warmland Young Karin
Punk / Metal / Hardcore / Garage Rock / Prog Rock
Austurvígstöðvarnar Future Figment Glerakur Godchilla
GRÓA Hatari Hórmónar Horrible Youth
Julian Civilian Korter í flog Kul Mammút
Pink Street Boys Ring of Gyges Rock Paper Sisters Rythmatik
SÓLSTAFIR Stafrænn Hákon Tófa Une Misère
Electronic / DJ / Atmospheric / Experimental / composers
Andartak ÁRNI² ASDFHG aYia
B1B2 Bára Gísladóttir Berghain Bervit
Bistro Boy dj. flugvél og geimskip DJ Snorri Ástráðs Eydís Evensen
Futuregrapher Gunnar Jónsson Collider Helgi Sæmundur Hugar
kjartan Holm LaFontaine Madonna + Child Magnús Jóhann
Ólafur Arnalds TRPTYCH
Hip-Hop / Trap / R&B / Rap
AFK Arrnar Úlfur Birnir Cell7
Countess Malaise Cyber Dadykewl Elli Grill
Emmsjé Gauti Floni Geisha Cartel GKR
Joey Christ JóiPé x Króli Jökull Logi Kef Lavik
Kött Grá Pje Logi Pedro Lord Pusswhip Ragga Holm
Reykjavíkurdætur Sprite Zero Klan Sturla Atlas Sura
Two Toucans Úlfur Úlfur Unnsteinn Yung Nigo Drippin

Icelandic newbies at Iceland Airwaves 2018

The final acts for Iceland Airwaves 2018 have been announced and there are a lot of Icelandic newbies on the roster.  I’ve decided to blog about some of them and have included a brief history of each.  Also, the bands have been kind enough to answer a few “getting to know you” questions.  Hopefully I’ll be able to do a few of these posts between now and Airwaves.

Ateria

Ateria is a family trio, sisters Ása and Eir and their cousin Fönn. Ateria formed in 2017, and won Iceland’s famous new music contest, Músíktilraunir in March of 2018.  The trio have studied classical music for years, and their music incorporates what they’ve learned creating a darker folkrock-ish feeling.  Funfact, the name “Ateria” is derived from the latin name for the eider duck, Somateria mollissima.

What acts would you say hold kinship with your music?  Ateria:  “One always perceives one’s own music differently than other people’s, so we find it very difficult to determine what acts are similar to ours.”

What other Icelandic bands are you looking forward to seeing?  Ateria:  “We are looking forward to seeing Between Mountains, Vök, Mammút, Ólafur Arnalds, Hórmónar, Mókrókar, Sóley and Agent Fresco.”

Do you have any albums, or merch for sale.  Where do folks go to get it?  Ateria:  “We don’t have any albums or merch for sale.”

If you could be any animal covering any song, what would you be, and what would you cover?  Ateria:  “We would be eider ducks covering ‘Weird Fishes / Arpeggi’ by Radiohead.”

Kjartan Holm

While this isn’t Kjartan Holm’s first time at Airwaves, previously performing with his other bands such as For a minor reflection and Tófa, this will be his first solo performance.  His broad knowledge of musical genres have allowed him to collaborate, produce, and work with a great number of Icelandic musicians and has taken him all over the globe.  Focused more on composition, his solo material carries an almost dark atmospheric sound combining a diverse pallet of instruments, sounds, and beats.  Kjartan, along with Jónsi, Sin Fang, and Alex Somers, also created the background soundtrack to the store Fischer located in downtown Reykjavik.

What acts would you say hold kinship with your music?  “I guess stuff like Tim Hecker, Stephen O’Malley, Ben Frost, Fennesz and things like that come to mind. When I write this kind of music I’m just following the mood I’m in at that particular moment. Mixing together processed sounds with recordings on top of that for endless amount of time until I’ve created something I think sounds interesting. The structure kind of comes automatically in that process.”

What other Icelandic bands are you looking forward to seeing?  “Bára Gísladóttir is definitely one of the most interesting acts around in my opinion, Gunnar Jónsson is really good, Ingibjörg Turchi, SiGRÚN and Tófa.”

Do you have any albums, or merch for sale.  Where do folks go to get it?   “My debut album as a solo artist is being mastered as we speak. It won’t be out until early 2019 though. I have older stuff, everything from barely-touched demos to finished orchestral pieces on my Soundcloud (www.soundcloud.com/kjartanholm) but that’s about it for now. When the record is out I’ll start promoting in properly. For those interested they can check out my website for more sounds: www.kjartanholm.com”

If you could be any animal covering any song, what would you be, and what would you cover?  “That’s easy. I’d be a Raccoon covering Belinda Carlisle’s ‘Heaven is a Place on Earth’.”

Shakes

Shakes consist of Logi Marr and Frank Raven.  You may have heard of Logi’s former band, Lily of the Vine but Shakes is as about as far from that sound as you can get.   Formed in 2016 Shakes are on a mission to bring back real drums and good melodies.  Their first E.P. is all about sex, drugs, and casualties.

What acts would you say hold kinship with your music?   Shakes:  “We don’t really feel like anything influences us really, our album Red Motel was basically about murdering your girlfriend in a motel room..never heard that before..but I guess Bobby Vinton is cool.”

What other Icelandic bands are you looking forward to seeing?  Shakes:  “No idea who’s playing besides us.”

Do you have any albums, or merch for sale.  Where do folks go to get it?  Shakes:  “We have a 7″ double single vinyl for sale in the UK only. We will be bringing it for airwaves and people can buy it at the show. We will also maybe collaborate with a icelandic designer and bring some cool stuff for sale, you don’t wanna miss that.”

If you could be any animal covering any song, what would you be, and what would you cover? Shakes:  “Shakes ARE fucking Cheetahs and I guess if we were covering we would do something badass, I wanna be adored with Stone Roses. Maybe we should on Airwaves..see you then.”

Sycamore Tree

less than a year old, Sycamore tree has already gained quite the following.  The duo consists of Ágústa Eva Erlendsdóttir, of Silvía Night fame, and the fashion designer Gunnar Hilmarsson.  soothing instrumentals topped with an eloquent chanteuse.  Another fun fact, Gunnar Hilmarsson once designed the uniforms for Wow Air.

What acts would you say hold kinship with your music? Sycamore Tree:  “Sometimes it´s hard to tell for an artist to be the best judge on that. We create really without thinking about what other people do and we follow our heart. The names we hear popping up when people talk about the Sycamore Tree “Sound “ are everything from Leonard Cohen, Lee Hazlewood, Beth Gibbons to Mazzy Star. Basically we don´t know or really care to be honest.”

What other Icelandic bands are you looking forward to seeing?  Sycamore Tree: “There are so many great ones. Warmland, Agent Fresco and Between Mountains I don´t want to miss. But I could mention so many more.”

Do you have any albums, or merch for sale.  Where do folks go to get it?  Sycamore Tree:  “People will be able to buy our album in all music stores and most cafés in Reykjavik.”

If you could be any animal covering any song, what would you be, and what would you cover?  Sycamore Tree:  A Lion Covering Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) by David Bowie ( This is Gunni answering this question )

For the full line-up head over to here.  And of course, to listen to the full line-up check out their Spotify playlist: