Author Archives: ragnaarbastiaan

About ragnaarbastiaan

I like music, I like Icelandic music. This is my blog about Icelandic musicians and the music they play...yup yup..

Icelandic Bands of Iceland Airwaves 2017

Iceland Airwaves is coming up soon and this year is shaping up to be awesome.  Unlike past years, Iceland Airwaves will be in two cities this year, Reykjavik and Akureyri giving festival goers a chance to see more of the island.

88 bands have been announced so far of which over 50 are Icelandic.  For many reasons you are going to want to prep for the festival, listening and learning about new bands and I hope this page helps.  As more and more bands are announced I may narrow the genres into more specific sounds.

Here is my list of Icelandic bands loosely sorted by general categories.  Each link will take you to their Airwaves base page with links to all their music.  So explore away and prep for the upcoming 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.

Electronic: DJ / Dance / Atmospheric / experimental
Án Andartak Bistro Boy Chevron
Cold Frank Murder Futuregrapher Gunnar Jónsson Collider
GusGus Kosmodod Octal Industries Óðinn
Ohm PASHN Púlsvídd Röskva
Ruxpin Subliminal Sycamore Tree Thor
TRPTYCH Vector Yagya
Rock: Rock / Pop / Singer/Songwriter / Indie / Dance
200.000 Naglbítar Ásgeir AUÐUR aYia
Between Mountains Deep throat choir Emiliana Torrini & the Colorist Fai Baba
Fox Train Safari Godchilla Guðrún Ýr Hey Elbow
Hildur Hugar JFDR Kiriyama Family
Mammút Maus Milkywhale Nilüfer Yanya
Omotrack Paunkholm Phlegm Ragga Grönda
RuGl Rythmatik SiGRÚN Snorri Helgason
Soffía Björg TSS Tusks Una Stef
Védís
Hardcore / Metal / Punk / Garage Rock / Prog Rock
For a Minor Reflection Gróa Hatari Hórmónar
Kælan Mikla Kontinuum Korter í flog Pink Street Boys
Tappi Tíkarrass Tófa Une Misère
Hip-Hop / Trap / R&B / Rap
Alexander Jarl Alvia Islandia Aron Can Birnir
Chase Cyber Elli Grill Emmsjé Gauti
Fever Dream Geisha Cartel GKR Glowie
Ider Joey Christ JóiPé og Króli KÁ-AKÁ
Rari boys Shades of Reykjavik Sturla Atlas Halldór Eldjárn

Sigur Rós at the Saenger Theatre on May 21st, 2017

I flew down to New Orleans to catch Sigur Rós this past weekend.  This particular gig was at the Saenger Theatre on Canal street.  A gorgeous old theatre, the perfect setting for both acts of the concert.

The concert is divided into two acts, the first act consists more of the back catalogue and is darker with more of a subtle use of the rigging and visuals.  Those birds and their geometric trails near the end are amazing.  The second act begins with what seems to be a holographic grainy projection of the band, but is the band behind grid like screen captioned in glowing yellow brackets, the screen lifts and eventually the band returns front stage.

SRNOLA

While there are no backing bands or musicians, the trio still bring an excitingly full gig.  The visual effects combined with the band’s high energy bring on just as intense if not more, Sigur rós experience.

Multiple projectors facing every which way with an LED lighting screen that moves during the show combined with amazing visual artwork and perfectly timed blasts of light all deliver one hell of an intense atmosphere to the already highly emotional music.

At some points you feel as if you’re completely immersed in light, and at other times there seems to be nothing more than a single beam shining down on Jónsi, and the transition is practically seamless.

srlighting

My first concert was in Denver in 2002.  The Ogden Theatre probably had seen better days and I was sitting in a rickety chair in the balcony.  I was chatting to the guy next to me beforehand and he seemed uninterested, stating that he was there to appease his girlfriend.  I told him that I loved the music and heard they were great live; neither of us had an idea what was in store.

As the trademark finale Popplagið began its epic build up satellite images rotating in crazy fashion, the climax finally burst punching the crowd with a large dose of sensory overload.  We all jumped to our feet in awe and the guy next to me burst out with “holy fuck, this is insane!” saying what everyone was thinking.

15 years later, as we all stand for that epic buildup with our hands in the air, the novice shock may be gone but it’s always new to someone and it pleases me to no end when I hear their own version of Holy fuck.  You can listen to a Sigur rós all you want, but you will never experience anything like seeing them live, so if you get the opportunity, do so.

 

Taste of Iceland 2017: Boston edition

Taste of Iceland is back again, March 16-20th with a variety of Icelandic events to please everyone.  Art, Food, literature, Short film, and of course, Music.  Every year they seem to top themselves, and this year looks to be no different.

Music first!  This year two rather large Icelandic bands will be performing at Reykjavik calling on Saturday March 18th; MAMMÚT, and FUFANU.

Reykjavik calling is a free concert at the Middle East Club in Central Square on March 18th at 9pm.  Every year it is packed, and while doors open at 8pm, I would suggest being there early as the line typically wraps around the building and latecomers tend not to get in, so show up early and make new friends while in line.

The Icelandic bands for this year’s festival are Mammút, and FUFANU.  Both bands are extremely popular all over the globe, so it’s really cool they are going to make it to Boston.

mammut

Mammút consist of Katrína Mogensen, Vilborg Ása Dýradóttir, Alexandra Baldursdóttir, Arnar Pétursson, and Andri Bjartur Jakobsson.  Shortly after forming in 2003 they won the coveted 2004 Músiktilraunir, the annual Icelandic battle of the bands.  And now 14 years later they are working on their 4th album.  The following song is still one of my favorites, but you should check out their Youtube page for more videos.

Katrína has one of those powerful voices that along with the rest of the band creates a powerful wall of sound that pulses through you like an angry heartbeat.  They are one of my favorite bands to see in Iceland.

fufanu

Fufanu have certainly evolved over the last 9 years.  In the beginning they were Captain Fufanu an electronic duo, but now they have dropped the captain and Fufanu has released their second album, “Sports.”

Now a three piece, Kaktus Einarsson, Guðlaugur Einarsson, and Erling Bang have created a part new wave – part minimal Alternative pop album that suits their stage presence nicely.  I’ve seen them play many different types of music, but this last year they really were on a plane of their own as they cranked out one hell of a solid set in front of a massive crowd at Harpa.  If you’re a fan of bands such as Oasis, Blur, and the Servants, you’ll really dig their set.

From Boston, the Dirty Dottys will be performing.  A seven piece, self described “pop-motown, rump-shaking, heart-thumping, swoon-inducing ensemble whose goal is to create music that makes their audience, move, groove, and high five their neighbors.

Live shows are like a party, and the musical powerhouse group entertains as well as moves their loyal crowds.

There is a lot more going on during the week as well.  chef Siggi Helga from Grillið restaurant is flying to Boston to create a three course Icelandic dinner at The Merchant with the help of American chef, Edwin Morales.  And he’s joined by the mixologist Kári Sigurðsson and by the Merchant’s Bryan Ames using my favorite Icelandic vodka, Reyka Vodka, and the classic Brennivin.  Check out the Taste of Iceland website for menu and pricing.

The first lady of Iceland, Eliza Reid, will be at WBUR, to discuss the attractions and lure of authors to Iceland, as well as talking about famous Icelandic authors and books.  The Brattle theatre will host a viewing of the short film series, Stockfish, a 6 short film series of Icelandic films.  There will be a discussion and display of Icelandic contemporary art at the The Kingston Gallery at SoWa, hosted by Björg Stefánsdóttir

This week is always a lot of fun, and most of it is free to the public.  Check out the Taste of Iceland page for RSVP’s, details, and fun contests they will be having during the week.

 

 

 

 

An Iceland Airwaves ’16 recap…

Well, it’s over.  Another year another massive amount of music, art, and sight seeing crammed into 5 days.  It began with an art show, a toilet museum opening with a Q&A from  John Lydon, and continued with a ton of new music.  On top of that I managed to go beyond my comfort zone and took part in conducting live interviews with bands, and created a few podcasts.

Jason from Zombie Popcorn convinced me to get behind a mic and conduct interviews and podcasts with him.   There were a few hilarious moments, a few cringe worthy moments, but a lot of good dialog with bands and musicians such as Dr. Gunni, Tófa, Milkywhale, and Sóley.  It’s all been compiled nice and neat like over at Zombie Popcorn on an Airwaves page.

I took all the photos in the blog post and you can see all the Airwaves photos here.

drgunni

It all started the night before Iceland Airwaves officially began at Mokka-kaffi.  Dr. Gunni of Bless, S.H. Draumur, Unum, and his own band had an art exhibit opening at the cafe.  It’s his new album, ATVIK, of which he’s only made 18 copies all with acrylic paintings of historic moments in his musical life on the album covers.  The bottom middle photo above is of Dr. Gunni giving the legendary Bubbi Morthens an empty Coke bottle… because that’s what you do apparently.

A new punk museum opened in Iceland.  Housed in an old public toilet the museum gives you the history of punk stall by stall, with memorabilia and pull down headphones so you can sample the goods.  John Lydon, accompanied by Rambo showed up for the opening and participated in a Q&A where he talked about underwear, and questioned if punk was still alive.

One of the great things about Iceland Airwaves is there is always something new, and there is always something for everybody.  In the event you can’t cram it all in at the official shows there will always be extra off-venue gigs throughout the city during the day.  This blog post would turn into a book if I commented on everything I saw so I will stick to highlights for me of new bands and veterans.

First, the new:

tofawideTófa @ 12 Tónar

One of the freshest highlights was Tófa.  The word Tófa is Icelandic for a female blue fox.   An animal that looks sweet and innocent but actually can be vicious and cunning.  And much like their namesake the began with innocent banter about who they are right before blowing out our eardrums and manufacturing mosh pits with their heavy high-spirited sets both off-venue and on.  Even a power outage at Gaukurinn was no match for drum solos and banter. 

30751689975_10580aae98_oMilkywhale is what you get when you cross an upbeat choreographer with a musician from one of the most party-est bands in Iceland.  He was bouncing and smiling behind the decks, she was all over the stage,  belting out while the audience danced away.  Both shows I saw this Airwaves were full of interactions with the crowd breaking down that wall between performers and festival goers.

 

30547700880_6f2d7fb796_oHórmónar is another new band that I was really impressed with.  I actually left PJ Harvey early so that I could catch their gig at Gaukurinn and they ended up being a great way to end the festival.  they were all over the tiny stage and guard rails, with the drummer using a wheel rim and a saxaphone player stuffed in the corner.  It all added to the rough and angry set.  I can’t wait to see what they come up with for next year.

 

30901145791_6b76c20cf6_oLast but not least is Cyber.  Comprised of some of the Reykjavíkurdætur crew, Cyber did aerobics with the crowd, rapped about Daddy issues and Aspen Barbie-world problems, and there was some hugging it out while pretending to pretend they were at prom.  Icelandic hip hop has become rather large over the last few years, and Cyber definitely was my top pick this year for the genre. 

Now for the highlights from the veterans:

This year was FM Belfast’s 10th anniversary playing Airwaves.  I first saw them in 2009-10?? when they closed the festival at NASA. The festival ended with hordes of people dancing and running past us in their underwear.  I have seen this band play small bars in Boston and stadium sized venues in Iceland and every time they leave you sweaty, out of breath, and wanting more of the party.

30189685764_e66540c944_o

Now, 10 years later, they’ve upped their game with confetti-cannons, rolls and rolls of streamers, and costumes galore.  The band revved up the crowd to the point the floors felt as if they were going to give in from the insane crowd jumping up and down.

In an interesting twist of things, two veteran bands I see whenever they play swapped up their stages.  Prins Póló dropped his band and Berndsen added one.  Things are always changing and even established bands like to completely swap things out for the fun of it.

30179335343_61ff4973eb_o

 

Prins Póló was joined by Árni Rúnar Hlöðversson from FM Belfast/Milkywhale/Plúseinn.  Perhaps having less folks on stage led to the heightened party atmosphere and more aggressive vocals and powerful beats.  Svavar was flying all over the stage interacting with the crowd as he sang songs we’ve all come to love.

 

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Berndsen on the other hand, showed up with a full band.  He played a lot of the classics, and a few of the new songs from his upcoming album, “Alter Ego.”  The new material still has that 80’s feel, but there’s more of a rock element now.   I’ve dug what I’ve heard so far and can’t wait to get my grubby mits on the full album.  The set ended with a stripped down Berndsen, and the drummer standing on his kit.

 

30771807755_ba96f21e09_oPart of the fun of going to Airwaves a lot is you get to watch bands evolve.  Fufanu is one such band, I’ve been watching them for a few years now and this year was the best I’ve ever seen them.  Their music was tight and on point, the visuals complimented the set, and they filled the Harpa hall with rock quite nicely.  They’ve released a great new video for Sports, and their show superseded my expectations.

 

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Vök packed the Reykjavik art museum and their high-octane performance with saxophones, synths, guitars and simulated drums was had the crowd excitedly dancing and singing along.  They seem a lot more at ease on stage and worked as a full rock unit playing a lot of material I actually hadn’t heard yet.

 

 

img_3254And then there was Pink street boys.  I fully admit to having a musical crush on this band.  Their dirty, garage punk rock style is just my type of music and they killed it at Gaukurinn.  The place was packed, and the sweaty horde of festival goers were rocking Their album is a go-to staple for me at home and in commute and I only wish I could see them play live more often.

 

30547786410_5cf249da04_oAnd then there was PJ Harvey.She filled the enormous hall at Valshöllin.  I was not only excited for the chance to see her live, but damned near ecstatic I  was given the opportunity to photograph.  The band entered the stage in marching band style with PJ in the middle playing the saxophone. 

She lined up in formation and once everyone was set moved front and center to begin the show.  While she played a few of her classics, her focus was on the new material.  With band members moving from brass instruments to strings, and her holding on dearly to her saxophone she filled the hall with her quirky style of music.

 

So, yet again another fantastic year at Iceland Airwaves.  All of the photos are mine though the featured image contains the Iceland Airwaves logo as well.  Early bird tickets will be on sale soon so make sure to follow Iceland Airwaves on Facebook and check their website frequently.  If you want a head start on learning about more of the Icelandic bands that may be playing next year, or just want a reminiscent feel for what you saw I suggest you check out Straumur on Facebook and their website.  They compile fantastic playlists mixed with international acts, but a lot of the new Icelandic bands coming out.  Also, follow Iceland Music Export on Facebook as they deliver speedy news on new bands, bands that are touring, and new information about the bands you already love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iceland Airwaves 2016 coverage

Greetings, so it’s been a crazy time up at Iceland Airwaves this year.  I’ve branched out from my typical ramblings and have been working with Zombie Popcorn, delivering podcasts and interviews.  I am also photographing the concert, and you can follow along at my Facebook page for galleries of each day, or you can view the here:

Head over to Zombie Popcorn to check out our coverage!

Iceland Whatever Vol. 2: 11 Icelandic bands you should get to know.

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Iceland continually maintains a wealth of musicians and bands.  There isn’t a genre missing on the small island, and there is a lot of talent found almost everywhere you look.  From atmospherically haunting soundtracks to the darkest metal, you can always find something you’ll dig.  And while this list doesn’t encompass all said genres, it’s my personal list of bands I’m enjoying at the moment.

Full disclosure, this blog post is about the 11 bands I’ve been lucky enough to compile on the new Icelandic Whatever compilation.  They are 11 bands I truly dig, and I hope you will as well.  The new compilation is released on November 11th, and is available for pre-order for $3 here.  These bands are presented in the order of the compilation.

Most of these bands will be at Iceland Airwaves 2016.  So if you’re going, make sure to check them out.  The schedule and more info for Iceland Airwaves can be found here.

Berndsen – “Alter Ego”

David Berndsen is Berndsen.  I try to describe Berndsen not as 80’s retro, or a blast from the past, but as a continuation of the 80’s, with unique beats, heavy synths, and a booming voice.  It’s not just a pinhole representation of what we loved about the 80’s, it’s a feel good modernized trip back to what we dug.  In my opinion, he’s taken what can be a very dated musical genre and made it timeless.  His music videos are also something of pure genius and are frequently on almost all of my house party playlists.  The video above is “Shaping the Grey” featuring the talented singer/songwriter Elin Ey, and Högni Egilsson of GusGus fame.  It is from his new album “Alter Ego.”  The title track  is on the compilation. Other videos you should watch are  Lover in the dark, and Game of Chance.

Dr. Gunni – “Ég er aumingi”

Dr. Gunni is a veteran punk, he’s been at it since the 80’s.  And as well as the band Dr. Gunni, he has been in the legendary bands:  SH Draumur, Bless, and Unun.  He wrote, “Blue eyed pop” which is the most comprehensive book on the history of rock in Iceland and has also has released a few compilations in his time called the Snarl series which was the inspiration for me to begin releasing compilations.  The song “Ég er aumingi” is on the new comp, and it’s from his upcoming album, “ATVIK”.

Milkywhale – “Invisble”

MilkyWhale began as a musical project between choreographer Melkorka Sigríður Magnúsdóttir  and Árni Rúnar Hlöðversson (FM Belfast, and Pluseinn.)  It’s dance pop, with unique breaks and as with their music, their live shows are filled with high energy moments that somehow bring both band and audience together almost as if everyone in attendance had rehearsed their dancing.  “Invisible” is on the compilation.

Boogie Trouble – “Moldun”

Yes, Icelandic Disco does exist, perhaps it’s not well known, but one of Donna Summers favorite songwriters was Icelandic.  I fell in love with Boogie trouble the first time I saw them at Iceland Airwaves years ago.  It’s a super group of talented and seasoned musicians, and their new album, “Í bænum” is one solid disco dance-fest.  I’ve written about it before, and I still thing the song, “Moldun” is about the quest of a lonely space cowboy to find his electric-slide line dancing space cow folk.  Thankfully, the band has let me put said track on the compilation.

Pink Street Boys – “Let it down”

I like contrast, and Pink Street Boys delivers said contrast.  Dirty, sludgy punk infused garage rock.  practically insane in everything they do, they’ve been my go-to rock out band for quite a while now.  I originally wanted “Evel Knievel” for the compilation, but they delighted me with a new gem, “Let it down” and it does not disappoint.

Æla – “Rólegur!

Æla continue to be a treat.  They are a punk band whose live shows are always a must-see for me.  Every year after their gig I say “that’ll be tough to beat next year,” and every year they beat it.  The dedication they put into their show antics are only beat by their dedication to their music, and their new-ish album, Vettlingatök (Handle with kid gloves) is solid.  “Rólegur” is the track on the compilation, and the performance above was at the Iceland Airwaves KEXP stage at Kex last year.

Myrra Rós – “One amongst others”

Myrra Rós, is well known in Iceland for her solo project as well as a vocalist for the band Var. She is an enchanting chanteuse, her soothing  voice soars only grounded by heavy instrumentation below her.   Her new album, “One Amongst Others” is an atmospheric collection of other-wordly songs.  The title track shown above is on the compilation.

Svavar Knútur – “Wanderlust”

Svavar Knútur is the traveling troubadour.  From the west side of Iceland his folk songs are a contrast of serious topics happily sung.  He takes his audiences on comedic journeys and with or without a backing band an audience is never left without.  The song above is an acoustic version of the song”Wanderlust” from his newest album, Brot (The breaking) and the album version is on the compilation.

Cyber – MÁVAR

Cyber is an interesting duo.  Formerly they were what I can only describe as disco/metal/rap duo, and now they are hip hop. I was stoked when they agreed to be on my comp, as I really like their music + lyric combination.  Typically they rap in Icelandic, but the video above is in English. MÁVAR is the track they’ve let me use for the compilation, trippy beats, Icelandic lyrics.

Reykjavik! – Flybus!

It’s no secret that Reykjavik!  is one of my favorite bands.  They are somewhat garage/punk rock legends in Iceland, and they are a band I thought I would never get to see live.  So last year when they played a surprise gig at Kaffibarinn, I became that happy little kid on Christmas morning.  It was sweaty, and nobody could really move except for the band, which managed to hang off the ceiling, bars tops and audience members, you can see the pics I took of the gig here.  So you can imagine how happy I was when they let me put their classic track, Flybus! on the compilation.

Futuregrapher – Shemale

I was beyond stoked when Futuregrapher agreed to be on the compilation, even more so when he sent a brand new track.  he mixes multiple layers of trippy broken beats combined with the atmospheric noise to create unique songs you can’t help but get wrapped up in.  He’s a breath of fresh air to see live, and you get sucked in not only by the music, but by his unique style behind the machines.  I’ve written about him before, and the new song, Shemale, which is on the compilation is something different I’ve never heard from him before.  It’s the perfect ending to a great list of musicians on the compilation.

Icelandic Bands at Iceland Airwaves

Here it is, the 2016 Iceland Airwaves Icelandic musicians page.  I’ve loosely sorted them into categories in the hope that you can quickly reference bands to dig as you explore the many possibilities this year.  On top of the 210 bands performing this year,  Bedroom Community will be celebrating their 10th anniversary as a musician collective in Iceland and I would highly recommend you check that out.  And Airwords is back, the poetry/literature/music event that began in 2013.  All part of Airwaves and all worth checking out.  Also,  you can check out my Tips to get the most out of Iceland Airwaves.

143 of the 210 bands are Icelandic this year and they span the deck in style and genre.  This year, I split them into five categories:

  • Rock / Singer Songwriter / Jazz / Blues / Reggae
  • Pop / Rock / Dance / Electro / Disco / Indie
  • DJ’s / Electronic / Atmospheric / Classical / Composers
  • Heavy Rock / Metal / Hardcore
  • Hip Hop / Rap / R&B Soul

Diversity and genre bending are two things Icelanders are rather good at which makes defining bands a bit difficult, so if you feel a band belongs in a different spot please comment below and I will check it out.

Rock / Singer Songwriter / Jazz / Blues / Reggae
Amabadama Amber Amber Axel Flóvent
Benny Crespo’s Gang CeaseTone DALÍ Dikta
Fufanu Helgi Jons Hinemoa Jónas Sig & Ritvélar framtíðarinnar
Júníus Meyvant Kórus Ljóðfæri Major Pink
Magnús Jóhann Máni Orrason Markús & The Diversion Sessions Moji & the Midnight Sons
Moses Hightower Mr. Silla Myrra Rós Par-Ðar
Pétur Ben Prins Póló Rósa Guðrún Sveinsdóttir Skelkur í bringu
Skrattar Soffía Björg Snorri Helgason Stafrænn Hákon
Stroff Teitur Magnússon Una Stef Valdimar
Ylja
Pop / Rock / Dance / Electro / Disco / Indie
Árstíðir asdfgh AUÐUR AVóKA
Berndsen Boogie Trouble Crystal Breaks Dream Wife
East of my Youth FM Belfast Gangly Glowie
Grúska Babúska Hausar Hildur Himbrimi
JFDR Karó Kiriyama Family Konsolat
Lára Rúnars Milkywhale kreld Lily the kid
múm Of Monsters and Men One week wonder Oyama
Puffin Island Rythmatik RuGL Samaris
Steinar Sóley Sykur Tilbury
Tonik Ensemble Útidúr Vagina Boys Vio
Vök Wesen
DJ’s / Electronic / Atmospheric / Classical / Composers
Ambátt Ayia Bára Gísladóttir Ben Frost
BLKPRTY DJ Yamaho dj. flugvél og geimskip EinarIndra
Futuregrapher Glerakur Halldór Eldjárn Hermigervill
Hugar Iamhelgi Jafet Melge Kosmodod
Kristin Thora Mike Hunt Reptilicus RVK DnB
Sigga Soffía & Jónas Sen Sigrún sxsxsx Tómas Jónsson
Trptych
Hip Hop / Rap / R&B / Soul
Alexander Jarl Aron Can Alvia Islandia B-Ruff
Bróðir BIG Cryptochrome Cyber Emmsjé Gauti
Epic Rain GKR Glacier Mafia Herra Hnetusmjör
Kött Grá Pje Krakk & Spaghettí Landabois Lord Pusswhip
Mælginn Reykjavíkurdætur Rímnaríki Shades of Reykjavik
$igmund Sturla Atlas Þriðja Hæðin Tiny
Úlfur Úlfur Valby Bræður
Heavy Rock / Metal / Hardcore
Auðn Beneath Dimma Dr. Spock
Endless Dark Hatari Kælan Mikla Legend
Mammút Pink Street Boys Singapore Sling SÓLSTAFIR
Tófa

And here is the Spotify playlist, it includes ALL bands playing Iceland Airwaves, not just the Icelandic musicians: