Category Archives: Band

Kimono’s 13th Anniversary vinyl release

I’m as excited as she looks

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.

 

 

Bloodgroup

Bloodgroup at Harpa during Iceland Airwaves 2013

Bloodgroup at Harpa during Iceland Airwaves 2013

Bloodgroup’s musical legacy is over 7 years old.  Starting out in 2006 in Egilsstaðir, they now have 3 self produced albums and have performed in North America, Europe and of course Iceland.  Originally consisting of Lilja Kristín Jónsdóttir (vocals), Janus Rasmussen (vocals, electronic percussion, synths), Ragnar Láki Jónsson (synths and samplers), and Hallur Kristján Jónsson (synths and samplers.)  Sunna Margrét (vocals) joined in 2010 replacing Lilja.

It’s been said their name was a spur of the moment creation.  Born out of quick thinking by Raggi when a radio interviewer needed their band name.  And as 3 of them, Hallur, Ragnar and Lilja were siblings, the name fit.

Bloodgroup’s first album, Sticky Situations, was released in 2007.  At the time it was compared to bands such as The Knife and CSS.  The music is layered, with unique use of unsymmetrical breaks covered with heavy dance beats and hyper lyrics provided by Lilja Kristín Jónsdóttir .  The uniqueness of the album quickly made it my first choice when running.  Odd as that seems, the beat kept me going, and the unique breaks kept me interested.  Here’s their epic video for “Hips again:”

Their second album, Dry land, replaced the unique breaks with unique sounds, all still multi-layered and wrapped into great dance tracks the lyrics went from hyper to haunting.  There is still a strong flow to the lyrics, but they carry more weight and tend to float over the beat.  It’s more complex than Sticky Situations, and a lot more mature as well.  Here is one of my favorite tracks, “Moonstone:”

The new album, Tracing Echoes, was released in 2013.  Much more heavy and dark, the album takes on a mature feel.  Sunna’s ability to float over the dance beat now includes a substantial amount of haunting as well.  Her vocals really come into their own on this album, strong but smooth, like a couple fingers of Johhny Walker blue.

Þorvaldur Þór Þorvaldsson (Doddi) drumming for Bloodgroup at Airwaves 2013

Þorvaldur Þór Þorvaldsson (Doddi) drumming for Bloodgroup at Airwaves 2013

At Airwaves this year, they were joined by Þorvaldur Þór Þorvaldsson (Doddi) on drums.  As stated before, I am a big fan of Doddi’s drumming, and it was awesome to see the live drum element into a dance bands set.  Even the more downbeat pieces come alive during Bloodgroup gigs, and it’s rare to see any of them just standing by their instruments.  Sometimes I think they rock out harder than the crowd.

That hair, making me wish I had more than a point and click with me

That hair, making me wish I had more than a point and click with me


 

With flying hair, rocking synths and keys, they get the crowd into the music not only with the crazy layered beats, but lead by example.

You can keep up with their musical shenanigans on their Facebook page and keep up with tour schedules on their website.  They have a pretty extensive track list on Soundcloud as well.

The band was nice enough to answer my 4 nonsensical questions:

1. What is your favorite off-venue Airwaves joint to jam at? KEX Hostel! Great place, great people, great sound

2. If you combine all of your favorite colors, what do you get? Something dark, maybe purple with a dash of green in it

3. What are 3 of your favorite little known bands of Icelandic origin? Skátar, Vax and East Coast Speed Salmon (one of my biggest regrets is not seeing Skátar live, so happy to see them make a list. –RB)

4. If you could be any creature playing your favorite song, what would the creature be? And what is the song.  We would definitely be cats playing Elton John’s Tiny Dancer

Boogie Trouble

boogietrouble

Disco? In Iceland?  I’ll let you all in on a dirty little secret, Icelanders once disco’d the hell out of disco.  In fact, one of their own, Þórir Baldursson was rather successful in the US working with Donna Summers and others during the global disco hayday.   While Disco on the small island may have been short lived, Boogie Trouble is doing a fine job of bringing it back with their ‘disco-funk-full-o-soul’ style of music.

swankyBoogie trouble started in 2011.  Myth has it the band tweaked a reggae tune to match their style and decided to keep at it.  The members are all experienced musicians, with Ingibjörg Elsa Turchi formerly of Rökkurró on bass;  Helga Ragnarsdóttir currently of Rökkurró on keys;  Sigurður Tómas Guðmundsson formerly of Snorri Helgason’s old band Sprengjuhöllin on drums;  Sindri Freyr Steinsson from Iceland’s Surf rock band Bárujárn on guitar and vocals, and lead singer Klara Arnalds, who has the ability to soothingly punch the grumpies out of any audience member within range of her energetic smile and waves of flying hair.

On my must see list at Iceland Airwaves this year, the band came highly recommended from a slew of Icelandic musicians.  There is a dangerous line that can be crossed when playing funk or disco, but their strong songwriting and musical craftwork bring the energy and fun of that era while leaving behind any unintentional signs of gimmick.  They were tight on the instruments and every one of them on stage appeared to be having a good time.

Most of their songs are in Icelandic, but the manner in which they are written, and the enjoyment and energy the band projects from the stage make the language barrier moot. They do have a few cover songs, including Britney Spear’s Toxic, which you can download for free at Soundcloud.

They are promising new stuff and even an album soon in the future.  They are on Facebook, as well as Soundcloud.  And the band was nice enough to answer my 4 very not-so-serious questions:

1.  What is your favorite off-venue Airwaves, or Icelandic joint to jam at?  The best place to go partying is probably Harlem because even when it sucks it is tolerable. The best place to play music used to be Faktorý but that got torn down to build hotels.

2. If you combine all of your favorite colors (for you, add your bandmates if you would), what do you get?  Litographicly probably some sort of brown sludge. That or purple.

3. What are 3 of your favorite little known bands of Icelandic origin?  Svartidauði, Nolo, Ojba Rasta, the list goes on. A lot of talented people happen to live on this rock.

4. If you could be any creature playing your favorite song, what would the creature be? And what is the song.  Cthulu playing Strawberry letter 23, with The Brothers Johnson. That would probably be deep.

Airwaves ’13 recap part 1-The new

blackwhiteairwaves

Pétur Ben at KEX

Now for the recap on Airwaves, Yes initially I was going to do a day by day, yes I was ambitious.  No, after day 1, it didn’t happen.  So, I am going to do a couple blog posts on stuff that was new to me, and stuff I dug.

To start off, Kudos to the Iceland Airwaves staff and crew.  This was the smoothest I’ve seen it run, and I really appreciate how much help they are, even to us small potatoes that dig music and blog about it out of fun and not as our careers.  So, thank you guys for another great year.

As with all 5 years that I’ve attended, there was good, and there was notsogood.  The high points out numbered the rare low points and it’s easy to call this my favorite music festival of the year.

One of the highlights was the off-venue schedule being added to the app.  It really made picking a band during the middle of the day a lot easier, and if the off-venue performance you wanted was too crowded, it was easy to pick something else.  And this year that became more important than in the past, as it seemed the off venues were packed almost all the time, and quick changes of plans were necessary.

DJFOG

DJ. flugvél og geimskip

My goal was to focus on Icelandic bands that I had not heard before, I relied heavily on the suggestions other Icelandic musicians and friends, and regardless of their genre I made an attempt to see them play.  I did make an exception to my rule in order to see Zola Jesus, FM Belfast, and John Grant.  But all the other bands on my schedule were Icelandic, and/or bands I had seen once or twice.  And with over 200 of them rarely did I have a time where I couldn’t find something to see.

Top 3 new bands I had not seen before were Boogie Trouble, Oyama, and Hudson Wayne. Oyama was on my list based on the blog I did about them, and Boogie trouble was a must see, as a lot of Icelandic friends and musicians recommended I not miss their gig.

Boogie Trouble at Hressó

Boogie trouble’s upbeat music came in second only to their lead singers energy and charisma.  She was laughing, dancing around the place, and the entire band jammed away at both gigs I attended.  Two entirely different crowds for those shows, and yet the band created the same party like atmosphere in both situations.  They played the first day I was in town at Lucky Records, and again at Hressó near the end of the festival.  Well worth the recommends they received, and their cover of Britney Spear’s Toxic is not to be missed.

While so called “shoe-gazing” music isn’t typically my jam, I was excited to see Oyama, as I like the music I’ve heard and was interested to see how their live show would turn out.  I also saw Oyama twice, once in front of the 12 Tónar shop at Harpa, and once at the Amsterdam bar the last night of Airwaves.

Oyama rockin the walls of Harpa

Oyama rockin the walls of Harpa

The off-venue gig at Harpa turned scandalous, as the band was just too wild and crazy for the stone cold walls, and as their music filled the event hall, it breached the serenity of the Ólafur Arnalds Symphony experience, causing a panicked man to whisper pleas into Úlfur’s ear to stop briefly to allow the symphony to end in peace.  Ok, not that dramatic, but the band did have to stop briefly, you can read more about it here.

Oyama at Amsterdam

Oyama at Amsterdam

At both sets the band played energetically and together, the smaller set at Harpa was definitely more mellow than the on-venue set at Amsterdam.  And at the Amsterdam set I was really impressed with Júlía, who obviously was having issues with her voice, and yet it came out strong, non-wavering, and almost pitch perfect the entire set.  the Amsterdam set was more rowdy, and there was nothing shoe-gazing about the guitar and bass trio break-down during one of their first few songs.  I highly enjoyed the new tracks they premiered during their set.

Hudson Wayne at Iðnó

Hudson Wayne at Iðnó

Hudson Wayne gets a golden star as being one of the only bands I’ve ever heard at Iðnó where I thought the sound quality was great.  They were so spot on it would be hard to believe they were Icelanders and not from the Mid Western part of the U.S.   They appeared to be having almost more fun than the audience.  So, aside from the over-priced beer at Iðnó, I stayed the entire set and really enjoyed myself.  Was very glad to finally hear them play.

Petur Ben

Pétur Ben at KEX

I’ve seen Pétur Ben perform before, but not the newer darker catalog he has, and not with a full band.  So it was great to make it to Kex and hear him play full on.  Even though the new album is quite a bit darker, the music came off strong and I really dug the new live tracks.

Once again, Kex Hostel had KEXP hanging around, doing live streams of the music during the entire festival.  If you want to hear the live sets they recorded, I suggest heading over here to give them a listen.  They all work incredibly hard every year exposing new acts and bringing music from Iceland to the United States.

Samaris

Samaris

Sadly, the one set of new artists that turned out not so well was the Samaris show at Gamli Bio.  There were massive tech issues from the beginning, and the band looked really out of sorts and discombobulated in their performance.  I wish I could have seen them at another gig, as I was really excited to catch their act.  So until I do see them again, I am holding off judgement on their live act.

Nini Wilson at Harpa

Nini Wilson at Harpa

Last but not least by any means, another great new band was Nini Wilson.  Comprised of Örn Ingi Ágústsson from Seabear on guitar, Árni Vilhjálmsson of FM Belfast doing vocals and guitar, and Björn Stefánsson on drums.  Their music was made public only days before the festival, and yet there still was a near full venue waiting to hear what they had to offer.  After taking a moment to relax via a bottle of Lavender oil, which they passed around for the crowd to inhale, Nini Wilson began a very tight set of Folk-ish rock, moving through the set entertaining themselves and the audience with quips about being naked, not being naked and of course, a few rock guitar solos intermixed.  Very entertaining and I wish the set had been longer as it was one of the more enjoyable ones of the festival.  Can’t wait to hear what else they have in store.

You can click any picture above to see my entire photo set from Airwaves this year.

Snorri Helgason

snorrippp

I’ve always talked of the hard work Icelandic musicians put into their craft.  Snorri Helgason is the personification of this.  He tours more than humanly possible, constantly collaborates with other Icelandic musicians, and has been been part of programs such as Taste of Iceland and Iceland Airwaves every year.  He works hard, very hard, and we the listener are the benefactors.

Snorri’s career started with his band, Sprengjuhöllin.  They released three great albums, all of which won awards and were well received by the Icelandic public, including one single that lasted 27 weeks in Iceland’s music charts.

Continuing to evolve, he released his first solo album I’m gonna put my name on your door which was also well received.   Ironically, the title track from the album speaks of settling down, quite the opposite direction Snorri has taken, and combined with the final track When a good thing dies, the audience is left somewhat misled about the future of Snorri Helgason.

The album itself is smooth; perfect for a rainy day or relaxing road trips.  Reminiscent of Nick Cave and Harry Nillson his ability to modernize that 70’s soulful folk makes for an enjoyable album trip, one of my favorite songs on the album is Don’t let her.

Next came Winter’s sun.  This is my favorite of his albums to date.  There are hints of 50’s rock and soul on tracks such as 99 songs, and splotches of blues on The Butcher’s Boy.   Spending time in Iceland during a Christmas break, Snorri was playing music with Sindri Már Sigfússon from Sin Fang and they decided to put an album together.  With Sindri producing and Snorri playing the album is a perfect of example of adding more without adding too much.  Vocals are more sharp and energized, there are more instruments, and more people backing him up, such as Mr. Silla from Múm, and Sóley.

One of my favorite tracks from Winter’s sun, Mockingbird, reminds me of a Motown era jam.  Very smooth, with a rock influenced beat underneath lullaby vocals backed up in a do-wappish manner.

Recently released, Snorri’s new album, Autumn skies keeps the strong instruments, but from the two tracks available to stream, the vocals have slightly shifted back towards the mellow smooth folk of the first album.  I particularly like the sound of Kveðja.  You can listen to both new tracks, as well as a slew of his back catalog on his Soundcloud page.  You can purchase the new Autumn Skies CD from the Record Records music shop, and his previous two albums are on Gogoyoko for listening or purchase pleasure.

To learn more and keep up with him, visit his website or Facebook page.  He’ll be performing at Iceland Airwaves this year and he always puts on a fantastic show, I suggest you check it out.

Kimono

kimono

I’ve been waiting for a good time to write a post about Kimono,and as their new EP, Aquarium,was just released on Bandcamp; T’is a good time to write.

On my first trip to Iceland a crazy Icelander sold me a massive stack of CD’s and from that stack, Kimono’s Arctic Death Ship quickly became a favorite.  It’s also the only album that has had the privilege of being played at full volume on my old Klipsch stereo system in order to kindly let my neighbors know I don’t appreciate mid-week 1-5am drunken guitar circles. That was a glorious early morning listen, and while ear plugs were required for my roommates, the drum circles moved to a more tolerable time period.

The members of Kimono have been making music for quite a while, currently a three piece consisting of Gylfi Blöndal and Alison MacNeil on Guitar; and Kjartan Bragi Bjarnason on Drums, they pride themselves on doing what they want when they want.  Despite the multiple album of year awards and other accolades they have received, it seems their biggest accomplishment is their ability to ride under the radar while still collecting fans that appreciate their sound and pick up on the musical references and theifdoms in their songs.

Their albums only have one consistent element, they are all different and well crafted.   I would describe Mineur-aggressif as a heavy sludge rock album, while Arctic Death Ship is the intense electricity you experience right before a storm, the opening track Standing Wave is actually in my “Top 5 songs I’ve ever liked and will ever like” list.  Their last full length album, Easy Music for Difficult people is a well done post-punk prog-rock album akin to bands such as Wire, and is great to listen to while maneuvering your car through windy roads.  Wire and Tomorrow are two of my favorite tracks from the album.

In keeping with tradition, the new single Aquarium has it’s own unique sound.   It’s  smooth, really smooth, and there is a more noticeable jazz influence throughout, especially in the drums.  As Alison posted online, it’s definitely an album “for when you are cooking, relaxing or making sweet love.”

The track meanders along with bursts of ghostly guitar fading in and out floating on a background of subtly changing sound.  And while it’s not as heavy it definitely fits right up there with Godspeed you Black Emperor and Cancer Conspiracy.

I find it interesting that the video for the new EP is aquatic themed, because listening to the track made me want to get a tube and float down a river sipping beer and soaking up the sun.

You can listen to the band on Soundcloud, Kimono has one of the best organized Soundcloud accounts I have seen to date and there are extra tidbits from the band members there as well.  They are also on Facebook and you can always visit their website.

Alison was kind enough to answer my 4 questions:

1. What is your favorite off-venue Airwaves, or Icelandic joint to jam at?  My favorite off-venues are usually the ones where someone figures out how to put on a show where there’s never been a show before.  Early in kimono’s life, we played the backyard of a jeweller’s on Skólavörðustígur and that was crazy awesome.  So, in other words, the middle of the street suits me just fine.

2. If you combine all of your favorite colors (for you, add your bandmates if you would), what do you get?  If memory serves me right:  brown.

3. What are 3 of your favorite little known bands of Icelandic origin?  Kukl, Þeyr, and Sófandi

4. If you could be any creature playing your favorite song, what would the creature be, and what is the song?  Shiva.  Many arms = many guitars.  I could do a one-woman performance of a Glenn Branca orchestra, which appeals to me greatly since actually organising a group of people to play that music is a veritable pain in the ass.

Amiina

AmiinaMost of us were introduced to Amiina when the quartet went gigging across the globe with Sigur Rós.  Now a 6 piece, Amiina consists of the original 4; Edda Rún Ólafsdóttir, Hildur Ársælsdóttir, Sólrún Sumarliðadóttir, María Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir and two male members, Magnús Trygvason Eliassen and Guðmundur Vignir Karlsson.

Famous for their creative use of everything from saws to harpsichords, and the ability the members have in casually drifting from one instrument to the next in a single track, their music can be described as more of an atmosphere than sound.  A serene, happy and peaceful atmosphere leaving the listener with a smile.

in 2007, Kurr was released.  It was their first full length after their time with Sigur Rós and with ambiance and classical overtones it became a strong indicator that the band would have no issue standing on their own.

To me, one of the most fantastic things to come of that album was the collaboration with Lee Hazelwood on Hilli.  This track was made more special as to the best of my knowledge, it’s the last thing Lee Hazelwood did before passing away.   There is something cool in thinking about an old Okie-Louis boy who had worked with likes of Nancy Sinatra hanging his hat with a grin at the completion of this moving collaboration.

Puzzle, the second full length, strongly reminds me of driving across the mountainous deserts of Utah and Arizona at twilight with my hand sticking out the open window making waves.  What are we waiting for? is one of my favorite tracks on the album, and tracks such as Sicsak really stick out with their heavier electronic presence. The album is heavier and more full, but that ambiance of peacefulness still shines through.

Amiina’s latest and greatest is the Lighthouse Project.  Back in the day of their quartet, the band created a concert specifically designed to be played in Lighthouses.  Fast forward a bit and the band resumed their quartet role and toured Iceland playing Lighthouse to Lighthouse.  When they decided to record these Lighthouse versions of the songs, they recorded it concert style live in the studio to try and emulate that cozy concert feel.

You can learn more about the Lighthouse Project, as well as purchase it in different sets from their website.  They have Puzzle and The Lighthouse Project on Gogoyoko if you would like to listen to the albums in their entirety, and of course you can always follow them on Facebook.

The band was very nice and answered my 4 questions, here are their answers:

1. What is your favorite off-venue Airwaves, or Icelandic joint to jam at?  Well, there isnt really a place where you can jam at, but our favorite off-venue show was probably the one we did at a record shop called Havarí. That was a nice place. Sadly they had to close (like a lot of clubs and shops in Reykjavík these days…) but that show was great!

2. If you combine all of your favorite colors (for you, add your bandmates if you would), what do you get?  Probably something out of this world, never before seen color. Or some kind of black reddish type of color. Or whatever. Colors are nice!

3. What are 3 of your favorite little known bands of Icelandic origin?  Sin Fang are good. ADHD are good. Samúel Jón Samúelsson Big Band are nice. Oyama are good.

4. If you could be any creature playing your favorite song, what would the creature be? And what is the song.  An eagle whistling Blue in Green by Miles Davis…

In the Company of Men

ITCOM

Yes yes, I know I should use a more recent photo of the band, but with that shit-eating grin behind the guitar, and the oh so seriousness of holding keys vertically while a Dillinger Escape plan T-shirt gets cuddled, how could I resist.  So sue me, I picked this pic.

Mostly described as Mathcore, they’ve also been described as hardcore and metal.  Grapevine once described them stating, “they looked and acted more fucked up and obnoxious (in the best possible way) than before, running and jumping around like monkeys dosed on purple drank.”  In the Company of Men, (ITCOM)  is a five piece band that came together late 2011, consisting of  Finnbogi Örn (Guitar & Vocals), Samúel Örn Böðvarsson (Bass), A.K. Andersen (Vocals), Steini Milljón (Guitar, Vocals), and Björn Rúnarsson (Drummer).

From live videos I’ve seen, they appear batshit crazy showing a complete disregard for stages, lighting or boundaries while precisely and artfully pulling off complex signatures.  They hold their own with other bands of their genre such as the beautifully psychotic Dillinger Escape Plan, In fact, from the videos I’ve seen, they are reminsicint of a young DEP,  and are on my top list to check out at Airwaves this year.

At only a year or so old they took second place in the Músiktilraunir, Iceland’s battle of the bands, and Luigi from the Mario Brothers handled lead vocals during the Wacken Metal Battle (perhaps it was the singer dressed up as Luigi, we may never know.)

The track in the above video is Captain Planet.  This was one of the first tracks made available online and in many ways the start of my admiration of the band.  Of the tracks available on their Soundcloud page, I have to say the Steini Milljón is my favorite.

As with most Icelandic musicians, the band members are up to their necks in other creative projects in and around Iceland.  Finnbogi Örn also belongs to the hardcore band Icarus, who are currently touring New York throughout the month of July, Samúel Örn Böðvarsson also plays bass for the Death Metal band Aeterna, and A.K. Andersen, when not waxing philosophy around the table is working on a comic book titled  “Alfjeder”.

You can visit their Facebook page or listen to them on Soundcloud.  They are in the final stages of their first album and steadily working on their second, look for them this year.

And here are the 4 questions they were nice enough to answer for me:

  1. What is your favorite off-venue Airwaves joint to jam at?

Björn Rúnarsson – Lucky Records.
A.k. Andersen – Lucky Records.
Steini Milljón – Lucky Records.
Samúel Örn Böðvarsson – Lucky Records or Dillon
Finnbogi Örn Einarsson – Lucky Records & Gaukur á Stöng.

  1. If you combine all of your favorite colors, what do you get?

Björn Rúnarsson – Green (420 – 420 – 420 – 420)
A.k. Andersen –  Pink, all da way! (420-4… wait… oh)
Steini Milljón – Lilla Blár (Purple)
Samúel Örn Böðvarsson – Black, stay KVLT
Finnbogi Örn Einarsson – Metallica

  1. What are 3 of your favorite little known bands of Icelandic origin?

Björn Rúnarsson – Ehh, ég veit ekki. Bjornen
A.k. Andersen – Bob, Japanese shuper shift and da future band og Kuraka
Steini Milljón – Me The Slumbering Napoleon, Ampersand og Bob Gillan & Ztrandverðirnir
Samúel Örn Böðvarsson – Aeterna & Metallica!
Finnbogi Örn Einarsson – Gruesome Glory, Trust The Lies, & World Narcosis.  (Also Mýnkarnir, a hip-hop collective from Hornafjörður)

  1. If you could be any creature playing your favorite song, what would the creature be?  What is the song?

 Björn Rúnarsson – Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go með Wham eða When I’m Back On My Feet Again með Michael  Bolton
A.k. Andersen – Sloths playing silence by no one.
Steini Milljón – A Trumpet, Hot House
Samúel Örn Böðvarsson – I’d be a Liger playing the classic Eye of the “Liger”
Finnbogi Örn Einarsson – A Silverback Gorilla doing an acapella version of ‘Over The Years’ by 25 Ta Life.

Ojba Rasta

ojba

Iceland is a little island straddling two continents somewhat isolated from the rest of the world. So it’s diversity in musical style always amazes me. Ojba Rasta is rooted in reggae definitely, but there are a lot of influences and alternating vibes in their music. And since the band has enough members to populate a small Icelandic village, it’s no surprise to find elements of funk, rock, dub and electro intertwined in the upbeat core of their music.

Formed around 2009 the band began as a 10 piece, but as things happen, they now have 11 members that make up their reggae stew including an organ, multiple guitars, bass, trumpets, a saxaphone, and of course, a dub-master.

Jolly good is probably their most famous track outside of Iceland. It’s one of the few tracks sung in English and shows off their ability to mix different styles into a very smooth feel good piece, though I do find it highly suspect that the lead singer is a little white girl.  On their Soundcloud page you can find two more songs by the band.

Being a large band full of interesting characters, Ojba Rasta always put a good show on and have a knack for entertaining the crowd not only with music, but their attitudes and interactions as well.  Once again, I’ve uncovered proof of such a statement thanks to KEXP.  This is a video of their gig at last year’s Airwaves festival at the Kex Hostel.:

Ojba Rasta have released a self titled full length album, of which the three tracks on Soundcloud do indeed reside.  If you are located outside of the states, you can pick up the album on Gogoyoko here.  Otherwise it’s available on Amazon or iTunes.  They are working on a second album slated for a 2013 release, and plan to tour in Germany after Airwaves 2013.  You can check out their Facebook page here.

Very chill, and one of the best ways to relax during a hectic gig schedule at Airwaves.  I highly suggest you check them out.  And yup yup, the band answered my 4 questions, here they be:

1.  What is your favorite off-venue Airwaves, or Icelandic joint to jam at? At Airwaves 2012 we only played one off-venue gig and it was at the Kex hostel. The concert was broadcasted live from KEXP Radio and the footage was sweet. The weather was crazy that day in Iceland and in the U.S. We loved the whole expierence… We also love playing at Nasa and Faktorý. (I’ve included the video above)

2. If you combine all of your favorite colors (for you, add your bandmates if you would), what do you get?  Neon sea flaming blue/green.

3. What are 3 of your favorite little known bands of Icelandic origin?  Mmm….Tough question.. maybe: Amaba Dama, Nolo and Boogie Trouble.

4. If you could be any creature playing your favorite song, what would the creature be? And what is the song?  It would have to be a lion playing Iron Lion Zion by Bob Marley or maybe a black panther playing Rock & Roll Suicide by David Bowie.

Jónas Sen

JS

Jónas Sen is a musician with many hats.  Along with composing, he has hosted multiple music oriented television programs, composed for, and toured with Björk, and works as a music critic for Iceland’s Frettabla∂i∂.

In the classical musician pool, it’s always cool to find the creative ones willing to use their roots in classical music to do things like make Robots play out a tune.  He and Björk created the keyboard pieces on Björk’s Biophillia app specifically for the Ipad and Iphone and most recently, Jónas worked with Valdimar Jóhannsson creating music for a project called “H, an incident.”  a robotic musical-theatre production by Kris Verdonck consisting of a small female choir and 10 robotic musicians.

Jónas’s Soundcloud page is filled with a great sample of what he’s composed as well as pieces he has collaborated with.  My favorite track on the Soundcloud page would be Mephisto, I dig the space-walk vibe, contrasted with jungle beats and tribal nuances.

I’m curious to see what he’s going to do at Iceland Airwaves this year and am looking forward to it.

Jónas was nice enough to answer my 4 questions:

1. What is your favorite off-venue Airwaves, or Icelandic  joint to jam at? Norræna húsið
2. If you combine all of your favorite colors what do you get? Whitish green
3. What are 3 of your favorite little known bands of Icelandic origin? Yellow Void, Lazy Blood, Reptilicus
4. If you could be any creature playing your favorite song, what would the creature be?  And what is the song?  A zombie playing On the Hills of Manchuria