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Icelandic Bands of Iceland Airwaves 2017

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, and from the looks of it, bringing more Icelandic bands from all over together to play. You can now look at the schedule here.

218 bands have been announced so far of which 162 are Icelandic.  I make this page as a quick reference and it’s a good thing to bookmark while you’re at the festival. There will be times where your plans may not come to fruition and you can look at the app, find a band you’ve never heard of for plan B, and use the quick reference here to see if you dig it.

Iceland Airwords is back as well.  A night of Poets, authors, and literature, including Ásta Fanney Sigurðardóttir, Kristín ÓmarsdóttirAndri Snær Magnason, Bergur Ebbi Sigurðsson, Kött Grá Pjé.  Check the online schedule for times.

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.

I’ve also made a table of just Möller Records and Thule Records artists as they have quite the strong presence this year. Both of these record labels have continually brought amazing electronic acts out of the Icelandic woodwork for years and I’m really stoked to visit their stage and get my fill of their collective music.

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 / Atmospheric / experimental
Chevron DJ. flugvél og geimskip DJ Snorri Ástráðs DJ Spegill
DJ Sura Frank Murder Good Moon Deer Kosmodod
Ljósvaki Púlsvídd Röskva Ruxpin
Tonik ensemble TRPTYCH Yagya
Veteran Electronic Record Labels: Möller & Thule Records
Án (M) Andartak (M) Árni² (M) Bistro Boy (M)
Cold (T) Futuregrapher (M) Gunnar Jónsson Collider (M) NonniMal (T)
Octal Industries (T) Ozy (T) Ohm (T) Subliminal (M)
Thor (T) Vector (T)
Dance / electronic / pop / rock
Blissfull FM Belfast GusGus Mikael Lind
Milkywhale PASHN Sólveig Matthildur Sykur
Sylvia
Rock / Pop / Singer/Songwriter / Indie / Dance
200.000 Naglbítar AFK Árstíðir Ásgeir
Axel Flóvent AUÐUR aYia Benny Crespo’s Gang
Between Mountains Biggi Hilmars Ceasetone Daði Freyr
Dísa Einarlndra Emiliana Torrini & the Colorist Indriði
Fai Baba Fox Train Safari Fufanu Gangly
Godchilla Grúska Babúska Gorn Hildur
Högni Hugar JANA JFDR
Jón Jónsson KALLI Kiriyama Family Lára Rúnars
Lára Rúnars Máni Orrason Megas Mighty Bear
Moses Hightower Mr. Silla Nilüfer Yanya Omotrack
One week wonder Ösp Oyama Par-Ðar
Pascal Pinon Paunkholm Pranke Ragga Grönda
Rósa Guðrún Sveinsdóttir RuGl Rythmatik SiGRÚN
Skaði Þórðardóttir Skrattar Snorri Helgason Soffía Björg
Sóley Special K Sycamore Tree Tilbury
TSS Tusks Una Stef Valdimar
Vök Védís Warmland Young Karin
Punk / Metal / Hardcore / Garage Rock / Prog Rock
Dr. Gunni For a Minor Reflection Fræbbblarnir Grísalappalísa
Gróa HAM Hatari Hórmónar
Kælan Mikla Kontinuum Korter í flog Mammút
Phlegm Pink Street Boys ROHT Skelkur í bringu
Tappi Tíkarrass Tófa Une Misère We Made God
Hip-Hop / Trap / R&B / Rap
Alexander Jarl Alvia Islandia Aron Can Birnir
Cell 7 Chase Cryptochrome Cyber
Dillalude Elli Grill Emmsjé Gauti Fever Dream
Flóni Geisha Cartel GKR Glowie
Holy Hrafn Ider Joey Christ JóiPé og Króli
KÁ-AKÁ Lord Pusswhip Rari boys Reykjavíkurdætur
Shades of Reykjavik Sturla Atlas Tiny Úlfur Úlfur
Valby Bræður Young Nazareth
Composers / Atmospheric / Audio Visual
Amiina Bára Gísladóttir GlerAkur Gyða Valtýsdóttir
Halldór Eldjárn Jónas Sen
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 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.