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. And here are my tips to make the festival more enjoyable.
I will be photographing the festival this year and if you follow my Facebook page you view at your leisure. You can see photos from Airwaves past 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 troublethe 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.
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 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, 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 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 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.
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.
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.
And, the final announcement is out. Almost 230 bands will be at Iceland Airwaves 2015, and while we’ll definitely miss Björk and Mammút, The Airwaves staff have outdone themselves with the roster this year. This is the most bands I have seen yet, 155 of the 230 bands are Icelandic, and they span the spectrum of every genre. Here is the new announcement, Directed, edited and created by the wonderful Ingibjörg Birgisdóttir, Sin Fang once again is credited with the music, and… Now we all know who Gangly is.
Also announced for this year is a festival within a festival. On Sunday, the final night of the festival,the mini-festival called Extreme Chill will happen at the Vodafone Hall. One last hurrah and “laid back” night of music, featuring Hot Chip, Introbeats, dj. flugvél og geimskip, Agent Fresco, Emmsjé Gauti, Sleaford Mods, Úlfur Úlfur and FM Belfast. You can learn more about it here. It’s a fantastic idea, because if you have done Airwaves right, nothing will sound better than only having to go to one place to finish off in musical bliss.
As I did for 2014 and 2013, I’ve listed all of the Icelandic bands playing into loosely divided into genres on this page. Clicking on their name will open a new tab with the Iceland Airwaves info page for that artist, which includes Soundcloud, Social media links, and a short bio.
This list is just the Icelandic bands playing, if you want to see the full line-up go to the Iceland Airwaves Line-up page.
You can listen to all the bands playing this year via Iceland Airwaves Spotify playlist here:
And here are the previous video announcements:
Video four was Directed, produced, and shot by Máni M Sigfússon, starring Kælan Mikla, with music by Sin Fang:
Video three was produced by Les Frères Stefson, directed and written by, Unnsteinn Manuel Stefánsson And the banker was Haraldur Ari Stefánsson:
Video two with Hrafnkell Örn Guðjónsson drumming away as band names float across the screen:
First announcement with Dj. Flugvél og Geimski:
I would suggest getting your tickets sooner than later, especially if you are planning on doing a package you’ll have more hotel options in the beginning now than you will in a month. Typically the festival sells out, but with the line up looking as good as it does this year, I would imagine it will sell out sooner than later. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to be on the wrong end of “you snooze, you lose”
If you want to see what the past has been like, here is a link to all my Iceland Airwaves related posts. And here is the link to the Iceland Airwaves Flickr page if you want to see just how fun this festival really is.
Futuregrapher, otherwise known as Árni Grétar, is a staple of the weirdcore scene in Iceland. Multiple layers of trippy broken beats combined with the atmospheric noise he’s famous for recording, his music is known to cause spontaneous outbreaks of dancing when played. This result isn’t limited to just the crowd of onlookers, but Árni himself is known to break out violently into his cooky style of dance behind all the knobs and buttons on stage: Exhibit 1 of his awesome dance style can be seen on the song he did with Guðjón Heiðar:
Partnering up with fellow musician, Skurken he owns the Icelandic record label Möller records which gets it’s name from the famous Icelandic singer Helga Möller from the 70’s band Þú og ég. Möller is an electronic label with other Icelandic acts such as Skurken, Bistro Boy and Subminimal. Futuregrapher is also famous for his remixes, including the following remix of Samaris’s Viltu Vitrast And Kimono’s newest release Aquarium:
Futuregrapher is working on a new album, SKYNVERA, it would be his second after 2011’s LP, aptly called, LP. As it gets more and more expensive to do a proper release, it’s kind of cool that artists can pre-sell the album as crowd sourcing to get their music out. And Arni has a lot of music, love and hugs to give out, as well as other goodies if you’re willing to help him get the new project up and going. So go here to his Karolina fund campaign, read what he has to offer and help him out. At the very least, you’ll get a hug.
He has quite the extensive Soundcloud page, his Instagram account is active (ftrgrphr), and you can find more about him on Facebook. See him live if you can, because it’s always a party. He was nice enough to answer my 4 questions:
1. What is your favorite place to play at in Iceland: Drangsnes – and Kaldalón, Harpa
2. If you combine all your favorite colors, what do you get? Pink