Tag Archives: gogoyoko

Iceland Airwaves 2013

Typically I stay away from categorizing bands, as I find the lengths some people go to box a band in silly. But now that the final list of bands for Iceland Airwaves 2013 is out, I wanted to make an easier way for you to learn more about, and listen to the Icelandic bands that will be performing.

Of the 216 or so bands at this year’s Airwaves, 150 of them are Icelandic. With everything from a national symphony to death metal, electro-pop to hip-hop, you’re pretty much covered with things to listen to.

So, I have very loosely divided the bands into 5 different groups. Hip Hop, Composers and classical, Hardcore and all the metals, Electronic/Dance/close-to-dance, and the last, but definitely, largest group I will just call rock+, it consists of reggae, funk, blues, rock, harder rock, indie-er rock etc..etc…

As anyone can look up a band’s website, I had a process for picking which links to use. If I’ve written a piece on them the link will take you to that blog post. If not and they have a Gogoyoko or Soundcloud page, the link will take you there. After that it’s either their website or facebook page. I believe most the bands will take you to a page where you can stream at least some of their music.

If you don’t have a Gogoyoko account yet, I strongly urge you to get one. It’s free, and you can create your own playlists to share what you find, but more importantly, a great deal of the bands linked via gogoyoko have their own playlists making it easier for you to hear the songs they really like from all their albums. Like I said, it’s free and takes little to no time to sign up, so just do it. Think of it as an Icelandic Spotify account that actually gives back to the artist.

After the list of bands you will find both the Spotify and the Soundcloud playlists for all Airwaves artists. And, clicking here will take you to the full Schedule so schedule away.

If I’ve missed a band, or you feel strongly that a band should be classified differently let me know. And now, for your researching and listening pleasure, here are the bands, in order from smallest to largest table:

Hip Hop

Cell7 Emmsje Gauti Epic Rain Kött Grá Pje
Original Melody Ramses Ulfur Ulfur


Biggi Hilmars Daníel Bjarnason Iceland Symphony Orchestra
Jónas Sen Nordic Affect Skuli Sverrisson
Þóranna Dögg Björnsdóttir AKA Trouble Úlfur Eldjárn Saktmodigur

Hardcore / Metals

Æla Agent Fresco AMFJ Angist
Blood Feud Dimma Endless Dark In the Company of Men
Kimono Kontinuum Momentum Muck
Ophidian I Sign Skepna Sólstafir
Strigaskór Nr 42 Svartidauði Trust the Lies Wistaria

Electronic / Experimental / Dance

Apparat Organ Quartet Árni² Aux Pan Berndsen
Björk Viggósdóttir A.K.A. Lala Alaska Bloodgroup Captain Fufanu DJ AnDre
DJ Flugvél og Geimskip FKNHNDSM FM Belfast FutureGrapher
Ghostigital Gluteus Maximus Hermigervill Housekell
Kajak Kippi Kaninus Kira Kira Legend
M-Band Magnoose Nolo Nora
Oculus Pedro Pilatus Prins Polo Quadruplos
Oculus Reptilicus Sísý Ey Skurken
Sometime Subminimal Sykur Tanya & Marlon
Terrordisco ThiZone Tonik Vök

Rock / Indie Rock / Reggae / Blues / funk / etc..etc…

1860 Amaba Dama Amiina Árstíðir
Aragrúi Ásgeir Bárujárn Bellstop>
Benny Crespo’s Gang Bob Justman/a Boogie Trouble Borko
Caterpillarmen Dikta Dísa Eldar
Elín Ey Emiliana Torrini Fears For a minor reflection
Gang Related Grísalappalísa Grúska Babúska Halleluwah
Hellvar Hjaltalín Hudson Wayne Hymnalaya
Jan Mayen Hjaltalín Jóhann Kristinsson John Grant
Kaleo Kiriyama Family Kjurr Lára Rúnars
Lay Low Leaves Lockerbie Loji
Love & Fog MAMMÚT Mono Town Moses Hightower
múm Nini Wilson Ólafur Arnalds Nolem
Ojba Rasta My Bubba Myrra Rós Oyama
Pascal Pinon Pétur ben Ragga Gröndal Retro Stefson
RetRoBot Rökkurró Runar Magnusson Samaris
Samúel Jón Samúelsson Big Band Sin Fang</a Sindri Eldon & The Ways Snorri Helgason
Sóley Stafrænn Hákon Stroff The Wicked Strangers
Þórir Georg Tilbury UMTBS Útidúr
Valdimar Vigri Valdimar Vintage Caravan YLJA

and here is their Spotify playlist:




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.



Three gals, two guys, that’s MAMMÚT.  An Icelandic 5 piece that’s been on the scene for around 9 years.  They have crafted the art of delivering a wall of sound both live and on record with Kata, the lead singer sending out vocals akin to an offspring of Grace Slick and Linda Perry.  Kata on vocals, Ása strumming bass, Alexandra and Arnar at  guitar, and Andri banging the drums and percussion.

3 or 4 months after forming, they won the coveted Músiktilraunir, the annual Icelandic battle of the bands.  Two years later their first album, Mammútwas released.  Basic rock in the vein of the Breeders or Linda Perry topped with a dash or three of late 60’s psychedelic rock.   There are times I can play Miðnæturmetall two or three times before moving on to the next track.

The second album, Karkari,  has a darker feel.  It’s still rock heavy, such as the terrific bass thumping on the beginning of Geimþrá, and the album ends with an instrumentally heavy track, Í Leyni, which could easily be confused for a Godspeed You Black Emperor or Mogwai song.  Very heavy, very loud, and oh so awesome on a stereo.

Between the two albums and their new track, MAMMÚT did Bakkus with KEXP:

I love that the video captures Kata’s “I’m almost going to explode, but I’ll do it very quietly” way of singing, she really is awesome to see live, and the only thing I miss from this and their records is just what powerful lungs she actually has, that fire haired girl really knows how to sing.  But then again, watching this band live really restores your faith in music, as even when it’s a simple riff, or slow drum line, these guys are always into it.  It’s a live gig you should make a priority to see, you’ll get into it just from the energy they give off because their into it.

I want to go off-topic for a moment and bring up KEXP, the folks who did the Bakkus video.  The crew that covers Iceland Airwaves from KEXP are an incredible sort.  I always end up running into them once or twice during the festival as they are incredibly hard workers.  Typically out late to catch as many shows as they can, only to wake up extremely early to go here and there recording Icelandic musicians for special performances all during Airwaves.  A lot of material you will find on Airwaves comes from the recordings and sessions of KEXP.  Last year they were headquartered at the hostel Kex, recording off-venue gigs, broadcasting their live shows, and generally having a good time.

MAMMÚT have been teasing us about new material for quite some time now, and it looks as if it’s finally going to happen.  On the new single, Salt,we get those haunting vocals, and a much darker, more prominent base line.  It feels a lot more like Í Leyni than their other catalog and so yes, I’m quite excited for the new album.  Also, it will be in English and Icelandic, so you won’t have to go guessing just exactly what the hell they are saying, if you’re not versed in the Icelandic language.

The band was kind enough to take the time to answer my 4 vital questions, so here they are:

1. What is your favorite off-venue Airwaves, or Icelandic joint to jam at?  A few year ago we played a gig in Ása’s (our bassist) basement. She used to live in a huge house in downtown Reykjavík and turned the basement into an art gallery, and there we played a secret show for a few good people.

2. If you combine all of your favorite colors (for you, add your bandmates if you would), what do you get? It would be a crazy new color. We’d probably call it “Mammút blue”

3. What are 3 of your favorite little known bands of Icelandic origin?  Well we’d have to define “little known” first. If we’re talking about bands who haven’t experienced a huge international success (yet) then we’d have to say Samaris, Agent Fresco and Ojba Rasta.

4. If you could be any creature playing your favorite song, what would the creature be? And what is the song.  Most likely we’d like to be a frog singing Ave Maria.

You can keep up, and find out more about MAMMÚT on their Facebook and Tumblr pages.  And of course their two albums and new single are conveniently located on Gogoyoko.


Oyama was everywhere at Airwaves 2012, I believe they gigged every day. Very hard workers especially when you consider the band members are from a lot of other Icelandic bands. Úlfur Alexander from Fist Fokkers, Swords of Chaos, and Útidúr. Kári Einarsson from Fist Fokkers. Rúnar Örn Marinósson from Me, the Slumbering Napoleon.  Júlia Hermannsdóttir from We Painted the Walls, and Berger Anderson from Just another Snake Cult and Sudden Weather Change.  (You can go here for my post on Sudden Weather Change.) For as calm and soothing as Oyama’s music is, the members themselves are a tornado of musical activity.

I’ve never gotten used to the term shoe-gaze pop. As this type of music makes me feel more like watching a kaleidoscope projector on my ceiling nestled in my over-sized beanbag than staring at my shoes.  Either way Oyama’s album, I wanna” makes you just want to kick back and float away while gazing at ceilings, shoes, or just into space.  Great beats that keep your attention from straying while vocals float over the top grabbing you and bringing you up there with them.  One of my favorite tracks on the album is Sometimes:

A lot of the album reminds me of a very young Spaceman 3/Spiritualized, especially the track Sometimes.  Oyama is excellent at producing harmonized vocals that drift over a very spacey set of instruments without sounding too washed out.  They have a great way of crossing over and mixing their male and female vocal set to create not so much a duet, but a singular stream of interchangeable notes, most noticed on Wasted (Dinosaur).

Oyama will be at Airwaves again in 2013.  I suggest you check them out.  To keep up to date with the band, their tumblr is here, their Facebook here, and of course you can find them on Gogoyoko.  Júlía and Berger were extremely kind and went to great detail in their answers to my four questions, and here they are:

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

Júlía: Kex hostel and Stúdentakjallarinn fed us good food, plus they are out-of-control trendy places that make anyone who enters (= me) seem hip just by existing within that context (Stúdentakjallarinn has an entire wall of live vegetation).

Bergur: The whole atmosphere surrounding the off-venue program of Iceland Airwaves is fascinating. I love how unformal they all are, really nice plug and play concerts, preferably at venues like Bíó Paradís, Bar 11 or Kex Hostel. Stúdentakjallarinn is also very good, a new venue that actually feeds bands that perform there!

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

Júlía: I keep a running list of all my favorite colors with me (on my phone) at all times. I wish I were making this up. The list goes: eggplant, egg yolk, duck egg, neon green, hunter green, salmon, light pink, lilac, peridot, pale blue, royal blue, navy, mauve, cream, oatmeal, light grey, bright yellow, true red, red orange, burgundy, gold, silver

Bergur: I like most colors that relate to autumn; brown, mustard-brown, moss-green, and then some black and white… They all look good together in layers, but super-mundane if you’d mix them together.

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

Júlía: I’m gonna say The Heavy Experience, Nolo and Samaris. Samaris are pretty well known already but fuck it, I just wanna namedrop all my biggest favesies.

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

Júlía: I’m a lemur playing Krawtwerk’s Computer Love
Bergur: A Koalabear playing bass on Darondo´s “Didnt I”

So, give them a listen and some attention.  They are another example of great Icelandic musicians coming together to create their own type of music.  Also, You can also see my other posts on Icelandic bands that will be at Airwaves ’13 here.

FM Belfast


A birthday track made by a couple, for a friend, became the beginnings of a snowball gradually gaining speed and size, rolling it’s way through dance floors, festivals, and bar venues taking peoples’ pants in return for lively gigs that feel more like all encompassing parties; this, is the FM Belfast I’ve experienced.

This post was done out of my chaotic order as they are playing Great Scott in Allston (Boston) on Feb. 28th.  I always get excited when an Icelandic band comes to Boston, but FM Belfast is famous for putting on amazing live shows anywhere they play.  They have an incredible knack for feeding off the energy of a crowd, creating their own energy, and turning any environment into a party.  I tried to find clips of live shows, but I honestly feel that you thumbing through this 47 minute set would probably give you a better idea of what to expect:

according to legend, and their website.  A couple, Árni Rúnar Hlöðversson and Lóa Hlín Hjálmtýsdóttir, put together a birthday song for a friend.  As music things typically do, it got around and eventually more music was created by it.  The band expanded, and now includes players from a slew of great Icelandic bands, such as Borko, Retro Stefson, Múm, and Benni Hemm Hemm.  Depending on who’s available and what they are doing the roster can change from 3 to 11 players and that adaptability and keen sense for a good mood is what makes going to one of their gig’s absolutely worth it.

Before going into just how great the first time I saw them was, I feel there needs to be a little discography lesson and knowledge shared.  They are witty and have no lack of catchy tunes.  On How to make friendsthere is a keyboard playing monkey named Pedro being Tropical, a warped drunken-like version of the classic Pump up the jam,  motivational songs about being President, and of course, one of their most popular songs about being Icelandic and running down the street in their Underwear.  The band actually put together a lo-fi video for the song Underwear, I have to admit it cracks me up:

The newest album, Don’t want to sleep, still carries on the dance beat, but the lyrics get more serious, but not too serious.  You still have fantastic songs about learning American, and not wanting to go to sleep either.  But you also get darker dance beats and more mature sounding tracks like In Line, and Happy winterIn line is actually my favorite track off of the album.

Lóa Hjálmtýsdóttir was kind enough to answer my 4 questions:

1. What is your favorite off-venue Airwaves joint to jam at? My favorite off venue last year was KEX hostel.

2. If you combine all of the band’s favorite colors what do you get? To start with, one of our bandmate has the favorite colors Neon Green and Burgundy red so I think the combo will always turn out to be pretty diarrhetic. Mine is a gray purplish sort of blue, I have a pen with that color and it’s called Cornflower. One bandmate doesn’t know and I can’t be bothered to call the rest of the guys. But like I said, the end result will be brown.

3. What are 3 Icelandic bands we haven’t heard of that we should? Nolo, Prinspóló and Boogie Trouble.

4. If you could be any creatures playing your favorite song, what would you be, and what song? It would be a really big crow singing Smog’s song Feather by Feather.

You can learn more about them on their websiteGogoyoko actually has a lot of remixes, and their full length albums, so I would suggest going and giving them a listen.  And of course they are on Facebook.

Pétur Ben


Pétur Ben is another artist I was introduced to last year at the Taste of Iceland festival here in Boston.  Very interactive with the crowd and full of energy, I was impressed with his style and energy and of course started listening to his music shortly afterwards.  At the Taste of Boston gig he had an odd but well put together style, sometimes strumming a guitar and singing about family, other times booming rock across the room with quite an aggressive manner.

If you’ve ever been on an Icelandair flight, and been adventurous enough to watch Ragnar Bragason’s Children, or Parents in the Icelandic movie section, you’ve heard PB.  He did both the scores as well as scores for multiple theater productions.  He’s done arrangements for Mugison, Slowblow and others around Iceland.

The first album I listened to, Wine for my weakness, is a bit raw, with great loops and clever lyrics.  You begin to see his talent and experience with composition on this album, as songs take you on a roller coaster ride through tempo, pitch and timing instrumentally with more of a 90’s style rock vocal sat on top.  The album reminds me of road trips tapes we made for driving through the desert in the summer.  Tracks like Something Radical, and White Tiger.

And while I dig the old album, his new album really brings out just what talent PB has in regards to composition, lyric writing, and overall song creation, God’s lonely man, reminds me of the experimental rock days modernized to keep it interesting.  Remember when Pink Floyd added all the odd jazz elements to rock, when they didn’t care about stanzas or timing, changing things in the middle of a bar?  The composition of these songs is quite reminiscent of this.  I’m not saying it sounds like Pink Floyd, I’m saying his ability to change mid-song to unexpected keys and tempo in the songs, breaking out into something not expected is a talent I appreciate with the same regard.

His vocals are much more haunting and subdued on the new album as well, lower and slower with a dark almost sinister side to them at time.  Some songs, like Cold War Baby, remind me of a modern Velvet Underground, and others, such as Runes, send you on dark float down a stream ending into a marching track such as Visions.  And yes, I realized I just linked you to three tracks in a row.

God’s lonely man is exclusively available on Gogoyoko, and I suggest you get it as it is quickly becoming my favorite recently released album.  You can find him on Facebook, as well as on Gogoyoko.

So, thanks to PB for answering my 4 questions, I leave you with them and a great video of a cover song he did back in 2010 of Billy Jean by Micheal Jackson, I love how the mostly Icelandic crowd sings the chorus with him, right on spot:

1. What is your favorite off-venue Airwaves joint to jam at?Definitely Bar 11 on Hverfisgata. Very small, in the basement, very atmospheric and good sound.

2. If you combine all of your favorite colors (for you, add your bandmates if you would), what do you get?Black

3. What are 3 of your favorite little known bands of Icelandic origin?Most of us are little known but I guess I could name Oyama, Heavy Experience and Snorri Helgason.

4. If you could be any creature playing your favorite song, what would the creature be? And what is the song. I’d be God singing sympathy for the devil.

Airwaves 2013 bands have been announced!


Well they’ve done it, they’ve begun to announce the bands for 2013 Iceland Airwaves.  You can see them here.  And, I have created a playlist which contains a few tracks from all of the bands that are currently in Gogoyko here.

I don’t think I’ll be carting the Wookiee suit up to Iceland this year, but, fates willing, I’ll be there yet again, listening to music and drinking my vodka.