Tag Archives: myrra ros

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

templatecorrectfrontcover

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.

Iceland Affair 2015

It’s time again for another Iceland Affair.  This charming Icelandic festival celebrates it’s sixth year on Saturday October 17th.  Nestled in the picturesque towns of Winchester and Norfolk CT, Iceland affair will take over the Winchester center and Infinity Hall for cultural presentations, unique items for sale, food, and a night of music.

During the day Winchester center will play host to multiple presentations, Icelandic horses, food and merchandise.  there will be a silent auction table as well as a slew of products from Lopapeysas (Icelandic sweaters), cakes, soaps and other Icelandic items for sale throughout the event.  There will be Pylsur (Icelandic Hot-dogs) on site, and their free!  They are the best hot dogs you will ever have, in my opinion.

The presenters will lecture on topics such as the science and beauty of the Aurora Borealis, geology of Iceland, Viking lore, ICESAR (Iceland’s search and rescue teams,) Arctic foxes, and there will be a Gyrfalcon, Iceland’s national bird giving a show.  The day festivities are free, and you can learn more about the schedule here

FireandIceNighttime will bring the Fire and Ice concert.  A cozy evening with 5 fantastic Icelandic artists at the Infinity hall in Norfolk, CT.  The artists tend to play together and interact with the crowd making it a rather unique and intimate night of great music, laughter and fun for both the artists and audience.

Kristjana Stefánsdóttir, Svavar Knútur, Sóley, Björn Thoroddsen and Myrra Rós will be gracing the stage this year, all of them veterans of the festival.  Most everyone playing has new material or albums that have been released recently, so I’m envisioning a lot of fresh material will be performed.

The festival typically sells out, and with less than half tickets left I would suggest getting them sooner than later.  Along with the the bands, there are always surprises that pop up during the concert.

IcelandaffairmusicianI’ve put a very brief description and sample of the artists music below:

Kristjana Stefánsdóttir has been a vocal coach to many Icelandic singers over the years.  her command of Jazz is rivaled only by her smooth and strong voice.  No matter what or how she’s singing it’s rare not to be completely sucked in to her songs.

Svavar Knútur is a riot, he not only entertains with great music, but his personality and ability to naturally engage the audience makes for a good time for everyone.  He has a new album out, and so there will be plenty of new material to enjoy.

Sóley has been touring all over, but this will be only one of the few times we on the East coast get to see her this year.  Her new album was so impressive I actually attempted a review on it.  And I can’t wait to hear the new stuff live.

Björn Thoroddsen is a magic man with a guitar, and always puts on a good show with original or highly improvised versions of classic tracks.  Not only does he command complete attention when he’s center stage, but he has this amazing ability to play back up for anyone at any time and not miss a beat.  He never disappoints.

And Myrra Rós, with her haunting vocals and up-beat melodies are just right for an autumn concert.  her new album, “One amongst others” was just released and I really enjoy it.  I can’t wait to hear some of the new material live.

So come get a hot dog, learn about Icelandic culture, and spend the night being entertained by an extremely engaging group of musicians.

Iceland Affair 2014

Icelandaffair

There are times in life when the elements align themselves just right, and the blood sweat and tears of someone creating their dream shines through the end product in such a way that one can’t help but be moved.  That is what happened this past weekend in a beautifully autumn colored town in middle-of-nowhere Connecticut.

This was the 5th year for Iceland Affair, an all day festival consisting of daytime lectures, Icelandic horses, goats, falcons, A lot of Icelandic food, and coffee mugs, let’s not forget the coffee mugs. All of this followed by an Icelandic concert at the very homey and cozy Infinity hall in Norfolk, CT.

gerri

Gerri Griswald is the lady behind Iceland affair, and once you’ve come within 50 feet of her, you can’t help but get swept up with her charming personality, glacier-sized determination and outpouring of love to everyone and everything that helps her put this on year over year. Speaking with her can’t be done without 90% of what’s audible being laughs.  And the sincere love she has for what she’s doing is beyond impressive.

Arriving at the festival I was greeted by people riding Icelandic horses, Lopopeysas (Icelandic sweaters) and other Icelandic merchandise for sale out on the front lawn.  Downstairs from the lectures there were free pylsurs (Icelandic hotdogs), dried fish, and very tasty cakes.  Upstairs from the dining hall, and merch tables was the lecture hall.

Unfortunately due to scheduling and life, I arrived at the festival later in the afternoon, and was only able to hear the last half of Dr. Gunni’s lecture on the history of pop music. Along with other tidbits of Music life in Iceland, Dr. Gunni’s presentation followed his book, Blue Eyed pop, with audio/visual aids and a Q&A with the audience directly afterwards.  A browse around the merchandise, fantastic cake, and a few pylsurs later and off to the concert I went.

flags The concert was at the Infinity hall in Norfolk, CT.  It’s a cozy ornamental building, and the concert hall’s warm woodwork really played into what would be a cozy, intimate gathering.  On their way to their seats, the crowd was given Icelandic flags, and told to wave it during applause as a surprise to the musicians on stage.

I’ve spoken about the ability Icelanders have of including the crowd in their performance.  And Agnes ErnaSnorri Helgason, Svavar Knútur, Lay LowMyrra Rós, Kristjana Stefánsdóttir,  and Bjorn Thoroddsen. fulfilled and exceeded any expectations in that regard as they chatted, joked with, and shared laughs with everyone on or off the stage.  It was a collaborative effort as the musicians took turns at front stage while being supported by the others, all ending with Dr. Gunni’s fart song and a special two-toned tutu wearing host belting out an old classic with the rest of the band.  I also should mention that drums were mostly handled by Myrra’s husband Júlíus, I unfortunately did not catch his last name.

By the end of the concert, the crowd was completely on their feet singing loudly and waving flags furiously, and it seemed that neither the musicians nor the audience wanted it to end, so the party headed downstairs where the musicians talked with and autographed Icelandic flags for people. the lingering about and business of the downstairs made it evident, nobody was in a hurry to leave.

Plans are in the works for next years event, and I would highly suggest you check it out by following the Iceland Affair facebook page throughout the year.  She tends to post videos or updates on the bands that have played, as well as updates on the festival itself.

I have to say that I am glad me and my label got to do our small part to help out on this festival, it’s truly a labor of love for Gerri, and the quality, attitude, and atmosphere created a charming night I won’t soon forget.  I’m already looking forward to seeing what she comes up with for next year.

Iceland Affair

Icelandaffair

In a small town nestled in the middle of Connecticut there resides a peculiar lady.  She raises bats, tends to porcupines, and single handedly puts on the second largest Icelandic festival in the U.S.  Gerri Griswald is her name, and Iceland Affair is her festival.  The festival will be happening October 18th in Winchester center, CT at the Winchester Grange.

Iceland affair began 5 years ago when Gerri decided to bring some of the acts that had entertained her travel guides in Iceland back to the states.  Relying on donations and a very forgiving husband, Gerri has been putting the festival on ever since slowly bringing more and more Icelandic talent stateside so that people who may not be able to make it to the island could experience it’s wonders here.

While some would be pleased with just a concert, Gerri has put together a day of presentations including Icelando-centric falconry, goat raising, ornithology, nature and geological talks.  As well as authors presenting on things such as the Icelandic sagas, and the history of Icelandic music. To learn more about the presenters, click the image below.

wwww

From left to right, Brian Bradley (Falconer), Dr. Gunni (Musician/author of Blue Eyed pop), Jóhanna Bergmann Þorvaldsdóttir (Goat farming and preservation), Jóhann Óli Hilmarsson (photographer, ornithologist), Jón Baldur Hlíðberg (Naturist, illustrator), Nancy Marie Brown (expert on the sagas, author), Tom Alena (Geologist, meteorologist, entertaining lecturer)

And of course, how could one celebrate Iceland without music.  The festival ends with the fire and ice music festival at Infinity hall in Norfolk, CT.  The concert consists of 5 well known Iceland artists, ranging from indie, to jazz and folk.

fire

From left to right, Svavar Knútur, Lay Low, Snorri Helgeson, Agnes Erna, Kristjana Stefánsdóttir, Myrra Rós, and Bjorn Thoroddsen.  Click on their names to learn more about them.  While the festival is free for the most part, the concert requires the purchase of tickets, which are selling out quickly, so learn more and get your’s here.

Ragnaarbastiaan.com and Theory of Whatever records are pleased to help out with this years festival, and even more pleased to be attending.  So if you’d like to learn more about Iceland, hear some fantastic Icelandic music, this is the festival for you.  For us it’s the perfect appetizer for the upcoming Iceland Airwaves.  Go to Iceland Affair to learn more including directions and places to stay while attending.  And we’ll see you there.