As well as being a monolithic highlight on the city’s festival calendar, Iceland Airwaves also functions as a kind of informal annual survey of what’s good in the Icelandic music scene. Unusually, native bands make up the majority of the lineup, giving the festival a strong local flavour and a personality distinct from the European festival mainstream.
It also provides a warm community-of-musicians kind of feeling, with many familiar faces appearing in different roles via multiple acts, and with known-and-noted musicians often popping up in new projects. For those of you who who’ve had their eye off Icelandic music this summer — or if you’re about to get properly acquainted for the first time — here are six new local bands that you should ring (star) in your schedule (app).
UK/IS trio Dream Wife features Icelandic singer Rakel Mjöll, whose face may be familiar to seasoned Airwaves-goers from Halleluwah and, previously, Útidur. Her new project Dream Wife started as a “fantasy band,” having been put together for an art exhibition. But having realised they were onto something, they’re now impinging on reality with a glamorous, confident, genre-hopping cocktail of new-wave disco-pop.
GANGLY appeared out of nowhere as an anonymous project in 2014, with their super-catchy single ‘Fuck With Someone Else.’ Internet speculation on the band’s membership was rife, helping the track to over 50,000 combined plays on Soundcloud and YouTube. It was later revealed that the three voices in the song belong to the well-known trio Sindri of Sing Fang, Jófríður of Samaris and Úlfur of Oyama. Their first live live show was a low-key performance at LungA Festival, and their Reykjavík debut is much-anticipated.
Milkywhale is choreographer Melkorka Sigríður Magnúsdóttir and musician Árni Rúnar Hlöðversson (also seen behind the controls of FM Belfast). Their new project focusses on the join between live music and dance performance – see an early example of what this entails in their first video, streaming below. Their kinetic, entertaining concept will be a lot of fun in the context of Airwaves’ fevered party atmosphere.
Sturla Atlas were big news in Reykjavík this summer, popping up at street gigs, appearing last-minute on festival lineups, and taking over the odd after-party sound-system. Theirs is a contemporary auto-tuned pop sound that draws from the “lite” end of R&B and hip-hop culture. It feels like this emerging genre should have a name by now (hoodstep?) but doesn’t, as far as I know. Lots of people seem to love it, whilst others looked on in bemusement.
An intriguing new alt-pop project, Wesen (or W€$€N if you don’t mind pressing “shift” and “alt” a lot) is the project of the two familiar faces in this article’s main image: Loji – also seen at various points in Sudden Weather Change, Prins Póló and under his eponymous Loji project – and Júlía of Iceland’s shoegazey-alt-rock darlings Oyama. Their songs have a low-key, honest kind of charm – we’re looking forward to more.
The mask-clad, pitch-shifted vaginaboys have been making waves in Reykjavík this summer with their catchy down-tempo electronica, which lingers ephemeral internet-age r&b/pop territory in the wide territory somewhere between Frank Ocean, Yung Lean and The Knife. Take a look at a live video here, shot this summer at Húrra, to see them in action.
Airwaves tickets are still on sale, for now, here.
Posted September 18, 2015