New To Us. #3 will be on September 21st at 20:30 at Hlemmur Square. Admission is free!
“If you’re a new artist, where do you start?” asks James Cox, the music co-ordinator at Hlemmur Square. The British transplant sits back on a couch in the corner of the hostel-cum-café, smiling broadly. “How do you do that? Where do you play? Well, we’ve created a dedicated space [for those artists] to make a home in before they take a step up.” He pauses, wringing his hands together. “And that’s New To Us.”
The new concert series, created by James in collaboration with Hlemmur Square bar manager Halldór Viðar Hjaltested, seeks to shine a light on the newest and brightest of the Icelandic scene. The series also hopes to put Hlemmur Square on the map as a proper concert venue, something that’s desperately needed in light of the continued closure of many music venues around the city.
“There’s a lot going on in the DIY/underground scene,” James explains. “There are a lot of interesting artists that need a stage to showcase themselves and maybe give them a new audience, give them somewhere to play, and somewhere to build on.”
And the first iterations have, he emphasized, been successful in that regard. “The first one was with Dead Bird Lady and Frid,” he says. “Frid is so talented and it was only her fourth or fifth gig. The set was amazing, and watching it, I thought, ‘This is why we do this.’”
The second event featured second-place Músíktilraunir winners Konfekt as well as Elín Harpa. “Konfekt only started performing as a band in 2019, and they’ve already taken 2nd in the Music Experiments Competition. It’s an exciting time to get involved,” he relays.
Enter the library
Hlemmur Square has, in the past, occasionally hosted concerts, namely as an Airwaves Off-Venue, but always in the front of the hostel directly next to the door. New To Us, though, will move the party from the main entrance into a smaller room in the back, therefore making the concert more centralised. “We call it the library,” James explains. “It’s covered with antique furniture, weird picture frames, lamps, so it makes for a cosy, intimate place, where everyone is there to listen to the music.”
The next event, which will be on September 21st, features newcomer Salóme Katrín and Matthildur. While Salóme has yet to release recorded music, the Grapevine recently named her “one to watch” after seeing her performance at this year’s Hátiðni festival. Matthildur, meanwhile, is known for her soothing and seductive vocals, which are sure to thrive in the intimate concert space.
“We want to put on new artists and new music,” James explains. “And also have an exciting night where people can come to see the ‘next big thing’ they didn’t even know about.”
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