Each Iceland Airwaves festival features a gobsmackingly large number of bands, and this year is no exception with 220 in the lineup. It’s not everyone and their grandmothers playing, mind you. Festival organisers have put a lot of energy into vetting the bands, and turned down 200 local and 700 international acts.
“Airwaves is a showcase festival, so it’s all about highlighting bands that have fresh material and are relevant in today’s music scene,” explains Kamilla Ingibergsdóttir, the festival’s PR and marketing manager. “We get bigger and more established bands that help sell tickets, but letting new acts into the limelight has always been important to the festival.”
This year, 41 Icelandic bands are playing Airwaves for the first time. Technically, though, a lot of them have played before under different names, as they are new projects from otherwise well-known musicians. We’ve compiled a list of seven who you may not have heard of and should keep an ear out for.
Krummi Björgvinsson’s accolades include playing in punk band Mínus, gothic industrial powerhouse Legend, and rock supergroup Esja. The man truly knows how to make good music, and his newest one-man melancholic noise project Döpur (“Sadness”) shows exactly that. Watching him tear through his set list never fails to give us goose bumps.
Harpa Kaldalón, Nov 7, 20:50-21:20
BAFTA-winning composer Ólafur Arnalds and Byrta member Janus Rasmussen have come together to make Kiasmos, a band that combines Ólafur’s acoustic sensibilities and Janus’s electronic prowess. The two have an upcoming album that includes a live drummer, string quartet, and Ólafur performing on the grand piano, making Harpa’s grand Norðurljós hall one of the few stages large enough to accommodate the full performance.
Harpa Norðurljós, Nov 8, 00:30-01:30
Multi-instrumentalist Hörður Bjarnason of Tonik and Nolo fame released his first solo album ‘Haust’ (“Autumn”) earlier this year and it perfectly captures the changing seasons bringing everyone down these days. Channelling house beats and synth fury, Hörður’s music is delightfully danceable.
Gamla Bíó, Nov 7, 20:00-20:40
Harpa Kaldalón, Nov 8, 23:20-00:00
Retro Stefson’s frontman Unnsteinn Manuel Stefánsson has recently started his own solo project, and it is well worth following. His first release, “Enginn Grætur,” is a thoughtful rendition of celebrated Icelandic independence hero Jónas Hallgrímsson’s poem, in which Unnsteinn dazzles everyone with his keen musical mind and gentle voice.
Húrra, Nov 8, 20:40-21:10
This avant garde hip hop-inspired pop band is composed of Karin Sveinsdóttir and Logi Pedro Stefánsson of Retro Stefson fame. They stepped onto the scene this winter, put out their ‘Hearts’ EP, and have been busy touring ever since, winning the hearts and minds of the populace by playing at pretty much every Icelandic festival this year.
Gamla Bíó, Nov 7, 22:00-22:40
Þjóðleikhúskjallarinn, Nov 9, 01:10-01:50
Lily the Kid
This duo consists of siblings Snjókaldur K. Svarfdal and Lilja K. Jónsdóttir, who you might recognise as the former frontwoman of Bloodgroup. They just released their first single “Pedro” in August, and it has been steadily climbing the Icelandic music charts. With an off-beat synth-driven sound, Lily the Kid’s first song has us waiting patiently for their upcoming album.
Gamla Bíó, Nov 8, 20:00-20:40
Húrra, Nov 9, 22:00-22:40
This refined three-piece electronic pop collaboration features Björt Sigfinnsdóttir’s haunting and hypnotic voice, and great composition by Hallur Jónsson and Janus Rasmussen of Bloodgroup, as can be heard on their 2013 single “Demons.” Expect FURA to pull on all of your heartstrings with their melancholic lyrics and dramatic arrangements.
Iðnó, Nov 6, 20:50-21:20
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Posted October 30, 2014