Here it is! The final instalment of our guide to the 50 Icelandic bands making their Airwaves debut at the 2016 festival. And when you’re done with this one, read the rest of the Airwaves Debutantes series here. As you venture out into the festival, don’t forget to tag your Instagrams and tweets with #GrapeWaves, and you could win some stuffed-full Grapevine goodie bags during the festival. Enjoy!
Franz Kafka is one of the most influential, and certainly most widely studied, writers of the last century. When he was dying of tuberculosis at the early age of 40, he asked a trusted friend to burn all of his literary works. This “friend” disobeyed his final wishes and released his work unto the world. GlerAkur’s story isn’t quite so dramatic, but his music was discovered when a friend snuck one of his personal tracks onto a one-off radio broadcast. The track’s appeal—gliding cleanly through the post-rock/ambient/drone communities—was unavoidable and he was picked up by Prophecy Productions soon after.
There is something extremely demanding about Hatari’s music. The lead singer’s gravel voice has the same kind of appeal that getting a deep-tissue massage has—it both hurts you and feels amazing. Meanwhile, thumping dance-inducing rhythms drag the dark lyricist along, forcing listeners to, as Hatari’s brief biography insists: “dance or die.”
You know when you start racking up ‘k’s on your SoundCloud counts that you’re doing something right. For Hugar, that “something” might be their background of working with Björk, Sígur rós, Ólafur Árnalds and Jóhann Jóhansson. It might be their well-crafted arrangements, that include violins, cello, clarinet and drums. It might be their inspiring build-ups, or their piano compositions that teeter from subtle and blissful to drowning and powerful. Maybe their “something” is luck. We’re not sure what “it” is—but it’s working.
Kristin Thora is a classically trained violist and composer, with degrees in performance and composition from the Iceland Academy of the Arts and California Institute of the Arts. While living in Los Angeles she was encouraged to produce a solo acoustic album, which was released with VDSQ Records earlier this year. The album is a fusion of her compositional experimentalism, field recordings, and of course, acoustic guitar.
Rósa Guðrún Sveinsdóttir
Rósa’s on that jazzy tip that not many young musicians are willing to venture into. It’s laid-back listening—a soothing Icelandic songwriter and saxophonist who credits J Dilla for her R&B influence. Not to mention she is currently finishing out her final year at FÍH school of jazz music, from which she’ll be the first female saxophone graduate. Needless to say, there aren’t many Rósa Guðrúns out there.
In early August, SiGRÚN released her first solo EP ‘Hringsjá’, an experimental electronic album—with emphasis on “experimental.” The songs were made by stripping apart everyday sounds and combining them in ways that turn out (mostly) musical. That said, she’s not averse to the mainstream. As a singer she’s toured with Sigur rós and the American group Florence + The Machine. A musical multiplicity.
Steinar has a real feel-good flow. And he should feel good. In 2013, at 18 years old, his debut single “Up” topped the Icelandic singles charts for weeks. Now at a prime 20, Steinar has been working on a second album, to be released this year. His recent singles “Young” and “All The Same” are the type of songs you want to have at your beach party, where they’re handing out free coca-cola in glass bottles.
Thirty years ago the year 2000 seemed time-worlds away; science-fiction cinema boomed around this theme. This was the decade of Blade Runner and Brazil and Back to the Future. Today, we watch those movies for their nostalgic visions of what was to come. The past futures. Tómas Jónsson works somewhere in this same presen, bringing a retro palette for a futuristic sound.
Minimalist hip-hop production highlights the emcee, and exposes the technical details that can otherwise get covered when the full outfit comes together. It’s also a throwback to days when entire albums could be mixed from a cassette tape player. But once in a while you need some bangers. Some big band sounds. These are the sounds of Þriðja Hæðin, a five-piece rap group out of Reykjavík—sounds.
Read the rest of our Airwaves Debutantes series here.
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Posted October 27, 2016