Published July 19, 2019
During the making of this issue, it came as a bit of a surprise to us in the Grapevine office to discover that our new cover stars, Of Monsters and Men, are the most listened-to band in Icelandic music. By the metrics of Spotify, they have 5.3 million monthly listeners, making their month-to-month fanbase more than double Sigur Rós (953k) and Björk (1.5m) combined. By this single but significant metric, Of Monsters and Men are the most popular group that Iceland has ever produced.
It’s an interesting development. Since the 1990s, Iceland’s international musical reputation has been touted for experimentation, sublimity, sincerity and eccentricity. Whilst wildly different in many respects, success stories like Björk, Sigur Rós, múm, Ólafur Arnalds, and the late Jóhann Jóhansson can comfortably sit on a Venn diagram connected by their overlapping interest in expressing a sometimes ephemeral but always palpable sense of wonder.
But this appealing picture was never the whole story. Iceland has a hidden history of homegrown music—one that’s been explored by the restless musical mind of Hermigervill, who has smashed, sliced, and stitched back together samples of the most obscure Icelandic releases imaginable into quixotic homebrewed dance music. Read our new interview with him here/a>. From black metal to coldwave, techno, trap and—more recently—a resurgent DIY indie movement, the local scene is teeming with diverse and interesting artists to discover. We cover all these different genres, artists, movements and subcultures: check out our music section to find more interviews, playlists and stories.
Meanwhile, you can also read about Of Monsters and Men’s whirlwind success story, and find out about their new album ‘Fever Dream’ here, and see them live at Iceland Airwaves later this year. And you never know—maybe they’ll act a gateway drug to Iceland’s wider scene for their millions of fans. We hope you’ll agree as you leaf through the pages of this issue that the attention would be richly deserved.
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