The Grapevine‘s picks for up-and-comers you should catch at this year’s Secret Solstice Festival.
Distinguishing yourself from others in a crowded scene is always hard. But among Reykjavík’s growing roster of hip-hop artists, Aron Can is one of the most exciting—partly because of how much potential he has to grow, but also because he’s damn good. At only sixteen years old, Aron Can knows how to set the mood with his rhymes and beats, and he’s setting a mood that is mature and cutting-edge. With an impressive debut album already under his belt, Aron Can is not just someone to watch out for at Secret Solstice, but also someone to keep your eyes and ears out for in the years to come.
When you think of rad female bassists, Kim Deal is probably the first person who comes to mind, right? Well, now it’s time to start thinking about Erla Stefánsdóttir, the frontwoman and bassist of the new band DALÍ, as well. The band plays powerful pop songs supported by Erla’s driving voice and driving bass, and like the rad female bassists who have come before her, Erla is a commanding musical presence. With catchy hooks and memorable lyrics, DALÍ’s songs are earworms about love and loss that will be stuck in your head all day long.
It could be easy to write einarIndra off as just another in an expanding pool of electronic musicians. But if you let yourself get lost in his soundscape for just a minute, it’s clear that there’s a much more mature sensibility to his style. The layered sound that einarIndra creates is commandeered by his high vocals which, although unassuming at first, confidently lure the listener in. On his 2016 album ‘Stories’, einarIndra surprises with occasional folk influences, such as the harmonica at the end of “The Songs are Over.” Let einarIndra carry you into the night and lose yourself there.
You’ve probably heard Glowie’s “No More” without even realizing it—it was one of Reykjavík’s biggest pop hits of summer 2015. Glowie sings summery tunes with skillfully crafted hooks that make it nearly impossible not to tap your toes or bop your head along to the beat. Beyond “No More,” her repertoire ranges from subtle acoustic tunes to rousing hits backed by a smooth horn section. Like a lot of pop, Glowie’s music has an ephemeral feel to it. There’s no way to say whether it’ll pass the test of time, but there’s no reason not to enjoy it while it lasts.
These boys from the Reykjanes peninsula will grab you by the brain and pull you into another decade with their blend of psychedelic ambient rock. With guitar riffs that will shake you to the bone, and a controlled but pulsing drum and bass section, Par-Ðar’s sound is tight and well-developed. They have a whole team to get their sound and lights just right for their live shows, so that the experience can be just as powerful live as through a pair of headphones. You’ll never guess that these musicians never actually set foot in the 70s!
Snorri Helgason’s been around the music scene for a few years now, whether as a solo act or with his band Sprengjugöllin. He’s become known for writing folk-inspired songs with expertly crafted lyrics and melodies. But on his upcoming album ‘Vittu til’, which listeners were given a peek at with the release of the single “Einsemd,” Snorri is shaking things up. Gone are the sparsely arranged folk tunes—now he’s playing with a sound that is filled out with a string section and playful guitar riffs. You can sense that Snorri’s about to make waves with his new album, so catch him at Secret Solstice before the wave breaks!
Soffía Björg is a shape-shifter. From one moment to the next, Soffía goes from folk songstress to rock ‘n roll star. Her well-trained voice can rise from a measured whisper to a powerful note that frequently soars above her talented band. With slow-building but catchy tunes, her music has a wistful tone that will take you right back to the nights of summers past. In short, it’s the perfect music to sway along to under the midnight sun of the solstice.
Life is like a box of chocolates, amirite? Or wait, maybe “variety is the spice of life” is a more apt proverb for the last musician on this list. With Sonur Sæll, you’ll find yourself bopping along to jazz standards one minute, funk tunes the next, before seamlessly transitioning to hip-hop beats. He has an eclectic taste for music and a well-trained ear, which makes him one of the most exciting new DJs in Reykjavík. At this year’s Secret Solstice, Sonur Sæll is sure to provide the spice your night needs.