From Iceland — Grapevine Music Awards 2021: Artist To Watch - Holdgervlar

Grapevine Music Awards 2021: Artist To Watch – Holdgervlar

Published January 20, 2021

Grapevine Music Awards 2021: Artist To Watch – Holdgervlar
Hannah Jane Cohen
Photo by
Art Bicnick

“The Holdgervlar themselves are xenobots, ready-made organisms, with human roots. They look back with nostalgia at human cultures, but with different levels of attachment to their roots. They see themselves as the same as their makers, but are only as clear a reflection as their makers allowed them to be. Looking at their ancestry through rose-coloured glasses, they believe that they can fill in what they’re missing by mimicking their human counterparts. They’re beings of speculative sexuality, beauty and everyday function that experience emotion without its essence.”

And so Holdgervlar, the winner of our “Artist To Watch” award at the 2021 Grapevine Music Awards, makes it clear that they are the ones watching us.

The seediest districts of space

Holdgervlar has lurked in the background of the alternative arts scene in Reykjavík for the last few years, but only came into the blacklight this year with the release of their debut effort, ‘Gervihold,’ in September on Myrkfælni’s newly-established label.

“The Holdgervlar themselves are xenobots, ready-made organisms, with human roots.”

As you can expect from their above quote, the album is a sensual, mysterious ride that brought to mind the types of music they’d play in the darkest clubs in the seediest districts of space. It was a shame 2020 saw few goth nights or other such parties—Holdgervlar would no doubt have been the soundtrack to such illicit activities.

“Holdgervlar sound like synthetically emotional beings mimicking human music from the past. Finding soundtracks from 80s city flicks set at night, familiar in an unconsciously dishonest way,” the duo explains. “What specifically attracts these cyborgs to giallo, goth and go-go dancers is a question that remains unanswered.”

It was a long time coming, both for the band as well as for those who had seen them pop up at various art installations and events over the past years. Holdgervlar is above all else memorable—at one show the two set up up a fruit buffet on themselves, which they then posed on, piled high with delicacies, for the entire show. Guests were encouraged to grab a slice of pineapple direct from their skin. Granted, it’s a stunt that wouldn’t work too well in 2020, but one that has stayed in the mind of everyone who saw it (and got a taste.)

“Holdgervlar evokes emotions of excitement and melancholia. The foundation of the music on ‘Gervihold’ was made before the concept grew from a minimal goth band to a cyborg sideshow ensemble,” the duo says. “The songs grew a lot afterwards, followed the visual aspects in this newfound direction. Still, the sonic world already was very visual so it was very natural to let the physical concept grow alongside it.”

Welcome to the planet

The panel praised the interplay of Holdgervlar’s visuals and music, calling their project an all-encompassing world. They are, quite literally, a group you just want to watch, one panel member emphasised, and they’ve built a world and a story into the foundation of their music, which must be applauded. They’re on their own level, or more accurately, their own planet (granted, they are cyborgs) and you can’t help but want to see what they’d do with a massive stage and large budget.

“The masks we wear on stage were first used as a tool against stage fright but quickly took over the whole concept and transformed it into what it wanted to be, these beings,” they explain, exposing their human roots for but a minute. “They pick their own scenes and depictions, ask and answer questions about human nature with humans as their mirrors.”

A misty 2021

The cyber beings are fittingly vague about what will happen in the future, though it does appear that they plan on spending 2021 on Earth.

“The year 2021 is a bit misty,” they admit. “We can’t see very far. But at least there’s a musical in the making where you will get better depth and understanding of our universe. A human friend of ours, a LHÍ master student, is making it for us as her final project. Hopefully, the year is also filled with events, happenings and concerts including our postponed release show.”

Check out ‘Gervihold’ by Holdgervlar on all streaming platforms and pick up their release on cassette here. You can read about all of the winners of the 2021 Grapevine Music Awards here

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