From Iceland — Reykjavík’s Best Witches: Kælan Mikla to Headline ReykjaDoom Fest 2024

Reykjavík’s Best Witches: Kælan Mikla to Headline ReykjaDoom Fest 2024

Published March 6, 2024

Reykjavík’s Best Witches: Kælan Mikla to Headline ReykjaDoom Fest 2024
Photo by
Einar Jarl

The ReykjaDoom Festival returns to the northernmost capital of the world on March 8, just in time for International Women’s Day. What’s so special about this year’s two-day celebration of slow vibes? Well, it’s the first time an Icelandic festival includes a majority of non-male headliners in their lineup, with the badass trio Kælan Mikla leading the charge alongside Danish doom goddesses Konvent. We caught up with synth witch and back-vocalist Sólveig, who, together with Laufey and Maggy (vocalist and bassist, respectively), conjures the magic of Kælan Mikla from some ethereal realm hidden in the space continuum.

The only all-female export band in Iceland

Rewind: it’s 2013 and three friends have just won a poetry slam. But instead of stopping at just that, they turn their winning poem — titled Kælan Mikla — into a killer song and decide, “Hey, let’s start a band!” Fast forward 11 years and they’ve dropped four albums and toured like there’s no tomorrow, even sharing stages with the likes of The Cure and Pixies. At the moment, Kælan Mikla is the only Icelandic all-female export heavy band.

We are so lucky to still be friends. Sometimes, we make time on our days off to rent a cabin in the woods and just be together.

Back in the day, they were all about that raw, untamed sound. But as they’ve grown, so has their sound and their style. Their sound today is a carefully crafted symphony. “We started out when we were 18,” Sólveig explains. “Now our music is more composition-based.” All their songs are inspired from stories happening in the real world, while folding in a lot of visual expression. In this way, Kælan Mikla invites the audience to interpret the music however they would like.

With different musical tastes and styles, the trio blend their vibes into something totally fresh, whether they’re cooking up new tunes or playing with artists like Chelsea Wolfe, whom Kælan Mikla will join on an early summer European tour later this year.

“We are currently working on our new album and the goal is to have at least one new song we will play during the tour with Chelsea Wolfe.” Talking about collaborations, the trio always wanted to go out on tour with The Cure. “They didn’t invite us…yet!”, laughs Sólveig. Robert, if you’re reading this, you know what to do.

“At the very beginning, when we started touring, I just sent messages to people and venues on Facebook,” Sólveig recalls. Kælan started their export career travelling with a rented van, hosted by friends or crashing on the sofas of acquaintances. Now they are touring in big buses with big bands and performing in big venues. Moreover, the band has a very active fanbase; someone in Japan makes oil paintings of Laufey and they even have an Instagram fan account. “I’m still always surprised about how willing people are to come to the shows. I love the dedication,” Sólveig says.

The advice Sólveig would give to emerging musicians is to always be able to have fun and enjoy what you are doing: “We are so lucky to still be friends. Sometimes, we make time on our days off to rent a cabin in the woods and just be together.”

Female doom apocalypse

For Kælan Mikla, playing in their homeland and at Gaukurinn holds profound sentimental value, making the occasion not just a concert but a cherished tradition and a celebration of their growth alongside the venue’s evolution over the years. “We really grew up in Gaukurinn,” Sólveig says. “It’s great to see how we and the place have evolved throughout the years.”

During this year’s ReykjaDoom Festival, Kælan Mikla are particularly excited to see fellow bands Múr and Volcanova play. “We haven’t performed for so long. There’s going to be a lot of passion in us”, says Sólveig of their upcoming headlining gig.

“Metal music has always been one of the most male-driven music genres out there. Having other genders partake in the heavy scene has only made it more varied and creative,” shares Hörður Jónsson from the ReykjaDoom crew. Despite progress, they acknowledge the need for continued efforts to promote diversity onstage. “The best thing we can do is to make the bands that are active feel welcome.”

We haven’t performed for so long. There’s going to be a lot of passion in us.

“As someone who knows them from their earlier days, it has been amazing to see Kælan Mikla grow with their music, aesthetics and melancholic poetry,” Hörður continues. “They have this unique atmosphere that has made them as big as they are. No wonder they have played at more foreign rock/metal festivals than most Icelandic bands. They’ll be the perfect conclusion for our festival.”

The ReykjaDoom organizers have a couple of things planned later in the year, including the fourth edition of Hellirinn Metalfest. With a focus on accessibility and inclusivity, the free entry Hellirinn Metalfest aims to make heavy music available to all ages.

Besides playing at ReykjaDoom Festival, Kælan Mikla has a busy schedule ahead, including a DJ set at Prikið on March 28 and a concert with Virgin Orchestra and Torch (DK) on March 29. They show no signs of slowing down. As Sólveig puts it, Kælan Mikla are all about creating their own universe and inviting fans to get lost in it. So, grab your ticket to their unique cosmos and enjoy the ride!


Check out reykjadoom.com for festival and ticket information. Follow Kælan Mikla on Instagram at @kaelanmikla.

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