From Iceland — Rythmatik: Iceland Airwaves Rookie Card

Rythmatik: Iceland Airwaves Rookie Card

Published November 5, 2015

York Underwood
Photo by
Hörður Sveinsson

Name: Hrafnkell Hugi Vernharðsson

Band: Rythmatik

Hometown: Suðureyri in Súgandafjörður, the Northern Westfjords

Genre: Rock ‘N’ Roll

“For a long time, I was the black sheep of my family. I had no interest in music. My brother started playing instruments way before me, so did my sister. Then when I was around fourteen, I really started listening to music, and I started thinking, ‘Playing guitar would be pretty cool. I better start practicing now.’ I figured, I wouldn’t get any better by starting later, so I started practicing. I was too impatient to learn other people’s songs, so I made my own.”

Awards & Achievements:
Winner of the 33rd Annual Battle Of The Bands (Músíktilraunir)
“My brother wanted to do a project with me, and for a long time we would just play together on a couple of acoustic guitars—struggling to get a band going. Most of the people who’d play with us would only do so as a favour. They weren’t interested in being in a band with us. We finally managed to put a band together a few months before Músíktilraunir, the Battle of the Bands, in 2014. We practiced a lot. We crashed and burned.

“Even though we weren’t successful, it gave us the drive to keep going. We felt so motivated afterwards that we practiced nearly every day for the next year, signed up for the competition again… and we won.

“I was way more nervous the second time around. We practiced so much, and if we didn’t get through to the finals, it would be all this hard work with the exact same outcome.”

His Music:
“I would like to say easy listening music, but there is probably music that is easier to listen to than ours. We’re just an old-fashioned rock band. I wouldn’t dare to say we’re breaking new ground or anything like that. We just want to make music like what we listen to and are inspired by.”

“Big Country, The Smiths, The Charlatans, Britpop… anything in my dad’s record collection.”

Plans For The Future:
“We couldn’t keep driving the six hours back and forth from Suðureyri, and we kept getting offers to play more and more gigs, so we decided to move to Reykjavík. We really wanted to use this year, after winning, and devote all of our energy into the band. We’re really enjoying this opportunity, getting to play our music for scores of different people at all these shows, connecting with audiences and ourselves. Next year, we won’t be this year’s winner: we’ll be last year’s winner.

“I moved away from home. I’m a kid. I used to come to Reykjavík with my parents on a vacation trip—going to the movies and out to eat. I never experienced living in the city. I feel like I’ve grown up a lot this summer. The silver lining is that living in Reykjavík has made me appreciate my family and home a lot more. I never thought I would miss it this much.”

Romantic Entanglements:
“Some of us had girlfriends back home, but that worked in my favour. My girlfriend is a year older than me, and when she finished high school she was going to move to Reykjavík and leave me behind. I had to finish high school before joining her. But this Músíktilraunir thing led to me moving here before her. I moved here at the beginning of summer, and she came in the fall for school. That was hard. I was alone in a new city, and I really missed her.”

Rythmatik is keeping busy during Airwaves! You can catch them at the following dates:


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