From Iceland — Airwaves Debutantes Part 2: What's New and Who's Who

Airwaves Debutantes Part 2: What’s New and Who’s Who

Published October 18, 2016

Parker Yamasaki
Photo by
Art Bicnick

This year over 50 bands are making their Iceland Airwaves debut. Some have been on the scene for decades, others just formed last month. In the remaining weeks before the festival we are sifting through them, ten at a time. We’re not going to make the decisions for you, but we can at least help you make more a more informed one. You can check out the other parts here.

It’s easy to get attention by yelling in someone’s ear, but some of the best rappers out there know that the best way to kill (the game) is to chill. $igmund is the face of laid-back flow in the Icelandic hip-hop scene. Earlier this summer $igmund—Sigmundur Páll Freysteinsson and his crew of Arnar Már Kristinsson, Gestur Sveinsson and Hákon Örn Helgason—released their debut album ‘Glópagull’. It’s a lyrical collection of hard work and heartbreak in 101 Reykjavík. For every “Bring Da Ruckas” out there, there’s a “Moment of Truth,” for every Waka Flocka, a Slick Rick. For all the Gísli Palmis around here—we give you $igmund.

The color of Amber’s energy is more blue than amber. Erna Mist & Magnus Thorlacius appeared as Amber for the first time earlier this year at Músiktilraunir (“music experiments,” in English—like an annual battle-of-the-bands contest). The acoustic duo made it all the way to the finals with their melancholic single “Amberstones” and their gentle, folksy “Broken Clocks.” It’s the kind of music you’d want to see at 21:30 in Harpa. Lucky for you, that’s exactly where they’ll be on Wednesday November 2.

Cryptochrome are to pop music what the Tyrkisk Peber are to candy—if you go into it assuming it will be sweet, catchy, melt-in-your-mouth, then you’ll probably end up choking. They’ve injected a certain spice to the genre with spacy, heavy beats and surprising, circuitous rap riffs. They acknowledge their electronica and hip-hop influences, but the group aims to create music of the same sound quality as commercial pop music. “It shouldn’t sound different if you play it after Beyoncé,” lead singer Una once told the Grapevine, before saying: “We want to change pop!” It might not be off-the-shelf pop music we’re accustomed to, but we’ll take flavour over familiarity.

Word is that Salka Valsdóttir and Jóhanna Rakel—the rap duo known as Cyber—named themselves after a lipstick color that they both owned as sixteen-year-old BFFs. They keep that pretty girl pout going while spilling raps from the table tops of Prikið, or at the front of their larger 20-woman rap group, Reykjavíkurdætur. In August they released a seven-track EP titled ‘Crap’. Pucker up.

Glowie’s that girl you sing along to without realising that you knew the lyrics. Probably because last year’s debut single, “No More,” was so radio-friendly that it was a regular on FM957 as soon as it came out. It also might be because all of her music videos have the lyrics laid over them. She started singing when she was nine years old and has navigated her way through the past decade with that “born to perform” mentality. And it’s starting to pay off. It’s okay, you don’t have to roll your windows up to sing along to this one, we all know it by now…

Þórður—aka Doddi, aka Kosmodod—is the Nighthawk of electronic music. He is the producer of electronic trio Samaris and co-founder of the Berlin/Reykjavík label Sweaty Records. Despite being a major presence on the airwaves of the city, he moves stealthily between projects—as a solo producer he goes by Kosmodod, and cranks out spacey dance bangers that are sure to put him on your radar.

Some fathers and sons bond by going on hikes or playing fútbol on the weekends. Þórarinn and Halldór Eldjárn are not the typical father-son duo. They spend their time composing musical-poetry performances using Þórarinn’s original poems and found analogue sounds: typewriters, telephones, keyboards, and the like. Their setup is more reminiscent of a late-90s cubicle job than a DJ station.

Ljóðfæri from Halldór Eldjárn on Vimeo.

Major Pink
Six members make up Major Pink. With so many brains buzzing in the same room, it makes sense that their music has an energising feel to it. The title track to their recent EP, ‘Take The Abuse’, is a good sample of the storyline that their songs take. It starts off calm and synthy and gradually builds to a pinnacle near the end. Gunnar Ingi, the band’s lead singer, came up with the character Major Pink with bandmate Daníel Guðnasson back in 2012. In 2014 they competed at Músiktilraunir and subsequently got to work on releasing their first full-length album.

Close contact is a familiar catalyst for musical collaboration in Reykjavík. Helgi and Björn, co-founders of the group Úlfur Úlfur, and solo producers, spent so much time together mixing sounds and making beats that they finally decided to give their collaboration a name and take it to the stage. Thus, sxsxsx was born. Their songs are heavily influenced by hip-hop, but they have also gained attention for their work with local dance-pop group Milkywhale. Get in touch on Saturday night of Airwaves at Valshöllin.

Tófa (“Blue Fox,” in English) makes music to fit the name. As they put it: “cute and cuddly on the outside but vicious and bloodthirsty on the inside.” This five-member female-fronted punk band started up last year and released their first full-length, ‘Fleetwood Max’, in November 2015. Consistent with their identity of juxtaposition, it features songs with titles like “Coastlines” immediately following “Skreem 4 me RVK.” Do your hair and kick some ass.

Read the other parts of this 50-band Airwaves Debutantes guide here.

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