While 2018 saw the release of their seminal breakthrough effort ‘Nótt eftir nótt,’ it was 2019 that cemented Kælan Mikla as bonafide international goth sensations. The dark wave, post-punk trio burst onto the world stage in 2019, with their first ever North American tour, as well as numerous European dates and some really serious festival slots. Back in Iceland for a brief break before the madness resumes, the trio sat down to reminisce on the past 12 mystical months.
Too many to count
“It’s hard to keep track,” Kælan Mikla’s bassist Margrét Rósa Dóru-Harrýsdóttir admits when asked about what they’ve been up to. “We played Eurosonic in January (2019). We played a lot of festivals. We finished a headline tour around Europe and then did a United States tour up to Canada. We also played in the middle of Russia.” She pauses and trails off—there’s clearly too much to remember. “Ok, a lot of dates!”
While previous years had seen the young women play to big crowds abroad, most notably in 2018 when The Cure frontman Robert Smith booked Kælan Mikla to play two high profile gigs, 2019 brought about an even bigger and broader reach for the band.
“We played at a festival in the middle of Russia, close to the border of Kazakhstan, a city called Perm,” synthesiser player Sólveig Matthildur Kristjánsdóttir explains. “It was a really different place and there was a huge crowd there. I was like, ‘What? There are people who listen to us here?’” she laughs. “It was so fun.”
Robert Smith’s patronage of Kælan Mikla also brought them onstage with some of their idols last year. In the summer, he invited them to play at the exclusive Pasadena Daydream Festival in California, which The Cure were both headlining and curating. With only eight other bands on the programme, including scene giants The Pixies and The Deftones, it was no doubt a highlight for the artists. “To be in a lineup of only eight bands and to be one of those huge names, it was insane,” Sólveig emphasises.
But the Kælan Mikla girls are equally fond of their recent Iceland Airwaves performance, which gave them a rare chance to play to their home crowd. “There were so many people from Iceland who haven’t seen us for so long and it’s fun to know they can see our growth,” Margrét explains. “We’ve been really focusing on getting our music out there and performing a lot abroad. When finally we got to play this gig at Iceland Airwaves, it was really rewarding,” Sólveig agrees.
But touring, of course, doesn’t come without challenges. “The main way we cope with everything is that we are all best friends and we take care of each other,” says vocalist Laufey Soffía “Everyone goes out of their way and that’s how we stay strong together.”
Now, the three have their collective sights focused on the future, supporting Alcest on a big European tour planned for February and a bunch of festival slots still to be announced. “We have a really exciting year ahead,” says Margrét. “Just as busy as last year—even busier!”
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