Árstíðir (Nivalis Ltd)
Formed in Reykjavik more than five years ago, Árstíðir sing, play piano and strings, and pick guitars - achieving two number one hits on Icelandic radio, playing sold out venues all over the world and releasing two albums. The second, Svefns go vöku skil, was produced by Ólafur Arnalds and mastered by German composer Nils Frahm. A video of the band’s impromptu a cappella performance of the Icelandic hymn Heyr himna smiður became a viral sensation with over 1 million views. Árstíðir are currently working on their third studio album Hvel, recording in Toppstöðinn, an renovated power station in Reykjavík. It is set for release in November 2014. They have the unique angle of having a large following in Russia allready and are looking to expand their market.
dj. flugvél og geimskip (Mengi)
Making what she describes as “horror-electronic music with a space twist”, dj. flugvél og geimskip (trans: DJ Airplane and Spaceship) combines playful beats, slinky baselines and catchy melodies played on old keyboards, with high pitched vocals. Her live show is super colourful and poetic, incorporating storytelling, incense and lighting, and drawing on influences including Suicide, The Prodigy, Joe Meek, Raymond Scott, Sigríður Níelsdóttir, Sumio Shiratori, Martin Denny, Yma Sumac and Asha Bhosle.
Fufanu (One Little Indian)
Hrafnkell Kaktus and Guðlaugur Halldór have operated as a successful techno duo since 2009, playing at Roskilde festival, Iceland Airwaves and clubs in Germany, Norway and Iceland. The addition of drummer Frosti Gnarr made two become three, and Fufanu began to embrace a psychedelic rock-influenced soundscape. Currently recording their debut album for One Little Indian, October 2014’s edition of Rolling Stone proclaimed Fufanu as one of the ‘10 New Artists You Need To Know’.
Barely two years since forming, indie-quartet Kaleo have experienced considerable success scoring four number 1 singles, including their cover of Icelandic classic Vor í Vaglaskógi. Their self-titled 2013 debut also topped the Icelandic charts and the band picked up Icelandic Listeners awards for Best Album, Best Singer and Best New Act. Kaleo were also named best newcomers at the Icelandic Music Awards.
Kiasmos (Erased Tapes)
Kiasmos is made up of BAFTA-winning composer Ólafur Arnalds, internationally renowned for his textural neo-classical work, and Janus Rasmussen from the Faroe Islands, mastermind of electronic outfit Bloodgroup. Based in Reykjavík, Arnalds used to work as a sound engineer – often for Rasmussen's other projects – where the two musicians discovered their common love for minimal, experimental music. They eventually became best friends often hanging out in their studio exploring electronic music. The duo’s self-titled debut was released in October 2014 - picking up impressive reviews in Clash Magazine, The 405, Drowned In Sound, Electronic Beats and XLR8R.
Júníus Meyvant (Record Records)
Júníus Meyvant is the artist name of Vestmann Islands born singer-songwriter Unnar Gísli Sigurmundsson. In his early twenties Unnar stumbled upon a beat-up guitar at his parents’ house and started noodling around - taming his inner beast, while his sense for songs and melodies burst like rockets. For a while he filtered his ideas through a band that didn’t live up to his creative requirements so he decided to create his alter ego Júníus Meyvant. The sound of Júníus Meyvant is a rich and afflicted take on freaky folk pop with a
familiar and soulful feel. The feeling you get from listening to Júníus is equally as comforting as resting under a thick wool blanket with a hot cup of cocoa in or even when lying with an exotic beverage on a hot sandy beach far and away.
Low Roar (Tonequake Records)
Bay Area native, Ryan Karazija, found inspiration for Low Roar’s sound in Reykjavik - with his band being hailed as the Icelandic version of Grizzly Bear. After moving to the small Nordic community in 2010, Karazija wrote and recorded Low Roar’s debut self-titled album with the help of Grammy winning producer/mixer Andrew Scheps (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Adele). Released in November 2011, Karazija then recruited drummer Logi Guðmundsson and keyboardist Leifur Björnsson before touring extensively, including shows at Iceland Airwaves and ATP. Low Roar’s second album, 0, was released in July 2014, and features Icelandic darlings Amiina on strings and is co-produced by Andrew Scheps and Mike Lindsay (Tuung).
M-Band (Raftónar Records)
M-Band is the solo-project of the multi-talented, multi-instrumentalist Hörður Már Bjarnason. Combining beat-driven nu-electronica with heart wrenching tenor vocals, his work encompasses a wide variety of influences - ranging from house and R’nB, to Arabian and Eastern-European world and folk music - whilst retaining a distinctive edge. A classically trained pianist, Hörður started his alternative music career playing with various bands in his hometown, a rural village in the South of Iceland, but soon found his way to the capital city, where he joined Retrobot (winners of the 2012 Músíktilraunir), and later, the electro-pop ensemble Nolo. Aside from performing as M-Band, Hörður also collaborates with the electronic musician Tonik Ensemble.
Óbó (Morr Music)
A multi-instrumentalist who has worked with artists such as Sigur Rós, Jónsi, Emiliana Torrini, Benni Hemm Hemm, múm, Jóhann Jóhannsson and Valgeir Sigur∂sson, Óbó releases his debut album, Innhverfi, on Morr Music in November 2014. A play on the Icelandic words for "suburbs" and "introvert", Innhverfi comprises seven atmospheric compositions.
Rökkurró (Rökkurró Music)
With band members spending time between Tokyo, London and Reykjavík over the past three years, Rökkurró have been meticulously expanding their luscious musical palette. The success of the band’s previous studio effort Í Annan Heim (produced by Alex Somers of Jónsi fame) was largely unexpected. The album spent over 100 weeks in the Top 30 of the Icelandic charts, while gathering warm words from international media such as NME, Clash Magazine, KEXP Radio, The Line Of Best Fit and CMU Daily. Working with a new partner in crime - the renowned multi-instrumentalist and producer Helgi Hrafn Jónsson - Rökkurró’s follow-up album, Innra, was released in October 2014.
Samaris (One Little Indian)
Formed in 2011, Samaris won both the Icelandic Músíktilraunir (past winners include the likes of Of Monsters and Men) and Kraumur Award within months; while their performance at Iceland Airwaves in 2012, attracted the attention of The Line Of Best Fit, Drowned In Sound and One Little Indian - to whom they subsequently signed. The UK release in July 2013 of the group’s two Icelandic EPs (as the eponymous Samaris album) sparked widespread interest, with glowing reviews appearing everywhere from NME to the FT. An acclaimed follow-up, Silkidrangar, was released in May 2014.
Skálmöld (Napalm Records)
Skálmöld was founded in August 2009 and has since then become the biggest metal act in Iceland - playing a music that could be described as Battle Metal - a potion of Epic Viking Metal, old school Death and Thrash Metal, entwined with their Icelandic heritage. Released in late 2010, the band's debut album, Baldur, was re-issued by Napalm Records in 2011 building the band’s reputation on the international metal scene. The follow-up, Börn Loka [Loki’s Children] was released in late 2012 and was followed by extensive touring, before Skálmöld joined forces with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra for three sold out shows at Harpa in later 2013. The concert was released as CD/DVD, becoming an instant best seller. Skálmöld’s third highly-anticipated album, Með Vættum, is due for release in November/December 2014, coinciding with an extensive European tour.
Sóley (Morr Music)
Since the release of her debut album We Sink (2011), Sóley Stefánsdóttir, better known as Sóley, has been wowing audiences around the globe. Sóley's songs and videos turned into Youtube-hits with millions of plays and her shows attract an ever growing loyal fanbase. After releasing the short, eerie, cinematic, almost voice-less EP Krómantik (2014) she will return with her 2nd full length album in 2015.
Sólstafir (Season Of Mist)
Founded in 1995, Sólstafir is an Icelandic metal band that practically defies categorisation
The band’s slow-burn success reached new heights when 2011’s well-received Svartir Sandar (featuring the Icelandic no.1 single Fjara) was voted album of the year by Finland's biggest metal magazine, Inferno, Germany's Metal.de <http://Metal.de> and Iceland's biggest newspaper Morgunblaðið - as well as best heavy album of the year in Finland's biggest music magazine, Soundi. Sólstafir’s much-anticipated follow-up, Ótta, was released in August 2014, picking up rave reviews - including Terrorizer and Noisey - while they embark on a European and US tour during November/December 2014.
Tonik Ensemble (Atomnation)
Tonik Ensemble is an electronic act led by Anton Kaldal Ágústsson. Blurring the gap between sound and sight, colour has a strong influence on the end result, exploring the various ends of the electronic spectrum while maintaining a strong signature sound. Their music is rich and stripped bare, minimalist and intricate, finely crafted and yet very instinctive. Tonik Ensemble’s forthcoming album, Snapshots, will be released in February 2015 - with preview single, Until We Meet Again, featuring vocals from Shipsi, singer of the Latvian band Instrumenti.
Vök was formed in February 2013 to take part in the Músíktilraunir (‘Music Experiments’) battle of the bands competition, which they went on to win. The original line-up of vocalist/ songwriter Margrét Rán Magnusdóttir and saxophonist Andri Már Enoksson, has since been joined by guitarist/ bassist Ólafur Alexander. Vök are widely known for their unique electronica tunes accompanied by classical saxophone sounds and songstress Margrét's powerful vocals. Gaining momentum since the release of their Tension EP on Record Records, the band is currently working on their debut album and have signed a US deal with MuseBox Records. The EP recently gained a glowing review from the New York Times.
Ylja (Nordic Notes)
Ylja was formed in 2008 by guitarists/singers Gígja Skjaldardóttir and Bjartey Sveinsdóttir in Reykjavík, with slide guitarist Smári Tarfur joining in the fall of 2011. Led by the strong creative vision of the two girls, combining dreamy vocal melodies and tasteful guitar riffs accompanied by Smári's unique lap-style playing - Ylja's sound was born! The band’s debut album, simply called Ylja, was released in November 2012 and they have caused a stir at successive Iceland Airwaves performances as well as supporting Glen Hansard.
Young Karin (Pannonica)
Formed at the end of 2013, Young Karin’s debut single, Hearts, made it loud and clear that they’re the next act to follow in the Icelandic music scene - with a sound influenced by modern day hip hop and avant garde pop productions, based upon creative sampling and rattling sub basses. Often compared to the finest of Scandinavian art pop, Young Karin are definitely a band to fall in love with.