Next week the annual Iceland Airwaves Festival in Reykjavík kicks off. What started off as a one-off event in an airport hanger is now entering its 17th year, as hundreds of artists are getting set to play the now world-renowned festival. The great thing about Iceland Airwaves is that although it does have a handful of international acts play, it primarily focuses on homegrown talent.
With that, what better time to learn about some new Icelandic artists playing the festival to add to your playlist?
I was lucky enough to catch Flóvent play a very dark, smelly room during Canadian Music Week in Toronto this year, and what a show. Although only half of his band could make the trip, the two members who played were still able to capture everyone's attention at the bar — even if some of those people weren't originally there for the show. At 20 years old, Flóvent has quite the list of accomplishments, having already played South by Southwest, the Great Escape Festival in the U.K. and shortly heading off in November for a European tour. If you live in Toronto, you'll also be lucky enough to catch him again on these shores mid-November.
If you're looking for some extra groove in your life, Júníus Meyvant needs to be added to your playlist ASAP. Unnar Gísli Sigurmundsson, who plays under the Júníus Meyvant moniker, creates songs that get your body moving. Maybe it's his voice, or the brass accompaniment that makes these songs epic, but for someone who was kicked out of music school it sure makes you wonder what you're doing with your life. Although he released his LP Floating Harmonies back in July, this is definitely an album to check out now. The songs work perfectly with the changing weather, whether it be the leaves dropping, rainfall or just basking in the sun of mild temperatures while you cling to your pumpkin spice latte. If there's one thing for sure, his voice will bring the warmth to your day.
Formed in 2008 by lead singers/guitar players Gígja Skjaldardóttir and Bjartey Sveinsdóttir, YLJA is an acoustic folk band that performs both in Icelandic and English. The band's beautiful sounds come from its harmonies, reminiscent of Joseph or First Aid Kit. There's also a member that plays lap-style slide guitar, which you can hear in a lot of YLJA's tracks. It's definitely the kind of music you'd expect from a country known for its sparse landscapes, and it seems the perfect soundtrack for driving past Iceland's mountain ranges and through its deep valleys. The band released its track "Í Spariskóm" in May 2016, with more music expected soon.
Krakk & Spaghetti
What started out as somewhat of a joke turned into a full-fledged rap group. The trio made up of Þorgerður, Atli and Margrét Aðalheiður basically came together after entering a songwriting contest where they wanting to purposely enter a bad song — and then ended up placing second. Although a lot of the songs can be silly, the group also has been known to write about issues that matter to its members, including the Free The Nipple campaign, a movement to get gender equality covered, and protected, under the law.
While not playing Iceland Airwaves this year, Ásgeir is definitely an artist that you should have on your radar. Between his falsetto and moody backing tracks, he's like nothing else you have heard, which is why he's garnered quite a bit attention in his home country and abroad. With his last release, Dyrd i daudathogn, Ásgeir turned into a bit of an overnight success when his release became the fastest-selling Icelandic album from a domestic artist of all time. It's also an album that he released it both in English and Icelandic, something we don't necessarily see from multilingual artists. Ásgeir has also been able to garner millions of streams on YouTube and Spotify, and had pretty prime spots on festival lineups earlier this year. This is the perfect time to jump on the bandwagon, as he'll likely be putting new music out soon.