It's time to dive into the fifth Made In Iceland release - a collection of eighteen diverse tracks from the cream of Iceland's contemporary musical talent.
This very special collection proves that there is so much more to Icelandic music than first meets the ear: from the sonic spell-weaving capabilities of former Seabear artist Sóley to the bluesy tones of Lay Low, from the psych-rock excitement of Vintage Caravan to the transcendent neo-classical beauty of Olafur Arnalds, it is clear that Icelandic artists cannot be easily pigeonholed.
Made In Iceland V is the latest in the Made In Iceland compilation series, designed specifically to showcase the country's myriad musical talent and bring it to the attention of the world. Thank you for listening.
Scroll down for further information on each artist featured on Made In Iceland V.
MADE IN ICELAND V
PUBLISHING: M+S INDUSTRIES/WARNER CHAPPELL
COPYRIGHT: MORR MUSIC
Sóley from Iceland is a member of the indie-collective Seabear. She also studied composition and is a passionate piano player and singer. In 2010 she released her debut EP "Theater Island" which is followed by her first full-length 'We Sink' - a pop record, that sounds like a dream: sweet and weird at the same time.
Samaris consist of three 17-18 year old students from Reykjavík. Jófríður Ákadóttir singer, Þórður Kári Steinþórsson computer programmer and Áslaug Rún Magnúsdóttir who plays the clarinet. Together they play a mixture of trip-hop, dubstep and downtempo beats.
It’s been two years since GusGus graced us with their enigmatic Kompakt debut “24/7”. This album was return to form for the trio, earning much acclaim and fanfare thanks to its conceptual rigidity and pure glamour. Conceived solely with the help of two precious Doepfer modular systems and Daniel Augus t’s all-pervasive vocals, it could have been easily characterized as Gus Gus’ unofficial live album. If you had the chance to catch one of their many live shows on their exhaustive world-wide tour, you know what drive and emotion their show brought to the stage and crowd.
Compared to GusGus’ stripped down predecessor for Kompakt, “Arabian Horse” is much more “in your face” – the songs brim with big gestures, enthralling hooks, pop and soul! GusGus have perfected the craft of balancing that fine line between commercial pop and underground dance music. But who needs compartmentalization when we’re talking about music and emotion? Take the powerful schaffel (aka shuffle) anthem “Deep Inside” which makes use of big room chords you’d normally hear in more commercially tunes but balances that with a ferocious bass line and vocal duel that belongs to anyone. This sincerity in their music carries throughout “Arabian Horse”. Another prime example of this is the Högni fronted “Within You” – strings converge with his breathtaking vocals backed by a thoroughly addictive techno bass kick.
It’s a fact that GusGus retrace their original influences and have created a dance pop album that equally resonates a forgotten period of early ‘90’s dance pop (think The Beloved), classic house music and urban soul a la Massive Attack. But make no mistake, “Arabian Horse” does not sound like pure retro in any way. It’s deeply rooted in the sound of today backed by one of the most state-of-the-art quality productions Kompakt has released to date. Still need a tag? Why not: Icelandic Hi-Tech Soul.
PUBLISHING: HELGI JÓNSSON
COPYRIGHT: HELGI JÓNSSON/KOBALT
Helgi's eclectic new solo album ”Big Spring” is now out: 12 tracks dynamic and playful like never before, jumping from intimate moments of Helgi with his acoustic guitar, to atmospheric falsetto voices over a grand piano, to deep menacing trombones, to walls of electric guitars, to colorful and complex arrangements drawing on his classical background. The first single is “Darkest Part Of Town”. The album contains the duet “Careful People” written and performed with Tina Dico.
Helgi has released three EP's: Aska (2008), Kví, kví (2009) and Blindfolded (2010). He has recorded and performed with artists such as Damien Rice, Glen Hansard, Ane Brun, Wildbirds & Peacedrums, Amiina, Funkstörung, Dzihan & Kamien, Tom Jones, Múm, Philipp Poisel and many others.
As part of the small group of musicians around the record label Bedroom Community, Helgi continues to work as a singer and trombonist with producer Valgeir Sigurðsson, composer Nico Muhly, Ben Frost, Sam Amidon and Daníel Bjarnason.
PUBLISHING: LALALA EHF.
COPYRIGHT: LALALA EHF.
Lay Low is the Icelandic/Sri Lankan singer-songwriter Lovísa Elísabet Sigrúnardóttir. She began performing under her stage name and writing songs in 2006. Discovered by a local music label on MySpace she was offered a record contract with only a couple of songs on her plate. Combining kooky northern charm with smoky barroom blues, Lay Low took the Icelandic music scene by storm. Her debut album Please Don´t Hate Me and her second album, Farewell Good Night's Sleep have both sold to Platinum in Iceland. In 2011 Lay Low released her first all Icelandic language album, Brostinn strengur. This album has with out a doubt hit the spot for Lay Low. Now with 5 nominations for the Icelandic music awards for 2011 and on numerous top lists and excellent reviews all around. Lay Low previously won 3 awards in 2007 for her album Please Don't Hate Me and 1 Grima award for music in a theatre piece.
On Lay Low’s 4th LP she will be trying new things, going new directions... but never forgetting to mix in some of that unique Lay Low sound that has already touched many.
COPYRIGHT: RETRO STEFSON
Who could have guessed that the best cocktail of European, South-American, African and North-American music would come out of an island in the North-Atlantic? Meet Retro Stefson, a young bunch of musicians that started out as a project in middle school and is know widely recognized as the tightest, most fun, best looking and – probably – most clever band in town. With lyrics in Icelandic, English, French, Portuguese, hot disco licks, the baddest beats and a bag of hits to boot – Retro Stefson are a band to watch … and see.
Consisting of Icelanders Agnes, Halldór, Stefán and Kristján, Sykur (translation: Sugar) began in 2009 and quickly established a reputation for packing out parties with girls and boys looking for good times. So much so that Dazed and Confused described Sykur as "plucked from the top drawer, a morsel of such rare succulence that it is sure to gain attention even beyond the cordoning velvet rope that sequesters the art world's N.I.P (Nearly Important People)".
Mesopotamia, released in Iceland on 12th October 2011, sees the band develop their much-loved electro sound. From the exquisite downtempo Battlestar, to the full-on party anthems of Messy Hair and Curling, Mesopotamia is the soundtrack of lost weekends and fun times. The first single from the album, Shed Those Tears, has gained them international recognition, with The Guardian describing as "laser-guided synth riffs, bubbling beats and brilliantly detached vocals" and a September 2011 London show described by Artrocker as "one of the most memorable performances of the year".
PUBLISHING: M+S INDUSTRIES/WARNER CHAPPELL
COPYRIGHT: MORR MUSIC
An organically grown, highly addictive electro-pop outfit from Iceland, FM Belfast have been capturing the imaginations and swaying the bodies of constantly growing audiences throughout the world since they first appeared on the notoriously vibrant Icelandic music scene in 2006.
Couple Árni and Lóa formed the band in late 2005, to record a Christmas present song for their friends. Soon this track started making the rounds in Reykjavík, the couple was joined by Árni Vilhjálmsson and Örvar Þóreyjarson Smárason (you might know him from the very excellent múm).
Now fully formed (sidenote: although a four-piece at most times, FM Belfast will sometimes count as many as forty members on stage, situation permitting), the band started performing live at every opportunity while writing and recording what was to become their début. A collaboration with Trentemøller's Kasper Bjørke, a 12" entitled 'Back and Spine', garnered some early mentions in the international media, as well as countless spins on dancefloors the world round.
With no official release to their name, the band's fanbase had grown so large and loud by 2008 that the promoters of the renowned Iceland Airwaves music festival were persuaded to bump them to headliner status by popular demand. Around the time of the festival, FM Belfast finally released their long-awaited d début, 'How To Make Friends' to great critical and commercial acclaim (it would go on to sell tens of thousands of copies in the following years.)
'How To Make Friends' certainly made FM Belfast a few friends, and then some. In 2010 alone, the band appeared at over fifty music festivals all over Europe (they were the second most booked act appearing at Eurosonic 2010, following XX), sometimes appearing to crowds of over 20,000. And that's not counting their countless club gigs and shows in that time.
JUST ANOTHER SNAKE CULT
COPYRIGHT: JUST ANOTHER SNAKE CULT
Over the past two years Just Another Snake Cult has grown from Þórir Bogason's bedroom-recording solo project into an eight-person, Reykjavík-based psychedelic-/freak- pop ensemble. In that time the band has performed at festivals (Iceland Airwaves, Bröötal Sun, and off-venue at SXSW) and toured in the States three times. At at Iceland Airwaves 2011 TheLineOfBestFit.com named Just Another Snake Cult among one of five must-see band, while trend-setting radio station KEXP described the band as having an "eccentric but accessible style, which merges psychedelic indie pop with synthesized wizardry." The debut record The Dionysian Season, released in Iceland by Brak Records, was touted in the national press for its fresh ideas and clever production and later earned the band a nomination in the Icelandic Music Awards for Best Newcomer.
Since way back in 2004 Reykjavík!—Les Savy Fav's young, harder partying, more Icelandic rascal of a brother—has gloriously trodden a path of no-common-sense and utter irreverence. The outcome is a beast of a band any way you look at it. Their work ethic, sizzling creativity, jovial intent to share all and anything, defies logic.
But then again—there's nothing logical about Reykjavík! With a track record spanning an impressive amalgam of endless local shows—including twelve in one day—various international tours and collaborations with pretty much everyone, everywhere (dancer Erna Ómarsdóttir and musicians Árni Rúnar Hlöðversson (of FM Belfast), Ben Frost, Sam Amidon and Valgeir Sigurðsson to name a few—namedropping is a fine art, you knoq), Reykjavík! radiate spontaneity and joy to the point where their music and actions seem completely uninhibited. It's baffling they haven't self-imploded yet.
Consequently, you'd be hard pressed to name a group that takes their band duties so seriously that it comes full circle and becomes ceremoniously unseriously serious. Seriously! The band's exuberant nature is evident in their refusal to hold back, deny their roots or their eclectic sources of inspiration. Indie rock, pop, metal, punk, grunge, disco… you name it. All musical styles have been victims of this gang of brothers.
Reykjavík! are currently fresh from playing sold out shows at a performing arts festival in Brussels (‘Tickling Death Machine'—a collaboration with Erna Ómarsdóttir and Lazyblood—look for it in France and Kyoto in 2012) and working on their third studio LP, due out this fall.
THE VINTAGE CARAVAN
COPYRIGHT: THE VINTAGE CARAVAN
The Vintage Caravan is a classic rock oriented band from Iceland. They have gradually become quite popular with steady airplay and many live performances at festivals and concerts. The band members are Óskar Logi (guitar and vocals), Páll Sólmundur (bass and vocals) and Guðjón (drums and percussions). The Vintage Caravan drew inspiration from early seventies instrumentation such as Jimi Hendrix, Deep purple, Cream, Rush and Led Zeppelin. With raw vocals, ripping bass, wailing guitar and thundering drums The Vintage Caravan plays all original material and they like to improvise in certain sections in their songs. Together they jammed through the Airwaves 2010 and 2011, the festival ‘‘Aldrei Fór Ég Suður“ in 2011, Gæran festival 2010 and 2011 and numerous gigs in local bars.
The band released its self-titled debut album in May 2011. They performed at many venues and festivals around Iceland in the summer of 2011. Their biggest gig was the “Besta Útihátíðin” festival in 2011 where they confronted 9000 guests with the national anthem of the Republic of Iceland “Lofsöngur”.The band members are Óskar Logi (guitar and vocals), Páll Sólmundur (base and vocals) and Guðjón (drums and percussions).
PUBLISHING: STERLING SONGS
COPYRIGHT: DEAD SKELETONS
What is a “dead skeleton”? Can such an entity exist? Sonic wizards Jón Sæmundur, Henrik Björnsson and Ryan Carlson Van Kriedt probe such questions of depth and intensity on their first full-length double LP Dead Magick. This album illuminates the fact that magick - as well as music - is far from “dead.” In fact, Dead Magick is a vibrant collection of mystical meanderings through space, time, and all that is. Dead Magick formulates and communicates dynamic concepts, as well as illustrates them via the oldest form of human expression: music.
FOR A MINOR REFLECTION
PUBLISHING: RESERVOIR MEDIA
Energetic, melodious rock band, For a Minor Reflection comprises of four 22-year-olds from Reykjavík, Iceland. Far from simple to define, their music expands and subverts itself with every song. “On stage they were rocking out seriously beautiful, expansive melodies beneath projections of dropping bombs” DAZED
The band Lockerbie is a fairly new Icelandic band with the members working togeather for a few years. They have toured Iceland and play’d countless of concerts in most of the known venues in Iceland including Nasa and the new concert building Harpa. The debut release concert was sold out and the performance was in Harpa, the band went on stage with a string quartet, brass band and a 30 person quire. Since the band released the album, bloggers around the world have constantly been writing about it. Lockerbie’s music has a unique position in the Icelandic music scene with their melodic pop/post-rock, sweet phantasmagorical timbre and dreamy soundscapes. It sounds as if Chris Martin from Coldplay recorded an album with Sigur Rós. The debut album is released in Iceland, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Luxemburg, Lichtenstein, Japan on CD/vinyl and digitally on iTunes worldwide. Lockerbie has publishing contract for one of their song, Snjóljón in a commercial for Nike and Össur. They have big ambitions and drive to go the distance.
COPYRIGHT: HANS PJETURSSON
Vigri is an Icelandic band with melodic and classical elements formed in Reykjavik 2009. The group consisted in the beginning only of brothers Bjarki and Hans Pjetursson and then later expanded into a five piece band. Atli Jónasson on drums, Þórir Bergson on guitar, bass, keyboards and brass, Egill Halldórsson on bass and keyboards .The band name is taken from the final ship that the brothers' grandfather ever sailed on as a captain (Vigri RE-71)
Due to the lack of finance to record in a studio, the brothers decided to travel around many of the small churches in Iceland's countryside to record their material by themselves. The outcome is the album Pink Boats. The album's name derives from a vision that hunted the band during their recording sessions when the red Icelandic sunset would lie over the sea's horizon and turn all the boats from white to pink.
PUBLISHING: STEF/NCB, BMI
Árstíðir is a vocal-based acoustic band from Reykjavík with a sound unique to the Icelandic music scene. All six members are distinguished players known from various bands in the Reykjavík soundscape. Since Árstíðir’s formation in 2008 the band has released two records praised by trendsetting music critics, had two number-one hits on Icelandic radio, made several TV appearances in Iceland, Sweden, Russia, and the Czech Republic, and played sold out venues all over Europe.
Árstíðir’s music is a rare composition of the clear-cut and the complex. Their songs are easy to fall in love with, yet mixed with diverse influences such as progressive rock, indie, classical chamber music, and Icelandic folk music.
“Árstíðir is similar to some other Icelandic bands in that they sound big and orchestral like Sigur Rós and, like Ólöf Arnalds, they strike that magic balance between intimacy and mystery”
Beverly Bryan - MTV Iggy
PUBLISHING: NETTWERK ONE
COPYRIGHT: ERASED TAPE RECORDS
Born in the suburban Icelandic town of Mosfellsbær, a few kilometres outside of Reykjavík, the 24 year old composer has always enjoyed pushing boundaries with both his studio work and his live-shows. Through relentless touring and determination this young artist has steadily gained recognition worldwide and continues his mission to lure an indie-generation of pop and rock fans into an emotive world of beguiling electronic chamber music and delicated classical arrangements.
COPYRIGHT: JÓHANN FRIÐGEIR JÓHANNSSON
"I grew up in the small town of Ísafjörður, which is in the western fjords of Iceland. Free from the distractions of a big city, (or, in the case of Reykjavík, a tiny city) my attention went towards music around my teenage years. Armed with a keyboard, I participated in many fantastic bands such as Rússfeldur, Staubsauger Nilfisk, Chessplayers of Death, and the duo Sigurbjörn & Friðgeir. Somewhere along the way I got a computer and started experimenting with electronic music… …and ten years later, here we are. I’ve moved back to Ísafjörður after venturing to the capital of Iceland for a few years, have released 4 albums, made tons of unreleased songs, worked on loads of different projects, almost finished my BA degreee in musical composition, have a beautiful wife and two beautiful daughters and I’m still making loads of music."