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Meet the Airwaves Virgins

27 October 2016, 10:48

Ten Amazing New Artists You Need To See At Iceland Airwaves 2016

Winter is a hair's breadth away which means we can look forward to snow, Christmas, and (most importantly) Iceland Airwaves!

The showcase festival has been going strong since 1999, bringing in top tier foreign acts all the while highlighting the best and most exciting Icelandic bands. With more than 200 bands performing this year, it's easy to get overwhelmed when picking what to go see. Here are ten local acts performing for the first time at Iceland Airwaves that you can’t afford to miss.

aYia

aYia

This three-piece act may only have released one single, but it has absolutely blown us away. With deep drops, phasing synths, and a haunting voice, "Water Plant" is a gourmet song for the audiophile. They've set high expectations, and we're excited to see if they can meet them.

When did you start making music?

“When we finished the morning rituals.”

Describe your sound

“Void pop.”

Why should we come see you at Airwaves?

“You gotta tap into the void.”

Who else should we check out?

“The Internet.”

Where should we go during the day to nurse our Airwaves hangover?

“Swim.”

Catch them on Friday 4 November at Kaffibarinn (16.00) and Harpa Silfurberg (20:00) and on Saturday 5 November at Húrra (22.30).

Audun

Auðn

Icelandic black metal has been going through a renaissance and is only now starting to get the international recognition it deserves. Right at the forefront of this evolution is Auðn, a bleak and desolate band that transitions fluidly from explosive to calm. Seeing is believing, but please protect your ears!

Where in Iceland are you from?

“The band is stationed in Hveragerði, where a majority of the band resides, but with two members being from Hafnarfjörður and Akureyri.”

When did you start making music?

“The band itself started in 2010, but all of us had been playing and composing for quite some time before that.”

Describe your sound

“Cold and dark, but not without melody.”

Why should we come see you at Airwaves?

“Because we're great.”

Who else should we check out?

“You should definitely see HAM and Dr. Spock. They are seasoned veterans of making some great, weird music.”

Where should we go during the day to nurse our Airwaves hangover?

“Avoid hangovers. Keep drinking.”

Catch them on Wednesday 2 November at Gaukurinn (20:00).

Cryptochrome

Cryptochrome

This electronic-pop-rap fusion group stepped onto the scene in 2013, releasing their self-titled debut, and like a cool breeze blowing through Reykjavík, Cryptochrome has steadily been gaining momentum since then. Their 2016 release, More Human, shows a much more mature band with a clearer identity, which shines through in everything they do. Be sure to check out “Playdough VR 360°”, for which they won the best music video award at the Northern Wave Festival last weekend.

Where in Iceland are you from?

“Well, we all live in central Reykjavík, but are from all over the place really. Una was born and raised in RVK but also in Berlin and Los Angeles. Anik is from southern England, northern Germany and New Zealand, and S.O.N is from Hamburg. We've all spent the last decade here though. Leigh, our new producer, has recently moved here from Kent.”

When did you start making music?

“All of us started as soon as we can remember. Anik and S.O.N were in the UK/German hip-hop group Dark Circle in the 90s and 00s, on DJ Vadim's label, Una has written and sung songs forever, and Leigh grew up in a musical household and has been working as a professional musician since his early teens.”

Describe your sound

“We refer to it as high-end psychedelic soul rap, for lack of a narrower category ::) We take our influence from such a broad range and that reflects in our music, but it's definitely trip-hoppy, electronic, soulful, human music. With very positive overtones. Deep but uplifting.”

Why should we come see you at Airwaves?

“Cos we're amazing live haha! Una and Anik have been a couple for more than a decade and audiences always enjoy the energy that sparks between them on stage. People often leave our shows feeling charged and overwhelmed, it's a real pleasure to behold. Also, we'll be kicking off an amazing line-up in our favourite venue in town, Húrra, with a super tight sound system and sound man called Frikki, we always have a great time there, and we know you will as well ::)”

Who else should we check out?

“Oh there are SO many! We always like to see what our friends are up to, and they're all very good.. Mr. Silla, Kött Grá Pje, Berndsen, sóley, Avóka, Lord Pusswhip, Amabadama, Sin Fang, Futuregrapher, múm, Rvkdnb, Reykjavíkurdætur, Singapore Sling... We’re also really looking forward to seeing Kate Tempest and Kano cos they're doing some very nice things in the UK at the moment.”

Where should we go during the day to nurse our Airwaves hangover?

“Our place always has the best healing vibes ::) apart from that, we reckon it's a question of hair of the dogging it. Keep the party moving, cos there's ENOUGH going on to keep the hangover distracted. Grái Kötturinn is also great for escaping the crowds and getting a proper nosh on. Or just go down to the sea and breathe in the air, or to one of the local pools. And drink plenty of some of the best water ever, straight outta the tap.”

Catch them on Wednesday 2 November at Húrra (19.50).

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Glowie

Glowie

Glowie’s meteoric rise up Iceland’s top charts should not come as a surprise to anyone who’s been following the local scene. At just nineteen, Glowie, real name Sara Pétursdóttir, has already attracted a loyal following with her catchy beats and sunny disposition. Now that she’s in the spotlight, the question is how an international crowd will find her (oh, who are we kidding, they’ll love her).

Where in Iceland are you from?

“I was born and raised in Reykjavík.”

When did you start making music?

“I grew up around music but I started practicing my singing when I was 9 years old. I´m a dancer too, I started dancing when I was 7 years old mostly ballet. Music is my life, I love performing.”

Why should we come see you at Airwaves?

“You should come see me because you won´t only hear good music but you will see a person give her all into her performance and enjoying doing what she loves. And she’d like you to come and enjoy the great music with her.”

Who else should we check out?

“I think you should go see GKR, I really have faith in his music.”

Catch Glowie on Wednesday 2 November at Harpa Norðurljós (23:20), on Thursday 3 November at Petersen Suite (18.30), on Friday 4 November at The Laundromat Cafe (18:00), Nasa (20:20), and, on Saturday 5 November at Verbúð 11 Lobster & Stuff (16:00) Bryggjan Brugghús (18:00) and American Bar (19:00).

JFDR

JFDR

While Jófríður Ákadóttir is no stranger to Airwaves, having performed with Samaris and Pascal Pinon on numerous occasions, this is the first time she plays her solo material. Expect dreamy minimal pop with gentle and cyclical guitar plucking, and vocals sung so softly they sound like whispers.

Where in Iceland are you from?

“Reykjavík.”

When did you start making music?

“When I was 11 my twin sister and I made two albums in GarageBand as the group 'We and the computer'. We later started the band Pascal Pinon.”

Describe your sound

“Honest.”

Why should we come see you at Airwaves?

“The music contains a lot of secrets.”

Who else should we check out?

“Múm & kronos quartet”

Where should we go during the day to nurse our Airwaves hangover?

“Vitabar is a solid cure.”

Catch JFDR on Thursday 3 November at Reykjavík Art Museum (20.10) and Saturday 5 November at Loft Hostel (15:30).

Krakk & Spaghettí

Krakk & Spaghettí

While much of Iceland’s modern hip-hop glamour has been fuelled by poets and thugs that take themselves seriously, there’s an undercurrent of silliness and absurdity running through the new generation, which describes Krakk & Spaghettí perfectly. Filled with youthful energy and a willingness to colour outside the lines, this trio knows how to have fun on the stage.

Where in Iceland are you from?

“We all live in Reykjavík right now but one of our rappers originated from Egilsstaðir in the east.”

When did you start making music?

“We started about two years ago when we participated in a competition about who could write and perform the worst song. We ended up in second place, so after that we thought we weren’t all that bad, so we began making more music which led us to where we are now.”

Describe your sound

“Our sounds mostly consist of simple beats made from something we think is funny; we combine that with some raps and singing. If we had to describe in one word it would be Krúttrapp (‘cuterap’).”

Why should we come see you at Airwaves?

“If you come see us we can guarantee you that you will have fun. If you don’t like us, we will give you a high five as recompense. We promise!”

Who else should we check out?

“To start with you should check out our father figure, Kött Grá Pje. Múm is also really nice, and Reykjavíkurdætur, Shades of Reykjavík and GKR always have good shows. Then it’s always really fun to stumble in on the show of see some band you have never heard of.”

Where should we go during the day to nurse our Airwaves hangover?

“To nurse your hangover you should totally go to Mandi. You should ask for a vegan falafel, extra spicy :)”

Catch them on Thursday 3 November at Icewear Þingholtsstræti (19.00), on Saturday 5 November at BarAnanas (16.45), Valshöllin Upstairs (20,20), and on Sunday 6 November at Quest - Hair, Beer & Whisky Saloon (12.00).

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Moji & The Midnight Suns

Moji & The Midnight Suns

To the casual observer, the soulful rock tunes of this American-Icelandic outfit may suggest the gang’s been jamming together since they were toddlers, but in truth the trio has only been together for a year and a bit. Having just released their debut album What I Saw on the Way to Myself and fresh from touring, you can expect M&TMS to be on point at Airwaves.

Where in Iceland are you from?

Moji: “I'm not actually from Iceland, I'm from Long Island, NY. I first visited Iceland last year and have been back multiple times since then because of the band.”

Frosti: “I’m from the suburbs of Reykjavík.”

Bjarni: “I live in Reykjavík but grew up in Mosfellsbær, a suburb north of Reykjavík.”

When did you start making music?

M: “I started making music when I was about 13 or so... We had just gotten our first home computer and I quickly discovered the recording application. I would make these really awful layered soundscapes then record my vocals via the wand microphone and try to play both files back and record them onto another file. Thank God we have better software now! I don't have the recordings (viruses killed the computer) but I remember a few of the songs.”

Describe your sound

M: “I would say the music we create is similar to earlier rock ‘n’ roll—when it still had some soul and blues. But we add a bit of twang to our songs. Overall, our music is passionate and emotional.”

F: “I think we make pretty decent music, (chuckles). “Rock ‘n’ soul” music.”

B: “I’d describe our music as dark soulful rock.”

Why should we come see you at Airwaves?

M: “In a sea of talent and beauty there is only so much that can be seen and heard at one time. As such, I encourage you to follow your ears and go with what moves you. BUT... if you want to hear music that is passionate, emotionally evocative, and some sincerely fucking good music, come and see us. We don't have a synth touch pad sampler, I don't use auto-tune, and we won't have back-up dancers—maybe next album? I can promise you that I will sing with everything I have in me and make you feel something special.”

Who else should we check out?

M: “Valdimar, Prins Póló, DIGABLE PLANETS!!, sóley, The Internet, and DJ Yamaho are the acts on the tip of my brain.”

Where should we go during the day to nurse our Airwaves hangover?

M: “You should hit up some killer shawarma and go full on "spicy sauce 4 eva" at Habibi or go to Skúli Craft bar for a "hair of the dog" drink. They also have caffeine and snacks at Skúli if you are looking for a clean slate for the day.”

Catch them on Friday 4 November at KEX Hostel (13.00) and Iðnó (01.40), and on Saturday 5 November at Slippbarinn (17.45).

RuGl

RuGl

The youngest musicians performing this year are no doubt RuGl, a two-person outfit from Reykjavík. Combining succinct melodies with sweet harmonies, the two fifteen-year-olds have grown adept at winning the hearts and minds of local music goers, representing Iceland's new generation of indie pop.

Where in Iceland are you from?

"We’re from Vesturbær, which is a district in Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland. Vesturbær is filled with creative people and unique houses and this has had a very big impact on our songwriting."

When did you start making music?

"We started making music together in the beginning of this year, but we had been writing songs separately long before that."

Describe your sound

"Two girls singing and playing the guitar and keyboard... The songs are indie-inspired. Sufjan Stevens, Elliott Smith, Daughter and Regina Spektor among others have had a big influence on us."

Why should we come see you at Airwaves?

"Why not?"

Who else should we check out?

"PJ Harvey is a must! Axel Flóvent, JFDR, Lowly, Magnús Jóhann, Moses Hightower, Una Stef, Útidúr, FM Belfast and Björk of course, you´ll definitely see us there in the crowd."

Where should we go during the day to nurse our Airwaves hangover?

"We don’t know that much about hangover, we’re only 15!! So we just got food tickets, no beer. But we recommend that you enjoy the nice weather here and take a nice stroll along the seaside and don’t miss the swimming pools. Happy Airwaves!"

Catch RuGl on Wednesday 2 November at Loft (16.30) and The Laundromat Café (18.00), on Thursday 3 November at Landsbankinn (16.00) and Harpa Kaldalón (20.30), on Saturday 5 November at Landsbankinn (14.00), and on Sunday 6 November at Valshöllen (19.30).

Skrattar

Skrattar

If the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood had a soundtrack, it would be written by Skrattar. Their music is dark, nihilistic, and seductive, with repetitive synth keys overlaid with resonant guitar twanging and huddled vocals reminiscent of Nick Cave.

Where in Iceland are you from?

“We are from Reykjavík, Iceland.”

When did you start making music?

“Three years ago.”

Describe your sound:

“A bit of electronics a bit of rock ‘n’ roll. All real and all created in the night.”

Why should we come see you at Airwaves?

“You should come see us if you want to hear a resurrected sound of the old world that is different from a lot of the bands that are playing Airwaves this year. Be there or be square, Skrattar are here.”

Who else should we check out?

“Go see Konsulat, Gísli Pálmi, Kuldaboli, Fufanu, Kælan Mikla, DJ. flugvél go geimskip, Pink Street Boys and Hatari.”

Where should we go during the day to nurse our Airwaves hangover?

“Go home or to an afterparty.”

Catch them on Thursday 3 November at Bíó Paradís (15.00) and on Saturday 5 November at Gaukurinn (00.30).

Tófa

Tófa

This art-punk band has been taking a lot of space in the local scene, releasing two albums in one year and playing a flurry of shows, much to the delight of Iceland’s firestarters. Expect an explosive show from Tófa filled with frantic energy and a spoonful of bittersweet optimism.

Where in Iceland are you from?

“We are based in Reykjavík, but are currently living in three separate countries (Iceland, The Netherlands, and Denmark). The guys are from Iceland, and Allie is from Colorado.”

When did you start making music?

“Tófa began playing music together about two years ago (fun fact, our first meeting was in a broom closet), but all of us have had musical experience of one kind or another prior to that. We think of Tófa as being the band that we always wanted to play in; we are great friends who can be open with our strangeness, work brilliantly together, and have a lot of fun doing what we do.”

Describe your sound

“Tófa's sound is difficult to describe in a few words, which is part of what we enjoy about our music. It is dirty but technical, loud but thoughtful, and has a strong influence from classical literature and poetry. Tófa's songs can range anywhere from quiet and subtle to bombastic and chaotic. We (half jokingly) call our genre "adventure punk" because you never quite know where the music will end up.”

Why should we come see you at Airwaves?

“We work our asses off when we perform. This band means a lot to us and it shows in our performance. If you are looking for something unusual and fresh (or enjoy seeing 5 "adults" sweat a LOT), Tófa will not disappoint.”

Who else should we check out?

“A few bands we are excited for are Kate Tempest, Santigold, Warpaint, and PJ Harvey. Be sure to see Andri and Kjartan play with East of my Youth as well!”

Where should we go during the day to nurse our Airwaves hangover?

“The pool, no question. Allie is loyal to Laugardalslaug while Árni is a die hard Vesturbæjarlaug fan, but there are tons of them in the city. Choose one, marinate yourself in the hot tub, sweat out the hangover in the sauna, then go get a hot dog.”

Catch them on Monday 31 October at Lucky Records (17:00), Wednesday 2 November at Kaffibarinn (18:00), Thursday 3 Noveber at 12 Tónar (18.30(, Friday 4 November at Hlemmur Square (18.00) and Saturday 5 November at Gaukurinn (20.00).

Iceland Airwaves runs from 3-6 November. Find out more at icelandairwaves.is.
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