Made in Iceland 2
The spunky second edition of the compilation series by Iceland Music Export, a project that began in autumn, 2008. The aim of the series is to profile the latest exciting sounds to emerge from the kaleidoscopic and ever-evolving Icelandic music scene. As with the 15 bands showcased on Made in Iceland 1, all the artists here have released a new album recently and are touring both in Iceland and abroad.
Iceland has been known for its high-quality musical exports since The Sugarcubes landed a Top 20 UK Chart position for their single "Birthday" back in 1986. Since then, bands like Björk and Sigur Rós have confirmed their achievement was not a one off. Icelandic music left its fingerprint on the international scene a long time ago, and continues to do so today.
The Made In Iceland project provides a window onto the latest music releases and internationally active projects from Iceland.
Dikta "Just getting started"
The four members of indie-rock band Dikta - Haukur, Skúli and the two Jóns - have been friends since early childhood. After forming the band in 1999, they soon gained a large following for their unique, heavy yet soulful haunting sound. In 2006, Dikta released their second album, Hunting For Happiness on the Sugarcubes-owned label Smekkleysa/Bad Taste. Produced by Ace of the recently reunited UK band Skunk Anansie, it quickly became one of Iceland's best selling rock albums, with three of its singles reaching the top of the charts.
Their performance at Iceland Airwaves in front of a packed venue earned them a write up in Rolling Stone magazine, and after hitting the local venues for a year, Dikta headed out to play clubs in London, Copenhagen, Los Angeles and New York, where they shared stages with bands like We Are Scientists, Ra Ra Riot, CSS and Vampire Weekend, and quickly became known for their powerful, yet intimate live shows. Dikta is currently recording material for their self-produced third album, due out later this year.
Contact: Management, Maike Both – firstname.lastname@example.org
Lay Low "Last time around"
Iceland's bluesiest chanteuse Lovísa Elísabet Sigrúnardóttir - a.k.a. Lay Low - is ready with a new album. After setting worlds ablaze and topping the Icelandic charts with her 2006 debut Please Don't Hate Me, the unassuming starlet is back with a new record that continues her forays into traditional blues and country sounds. Recorded at Toe Rag Studios in London with producer Liam Watson (White Stripes & Pete Molinari), the new record is titled Farewell Good Night's Sleep, and features musicians such as Carwyn Ellis, Ed Turner, Rupert Brown, Matt Radford, Jason Wilson and BJ Cole.
Contact: Manager, Kári Sturluson – email@example.com
Bob Justman "Alone Tonight"
Bob Justman is one of many monikers for producer, DJ and self-taught multi-instrumentalist Kristinn Gunnar Blöndal, who has been a prominent figure in the Icelandic music scene for the past decade or so. The song featured on this compilation is taken from his debut solo album Happiness & Woe, and is heavily influenced by the rough, dirty and drunken aspects of the southern Americana music tradition. Happiness & Woe was released in mid-January this year. Comprised of twelve tracks, ranging from gritty blues to torch songs to cinematic instrumentals, the album has gotten excellent reviews in the Icelandic press. Produced by Gunnar Örn Tynes of múm, it features many a guest musician and various odd instruments, including the only fireable cannon in Iceland and the bells of Reykjavik’s Cathedral, Hallgrímskrikja. The album is released in Iceland on the Bad Taste label.
Contact: Manager, Jón Trausti Sigurðarson– firstname.lastname@example.org Jeff Who? "Congratulations"
Jeff Who? is a five piece rock band from Reykjavík, known for their catchy tunes and classic good looks. Their sophisticated modern sound, influenced by ’70 rock and ’80 pop, has gradually paved its way into Iceland’s music scene. Death Before Disco, their debut album, was released in 2005 earning them a steady following and an opening slot for Franz Ferdinand. In late 2008, the band released the self-titled album, Jeff Who?. With punchier beats and string arrangements from Anton Patzner (of Bright Eyes fame) their sound was bigger and edgier than before. The album got great reviews from the local press and was nominated as the album of the year at the 2009 Icelandic Music Awards.
Contact: Band contact, Elís Pétursson – email@example.com
Gus Gus "Moss"
Gus Gus originally spawned from a short film made by Siggi Kjartansson and Stefán Árni (a.k.a. Árni & Kinski) called Pleasure. Initially the band was acclaimed as an avant-garde collective of musicians, producers, filmmakers and performers. They mixed together different mediums to create a unique mixture of sound and vision. Their trademark style is combined with funky bass, streamlined synths and the intelligent use of technology and art.
The GusGus of today (and the future) is a three-piece techno-band consisting of the producers Veiran and President Bongo and singer Daníel Ágúst who’s back full time after being quite absent. Their sixth album, 24/7, is wrapped up and ready and will see the light of day in June. The album will be released internationally as other releases. Their prior releases have been released and distributed all around the world by labels like 4AD, Warner, Moonshine, Gung Ho!, Great Stuff and their very own Pineapple Records.
Contact: Sebastian Bohnenberger: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dísa is a 21-year-old singer/songwriter who released her debut album in the summer of 2008. The project was developed over the last two years with a number of different collaborators such as Cameron McVie, Mark Ronson and Shelly Poole. The final result, however, is very much her own distinctive writing and performing style, produced by a couple of Icelandic names such as Barði Jóhannsson, Ragnhildur Gísladóttir and Anglo-American Sam Frank. Disa’s debut album features her distinctively personal, slightly avant-garde yet melodic pop approach, embellished with a unique postmodern production style. The album received top reviews from every newspaper and music magazine in Iceland and the two album singles Anniversary and Temptation have already hit the top of the Icelandic charts.
Contact: Bryndís Jakobsdóttir – email@example.comMammút "Svefnsýkt"
Only a couple of months after their formation Mammút won the Icelandic Battle of the Bands, armed with only three songs in total. The band members - two boys and three girls - were mere babies then (14 - 16) and not prepared for such a thing. But they didn't give up: oh no! Two years and loads of gigs later their eponymous debut album was released through Iceland's legendary Smekkleysa record label. Then in 2006 Mammút played a breakthrough gig at the Iceland Airwaves festival, which led to David Fricke from Rolling Stone magazine writing about them and calling them "a really good band". In 2008 the band released their second album, Karkari, to great response.
Mammút have played several festivals around the globe including SXSW in Texas and In The City in Manchester, as well as supporting Belgian rockers dEUS both in Iceland and Germany. Three of Mammút's song have hit #1 at the hit list on radio station X-ið 977 - Iceland's only rock station. Now the band are fresh and energetic and ready to ride the world like a big fat horse!
Contact: Arnar Pétursson - firstname.lastname@example.org
Retro Stefson "Montana"
Retro Stefson are one of the most popular up and coming bands in Iceland right now. Having formed in 2005 at the behest of youth workers (Bóas from Reykjavík! and Árni from FM Belfast) from the school they went to (the members were then only 13 – 15 years old), the band have performed at countless clubs, festivals and showcases and have gathered a big following in the independent Icelandic music scene. It’s not easy to put Retro Stefson into any kind of musical genre. They try to take their music to a new landscape that none of their countrymen in Iceland have been before. It’s pop and rock, disco and ska, and God knows what.
Retro Stefson are first and foremost a live band you simply have to experience! Their first album Montaña was released by Kimi Records in Iceland late last year and received rave reviews. “If Retro Stefson was an animal it would be a mixture of a squirrel and a lizard and a baby chimp. In other words a lemur, with some lizard in it.” - Retro Stefson
Contact: Kimi Records - email@example.com
Ghostigital "Hovering Hoover Skates"
It seems that when Einar Örn enlists another artist to work with him, it’s like collaborating with the Cubists, or the Dadaists in musical form. His partner in this case, with the movement named Ghostigital, is Curver. Welcome! You’re really in for a fantastic treat. While their genre-mashing debut In Cod We Trust pulls the aesthetic rug out from under a listener’s expectations, one should not fear that they are lost in a pop music sea. Ghostigital fashions an aural forest of industrial, Bel Canto, Jazz, Rap, ‘80’s New Wave, and Electronic music – just not necessarily in that order or only at one time.
As well as In Cod We Trust, Ghostigital have released a live album - Radium - another live recording called Sirkus Requiem and have also composed the ambient project Aero, along with collaborators Finnbogi Pétursson and Skúli Sverrisson. Hovering Hoover Skates is taken from their new and forthcoming yet un-named record to be released in 2009.
Sprengjuhöllin "Worry 'Till Spring"
Sprengjuhöllin is an indie-pop group from Reykjavik founded in 2005. The band has already seen much success in its home country. After having monopolized the top spot of the official Icelandic singles chart for a total of 27 weeks in 2007, the band released the best-selling and critically lauded Tímarnir okkar (Our Times) and became a household name in Iceland. The following year the band released the ambitious Bestu kveðjur (Best Regards), which has nearly gone gold in Iceland and spawned two successful singles so far.
Worry Till Spring was originally a self-released single that later appeared on Tímarnir okkar. An Icelandic version of the song was the most popular song of 2007 in Iceland and spent ten weeks at the top of the charts. The song is a simple melancholic statement of lost love with a vital twist of hope. A true pop ballad for those heart-wrenching O.C.-moments. www.myspace.com/sprengjuhollin
Contact: Jón Trausti Sigurðarson - firstname.lastname@example.org
Sin Fang Bous "Catch The Light"
Welcome to the Wunderkammer. Sin Fang Bous is a project by Sindri Már Sigfússon from Reykjavik, who also founded the band Seabear. While Seabear focuses on folky music, Sin Fang Bous is Sindri‘s playground for his more experimental songs. Sigfússon took his time; he let time blow through the tracks: gravitation processes, drifts and accumulations. The result is Clangour: what began as a miniature – a voice, a guitar – changed its textures and re-colored its leaves. Reduced to the max and equally concentrated to its essence, the songs, sounds and samples are crystal clear and yet able to raise a storm.
Released on Morr Music in February 2009 the album has received comparisons to likeminded bands such as Animal Collective, Caribou, Deerhunter and Panda Bear. Sin Fang Bous will be touring Europe in May and June 2009 accompanied by their labelmates Borko and It’s A Musical.
Contact: Manager, Thomas Morr – email@example.com
Skakkamanage "Smell You Later"
During the cold winter of 2003, husband and wife Svavar and Berglind went to Berlin on holiday. On ice cold feet they rambled into a small shop packed with instruments and out they walked with a guitar and a keyboard. When they came back to Iceland the couple sat down with their friend Tony and offered him a position on drums. Soon more friends entered the band. Now, six years, two albums and a 7" later, the band has released their excellent album All Over The Face, which listeners and critics are drooling over.
Skakkamanage goes all over the place on All Over the Face, veering from bittersweet ballads to guitar driven noise-rock and quirky pop songs. And the overall sound is so thick and juicy that you could easily feast on it. The outcome is a personal, revealing and fun album that has a deep impact on those who care to listen. The band are happy to introduce Smell You Later, a song about love in a sock drawer.
Contact: Svavar Pétur Eysteinsson– firstname.lastname@example.org
Elíza "Empire Fall"
Best known as the former lead singer of the band Bellatrix, Elíza Geirsdottir Newman released her debut solo album Empire Fall in 2008. Empire Fall is written and arranged by Elíza and was released to critical acclaim in Britain and Iceland, followed by a double A-side single in March 2008. Eliza has been building up a buzz around the album with sell out shows in London and appearances at the Iceland Airwaves festival as well as supporting bands such as The Duke Spirit.
Elíza was just a teen when she formed the punk-rock outfit Bellatrix/Kolrassa Krókríðandi who earned the tag of hottest bands to come out of Iceland, releasing albums on The Sugarcubes’ Bad Taste label as well as Fierce Panda, and co-headlining a UK tour with Coldplay. The media focus was unrelenting, and after headlining the Carling Stage at the Reading Festival, Elíza took time out to embark on an intense course of study in operatic arts in London. With Empire Fall Elíza is back to weave us into her inner world again, full of raw beauty and secret landscapes.
Contact: Lavaland Records– email@example.com
Vicky is a rock band composed of five young people - four girls and one drummer-boy. The music is not easily defined: some want to call them punk rockers, others indie poppers, but Pichforkmedia might have described it best as "pop-metal". By a twist of fate and a strange turn of events they started jamming one night in downtown Reykjavik late 2006 and since then they've been playing almost non-stop. In May 2008 they first played outside of Iceland when they traveled to China to play at MIDI-festival in Beijing. In September Vicky was invited to Play:stl festival in St. Louis, US, and went back again this February. In October 2008, during Iceland Airwaves, the band released their debut album, Pull Hard which has received good responses from critics and listeners. Their first single, Blizzard got a great response from Icelandic rockers and was selected as one of the best songs of 2008. Vicky is now working on tracks for their next album and planning a US tour for June this year.
Contact: Ásgeir Guðmundsson – firstname.lastname@example.org
Hatched in a dim lit attic in Reykjavík at the dawn of 2006, Rökkurró's five founding members began conversing in smooth tones, drawing inspiration from the silky sunrays that crept through the windows. With slow, carefully constructed songs that verge towards silence with their captivating atmospheres and ethereal vocals they instantly carved their niche in the already saturated Reykjavík music scene. A self-released four track EP hit the streets only six months after they had formed and this EP, along with a powerful performance on one of the off-venue shows at Iceland Airwaves 2006, landed them a record deal with local label 12 Tónar. Rökkurró's debut album Það kólnar í kvöld... (It get's colder tonight) was released in Iceland in November 2007. It was then released in Germany and surrounding countries in the spring of 2008 and Japan in October 2008. Rökkurró have their first headlining European tour coming up in March/April and have begun writing new material for the next album, which hopefully will be released in the fall of 2009.
Contact: Árni Þór Árnason– email@example.com
Ragnar Sólberg "Fairy Tale"
At the age of 22, Ragnar Sólberg has released an incredible six albums. He dropped his debut at only 11-years-old and has since led the rock band Sign, who have released four albums. Singing in English on the last two albums opened up an international market for this hard rock band with touring opportunities all over Europe and an opening slot on the main stage at Download Festival in 2008. Between Sign tours, Ragnar Sólberg recorded his second solo album The Circle in his own studio.
The Circle is a heartfelt album about love and death where Solberg goes on a journey to deal with the strongest emotions he has experienced: the death of his father and finding deep love. Sólberg has redefined himself as a singer/songwriter and proves that he has learned a trick or two since his debut. Haunting piano melodies, catchy choruses and beautiful melodies, The Circle also sees him playing all the instruments himself. The album includes ten original songs and a cover from Bloodrock, an American 70’s rock band.
Contact: Manager Gis von Ice – firstname.lastname@example.org
Singapore Sling "Martian Arts"
Singapore Sling take their name from the "dark, sick and perverse" Greek cult film by Nikos Nikolaidis. This is also something that can be said about this Icelandic band’s music, although you could of course say something else. Often mistaken for a shoegazer band, Singapore Sling are actually more about rock´n´roll - yes, the cool and dark kind. Sometimes mistaken for a Goth band, to the band's amusement, Singapore Sling dwell in the dark but more by default than anything else. Their favorite bands are The Cramps, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Suicide and Spacemen 3. And in the debate over "Beatles or Stones" they’ll reply "Velvet Underground".
Their debut album The Curse of Singapore Sling was released in 2002, and since they have released three LPs and a compilation. The single Martian Arts is taken from their latest record Perversity, Desperation and Death, which will be released in most decent places in spring 2009.
Contact: Einar Kristjánsson– email@example.com
For a Minor Reflection "Ókyrrð"
For a Minor reflection is comprised of four 19-year-olds. Their music is best described as energetic, melodious post-rock, though being the natural creative visionaries they are, the band expand and even subvert their style with almost every song. Their self-produced debut album Reistu þig við, sólin er komin á loft..., is a mesmerizing, hour-long tapestry featuring six songs and recorded over a weekend in Iceland. The record, as well as their energetic live shows, earned them a slew of accolades, including favorable comparisons to Explosions in the Sky. Their fellow Icelanders Sigur Rós even described them as “a band with the potential to out Mogwai” and invited FaMR on a 15 dates European tour with them.
FaMR have been busy wow-ing festival crowds at events like Holland’s EurosSonic (Feb, 2009), where leading UK journal Music Week described their performance as “ethereal, melody-soaked music with international appeal.” It’s hence with a ‘buzz in their ears’ that FaMR head back in the studio to work on new songs for a second album. If things go the way they have been, 2009 looks to be FaMR’s most kick-ass year yet.
Contact: Manager Gis von Ice – firstname.lastname@example.org