Category Archives: Live

Catch Sóley live this summer

Artist: Sóley | Song: Halloween

Sóley (Sóley Stefánsdóttir) is an Icelandic singer-songwriter, pianist and 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 was followed by her first full-length album We Sink. 

Sóley is playing two festivals this summer– Rauðasandur Festival and ATP Iceland. This song is called Halloween from her upcoming album and this was the very first time she performed it live. It was recorded for KEXP at Iceland Airwaves last year.

Icelandic 13th century hymn grows viral

The band Árstíðir was in a train station in Wuppertal, Germany, and decided to break into song. They sang a 13th century Icelandic hymn whose title translates to Hear, Heavenly Creator. They took full advantage of the buildings echoes and acoustics and it was all caught on tape.

The quartet published the video of the improvised performance back in September 2013. Just a month after the initial upload, it had more than 215,000 views. About 9 months later, the video is still gaining a lot of popularity online and has almost 2.8 million hits.

Daníel Auðunsson, Gunnar Már Jakobsson, Karl James Pestka, and Ragnar Ólafsson comprise Árstíðir, which is slated to release its third studio album this September.

Heyr, himna smiður (Hear, Heavenly Creator)

Listen, smith of the heavens,
what the poet asks.
May softly come unto me
your mercy.
So I call on thee,
for you have created me.
I am thy slave,
you are my Lord.

God, I call on thee to heal me.
Remember me, mild one, (or mild king)
Most we need thee.
Drive out, O king of suns,
generous and great,
every human sorrow
from the city of the heart.

Watch over me, mild one,
Most we need thee,
truly every moment
in the world of men.
send us, son of the virgin,
good causes,
all aid is from thee,
in my heart.

– Kolbeinn Tumason (1173–1208)

New live video from Emilíana Torrini

Last year Iceland’s very own Emilíana Torrini released the album Tookah. Torrini has participated in a wide variety of projects, including writing and recording music for Lord of the Rings, and co-writing with Kylie Minogue. Her first album Me and Armini was well recevied around the world and especially the hit Jungle Drum which for example topped the German chart for 9 weeks. Tookah is a bit of a departure from the energetic Me and Armini. Where Me and Armini was upbeat and catchy, Tookah is quiet and introspective. Much of the music here is pastoral electronica, rooted in atmospheric and evocative folksy melodies framed by either bubbling percussive beats or dark whining synths.

Watch an intimate and more acoustic performance of her new material, live from Kex Hostel during the Iceland Airwaves Music Festival last year. The footage was released only yesterday, and you can find the full performance on YouTube.

Reggae kings celebrate ten years with new song

Artist: Hjálmar | Song: Lof

Hugely respected, admired and loved. Hjálmar have until been one of Iceland’s best kept secrets. At home they are the great reggae kings, mixing the sounds of Jamaica with the sounds of Iceland creating a unique blend of warm, old-school reggae, sung entirely in Icelandic (so called lopapeysu-reggae = wool sweater reggae). The band consists of accomplished musicians who eagerly embrace the challenge of experimenting, while still maintaining the rehearsed, syncopated reggae grooves. 

Hjámars live performances are extremely tight, energetic, colorful and at the same time relaxed. Which is proved in this video filmed in the studio when Hjálmar recorded the brand new song Lof (Praise) in honor of the bands tenth anniversary this year.  If you like this as much as we do, then we have good news for you: Hjálmar plan to release another new song on July 1 – the International Reggae Day .

Myndra: Frenchy and folksy new band


Artist: Myndra | Album: Songs From Your Collarbone

Formed in the streets of Reykjavik, Myndra is the meeting of Icelandic singer-songwriter Linus Orri,  multi-instrumentalist Antoine Létourneau-Berger and violinist Raphael Arsenault.  Linus Orri met his Canadian bandmates in Iceland when they stayed at his home as coach surfers. They have recorded their music in Antoine’s and Raphael’s hometown Rimourski, a small touristic city in the french-speaking Canadian province Quebec. The result is intimate, mellow and atmospheric songs with folk impulses.

Myndra are releasing their album Songs from Your Collarbone at the end of May and will have a release concert in The Nordic House in Reykjavík 7 June. They have already put out some tracks on Soundcloud for your instant listening pleasure:

A sparkling collection of live brilliance

There’s nothing like experiencing music in concert. The relationship between you, a band, and a song are finally at the most intimate, whether you’re in the corner of a bar or on the muddy fields of festival. Join Icytopics as we look at three brilliant live performances that came out on YouTube this week.

The impact of this performance of Jóga by Agent Fresco’s Arnór Dan Arnarson is breathtaking. A classic song from the Björk catalogue with beautiful instrumentation and a voice in top form. Recorded with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra last year.

And here’s a brand new version of King and Lionheart that Of Monsters and Men did live at the Stopp – Let’s Protect the Park fundraiser in Reykjavík in March. Toned down, fragile, intimate.

And finally: Eivør, a songwriter from the Faroe Islands (but she has lived in Iceland for a couple of years!) with a little gem we couldn’t resist; An acoustic live recording of True love, performed under a weeping willow in Hannover for LaMosiqa One Shot Sessions.

Icelandic hip hop is alive and kicking

There are those who claim that hiphop lives in the experiences and lives of the poor and the oppressed. Well, Iceland has had a thriving hip hop scene since the early ’90s. How is that possible when everything is so pleasant? For instance, recent studies show that:

1) Iceland is the most peaceful country for the third year in a row.

2) Iceland performs well in many measures of well-being and ranks among the top countries in the OECD Better Life Index.

3)  Women are more equal to men in Iceland than anywhere else in the world.

So it seems that since World War II everything has been pretty calm on the Icelandic shores. That may be true, but that hasn’t stop hip hop from spreading like a decease. And right now it seems to be more contagious than ever. Here are some examples:

Cell7 is quickly becoming recognised as one of the most engaging and talented rappers in Iceland. Her career as an MC has progressed steadily until the recent release of her awesome debut album CELLF.

Shades of Reykjavik recently premiered their new video Kóngalif (A Kings Life)The release party was held in the infamous, self-governed squat community Christiania in Copenhagen (where cannabis is sold freely in the streets). That doesn’t make Shades of Reykjavik look any less like wannabe gangster rappers from a very safe Nordic neighborhood, hanging around in the local mall.

Úlfur Kolka is a MC/producer from Vesturbær, Iceland. Currently living in Inglewood, California.  He just released his new album Borg­ara­leg Óhlýðni (Civil Disobedience), which is his first record made entirely in Icelandic. And it’s the first political rap record ever made in the country´s music history – at least according to himself.

One of Iceland’s best known hip hop artists, Emmsjé Gauti will be playing on the Secret Solstice festival. Nýju Fötin Keisarans (The Emperor’s New Clothes) comes from his latest album Þeyr.

Quarashi was the first rap act to find major success in Iceland and  overseas. Their music was heard in TV shows and movies like 2 Fast 2 Furious, Smallville, Death Race 2 and The Mechanic. This summer they are reuniting at the Þjóðhátið music festival in Vestmannaeyjar for the national holiday weekend Verslunarmannahelgin.