Tag Archives: KEXP

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.

Gazing back to the future

Artist: Oyama | Event: KEXP session

KEXP is an all listener-supported music radio station in Seattle. More than 200,000 listeners from around the world tune in to the station each week over the air and online. They have broadcasted from the Iceland Airwaves Music Festival in Reykjavik for many years and their involvement in the festival has brought attention to relatively unknown acts such as Of Monsters and Men, Asgeir, and Soley. Recently they released songs from a live session with Oyama during Iceland Airwaves 2013. And what treat it is.

Oyama is recording their debut LP right now. Their debut EP I wanna (shop)! revealed the bands talent for nineties influenced shoegazing pop with a surprisingly fresh approach. It’s obvious that Oyama are heavily influenced by My Bloody Valentine, but also that the band has an original and distinct sense of melody and variation within the framework of their sound. The lovely vocals of Júlia and Úlfur are drenched into the music and their voices blend wonderfully together. But we also adore Kári’s and Úlfurs guitar sounds – shimmering, swirling in a way we almost forgot was possible. Not to mention the resolute backbone provided by the rhythm section, Bergur and Rúnar. They thunder away at a slow-ish tempo, like a heartbeat, helping to emphasise the songs’ soaring qualities.

Last year My Bloody Valentine released their third album m b l (twenty-two years after their classic Loveless!) to much critical acclaim. Now Oyama are reviving the same musical concept in their own way. So maybe it’s really time for a big comeback of the shoegazers – who would have thought that?

Icytopics Interview: bird

“I already have enough material to put on at least three full-length albums…”, Jón Valur Guðmundsson

A fantastic voice appeared online. Seemingly out of nowhere. The melancholy but catchy pop song had verses built around a minimalistic synthesizer loop. The beautiful and ethereal refrain urged us to “go back”. And we sure did. Go Back by Bird has been playing on repeat ever since. After some research we found out that this was the first solo-release from Bird or Jón Valur Guðmundsson, a 26-year-old singer/songwriter from Iceland. But we wanted to find out more. The result: Icytopics first interview ever…

Thanks for a great song. I discovered Bird via Hjálmar’s Facebook page, but can’t find much information about you. What is Bird? 

“Bird is basically just a one-man project, for now. I play several instruments and I play all the music myself. I’ve played different instruments in many bands through the years from a very young age. Between projects I found that I have written so many songs now that I just have to get them out of my system before they turn to dust. The name Bird comes from my second name, Valur, which in direct English translates as gyrfalcon – a type of bird. I’ve always been very fond of birds as symbols when I think about it. I even have two older brothers that are also named after birds of prey.”

What are your plans for the project?

“My plan was to just start with this one single, Go Back, and see how things developed. I’m planning to work further on my first solo album this year. I already have enough material to put on at least three full-length albums, so now I’m taking some time to carefully choose and re-arrange some of the songs that might be best fitting for this project. By the beginning of summer, I hope to have put together a band to back me up live and start playing some shows. I don’t plan on releasing the album until probably late this year or early 2015, if it all falls into place.”

You played drums in Who Knew, a fantastically talented band. What happened with that?

“Who Knew ended so suddenly for all of us; like a band-aid that was ripped off. It was so quick and quiet that I sometimes feel as if the whole thing was just a lucid dream. I think our last gig was at Iceland Airwaves 2012, for the KEXP radio station, without us even realizing it. Thankfully, that moment was recorded and can be found online for everyone to see. At that time we just had finished two or three years of traveling and touring and soon after Airwaves a couple of the guys in the band wanted to take a step back and leave the music scene, for a while at least. The rest of us gave it a bit of time, to let everyone finish school, and allowed our minds to wonder off a bit. We always thought we would just start playing again but that was somehow harder than we thought, so we just went our separate ways. But we are all still very good friends and meet up regularly. So that was that, really.” •