Iceland is a fun place for music fans. Icelandic music is pretty great, in my (obviously impartial) opinion. There is a great wealth of music published in Iceland every year, and music is a big export in Iceland. I’m sure you’ve all heard of famous Icelandic artists like Björk and Sigur Rós. And I decided to put together a little list of other artists I think you might want to look out for if you’re looking for musical souvenirs from your trip to Iceland (or maybe you just want to find these artists online or order their music to familiarize yourself before your visit).
One Bad Day
Obviously I need to start with some blatant self promotion. So I’ll start with my own musical project, One Bad Day.
I’ve been a singer songwriter for over a decade, and I’ve been working on an album for a long time, but for one reason or other it took me a long time to get it done. But I finally did, and I can’t pass up this chance to tell you a bit about my music. And maybe give you a couple of tracks for free.
I like to take that feeling when you’ve indulged too much, drunk dialled your ex and fallen asleep in the bathtub wearing your finest suit, and put it to music. And if you click here you will be taken to my web site where you can get a couple of my songs for free.
If you enjoy artists like Tom Waits, Nick Cave and Neil Young, my music is going to dramatically enhance your life. You’ll have a better appreciation for the world at large, get a better job, meet better people and be at least 20% more productive.
(OK, that might be overselling it a bit, but you get the picture.)
I’ve seen some stuff, man.
I’ve been through the ringer and come out the other side. Well, I suppose we all have stories like that. But the point is I’ve used music to get away from some bad stuff, and in the process I’ve become an award winning songwriter for theater, launched a very successful crowdfunding campaign, gained recognition in my local market and had my songs covered by well known artists, at home and abroad.
It’s a crazy journey.
And you know what, I’d love to have you along on that journey. So head to my web site, put in your name and email address in the form you’ll find there and I’ll send you a couple of songs. Check them out and join me. I have some stories to tell you.
Get your free songs now, and see what you think.
See you on the other side!
A little bit more for the folk music fans. Árstíðir is an indie-folk band with rich vocal harmonies and classical influences. They tend to sound a bit like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, with their classic sound and harmonies, but their sound is anything but dated. The band was formed in 2008 and has played all over the world. They have received awards and accolades in Iceland and Germany.
If you enjoy classic folk music you should not miss out on Árstíðir. You can find their website here, and their albums should be available in most record shops and bookstores in Iceland.
If you like old school blues rock with a modern twist, Kaleo is the band for you. They have been enjoying great success overseas in the past few years, especially in the US. Their 2016 album A/B has sold almost a million copies worldwide. One of the singles from that album, Way Down We Go, has been certified platinum in the US and reached #1 on the Billboard Alternative Chart. Kaleo also received a Grammy nomination in 2017.
Their songs have been featured in motion pictures and video games. Really a great rock band. You can’t miss them if you love blues rock.
Svavar Knútur is one of my favorite singer songwriters. He also happens to be a great friend of mine. He writes soulful, melodic folk music with thoughtful and deep lyrics. A veteran of the Icelandic folk music scene, Svavar Knútur was one of the founders of the Melodica Acoustic Music Festival, an international festival that takes place in multiple cities around the world every year, including Reykjavik. The festival is a great place for international musicians to network with each other, and every year lots of singer songwriters travel all over the world to play Melodica.
It’s time you find out about the best reggae band in Iceland, Hjálmar. If you like reggae, this is the real deal. They sing in Icelandic, which makes for a kind of a beautiful fusion, because the coldness of the Icelandic language and influence blends wonderfully with the heat of the music. Hjálmar are very popular in Iceland, and they have travelled the world with their music as well. They are world class musicians and highly recommended for any reggae fan.
Right, let’s get down to the hard stuff. Skálmöld is one of the most popular heavy metal bands in Iceland, and for good reason. They are a viking metal band that fuses hard black metal and classical sounds with traditional Icelandic poetics. Their studio albums all revolve around norse mythology, and each is a concept album with a single story covered. Their best album, however, in my opinion, is their live album with the Icelandic symphonic orchestra, Skálmöld og sinfó. It has a selection of their best work, performed by the band, the symphony and a giant choir. It is quite frankly amazing, even if you’re not into heavy metal. It’s just such an amazing soundscape, and the traditional and classic fused with the modern is truly a masterpiece.
Eliza Newman is a singer songwriter who originally rose to fame with Icelandic girl band Bellatrix (Kolrassa krókríðandi). She has since forged her path as a solo artist, with great results. Eliza is a unique voice and wonderful songwriter with a flair for melody and atmosphere.
Well, I hope that gives you a few ideas. I also recommend checking out the Reykjavik Grapevine event listing page, to see if any of these artists (or any other great ones) are playing live while you’re here.
This is my sister’s band! And it is absolutely fabulous!
Hórmónar is a feminist punk band with lyrics that really make the lead singer’s brother blush. But it’s wonderful stuff. Hórmónar won the young people’s battle of the bands, Músíktilraunir, in 2016, and have had a huge impact on the music scene in Iceland ever since. If you like vigorous punk rock, you must not miss Hórmónar.
Has this been helpful?
I hope this list has been helpful and has given you some ideas for your visit to Iceland. If you need any information, do not hesitate to get in touch. If this has been useful, I hope you will consider booking your tours, accommodation, flights or activities through this web site. It won’t cost you any extra, I make sure to only list the very best partner companies I can find, and it does help me to run this site and market my tours and activities. I appreciate you and hope you have a great visit in Iceland.