this lot are killing the icelandic music scene
The next generation of icy hip-hop and Björk-approved magic; here’s what we discovered at Sónar Reykjavik.
Did you know that Sónar had an Icelandic outpost? Best known for their Barcelona event in June, they also party with Istanbul in March, Hong Kong in April, and, well, Reykjavik last weekend. Sónar Reykjavik is pretty intimate, hosting local and international artists entirely within Harpa, the impressive concert hall on the city's harbour. Having introduced you to key players in the Icelandic hip-hop scene back in 2015, and then made a film about it in 2016, we figured it was about time for the next instalment of talent. Not just hip-hop, these are the young Icelandic artists we discovered at Sónar Reykjavik 2017.
Johanna and Salka are core members of mega feminist rap collective Reykjavikurdaetur. This is their second project. Named after a lipstick colour they both had when they became best friends at 16, CYBER have already put out two great EPs and fully impressed us with their set at Sónar. These Aspen Barbies are super nice and really, really fun. Great merch too.
Alvia makes minimal ethereal trap inspired by the moon and dropped her debut album Bubblegum Bitch last year. With a look somewhere between 90s Gwen Stefani and Cyberdog, she skipped around the Sónar stage, throwing packets of Hubba Bubba out to her Gum Gum Clan out in the crowd.
Teen rap dream Aron Can took over the scene in 2016 with instant hit Eginn Morall aka No Shame. Walking through the city in a purple haze, his visuals are lo-fi and, like one YouTube commenter declared, "I don't know what the fuck he's saying but sounds great lol."
Now, this is probably more what you'd expect from a list of Icelandic music. "I became obsessed with her band Samaris a few years ago," said Björk of young front woman Jofriður Akadottir when sharing her inspirations with the Guardian last year. Jofriður is also known for Pascal Pinon, the band she started aged 14 with her twin sister, as well as mysterious electronic group GANGLY, and her new solo project JFDR. Jofriður is a real talent.
HRNNR & Smjorvi
These kids seem to be big fans of fellow Icelander, GKR. Lo-fi visuals and auto-tuned vocals are essential elements, paired up with the sort of energy that only 16-year-olds on a wild musical mission have. Their tween trap party of a Sónar set culminated in a stage invasion, lightsaber fight and members riding across the stage on a children's toy car. They wore silky kimonos throughout and the whole thing ended with a gunshot on the track.
OMG, vintage clothes, ice cream and graphic swimsuits! It seems that this Icelandic pop princess has a lot in common with pop princesses the world over. The video for her most successful track, No Lie, is all shiny happy and features a dance routine on a basketball court. Last Friday night we caught her live for the first time, performing in a baby pink tracksuit, on a blow-up pink chair, in front of pink glitter letters spelling out her name. She just posted a picture of herself at Universal's West London HQ, which suggests that we'll be seeing a lot more of her soon.
The whole of Auður's visual album, Alone, was shot in an abandoned power plant on the outskirts of Reykjavik - in one take. Spacey projections in changing colours dance around the Icelander, who was previously in hardcore bands and only turned to R&B a few years ago after witnessing James Blake perform at Sónar. He's got the moves.
Shades of Reykjavik
While the hook sounds suspiciously like they're saying "ass so fake," apparently the Shades of Reykjavik are talking about having lots of money. The collective have been around since 2011 and people seem to love them despite one member actually sounding quite evil when he raps.
Sigrún played on Björk's Volta tour when she was still in school. Then came a tour with Sigur Rós. Then Florence and the Machine. In between she studied composition and now makes experimental, industrial music layered with abstract harmonies. With two EPs Hringsja and Tog already released, she performs live with a band and Sónar was their fourth ever show. Great job, SiGRÚN!