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(Ice)land of Music: discovering Icelandic music

While Iceland may have few inhabitants, there are many Icelandic artists popular in Europe and around the world. In Reykjavik, in the CD shop 12 tonar, you can discover much lesser known Icelandic artists.

The most famous artists are Björk and Sigur Ros, but the Icelandic musical landscape is very rich so these two groups are not the only ones that exist, although their CDs are sold in the various tourist offices in the capital. Here's a personal, non-exhaustive, selection of groups to listen to, or to play as a soundtrack to a road trip through Iceland.

The most famous artists...

The most famous Icelandic woman is Björk. She produced her first eponymous album at the age of 12, then at 18 performed in a group which 3 years later would become The Sugarcubes, the most well-known Icelandic group in the world at the time. In 1993, a year after the group separated, Björk started her solo career with success, as we all know. Her latest video, Black Lake is also filmed in Iceland.

The post rock group Sigur Ros was formed in 1994. The lyrics, when there are some, can be in Icelandic, in Vonlenska (a language invented by the singer which sounds like Icelandic) or from time to time in English. Several videos have been filmed in Iceland, such as Glosoli for example, as well as the DVD Heima. The group also appeared in Game of Throne (season 4) playing Rains of Castamere.

... and many others 

Múm is an experimental music group, mixing electro sounds and traditional instruments, which was formed in 1997. Green Grass of Tunnel comes from their second album.

Bang Gang is a group with various influences, led by Bardi Johannson, sometimes with electro tendencies. An album together with Keren Ann was recorded under the name Lady and Bird. The video Out of Horizon came out in March 2015.

Recently, the indie folk group Of Monsters and Men has made itself known with the single Little Talks. In 2013 they were part of the Hunger Games: Catching Fire original soundtrack with an unreleased track, Silhouette.

Among 20 years old, Asgeir released his electro folk album In the Silence in the UK. The video King and Cross was also filmed in Iceland. 

If you want to listen to more, here are some other names: Amiina (string quartet), Gusgus et FM Belfast (electro) , Svartidauði (metal), Skálmöld (Viking metal, folk metal), Hjaltalín (indie), Eberg (electro pop), For a Minor Reflection (post rock) and many more.

An Icelandic festival

If you like music and festivals, every year in October Iceland Airwaves takes place in Reykjavik and assembles both Icelandic and international groups. Concerts take place all around the city, even at the Blue Lagoon! So if you have the chance to visit at that time, don't hesitate! In 2015, Björk was announced as a headliner.

Marielle Awad
62 contributions
Updated 24 March 2016

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