The Icelandic Indie Invasion

Back in the 60s, North America was beginning to experience new and revolutionary kinds of music. From the Beatles to the Animals, to the Who, the British music scene made its way to the continent with fervor and vigor. This mass musical migration was dubbed the British Invasion. There now seems to be a new country slowly invading the indie music scene in our continent, the small 320 000 person nation of Iceland.

Though this country might have about 63 and a half million fewer people than the UK, do not let its small stature deceive you, for what it lacks in population it makes up in musical talent!

For a while, the only artist that most people knew coming out of Iceland was probably Bjork (and maybe Sigur Ross). Her unique and celestial voice earned her a lot of fame in North America and she was named one of the 100 greatest songwriters of all time by the Rolling Stone.

In 2011, with the release of their first album My Head is an Animal however, Of Monsters and Men began to change the singular image of the Icelandic music scene into one that was based around indie folk rock with hits like Mountain Sound and Little Talks.

Now, following Of Monsters and Men, new artists have hit the indie scene with unique and passionate tracks that have begun to make headway into North America.

One such artist worth noting is Junius Meyvant. His soothing sounds and soulful voice is reminiscent of some sort of modern Motown. It’s a funky brand of indie folk with mellow head-bopping melodies.

The sounds of his newest album Floating Harmonies are both simple and complex and are full of rich instrumentals and tight rhythms in each track. Below are two of the songs I’ve selected from the album.

Hailslide from Meyvant’s new album

Neon Experience 

Another artist from Iceland who has gained more acclaim than most these days is Ásgeir, based in Reykjavik. Only 24, Ásgeir has already gained global acclaim, having had hits on worldwide charts. His melodic folk pop, is similar to Meyvant’s but is more sombre.

Instead of choosing one of Ásgeir’s originial songs, I have selected a cover of a Nirvana song to showcase his versatility. This version is chilling and powerful and might even shake Cobain himself.

Cover of Heart-Shaped Box originally by Nirvana

A few months ago, a friend of mine went to Iceland and picked up a record on vinyl for me,  Lay Low‘s Talking About the Weather. Lovísa Elísabet Sigrúnardóttir, known by her stage name Lay Low has actually been around since 2006.

Although I have been trying to avoid the comparison, her voice is reminiscent of Bjork, the pitch and tone specifically. The music from this album is calming, something you’d listen to while it’s raining outside but it can also be sombre and serious and exudes several complex emotions.

One of Those Nights from Talking About the Weather  

The beauty of these Icelandic artists and their music scene is that it’s mostly experimental and they aren’t afraid to do things their own way. This has been true since Bjork and this is what makes it so interesting and exciting. Reykjavik is a hotbed of great indie music and will be for years to come.

* Featured image of Lay Low via grapevine.is

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