Back in the late ’90s, a fellow Icelandic band decided to follow in Bjork’s footsteps to pursue experimental pop, but they took it to the next level. Múm’s music embodies everything Iceland’s nature projects. It’s cold and glitchy, but bursting with the warmth of hot springs and the intimacy one finds when sitting in them. There are high falsettos that could come from the country’s folklore fairies. There are unconventional string instruments and moving basslines, the type of work that could soundtrack their breezy grasses and massive waterfalls.
Perhaps that’s what encourages them to keep going. Next year, the band turns 20, and they show no signs of stopping. Múm’s own Orvar Þóreyjarson Smárason hopped on Skype to chat with CoS about local acts he vouches for. —Nina Corcoran
01. DJ Flugvel Og Geimskip
The name means DJ Airplane and Spaceship. She is a really interesting artist that I couldn’t compare to anybody. She’s a young girl doing kooky electronics; really special, it doesn’t sound like anything else I’ve heard. Earlier this year, she did an improvisation with Múm where she joined us in playing music to a German silent film.
I think they’re playing Icelandic Airwaves for the first time, but they played one off-venue show last year I think. They’re like a phantom band, so nobody knows who’s in the band, and everyone wants to know who are the members. Some of them are good friends of mine. Describing music is one of the worst things I do, but it’s electronic music with three vocalists that’s beautiful. I can recommend the song “Fuck With Someone Else”, which is the first thing that they put out last year, and I definitely recommend their show.
The name means synthesizer, I think. He’s a genius electronic producer, and he plays quite upbeat, really amazing-sounding electronic music. Live is really fun. He just plays solo, so he’s playing synths, but he’s very animated and lively when he plays. He also plays with a lot of different bands, like FM Belfast.
04. Hogni Egilsson
He’s the singer and songwriter of Hjaltalin. I’m not exactly sure what he’s going to be doing at the festival because he turns into very spontaneous and different things. He used to play with Múm for awhile as well. Usually he plays piano and sings — like expressive ballads, and he has a very beautiful singing voice — in a very expressive way, but you never know what people are going to be doing.
She’s a young singer, but I saw her play at the festival — we were playing with her earlier this summer — and it’s one of the best shows I’ve seen. Hermigervill actually plays in her band as well. It’s like electronic vocal music. She has a deep voice — not in like a low voice, but her voice has so much texture and tender — and she’s a great performer.
06. Kaelan Mikla
That’s a girl band. I played with FM Belfast with them at a heavy metal festival last year. So I saw them play there; they played this really dark, small venue. Best live show I saw last year. They play heavy music, but not heavy metal music at all. But really emotional performers, I would say.
They are a recently formed choir. Most of these people are musicians and are in other bands and play other stuff. They formed around a gallery music space that opened up a couple of years ago called Mengi, and I think this year at Airwaves is their first performance as just a choir. They’re also going to be performing with Múm, to come and sing with us.
08. Mr. Silla
She has a really amazing voice, one of the best singers in the younger generation. She just released a solo album last year. Honestly, the voice itself is enough to go see her.
09. Prins Polo
Prins Polo is an old friend of ours. I used to play with him in a few bands awhile ago, but this is his solo thing. I think most of his songs are in Icelandic, but he’s releasing one song that was released in the US, and I was actually acting in the video for that. It’s in English, but I’m not sure if you’re going to understand a word of it at all because he mumbles. He runs a farm in the East of Iceland now called Heari. They do vegetarian sausages made out of Icelandic products and snacks, like chips, made out of turnip. This food is very popular, and they just recently opened a venue at the farm.
It’s a band, but it’s based around the singer with the same name. I think he has the most beautiful voice in Iceland, right now. Really amazing, deep, soulful voice. So I recommend people checking that out just to hear the voice. It says here on the Airwaves website that it’s electro deep with its roots in Americana, but I don’t think I would describe them like that. I would just describe it as vocal indie pop. Actually no, that’s terrible. I can’t do it. I refuse.
They are a young Icelandic trio. It’s relaxing, smooth, beautiful stuff. Slow tempos, cool vocals. Spacious, but really nice. They won this Battle of the Bands thing in Iceland that happens every year, and it’s quite the big deal. Most bands that win this competition go on to be an active band, like Of Monsters and Men won the same competition, and it’s a great place for Icelandic bands to start. The competition name translates to English as Music Experiment.