Ever since the first festival in 1999, Iceland Airwaves has become one of the premier showcases for new music in Iceland, whether in terms of local or international acts. Famous for its intimacy and debauchery, the festival sees a slew of artists performing at various venues around downtown Reykjavík. This year, local artists include Eurovision bad boys Hatari, dream-pop trio Vök, and trapper Aron Can. As far as visiting artists are concerned, What’s On has culled a handful of notable acts, which are definitely worth seeing, below.
Iceland Airwaves will be held between November 6th and November 9th, 2019.
The 29-year old Canadian singer-songwriter Mac DeMarco has released six full-length albums. His first album, Rock and Roll Night Club, released in 2012, was recorded in his Montreal-based studio Jizz Jazz and received generally favourable reviews. It was DeMarco’s junior album, Salad Days, however, which won the hearts of critics and listeners alike. Iceland Review recommends Chamber of Reflection, the ninth song on Salad Days, which is smooth, dreamy, hypnotic (coincidentally DeMarco’s most popular song on Spotify). The Canadian is inspired by the likes of Shuggie Otis, Genesis, Sting, and Weezer (his favourite artist is Haruomi Hosono). DeMarco generally appears alongside four backing band members and is known for his charming on-stage persona.
Anna of the North
While Iceland Airwaves usually showcases up-and-coming talent, established acts are also a mainstay of the festival. This year, Anna of the North is without a doubt one of the biggest names to grace the festival’s marquee. Born Anna Lotterud, in 1991, AOTN is an Oslo-based Norwegian singer-songwriter from Gjøvik. She released her debut single Sway in 2014. The song became an immediate internet hit and subsequently landed her a record deal with the US label Honeymoon. AOTN released her debut album, Lovers, in 2017 (the eponymous title track is lovely). Dream Girl is a good song, as well.
Cautious Clay is the alias of American singer, songwriter, and record producer Joshua Karpeh. Born in 1993 in Cleveland, Ohio, Cautious Clay graduated with a degree in International Affairs from George Washington University and was employed as a real-estate agent in New York City (he also worked in advertising) for two years before pursuing music full-time. A multi-instrumentalist, Clay plays the saxophone, flute, guitar, bass, keyboard, and drums. His debut EP, Blood Type, was released on February 21st. The album contains Clay’s most popular song to date, Cold War, which Taylor Swift samples on her seventh studio album, Lover.
Stréliski is a Canadian neoclassical composer who released her debut album, Pianoscope, in 2010. Her songs have appeared in several films and TV shows, most notably by Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallée: Dallas Buyers Club, Demolition, Big Little Lies, Sharp Objects, e.g. Stréliski’s sophomore album, Inscape, was released last year and was the number one classical album on Apple Music at the end of 2018. Iceland Review recommends the songs Plus tôt and Berceuse. They’re hauntingly beautiful.
Tenfjord is a 22-year old Greek-Norwegian singer-songwriter. Punning on the title of her debut single, Andrew Hannah of The Line of Best Fit, said that she had made a “huge first impression” in 2018. Her foray into music began in early childhood, starting with piano and vocal lessons. At 16, she started writing her own music. Tenfjord has yet to release an album, but the singles that she has released are catchy. It may be too facile of a comparison, but Tenfjord’s music bears some semblance to the synth-driven pop music of her compatriot Sigrid.