Iceland has become one of the most interesting regions for ambient and electronic music; their music scene is known for soft, mellow sounds that often feature piano and strings. We decided to create a playlist dedicated to our favourites from Iceland:
1. Ólafur Arnalds: Lag Fyrir Ömmu
Ólafur Arnalds has quickly risen to become one of the most widely recognised contemporary composers, having had his music featured on the popular TV crime drama, Broadchurch, for which Arnalds won a BAFTA for Best Original Music. Having written some of the most beautiful and emotional music of recent years, 'Lag Fyrir Ömmu' translates to “Song For Grandmother”. He has publicly discussed the influence his grandmother had on his music, most notably as the person who introduced Arnalds to Chopin. Earlier this year Arnalds embarked on The Chopin Project where he recreated some of the composer's music with pianist Sara Alice Ott.
2. Emiliana Torrini: Jungle Drum
Emiliana Torrini's name might not scream “Icelandic” due to her Italian heritage – similarly, her music is also atypical of Iceland, with its more upbeat and poppy features. She is best known for her song Jungle Drum, which peaked at number 1 in several national charts.
3. Seabear: I Sing I Swim
Hailing from Reykjavik, Seabear are a seven-piece indie band, whose music is both peaceful and melancholic. Their distinctively delicate vocals are as atmospheric as they are impactful.
4. Ásgeir Trausti: King and Cross
Performing internationally as just Ásgeir, many in the UK remember Trausti from his appearance on Channel 4's Made In Chelsea. At the age of only 23, he has already worked with the likes of John Grant.
5. múm: Green Grass of Tunnel
Having formed already in 1997, múm's electronic dreampop features recognisably soft, even child-like vocals and multiple instruments. Together these create a unique and floaty soundworld.
6. Björk: Possibly Maybe
Björk is the name that started Iceland's global rise to becoming the musical centre of the North and she has been awarded numerous prizes and acknowledgements for her work. Having just turned 50, her musical career started already in her early teens. Her unique vocals and diverse artistic endeavours set her apart and have deservedly placed her among the most important musicians and icons in the world.
7. Leaves: Breathe
Leaves are an alternative rock band from Reykjavik whose sound is reminiscent of groups like Athlete and Embrace. While their music might not be revolutionary, their sound is interesting and sincere.
8. Of Monsters and Men: Little Talks
The Icelandic band that have received most attention in the last years, Of Monsters and Men are an indie pop/folk band from Keflavik. Their singles and albums have reached top 10 positions in several countries.
9. Árstíðir: Síðasta kveðjan
An Icelandic indie folk band who have recorded both in English and Icelandic, but whose international success can be largely contributed to an a capella performance of an Icelandic hymn at a train station. The YouTube video of the performance has been watched over 4,5 million times making it significantly more viewed than their other videos.
10. Sigur Rós: Sæglópur
Excluding Björk, Sigur Rós are one of the longest-standing names in Iceland's music scene. Their ethereal post-rock sounds feature unique vocals and original soundscapes. Having formed more than two decades ago, the band have just announced a new tour for 2016.