Iceland Airwaves is a one-of-a-kind experience that gathers together fresh talent from its homeland as well as established artists from across the world. This year sees the likes of John Grant, Beach House, Ariel Pink, Perfume Genius and East India Youth taking the reins and thanks to their recent successes, you're more than aware of their talents.

That's why, with our own stage at this year's festivities, we've added some Icelandic acts alongside the more well-known artists that you'll quickly fall in love with. We chatted to some of these acts, so you can get to know them a bit better before the big party.

Here they discuss what the festival can do for the scene in Reykjavik, fond memories of festivals gone by and personal recommendations for who you should be circling on your programme.

The 405 will be taking over Harpa Silfurberg on Friday November 6th with Ariel Pink, Grísalappalísa, Perfume Genius, Hjaltalín and Árstíðir.


Árstíðir

Can you tell us a little bit about the scene in Reykjavik?

The thing that sets the scene in Reykjavík apart from other scenes that we've seen is the constant genre-mixing that is happening. We have every music genre imaginable here, but not enough people to populate them all (the total population of Iceland is 300'000 people), which means every single musician here wears many hats: plays in several bands/projects in different genres. You'll find a heavy metal musician and a jazz musician playing together in a rap band. Classically trained musicians playing doom together with punks and musicians from the electro scene. This climate creates a fertile playground for new exciting music to be born in. Which in my opinion is the reason why we have some much exciting music coming out of Iceland right now.

What kind of opportunities does Iceland Airwaves bring? For you and for Reykjavik?

In one way Airwaves has become almost like a staff party for all the musicians and sound engineers in Iceland. It's the week every year when everybody mingles, meet, play and party like there's no tomorrow. Furthermore it is the time of year when every musician and every band here displays the cream of what they've been up to in the year. It is a chance to do something extra. Something a little bit more spectacular than last time. That's the spirit of Airwaves. Airwaves really brings the best out of us musicians here in Iceland.

Do you have any special memories from previous Airwaves festivals? Who should we be watching this year?

This is the 6th time we play at the Airwaves festival, so a lot of good memories come to mind. But my favourite thing about Airwaves is just the vibe in Reykjavík during the festival. There's this crazy energy in the air. The town is bursting with people and literally everywhere you look there is a great band performing and festivalgoers having a good time.

Agent Fresco is really a band to watch during Airwaves. Also a guy who calls himself Red Barnet, who put out a breathtaking album earlier this year. As far as foreign acts goes I'm really excited to see Father John Misty who has been a favourite of mine for some time.


Hjaltalín

Can you tell us a little bit about the scene in Reykjavik? 

The scene is really compact, but still varied. Everyone knows everyone, and has probably been in a band with everyone he knows at some point in time (a slight exaggeration). The same guy/girl might be a member of a death metal group and a comedy act. He might also work at a kindergarten and tour a lot at the same time. (Mostly) everyone is friends with everyone.

What kind of opportunities does Iceland Airwaves bring? For you and for Reykjavik?

For us it brings us the opportunity to introduce new music to our fans, get people to hear us that haven't heard us before. Also we just have plain fun. For Reykjavík it of course brings a lot of hungry and thirsty people to the city at a time of the year that would otherwise be a bit off-the-radar, although even this has been changing over the past years with the tourist boom and the northern light trips. Now it seems no part of the year is off radar.

Do you have any special memories from previous Airwaves festivals?

Too many to mention, but I recall fondly our first Airwaves gig in the basement of the National Theater, which was our first proper gig with the current line up (as well as three others who were part of the band then). It was way back in 2006. It went really well, and caused quite a stir if I remember correctly. Another fond memory was when we performed an Enter 4 set at Silfurberg in 2013. It had been a rough period in many respects, and somehow the energy and power seemed to overwhelm us.

Who should we be watching this year?

I haven't really delved into the program, but generally I recommend young Icelandic bands which are maybe not the best known. Then you can get to be a fan before many other people and you can say in 5 years: I saw this (X) band in 2015, and became a fan before anyone noticed. Also, President Bongo, who used to be in Gus Gus, has a new project called Serengeti, which is amazing. Our very own Gummi is playing bass. Also Gus Gus themselves are playing, with Högni at the front. They're amazing too.


Grísalappalísa

Can you tell us a little bit about the scene in Reykjavik?

It's a relatively small scene and it's nice, not very competitive. You can find all kinds of music. Mengi is a fantastic concert venue that is really playing a big part in letting artists experiment with new material and new group formations and a venue where you can probably find the greatest variety of interesting music in Reykjavík. 

What kind of opportunities does Iceland Airwaves bring? For you and for Reykjavik?

We get to play for all kinds of people from all around the universe during the airwaves. It's the biggest festival event in Iceland so it's nice to play for a new crowd.

Do you have any special memories from previous Airwaves festivals?

We've played as Grísalappalísa for 3 years in a row but most of us have been playing the festival with different bands every year for much longer so it's a big jumble of memories. Most connected to running around with instruments in wind from one concert to the next. 

One year me and Bergur, our bass player, and Indriði who plays guitar with Muck had an improv gig in a lava cave in the middle of nowhere for some tourists. We were picked up really really early on Saturday morning after a long night and driven in a very cool car to this cave, then we just went into the cave and waited in this really long and small tunnel in the dark for all the tourists, when they arrived we played some music. I think the point was kind of that there should be some cool reverb in the cave, but the room was deader than in a studio so it didn’t really work, but the music was nice. Then everyone had vodka shots and some beer and afterwards we were driven in the cool car back to Harpa where we had a concert at noon.

Who should we be watching this year?

We love Dj Flugvél og Geimskip, we toured the country with her last year! 

And also Skelkur í Bringu!

And you should also see Svartidauði!