Protected: Of Monsters and Men, take 2

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Íslenk Tónlist: Day of Icelandic Music

The powers that be (AKA a slew of Facebook posts by similarly Iceland-obsessed friends) inform me that today is Icelandic Music Day.  I have no idea who began this tradition or for what purpose, but apparently the national radio stations played three songs simultaneously  at 11:15 local time and Icelanders were encouraged to sing along (to one, or two, or all three?  I don’t know).  The three songs were:

I learned (er, attempted to mumble-sing) Á Sprengisandi during our kvöldvaka at Hofsós this summer.  Anyway, Icelandic Music Day seems like a good excuse to celebrate some of my favorite Icelandic artists.  Some are well-known and predictable choices, others (at least I hope) are lesser-known gems:

Of Monsters and Men

We might as well start it off with something highly predictable.  If you haven’t heard about Of Monsters and Men, you have probably been living under a rock (or you are an amenities-shunning, turtle-catching hermit who lives in a shack in the Kentucky backcountry and showers in a barrel of rainwater).  Arguably Iceland’s biggest crossover success since Sigur Rós.  They sing almost entirely in English, but watch or listen to an interview and you’ll know without a doubt that they are Icelandic.  Incidentally, lead singer Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir is my ninth cousin, a fact of which I’m sure she is acutely aware.

Favorite songs: Mountain Sound, Dirty Paws

Links:

Official site

Facebook

Twitter

Ásgeir Trausti

A young, up-and-coming singer-songwriter.  I first heard about him because he performed at A Taste of Iceland in Seattle back in October.  I didn’t get to see him then, but I’ve spent hours listening to his music on YouTube.

Favorite song: Dýrð í dauðaþögn (translates roughly to “Glory in Stillness” or something like that).

Links:

Facebook

Twitter

YouTube

Ylja

A folksy band that I had the pleasure of seeing in concert at the Stúkuhúsið in Patreksfjörður this summer (at least one of the members is from Patró).  Just saw that their single Út is #11 on the RÁS 2 charts.  Til hamingju!

Favorite songs: Dúmdaralara, Á Rauðum Sandi (this one is about Rauðisandur, a beautiful red sand beach near Patró and one of my favorite places in Iceland)

Links:

Facebook

YouTube

Svavar Knútur

A wonderfully friendly and talented fellow who writes his own songs and also brings old Icelandic folk songs to life with new musical settings – basically a troubadour in a lopapeysa.  He played a few songs for the Snorri group and taught us a little about Icelandic music history.

Favorite songs: Yfir hóla og yfir hæðir, While the World Burns (both of which he played for us); Baby Will You Marry Me (a duet with Marketa Irglova, of “Once” fame).

Links:

Official Site

Facebook

Twitter

SoundCloud

Bandcamp

YouTube

Sigur Rós

Goes without saying.

Favorite songs: Inni Mér Syngur Vitleysingur, Hoppipolla

Links:

Official Site

Facebook

Twitter

YouTube

Jónsi

The frontman of Sigur Rós is also a splendid solo artist.

Favorite Songs: Go Do, Sinking Friendships

Links:

Official Site

Facebook

Twitter

There are, of course, many more Icelandic artists of varying fame, but these are my favorites at the moment.  I wrote about Lay Low, Without Gravity, Sykur, and others in this blog post from long ago.

So, reader who may or may not actually exist, did you celebrate Icelandic Music Day?  Do you have a favorite Icelandic artist or song?

ég sakna Íslands á hverjum degi

It’s been four weeks since I left my Icelandic home.  Twenty-eight days without my fellow Snorris, twenty-eight days without a sip of kókómjólk, twenty-eight days without a glimpse of the Reykjavík skyline or the sparkling waters of Patreksfjörður.  In some ways it’s hard to believe so much time has passed, and in other ways it seems like it was another lifetime.  What I know for sure is that I have missed Iceland every single one of those 28 days, and here, in no particular order, are…

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28 reasons why

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1. Ásta Sól and my Snorri family.  I think a certain amount of loneliness is inevitable when you’ve spent 6 weeks with a group of people, but there’s also a sense of loneliness because I’m no longer surrounded by people who understand (and share) my Iceland obsession.

2012 Snorris

2. Skyr.  Apparently they import Skyr.is to a number of Whole Foods stores across the country, but they don’t carry it at my local store (although they do carry Nói Síríus chocolate!).

3. The starkly beautiful landscape.  As a lifelong Northwest girl, I was skeptical when an Icelandic friend told me that tall trees make him feel claustrophobic, but now I understand.  I suppose I’ve gotten used to the trees again, but I understand the longing for open spaces and far-away views.

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4. Being surrounded by the beautiful rhythms of the Icelandic language, and being able to practice and learn more every day.
5. Stúkuhúsið – My home away from home in Patró.  A quaint, cosy, kaffihús with delicious Swiss mochas and a beautiful view of the fjord.  The lovely owner, Steina, spoke to me in Icelandic to help me learn.

Stúkuhúsið view

6. Learning Canadianisms from my fellow Snorris.  What can I say, I’m such a keener!
7. My host families, and their incredible kindness and generosity in accepting me as family and taking good care of me.

host mamma and pabbi #1

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Host mamma and pabbi #2

8. Listening to Of Monsters and Men on my iPod while packing cod at the fish factory (seriously, I do kind of miss this, although I don’t miss being yelled at by the Polish lady…).

Mmm I can smell it now…

9. Watching American and English TV shows with Icelandic subtitles (I do not, however, miss watching Danish TV shows with Icelandic subtitles… too much brain hurt there!)
10. Guesthouse Óðinn – Our very beloved first home in Iceland.  I miss our little closet of a room, the midnight sun streaming in the window, the sulfurous hot water, the comfortingly predictable (and yummy) breakfast. 

guesthouse breakfast

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11. Háskóli Íslands.  Learning new words like Leðurblökumaðurinn, following Sigurborg to Háma like little ducklings during kaffi time, buying lunch from the mean lady who absolutely refused to speak English.

nananananananananananananananana Leðurblökumaðurinn!

12. Nature.  Whales and puffins, purple lupine, fjords, waterfalls around every bend.  The color palette of Icelandic nature is magical… shades of blue and green I’ve never seen in the Northwest.

lúpína

13. The water.  I used to think the tap water here was great, but it tastes stale and mucky compared to Icelandic glacial water.
14. The midnight sun.  The first night I was home, the darkness really freaked me out.  I’ve gotten used to it again, but it still makes me feel a bit trapped.

midnight sunset

15. Bónus – Oh, that dorky little pig logo!  Oh, the wall of skinka and pepperoni!  Oh, the entire shelf of sósa!

the wall of ham and pepperoni at Bónus

16. C is for Cookie.  I only went there a couple times, but so far it’s my favorite kaffihús in the city.  Mmm gulrótarkaka…

C is for Cookie

17. Sitting around the dinner table with Hrafnhildur and Sæmundur and making conversation with the help of the ever-present orðabók.

our constant companion

18. The weather.  I know we were blessed with unusually warm and dry weather, but I’ll take 60 degrees (or even 50) over 90 any day.
19. Sjóræningjahúsið – I never got to spend much time there, but I love the cozy atmosphere and the book exchange, and besides, it was always fun to say, hey I’m going to the Pirate House, see you later!

Sjóræningjahúsið

20. The colors and textures of Reykjavík.  Brightly-colored roofs, cobblestone streets, artwork on the sides of buildings, that one neon green house on Frakkastigur.

the ever-popular view from Hallgrímskirkja

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21. The ever-present steeple of Hallgrímskirkja in the skyline.

Hallgrímskirkja

22. Going for a walk and seeing where the city might take me.  Knowing that even a directionally-challenged person like myself can’t really get lost.
23. Strong kaffi, always.

C is for Cookie latté

24. Kókómjólk, Prince Polo bars, Daim, those weirdly delicious chocolate-covered rice cakes, waffles from the cart in Austurvöllur, and other tasty foodstuffs.

Okay, it’s actually Polish, but Icelanders love these things.

25. Working at Albína.  Learning the Icelandic words for all the bakery goods, meeting tourists from all over the place, chatting with my German friend every day, talking to the locals, becoming an expert at saying, ‘Ég veit ekki, en ég má að spyrja.’

Albína is on the right

26. Going for walks in the late-night sun.

11 PM walk in Patró

27. My future husband, Helgi.  I will return to be with you soon, my love!  😉

Helgi

28. A sense of belonging. Knowing I was exactly where I was supposed to be at that moment.  A feeling of being completely at home.

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