Iceland Airwaves is Iceland’s longest established music festival, and it kicks off next week in over 20 venues across Reykjavík’s city centre.

Since its modest beginning in an airplane hangar in 1999, Iceland Airwaves promotes fresh Icelandic talent in conjunction with innovative international artists, quite often on the cusp of discovery. Illustrious acts to break following Airwaves include Florence and the Machine, Hot Chip, and The Flaming Lips, as well as influential Icelandic names such as Of Monster and Men and Kaleo. It’s not possible to say Iceland Airwaves is responsible for such breakthroughs; however, the correlation is compelling.

Celebrating its 20th year, Iceland Airwaves will host over 200 performers from 30 different countries across diverse venues within Reykjavíks city centre. In the run-up to the highly anticipated opening night, we will introduce some inspiring Icelandic artists you can hope to see this year.

Kælan Mikla

Self-described synth-punk/dark-wave trio, Kælan Mikla, have enjoyed a dazzling year of success;  they opened for Placebo at this year’s Meltdown festival in London at the personal behest of The Cure’s Robert Smith, and the release of their second album, ‘Mánadans’, was met with unbridled critical acclaim.

Coming together in 2013, Kælan Mikla, (‘Lady of the Cold’) has swiftly become a pillar of Reykjavík’s post-punk scene. Heavy synth, hypnotic basslines and detached beats married with haunting and guttural vocals create a compelling brilliance guaranteed to bewitch the listener

Performed entirely in Icelandic, it is not necessary to possess a grasp of the language to inhabit the world Kælan Mikla; notes of anger, confusion, isolation and melancholia command your attention and stir your emotions to a simmering boil.

Live performances shrouded in gothic theatrics carry their unique sound further to create a darkened, post-punk ambience that promises an entrancing and subversive experience. The ever pervasive synth and consistent drum beats dressed with otherworldly darkwave vocals make for a live show suitable for both a metal dive-bar or a warehouse rave.

Shot by: Helena Stefánsdóttir

Since their debut self-titled album release in 2016, the trio has gone from strength to strength, recently touring Europe and performing at notable festivals such as Roadburn (Netherlands) and Moscow’s Festival of Pain.

The all-female band is comprised of Margrét Rósa (bass), Matthildur (drums and synth) and Laufey Soffía (vocals), although all three contribute to vocals. The three met at school and personally follow quite separate musical interests; however, The Cure has always been a unifying influence for each of Kælan Mikla’s members.

Imagine their surprise upon receiving an invitation from Robert Smith to play Meltdown festival; they were so shocked they forwarded the request onto their booking manager to be sure it wasn’t a prank. It wasn’t. They played the festival this summer, sharing a stage with big names such as Nine Inch Nails, Mogwai, The Libertines and Deftones.

Kælan Mikla shows no signs of slowing down and will release their third album during Iceland Airwaves on the 9th of November. ‘Nótt eftir Nótt’ (Night after Night) promises further post-punk brilliance seamlessly interwoven into an ongoing rich tapestry of invention.


You can catch Kælan Mikla

On-venue at Iðnó  – 23:10, Wednesday 7th & Off-venue at Stúdentakjallarin – 18:00, Thursday 8th


Find the Best Live Music Venues in Iceland here.