Arctic Winds During Iceland Airwaves

Iceland Airwaves is a world-renowned annual festival in Reykjavik, Iceland. The festival debuted in an airplane hangar at Keflavík Airport in 1999 – and has since spread to the Icelandic capital's record stores and art museums, bars and churches, nightclubs, and big stages. Photo from a previous edition of the festival. (Photo: Ásgeir Helgi)

These days, Arctic music is celebrated during the Iceland Airwaves festival in Reykjavik. The concert series Arctic Waves, developed in collaboration with festivals from Sàpmi, Greenland, and Canada, invites a captivating Northern world of sound.

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Every fall, the internationally acknowledged Iceland Airwaves festival in Reykjavik invites a glowing celebration of music.

On Thursday, this year's edition was initiated – which includes a celebration of music from Arctic areas.

The Arctic Waves concert series invites the audience to experience an exciting Northern range: Pop, traditional joik and electronic music from Sápmi. Indie rock, electronica, death metal, and rap from Greenland. Folk, rock, pop, throat singing, and soul from Canada.

It has been developed in collaboration with the indigenous festival Riddu Riđđu in Sápmi (Kåfjord, Northern Norway), the music festival Arctic Sounds in Sisimiut, Greenland – and the Alianait Arts Festival in Iqaluit, Nunavut in the north of Canada.

It all takes place in the Nordic House in Reykjavik and is part of Iceland's presidency program of the Nordic Council of Ministers 2023.

"We are thrilled to unite some of the finest musicians from the Arctic region in this concert series in the Nordic House, where we will enjoy three days of amazing music together. Arctic Waves is not just a concert series; it’s a cultural celebration and a platform for fostering musical connections that transcend borders," writes Iceland Airwaves.

Four of the total of 10 Arctic artists are also part of the festival's larger lineup: Katarina Barruk and Niilas from Sápmi, Andachan from Greenland, and Elisapie from Canada.

Get to know the artists

Katarina Barruk – Swedish side of Sápmi.  With her powerful and unique voice, Katarina Barruk is among Sàpmi's most popular artists. She makes atmospheric pop music, which combines joik, Ume Sámi texts, and elements of improvisation. On stage, she creates a space of vulnerability and strength that captivates the audience.

Niilas – Norwegian part of Sápmi. With an ear for details, Peder Niilas Tårnesvik has made his mark on the electronic music stage. His advanced soundscape includes both the melancholic and the encouraging. In this, he experiments with genres, expressions, and various sound sources – and includes pieces of his Sàmi background. Together, a glittering creation of sound.

Emil Kárlsen – Norwegian part of Sápmi. Emil Kárlsen writes music in Northern Sàmi and offers an innovative and dreamy soundscape. In this, he assembles melodic vocals, poetic lyrics, classical strings, and a mix of pop, country, and jazz. Kárlsen is also the recent winner of the Sámi Parliament in Norway's language promotion award for his efforts to learn and make the Sàmi language visible in the public sphere.

Nuija – Nuuk, Grønland. Nuija is a musical collaboration between Greenland, Denmark, and Iceland. The band plays indie rock with Greenlandic lyrics. Together, the members – Nick Ørbæk, Magnus Billmann, Lona Plato, Najannguaq Qvist, Valgeir Vernharoqòsson, and Kasper Roland – create a complex soundscape. The fragile and the powerful meet in a fateful melody. Nuija's «Takutillara» was voted the most Arctic song at late summer's Pan-ArcticVision in Vadsø. Greenland was also voted to host next year's Pan-ArcticVision.

Andachan – Sisimiut, Grønland. With innovative and energetic music, Andachan is an up-and-coming talent on the Greenlandic music scene. He combines Greenlandic with electronic beats and creates an inspiring fusion of international resonance.

Sound of the Damned – Nuuk, Grønland. Sound of the Damned combines death metal with elements of metalcore. "We grew up with music in our ears, and now, instead of just listening to others, we have started to create our own sound. We are trying to headbang our way to glory, join us in our madness!" urges the band. Songwriter Pani Enequist offers deep and honest words. On vocals, guitar, and drums are four, according to their own words, high-spirited guys: Sebastian Enequist, Allarneq Tuka Nielsen Lyberth, Herman Josefsen, and Josva Møller.

Tarrak – Nuuk, Greenland. Josef Tarrak-Petrussen, aka Tarrak ('shadow'), raps in Greenlandic. His latest album is autobiographical and depicts his upbringing while addressing socio-political themes relevant in today's Greenlandic society. With his music, Tarrak is a central voice among young Greenlanders who seek to define a modern and independent Greenlandic identity.

Elisapie – Nunavik, Canada. The Inuit singer and songwriter Elisapie Isaac mixes the languages Inuktitut, English, and French – and the genres of folk, rock, and pop. Within this universe, she explores the breadth and depth of modern indigenous culture. "As Inuits, we are not afraid to mix things up. We have a very eclectic culture; not one that holds us back, but rather a culture that is in transition," says Elisapie.

Silla – Nunavut, Canada. The duo Silla, consisting of Charlotte Qamaniq and Cynthia Pitsiulak, combines traditional and contemporary Inuit throat singing. They perform songs that have been sung by Inuit women for generations – and at the same time offer new, improvisational sound styles. Previously, Silla has made music together with the DJ Rise Ashen.

The Trade-offs – Nunavut, Canada. This duo offers Arctic soul music – with the deep, brooding voice of Josh Qaumariaq against an evocative musical backdrop created by Jeff Maurice. In the soundscape, lyrics in Inuktitut and English are woven together with blues and rock around universal themes such as light and darkness, closeness, and isolation.

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