KEXP at Iceland Airwaves, Wednesday: GusGus

photo by Michael Matynka

GusGus was initially formed in early 1995 as a cinema group by filmmakers Stefán Árni and Siggi Kjartansson, but soon became much more after the additions of DJ Herb Legowitz and programmer Biggi Thórarinsson, as well as singer/songwriters Daníel Ágúst, Hafdís Huld, and Magnús Jónsson, cinematographer Steph, and producer Baldur Stefánsson. After a series of dance mix EPs, the group was quickly signed to British indie stalwarts 4AD (proprietors of such bands as Bon Iver, The National, Ariel Pink, Gang Gang Dance, St. Vincent, and tUnE-yArDs, to name a few). The luck just kept on coming with a remix from LFO and strong support from Fat Cat Records, but as the albums rolled out, the band shrunk. By 2002’s Attention, the lineup had been downsized to four DJs playing a mix of trip hop, techno, and house. The upside was a far more focused and detail-oriented sound, a tradition that’s continued through 2011, which saw the release of their eighth album, Arabian Horse.

Kicking off KEXP’s first ever international broadcast from the KEX Hostel in Reykjavík during Iceland Airwaves ’11, GusGus drew one of the largest crowds of the day. While Birgir Þórarinsson (a.k.a. Biggi Veira) and Stephan Stephensen (a.k.a. President Bongo) concocted energetic dance-friendly beats and ambiant noise, singers Daníel Ágúst Haraldsson (the only one without a stage name) and Urður Hákonardóttir (a.k.a. Earth) stunned the throng of fans with their vocals. If this is just the beginning of KEXP’s broadcast, well, you had better stay tuned!

photos by Michael Matynka:

photos by Keiko Kurita:

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