KEXP at Iceland Airwaves, Friday: Hjaltalín

photos by Michael Matynka

Iceland group Hjaltalín began in 2004 as a coalition of students aiming to win a songwriting competition, but the seeds were planted and it wasn’t long before the band had added four additional members to fill out their lush chamber pop sound. The addition of violin, bassoon, clarinet and cello to a traditional pop-rock setup turned Hjaltalín into a sensation almost overnight. Their debut, Sleepdrunk Season, sparked nationwide attention, and subsequent tours brought their classically-inspired pop melodies abroad. For the second album, Terminal, the seven band members brought in a full orchestra to transform their sound from a chamber to a grand theatre.

As expected, Hjaltalín was amazing in the intimate space of the library at the KEX Hostel in Reykjavik during their session for KEXP’s first international broadcast as part of the 2011 Iceland Airwaves festival. Singers Högni Egilsson and Sigríður Thorlacius are stars in their home country and could just as easily be singing music theater, opera, showtunes or anything else — and their brand of pop is some combination of all of those. Check out the photos from their set and look out for the set on our Live Performances page soon!

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