KEXP at Iceland Airwaves, Day 1: Sóley

photos by Jim Bennett

For the first of many sets during KEXP’s broadcast this week live from KEX hostel in Reykjavík during Iceland Airwaves, the crowds began to fill in quickly at around noon. Excited festival-goers packed in to stake out their spot to see Icelandic singer-songwriter Sóley.

Also the keyboardist for Seabear and Sin Fang, Sóley Stefánsdóttir released her solo debut LP, We Sink, last year to much acclaim locally and internationally. Her piano-laden folk-pop songs somehow manage to be both calming and disquieting. With names like “Kill the Clown” and “About Your Funeral”, it’s easy to imagine something darker hiding under the gentle vocals and tinkling, quiet keys.

At KEX Hostel, Sóley opened her set with “Smashed Birds,” the song’s quiet guitar wrapping the stone-silent room like a blanket. The bespectacled singer mentioned being nervous about the simultaneous international broadcast, but there was no hint of nerves in her crystal-clear performance of the lovely “And Leave.”

She then played a new song called “Wedding” about a dead woman attempting to force a living man to marry her. Solely hasn’t finished writing the song, so she doesn’t yet know how it ends. This dead woman’s melancholy story, told in the first person, floats on top of haunting reverbed guitar and muddled, ambient keys.

Sóley closed her short set with “Pretty Face,” a single from “we sink,” but not before warning festival-goers not to do anything too stupid “...Because that would be stupid.” The song’s flighty piano and Sóley’s quiet voice ended things on a gentle note, at least until the house erupted in applause.

Stay tuned for Blouse, who will be playing next at 8AM PST! Find out the full broadcast schedule here.

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