Live Video: Ylja at Iceland Airwaves 2013

photo by Morgen Schuler (view set)

They don’t call it the land of fire and ice for nothing. Geographically, Iceland is a land of extremes, from its vast glaciers to its active volcanos. But there must be some space in the middle where the two meet. In Norse mythology, that space, between fiery Muspelheim and icy Niflheim, is where life begins. For Icelandic folk-pop band Ylja, whose name means “warm”, it’s a place of soothing beauty. The group started between guitarist and singers Gígja Skjaldardóttir and Bjartey Sveinsdóttir, who added to their lilting harmonies the entrancing twang of slide-guitarist Smári Tarfur. The songs on their self-titled debut sound as dreamy as the do dusty, but lest you think their style too tame for their country’s arctic frontier, Skjaldardóttir and Sveinsdóttir build their vocals from breathy whispers to sonorous gut wrenchers. While we were setting up for our broadcast during Iceland Airwaves late last year, we invited Yla, who have since expanded to a lush five-piece, to perform a few songs in the back room at Kex Hostel. Feel the warmth here:

Full Performance:

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