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Iceland Airwaves 2018: 10 Female Artists To Look Out For

Iceland Airwaves 2019

Iceland Airwaves 2019

Reykjavík, Islandia


With the final additions to the Iceland Airwaves 2018 lineup being announced in August, Aurora, MorMor, JDFR, and many more joined Blood Orange, The Voidz, and Ólafur Arnalds on the bill.

Unfortunately, this coincided with Fever Ray aka Karen Dreijer pulling out of her remaining autumn tour dates citing struggles with her mental health, so we wish her a speedy recovery and hope to see her back on stage soon.

Despite her withdrawal, there are plenty of positives, however; many of Europe's major music festivals pledged to achieve a 50/50 gender balanced lineup by 2022 with the implementation of the Keychange project. Iceland Airwaves is already paving the way, demonstrating that there is a current glut of all-female or mixed-gender artists and championing this notion by curating an evenly gender-balanced lineup four years ahead of the forecasted date.

For a nation as small as Iceland they have an incredibly rich musical tradition - with Björk arguably being their most recognised global export - it seems fitting that they would break the current status quo and bridge the ever-growing gender gap with music festival lineups.

Browsing through the crop of selected talent there is plenty to sink your teeth into, but to point you in the right direction we've listed our ten favourite all-female and mixed-gender artists that'll be hitting the airwaves near you.


1. Superorganism

 

I'd be surprised if you hadn't heard of this international art-pop collective, due to the record label scramble to secure their signatures.

The media maelstrom surrounding the 8-piece band is well justified, with their colourful indie songs that burst into life during their spritely live performances.


2. Stella Donnelly

 

It's been a whirlwind year so far for Stella Donnelly since the release of her debut Thrush Metal.

The mixture of her slight voice, comical musings, and ability to convey serious messages in her lyrics without sounding trite has seen her become one of the most talked-about singer-songwriters of 2018.

There's an ever-growing batch of sharp Australian songwriters that manage to make you both sob and giggle in the same lyric. You can count Donnelly as one of these.


3. Hayley Kiyoko

 

The transition from child-star to fully-fledged pop-titan is a well-travelled path, but Hayley Hiyoko's destination differs from the Miley Cyruses and Jonas Brothers of the world.

Focusing her lyrical content on the expression of her sexuality coupled with her outspoken nature, Hiyoko is the LGBT icon that the mainstream music charts have been crying out for.


4. Snail Mail

 

The solo project of Lindsey Jordan, Snail Mail started out in her bedroom back in 2015 when she was the tender age of 16. Even at that age, she was considered emotionally wise for her years and was touted as the leader of the next generation of indie rock.

Given the glowing response to her debut album Lush, it would appear that everyone wholeheartedly agrees with those sentiments.


5. Alma

 

Even before the release of her debut album, Alma has already become an incredibly popular figure in the world of pop garnering fans such as Charlie XCX, Annie Mac, and Rudimental.

Her smoky voice has seen her draw comparisons with the likes of Amy Winehouse and Sia, yet embraces the fact that she is not the stereotypical pop-star with the Finnish starlet being easily recognisable from her neon hair and magnetic attitude.


6. Soccer Mommy

 

Another indie artist that began as a bedroom project and that's the way that Sophie Allison wants it to sound, cradling the lo-fi guitar-based aesthetic.

Harking back to the riot grrrl bands of the 90s, Allison merges these elements with catchy hooks and infatuation-themed lyrics, creating a sumptuous mix of indie-pop that is destined to transport the bedroom to the stage.


7. Haiku Hands

 

This vibrant all-female collective caused an industry stir earlier this year at The Great Escape, with their amalgamation of infectious electro beats and energetic vocals generating a great deal of hype.

Spontaneous, charming, and ultimately fun, their live performances are a force to behold.


8. JFDR

 

Formerly of electronic act Samaris and having collaborated with producer Lapalux, JFDR is the latest project from Iceland's prolific multi-instrumentalist Jófríður Ákadóttir.

Drawing on numerous influences from folk to electronica, Ákadóttir creates a rich sonic tapestry to which her ethereal vocals float over.

The Reykjavik Grapevine dubbed her Iceland's 2018 'Artist Of The Year', and it's easy to see why.


9. Nadine Shah

 

A vast melting pot of influences has culminated in Nadine Shah's haunting blend of R&B and rock, citing both Mariah Carey and Scott Walker as major influences on her work.

Now three albums deep into her career, she has crafted her own niche within music genres.

Arresting, spooky, and soaked in theatricality, Shah's reputation can only continue to blossom.


10. Girl Ray

 

Nestled in amongst the twee pop harmonies and songs of teenage love/angst is a distinct coolness reserved for the wise-beyond-their-years Girl Ray.

The London-trio came together for a shared affection of Todd Rundgren and Cate Le Bon, and have steadily risen to become one of the buzziest bands in the UK with the release of their debut album Earl Grey, receiving widespread critical acclaim.

Striking the balance between heartache and the subsequent optimism of moving on to pastures new, Girl Ray look to move into the pantheon of pop songwriting greats.


Iceland Airwaves takes place in Reykjavik, Iceland from 7-10 November 2018. Unfortunately, tickets for 2018's edition are now sold out. For regular updates on next year's festival, promotions, and ticket releases, then join our waiting list.


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