Iceland’s indie folk-rock act Kaleo has caught the attention of everyone from NPR to Vice to Fader, their SXSW performance won over many a critic, and they’ve earned comparisons to Bon Iver thanks to their track “All The Pretty Girls.” But don’t pin them as another act wielding acoustic guitars and muted falsettos – they’ve got a more soulful side than that.

We had a chance to interview Kaleo before their show at Brighton Music Hall tonight. They talked recording a music video in a freezing church, favorite festivals, and the Icelandic summer:

K: “I Can’t Go On Without You” music video was filmed in a small church in western Iceland. Could you tell us how you found the church, and what it was like to record there? Did you have to wait for the space to warm up, or was it already heated when you arrived? I know unsteady temperatures can be tricky for keeping string instruments in tune.

The church is very old and well-known to locals. It was absolutely freezing the whole time and did not really heat up. Getting in was tricky too, because the door was frozen and we had some trouble opening it.

K: You’re missing the Iceland Airwaves festival right now– has that been a highlight in the past, or are there other festivals you guys would call your favorites?

Iceland Airwaves is definitely a special festival and does a lot for the music scene in Iceland. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to play it again in the future. We have played some great festivals this year: Bonaroo, Summerfest, Life is Beautiful, and ACL were some of the highlights.

K: Iceland’s music scene seems extremely tight-knit. How do you think the music scene and community affected your success, your sound, and your growth?

I think we’re quite different from most of the things going on in Iceland right now probably because we’re inspired from a lot of the music from the early days from the US and UK. However we have been very fortunate and had great success back home and people have responded to the music we’re making which motivates us and helps us to keep growing.

K: You’ve talked about how the Icelandic Summer is really special to you, and that it’ll be something you’ll miss while in America. Can you describe to us what an Icelandic Summer is like?

We did get the chance to go back home for a week in July and shot a live performance video inside a volcano. There is just something about it being daylight night and day and being able to enjoy the outside nature. We have very long winters so that also makes the summer even more precious.

K: You have songs written in both English and Icelandic. How is your songwriting process affected when writing in each language?

I mainly write in English for some reason. Our only Icelandic song is a cover we did of “Vor í Vaglaskógi,” originally a song from the 60’s.

K: What was the hardest part of reaching Icelandic listeners? What is the hardest part of reaching American listeners?

I think we reached people in Iceland at first mainly through “Vor í Vaglaskógi,” and then people started listening to all the other songs. It’s obviously important to have a strong single that grabs people’s attention and makes them want to hear more. “All the Pretty Girls” has been getting quite some radio play here in the US so far so hopefully people will keep listening to what we have coming up.

K: A shared music taste is one of the reasons you’ve noted helped you get Kaleo started. Name some albums you always find yourselves coming back to.

To name a few that everyone agrees on: Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Led Zeppelin’s Led Zeppelin.


K: At Sound of Boston, we always ask artists to describe their music without using genre names. What would you describe yourselves as?

Diverse and soulful.

You can catch Kaleo perform with Family of the Year this Sunday, November 15th at Brighton Music Hall.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.