Hjaltalín [IS]


Hjaltalín is an Icelandic group. Their music spawns many categories and is hard to categorize, but the term chamber-pop has been used quite frequently in that respect. The group was founded in 2004, when a handful of students decided to take part in a songwriting competition. After that, the group decided to continue and went through changes of line-up and various experiments with styles. A turning point came in the autumn of 2006 when the group was offered to give a performance at the main talk show of the Icelandic national television. Hjaltalín took in 4 new members and their blend of “chamber pop” was born – aided by a violin, bassoon, clarinet and cello. The original members, who had persisted the whole time, were Axel Haraldsson on drums, Guðmundur Óskar Guðmundsson on bass, Hjörtur Ingvi Jóhannsson on keyboards, Högni Egilsson, guitar and vocals. A gig at the Iceland Airwaves festival later that year introduced the female vocalist, Sigríður Thorlacius.

After the success of Goodbye July/Margt að ugga on the Icelandic radio, the group went to the studio and recorded their debut album, Sleepdrunk Seasons. Its release in late 2007 sparked nationwide attention and the group acquired the best hope award at the Icelandic Music award ceremony, and Högni was chosen as the best songwriter. Hjaltalín got their first mega-hit in Iceland when they released a cover version of the song “Þú komst við hjartað í mér, which had appeared on an album by local pop musician, Paul Oscar. The song became very popular and ended up as the most popular song of 2008 in Iceland.

At the same time, the group began to play abroad. The year of 2009 was largely spent on tours all around Europe, including Latidude and Roskilde festivals, and tours in the UK, Germany and Scandinavia. In the summer of 2009, the band began recording their second album, Terminal, which features the 7 members of Hjaltalín, Axel, Guðmundur, Hjörtur, Högni, Rebekka (bassoon), Sigríður and Viktor (violin). The album featured, amongst other things, a large orchestra, and expanded the sound of the group substantially. Terminal was an instant chart topper in Iceland and was chosen as  the album of the year at the Icelandic music awards, and Sigríður was chosen as the singer of the year. In June 2010, Hjaltalín and the Icelandic Symphony orchestra played 3 sold out concerts in Reykjavík. This was then released in Iceland as the cd/dvd package called Alpanon.

Since then the members of Hjaltalín have been touring and working on new material as well as other projects, such as theater music, solo albums and work with another bands. In the spring of 2012, the group was approached by Bicephaly Pictures to provide the score to the silent movie Days of Grey, a “timeless, coming-of-age tale of a young boy and girl’s otherworldly adventures, which will receive its international premiere in 2013. They finished work on it in the autumn and performed the score live in Reykjavik on November 2.

Hjaltalín has now completed their third album, Enter 4, which is was released in Iceland in December 2012.