Ylja was formed in 2008 by guitarists/singers Gígja Skjaldardóttir and Bjartey Sveinsdóttir in Reykjavík, Iceland. With a common passion for vocal harmonies and love for the acoustic guitar, the two friends embarked on a musical journey – always trying to expand and broaden their sense for creativity.
Things took off immediately and Ylja was asked to do shows all over Iceland. As a couple of years passed, the duet was gaining live experience by the handful. Icelandic slide-guitarist Smári Tarfur joined the band in the fall of 2011 and, led by the strong creative vision of the two girls, Ylja’s sound expanded even more. With their dreamy vocal melodies, tasteful guitar riffs accompanied by Smári’s unique lap-style slide playing – Ylja’s sound was born!
More opportunities came to pass. Four consecutive Iceland Airwaves Festivals, the annual Bræðslan Festival in the incredible East Fjords, gigs with Grammy Award winner Glen Hansard and many others made Ylja one of the most exciting live acts of the cold country up north.
Their debut self titled album was released in November of 2012 and caused a nice stir in Iceland and the bands popularity kept growing. Ylja was nominated for an Icelandic Music Award as the best newcomer in 2013. Early in the summer of 2013 bass player Valgarð Hrafnsson and drummer Maggi Magg joined the band, and in January of 2014 the legendary guitarist Örn Eldjárn replaced Smári Tarfur and bass player Ingibjörg Elsa Turchi took Valgarðs place midsummer 2014, as the band was advancing in a new direction whilst working on material showcased on their sophomore album, titled Commotion. Now Ylja’s music is bigger, more electric and alternative in genre although loyal to a background of powerful harmonies and emotional live-shows. Latest achievements include two nominations for ‘best female vocals’ at the 2014 IMA’s, outstanding showcase at the 2015 Eurosonic Music Festival and all out brilliant reviews on their latest album.