Firmly a phenomenon in their home country of Iceland, the four-piece band Kaleo is set
to descend upon foreign shores in 2015, bringing their gorgeous blend of folk, blues,
country, and rock to a wider mainstream audience in America. Their isolated heritage
inspires a unique take on familiar sonic elements, resulting in diversity and freedom on
each and every breathtaking track.
Best friends since attending elementary school in the small town of Mosfellsbaer outside
of Reykjavik, bandleader JJ Juliusson, drummer David Antonsson Crivello, and bassist
Danny Jones began playing together at the age of 17. Honing their skills, they played
countless shows around the nation’s capital for a few years before adding guitarist Rubin
Pollock to the mix in 2012. They named the band Kaleo, which means “the sound” in
Hawaiian, and started their career in earnest with a handful of well-received shows at the
2012 Iceland Airwaves music festival.
They recorded their first pair of original songs in early 2013, the fiery “Rock N Roller”
and laid-back, bluesy “Pour Sugar On Me,” which earned Kaleo some radio airplay and
press in Iceland. Then, that spring, their cover of the traditional Icelandic ballad “Vor í
vaglaskógi” during a live radio show was videotaped and posted to YouTube, where it
quickly went viral. The band recorded a studio version of the song in June, which went
straight to Number One in virtually every radio station in the country. “It’s a different
kind of cover, more dramatic and the tempo is taken down,” says JJ. The buzz for Kaleo
The band signed to Iceland’s largest record label, Sena, in the fall of 2013 and recorded
their full-length debut, Kaleo, in just six short weeks. Five singles would reach Number
One and the album would go Gold, receiving high praise and sending the band to shows
and festivals in Europe over the next year, including an appearance on the biggest stage
in their home country, Culture Night, where they played to 100,000 people and reached
90 percent of Iceland’s population in broadcast. Then, in the spring of 2014, Kaleo
recorded the lush, introspective song “All the Pretty Girls” and in one night their destiny
to outgrow their small, island nation was cemented.
“It’s a very delicate song. It seemed to speak to a lot of people,” says JJ. “From there
everything started to happen. We got contacted from other places: managers, labels,
publishers—they all went crazy over one night.” Drawn to Kaleo’s multi-layered
dynamics, their ability to play different genres with equal skill, the vocals and mood
reminiscent of everything from Bon Iver and Iron & Wine to Coldplay and David Gray,
and wise-beyond-their-years songwriting, the world came calling.
Now, signed to Atlantic Records in the US, Kaleo has moved to Austin, Texas, and will
begin recording new material with producer Mike Crossey (Arctic Monkeys, Jake Bugg)
in London for an EP due this year. Get ready for the sound.
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