Matt Inman on December 7, 2016

Mosfellsbær, Iceland 
Icelandic Delta Blues

Much of the music from Iceland’s Kaleo is imbued with the spirit of 20th-century America, whether it’s the Delta blues or the classic rock of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Lead vocalist and songwriter JJ Julius Son has a simple explanation for that—it’s the music he grew up on. But his interest in the indigenous music of the United States isn’t just a passing fancy. “I do my research when I’m inspired by something,” he says. “So I’ve really dug my way through the Delta blues, the Alan Lomax stuff, early recordings from the ‘30s.” The band, which moved to Austin early last year after signing with Atlantic Records, still has a deep connection to their roots in Iceland, where they quickly rose to fame after forming in 2012, with multiple No. 1 hits and a gold record. “We have long winters there—very dark—and then we have beautiful summers, which have daylight 24 hours a day,” Julius Son says. “So you’re kind of inspired by the nature and everything that the country has to offe .” The singer is also careful to note the currently booming music scene in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik, but says that Kaleo are excited to build their name outside their home country. “Back home, everyone who comes out to the show usually knows every song,” Julius Son says. “But we’re seeing that more here as well, so it’s fun. You get to prove yourself in a new market and keep growing.”

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