MUSIC REVIEW: Reykjavíkurdætur @ Hoxton Square Bar -11Jun18

Back in 2017 a friend of mine asked me if I had heard of an Icelandic all girl hip hop group which Huw Stephens had been talking about on Radio 1’s Fresh Finds. I had missed the show but was very much interested.

Having visited Iceland for work countless times over the years I had grown very fond of the people there and how talented they are. That year I had fallen in love with Samaris’ album Black Lights (which I played on repeat regulary) so to discover a new Icelandic band in a different genre certainly caught my attention!

Reykajvikdaeutur translates as ‘daughters of Reykjavik’ and the group is a collective of up to 15 strong talented individuals but can differ in size as they invite guest vocalists to join in. At times some of the group break off to do some solo work. What is noticeable is their strong support of each other and a true Girl Power spirit.

Their rise to infamy in Iceland came at a poignant time when the #metoo movement was in people’s minds and these women took to stage and rapped (as best I can tell as my Icelandic isn’t great) on subjects such as gender equality, body shaming, prejudice and well you get my drift – controversy is a subject they enjoy.

They had really made their stamp after a performance at Iceland Airwaves in 2015 and have since toured hard to festivals and venues all over the world.

This is a group who are not afraid to stick out and stick up for what they believe in which makes them all the more fascinating.

Having missed them on their first visit to the UK it was a year later in June 2018 when I spotted they were back and playing at the Hoxton Square Bar – this was opportunity I was not going to miss!

Having listened to their crowd funded album RVK DTR (released in 2016) and their subsequent singles I felt compelled to see what the experience would be like seeing this group perform in person.

Hoxton Square Bar’s venue is small and intimate as we make our way into the main venue a group of girls politely ask to squeeze past us – they head up and off stage.

Their DJ arrives and starts to drop some beats in the dark, capturing our attention and building the anticipation. Movement on the stage suggested that each of the collective were making their way on to the stage. Then suddenly the lights go up, the music drops and we have a ten strong group dancing on stage in an explosion of energy.

You almost don’t know where to look as the ensemble deliver their flowing Icelandic lyrics from all across the stage then mixing in together or grouping around each other as a lead delivers a verse.

We have no idea what they are rapping about but the power and confidence coming from the stage is extraordinary, almost hypnotic.

Anyone that thought they could just come along and ogle at some scantily clad Icelandic girls very quickly change their view to fascination and respect and, quite simply, awe. Throw in a little fear too! These girls are fierce.

As they work their way through a number of their hits, at times as a full collective and at others with groups of individuals taking charge, the predominantly female audience slowly build into a frenzy as they feel empowered and infected by the positive, strong vibe and electric atmosphere.

When the group get to their final song of the evening the crowd are in full party mode – the lucky ones near the front have already been given champagne which was being passed round by the group – now everyone is invited up on the stage to bounce around to their incredibly catchy closing track ‘Ekkert Drama’. This suddenly feels like a full on party celebration with your best friends that you never want to end. Not your usual gig where you nod your head and tap your feet and feel slightly disconnected from the performers on stage.

The experience was uplifting and fascinating and I felt so lucky to have finally caught the group after following them avidly since hearing about them.

If you get the chance, try to see them as they continue their festival and city tours. One has to think they are surely on the radar for Glastonbury 2019 and the new music tent – now that will be insane!

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