After the success of their single “Way We Go Down” worldiwde, Icelandic four-piece Kaleo recently released their album ‘A/B‘.
Best friends since attending elementary school in the small town of Mosfellsbaer outside of Reykjavik, bandleader Jökull Júlíusson (JJ Julius Son), 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. The band signed to Iceland’s largest record label, Sena, in the fall of 2013 and recorded their full-length debut album, Kaleo, in just six short weeks. The band went from strength to strength and five of the singles would reach Number One and the album would go Gold in Iceland.
Indscene: Before we get into your music, can you share with us a few things about the band’s history? I know everything happened so fast with you guys. You’ve been together for about 4 years right? How has the band evolved in this short period of time?
Kaleo: I have been writing songs since I was about 13 or 14 and I met Danny and David in grade school in our hometown, Mosfellsbaer in Iceland. We all loved classic rock at the time and I think that was one of the things that brought us together. We started jamming and playing together a few years later and then Rubin joined in 2012. The last three years have been an adventure starting with our success in Iceland and moving to the US. I think we’re all still very focused on what we want to do and what kind of music we want to be making. That, in my opinion, is the most important part.
Indscene: Do you remember the moment where you guys thought “ok, this is working out better than we thought”?
Kaleo: Not really as I always expect a lot from myself and am always pushing myself, however, it’s important to appreciate good things and I feel very fortunate. It’s a privilege to be able to do what you love for a living.
Indscene: You’ve been playing several late shows in the past few weeks. You probably knew some of them years ago when you were living in Iceland. Did you ever imagined performing at those TV shows?
Kaleo: I have to admit that I do not watch much TV and never have, but we are thrilled to have been able to play those shows and feel like it’s helping us reach a larger audience.
Indscene: Let’s talk about “Way Down We Go”. Can you share what experience made you write this song?
Kaleo: I wrote this song while on vacation in Spain a couple of years ago. Many of the songs from A/B were written during my time there. This song, when stripped down, is very much a blues songs but when going into the studio I wanted to take a slightly different approach to it and I think the addition of the soulful lyrics and the piano created the sound I was looking for.
Indscene: What’s your passion besides music?
Kaleo: Music is my first love and greatest passion but if I had to choose another I would say sports. I played soccer from a very young age and try to follow it as much as I can.
Indscene: What do you miss from your home country?
Kaleo: Everything. The food, the people, the nature. It’s a truly amazing place
Indscene: You are now building a big base of fans on the other side of the world. Have you noticed any differences from fans in Europe and North America? Do you get different vibes?
Kaleo: Not really. It is fun for us seeing the crowds grow bigger and hearing the fans sing along with our songs. We haven’t played that much in Europe so far but are very much looking forward to it later this year.
Indscene: What’s the craziest thing you have witnessed so far in a gig or festival?
Kaleo: It’s not the craziest thing, but I think one of the most special things we’ve come across on tour is that you can find Icelanders in almost every city we play in the US.
Indscene: Which songs are you currently listening non stop?
Kaleo: I don‘t really listen to songs non-stop but you can never go wrong with the Beatles. I have been listening to the white album a lot lately.
Indscene: What’s next for Kaleo in the following months? Are you currently living in the US?
Kaleo:We are currently living in the US. We’re about to relocate from Austin, TX to Nashville, TN and we’re super excited to kick off The Handprint Tour in the fall covering both the US and Europe.
by Rogelio Cazares