Kaleo hail from Iceland, but they don't really sound like it...at least not in this brand new session captured at Atlantic Records. There are no terrestrial soundscapes (a la Sigur Ros) lurking in their sound. These are not the head catching melodies or Nordic sing-along anthems (think Of Monsters and Men) we are used to. Instead, dig into the session's second cut, "Broken Bones". Hear that? There is mood and character for miles, but it's of the voodoo variety, gleamed from the roots of the American South. There are work chant vocals and a super saucy guitar sweating through the mix. We probably should have added a little phonographic sizzle to the mix, just so we could reference Alan Lomax. Actually, see that little trick we just did right there? We snuck it in there anyway. It's a wonderful song...cinematic and totally unexpected from this Scandinavian quartet.
As it turns out, there's a reason for the sound. Kaleo have had an eye on leaving their homeland behind for a long time. Last year they penned the single "All The Pretty Girls" (which they kick off this session with) that allowed them to do just that. Its' simple earnestness, delicate falsetto, and folk purity (ok, time to reference Bon Iver) became a global phenomenon, so the boys traded the frosty vibes of their island home for some serious sonic heat and humidity in Austin TX. Since making the jump to an actual continent (not an island being slowly ripped apart by 2 continental plates!), the band have enjoyed all the bounties of this country, traveling through 40 states and quite obviously absorbing every moment. Now make like Kaleo and absorb every bit of this spectacular session!
You can't fight the temptation, When you get the vibration. It won't do you no good. It won't do you no good. And you better start running when you... Records. - I'm JJ, and this is...we're Kaleo. - Yeah, the studio is, it's a really cool place. It's brand new. We've played here once before. - Yeah, I like guitars. This one that we played together is a Peter Turner which is made in London. It's a like a resonator semi-acoustic. We rented it. We needed a resonator in London when we were recording there last year. I've got this one so we didn't want to let it go. All the pretty girls like Samuel, Ohh he really doesn't share. Although it's more than he can handle, Life is anything but fair, life is anything but fair. Oh, oh, oh, oh. Ooh. Oh, oh, oh, oh. Just as soon as they turn older, He'll come and sweep them off their feet It's only making me feel smaller, All the hidden love beneath. So won't you lay me, won't you lay me down. Won't you lay me, won't you lay me down. Won't you lay me, won't you lay me down. Won't you lay me, won't you lay me down. All alone, alone again, No one lends a helping hand. I have waited, I have waited. Takes its toll, one's foolish pride. How long before I see the light? I have waited, I have waited, for you to lay me down. Sail on by, sail on by for now. They play naked in the water. You know it's hard, heaven knows I've tried. Oh, but it just keeps getting harder. So won't you lay me, won't you lay me down. Won't you lay me, won't you lay me down. Won't you lay me, won't you lay me down. Won't you lay me, so won't you lay... Now, won't you lay me down, won't you lay me down. Won't you lay me, won't you lay me down. Oh, won't you lay me, say won't you lay me down. Won't you lay...me down. Oh, I'll wait, I'll wait, I'll wait, I'll wait for you. I'll wait, I'll wait, I'll wait, I'll wait for you. I'll wait, I'll wait, I'll wait, I'll wait for you. Yes, I'll wait, I'll wait, I'll wait, I'll wait for you. For you to lay me, Won't you lay me down - We came to the States I think about a year ago now. We're from Iceland originally, now based out of Austin, Texas, and yeah, we played over 40 States last year, so we've been traveling the US quite a bit. That was definitely what we wanted to do, yeah, record in the US and perform. It happened faster than we thought it would but... - Well, in the beginning it was a distant dream, of course, to come over. The devil's going to make me a free man, The devil's going to set me free. The devil's going to make me a free man, The devil's going to set me free. I've been down, deep Texas. Mississippi State, Hoping things might go my way. For every hard earned dollar I make, There stands a white man just to take it away. Some might say I talk loud, see if I care. Unlike them, don't walk away from my fear. I've busted bones, broken stones, looked the devil in the eye, I hope he's going to brake these chains. The devil's going to make me a free man, The devil's going to set me free. The devil's going to make me a free man, The devil's going to set me free. Yeah, set me free. Another hard day, no water no rest, I saw my chance so I got him at last. I took his six shooter, put two in his chest, He'll never say a word no more, whoa, he'll never say a word no more. The devil got him good for sure. Ain't got no place to call a home, Only chains and broken bones. Ain't got no place to call a home, So come on Lord, what you waiting for? Ain't got no place to call a home, Only chains and broken bones. Ain't got no place to call a home, So come on Lord won't you take me now? The devil's going to make me a free man, The devil's going to set me free. The devil's going to make me a free man, The devil's going to set me free - Broken bones which is a very bluesy, like Delta Blues vibe song. That was inspired by American slave history and stuff, so that was kind of the inspiration for writing that one. - Can't be, everything both sadness and happiness and... - Yeah, I mean that's kind of why the songs are so diverse, I guess, because it is, yeah, I mean the different kind of mood each time I do write the song and each one means different things too. Oh Father tell me, we get what we deserve. We get what we deserve. And way down we go-o-o-o-o. Way down we go-o-o-o-o. Say way down we go. Way down we go. Oh, you let your feet run wild. Time has come as we all oh, go down. Yeah, but for the fall oh, my, Do you dare to look him right in the eyes? Well, 'Cause they will run you down, down till the dark. Yes, and they will run you down, down till you fall. And they will run you down, down till you go. Yeah, so you can't crawl no more. And way down we go-o-o-o-o. Way down we go. Say way down we go. 'Cause they will run you down, down till you fall. Way down we go. Oh baby, baby, yeah. Whoa, baby-a-aha. Baby. And way down we go-o-o-o-o Say, way down we go, oh, Lord. And way down we go. Way down we go Wait for you. Oh, I'll wait, I'll wait, I'll wait, I'll wait for you. For you to lay me, Won't you lay me down
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 vaglaskgi" 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 had begun.
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, publishersthey 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 has begun touring nationwide. Get ready for the sound.