Hailing from the small town of Mosfellsbær, Icelandic group KALEO is known all around the world for their devilish riffs and drawly vocals. Frontman Jökull Júlíusson has led the band in video shoots showcasing the pearls of Icelandic nature.
Hailing from the small town of Mosfellsbær, Icelandic group KALEO is known all around the world for its devilish riffs and drawly vocals. Frontman Jökull Júlíusson has led the band in video shoots showcasing the pearls of Icelandic nature. Jökull is no stranger to nature himself, dashing around on glaciers in his spare time. The outfit draws inspiration from all forms of nature, having recorded at diverse locations – everything from the weather beaten Þrídrangar island lighthouse to the icy blue Fjallsárlón glacial lagoon. Last year, KALEO caught the world’s eye with a video recorded with the erupting Fagradalsfjall volcano in the background.
66°North spoke with frontman Jökull about their adventures on set, Icelandic nature, and how his name has affected him. No matter how global they get, Icelandic nature always stays with Jökull and the band - whether running around on stage in Santiago or Little Rock.
The Icelandic Art of Living
Meet Jökull Júlíusson
Starting off, is there a particular place in Iceland that you have a soft spot for?
My heart always beats for Mosfellsbær but I love to travel around the country. I go around Iceland whenever I’ve got the chance. The highland is so unique, and I’ve enjoyed snowmobiling on glaciers the last couple of years.
One can imagine that it’s much easier to record videos in a studio, rather than heading out into nature. Where do the ideas and motivation for these videos come from?
Definitely. These are immensely challenging projects that need a lot of preparation. A lot of the time, we’ve had these incredibly exciting moments and adventures as ideas in our heads for a long time before we head out to the location. We had more time for these kinds of projects during the pandemic, so we managed to put that to good use.
What is the most challenging situation you have experienced on set?
I would say the shot at Fjallsárlón glacial lagoon. We had two electric generators on boats that sailed around the iceberg we were on, and cords running under the waterline onto the glacier. The boats were filled with cameras, and we had our sound engineer on site as well. The weather conditions were quite bad, and we were beaten with rain throughout the day. The glacier continued to shrink, as well as rotating endlessly, so it was quite unstable. It was a miracle that we managed to complete the shots. The weather can be unpredictable, and that is often the most difficult part.
Are there any particularly memorable moments on set?
We shot a video at the Þrídrangar island lighthouse location in the middle of July in the scorching sun. The project took a total of 28 hours during which we took 16 helicopter rides. We were all sunburnt after the day as no one had thought to bring any sunscreen!
I always remember how fascinated I was by the Kría logo as a small boy
Do you ever take a moment to think – when you’re playing at a sold-out stadium in Arizona – ‚How did we get here? We’re just some band from Iceland’?
Yes, definitely. Sometimes you need to force yourself to stop and look back, to realize everything that has happened on our journey. The pandemic was also a great wake-up call as we needed to carry the equipment by ourselves to practices again. We had to get used to a life without luxury again, as before we had so many people setting everything up for us.
Is representing Iceland to the world something that the band is aware of?
The music is of course our main focus, but we take pride in being from Iceland. It is something that we celebrate and we’re unafraid of flaunting it.
Many have tagged the band as ‚blues rock’. How do you feel that the tag plays along with your image as showcasing Iceland to the outside world?
My music is all over the place. I don’t classify myself as blues or rock, or anything else, as I use all kinds of inspiration for song writing, and the songs are so different. I don’t know if it necessarily fits the Icelandic image, but there’s not much I can do about that. I just focus on my music and try not to force it.
You will see a lot of sights during your travels. Do you ever seek inspiration from Icelandic nature back home?
Yes, we definitely do it as we were born and raised in Iceland. I think it comes unconsciously.
Is there any particular 66°North item that is a favorite of yours?
I’ve of course had a 66°North parka ever since I can remember. It’s amazing how long they last. It’s practically a requirement to own one if you live in Iceland. Other than that, the classic fleece sweater never fails and always comes to good use.
It looks like I will outlast many glaciers in my lifetime, which is a sobering fact
Are there any specific stories that pop up, related to 66°North?
I always remember how fascinated I was by the Kría logo as a small boy. Actually, I’ve been constantly proposing that 66°North take up the use of the logo again. It eventually happened so it’s wonderful to see it around again.
In what ways has your life changed since Kaleo made it big worldwide?
In every single facet, to be honest. You sacrifice everything and are willing to do anything that comes along with writing and recording music, touring around the world, and running a company revolving around music.
Now that you live abroad, what is about Iceland that you miss the most?
Of course, we miss our families and friends, but there is something unique about the country and nature itself which calls out to me more and more the longer I’ve been away. I must give a special mention to the food and water as well!
Do you have any memories of weather in Iceland – whether a rupturing storm or a clear summer night?
I’ve experienced all kinds of weather conditions in Iceland. One memorable moment is when we took our agent to the Blue Lagoon on his first visit to the country. We experienced all four seasons during the hour we spent in the lagoon.
Finally – your name, Jökull. It means glacier in Icelandic, and they say a lot lies in a name. Do you feel your name has affected you in any way?
It’s a great reminder to think about the environment and the need to protect it. It looks like I will outlast many glaciers in my lifetime, which is a sobering fact.