Even though you may not be the biggest reggae fan in the world, hjálmar could positively surprise you. Not your typical reggae band by far hjálmar is from Iceland and mixes old-school reggae with folk music. The band's authentic sound, sincerity and respect for the music and audience as well have made hjálmar one of Iceland's most cherished bands with an appeal to a wide group of audience. The band's live performances are extremely tight, energetic, and colorful and at the same time relaxed.
When the band started playing in the summer of 2004 it quickly made a big impact on the Icelandic music scene and soon it overfilled every show and venue in Reykjavik. Its first album named Hljóðlega af stað (e. A Quite Take-Off) was released in September 2004 and got astounding reviews. It sold extremely well and was more than 35 weeks on the list for the best selling albums in Iceland. Critics cherished the album and chanted the new musical path no one in Iceland had dared to go before.
At the beginning of the year 2005 the band was the talk of the town and received two awards at the Icelandic Music Awards, Best Newcomers and Best Rock Album. The band was also nominated for The Best Live Act. hjálmar released its second album hjálmar, in September 2005. The album was just as critically acclaimed as the first one and got nominated as Best Pop Album at the Icelandic Music Awards. Once again hjálmar was also nominated as Best Live Act. The song, Ég vil fá mér kærustu (e. I Want To Get Me A Girlfriend) was the most played song on Ras 2 of the Icelandic National Radio that same year.
The band's third album Ferðasót (e. Dusty from Traveling) came out in November 2007. Although the band was still mainly playing reggae, this third album showed tendency towards more aggressive music as well as strong references to Icelandic musical tradition and folk music in general. The texts were also more personal and at the Icelandic Music Awards 2007 Thorsteinn Einarsson, hjálmar’s main text writer, got nominated as Text Writer of the Year.
In July 2008 the band joined forces with Swedish rapper and songwriter Timbuktu for the song Dom hinner aldrig ikapp. The song was an instant radio hit in Iceland and was released on Timbuktu's album En high 5 & 1 Falafel later that year.
On June 17th of 2009 the online music platform Tónlist.is, Rás 2 of the Icelandic National Radio and the Label Association in Iceland announced their list of Top 100 Icelandic albums ever. All three of hjálmar’s albums released to that date made the list.
In May 2009, hjálmar went to Jamaica to record at the famous Harry J Studio and the Tuff Gong Studio, along with local reggae artists such as Cat Coore, Sticky, Robbie Lyn and Dean Fraser. Those recordings ended up on hjálmar's fourth album, IV, released in September 2009. IV’s release was waited with much excitement in Iceland and reached a platinum record status only four months after its release. The album was nominated as Best Pop/Rock Album at the Icelandic Music Awards 2010 and was chosen the Album Of The Year by Rás 2 national radio. Along with IV, hjálmar also released a documentary about the making of IV in Jamaica called Higher You and I. The documentary was well received and has been shown at Channel 2 in Iceland, at Iceland Airwaves and at the Reykjavík International Film Festival.
In October 2010 hjálmar released another album, Keflavík Kingston, which is a collection of previously unreleased singles along with several new songs. Amongst songs on the album are Ljósvikingur where Hjalmar joined forces with Mugison, a dub version of Disa's Anniversary and Dom hinner aldrig ikapp with Timbuktu. This album release coincides with the release of an extensive photo book that includes photos from the very first days of hjálmar in small town Keflavik, the making of IV in Kingston in 2009 and other events in between. The photos in the book are all shot by photographer Guðmundur Freyr Vigfússon (Gúndi).
hjálmar’s fifth studio album, Órar, was released in Nov 2011. It shows the band digging deep into the roots of dub, experimenting with synthesizers and electronic sound. Definitely more upbeat and aggressive then previous albums, hjálmar claim that Órar is supposed to be a bit hard to digest. The digital version of the album includes a bonus track, Messenger of Bad News, recorded with Finland’s virtuoso Jimi Tenor (available on iTunes and gogoyoko.com). The album has been nominated as Album Of The Year at the Icelandic Music Awards to take place in February 2012 and Thorsteinn Einarsson is nominated as Text Writer Of The Year for the texts on the album.
hjálmar’s lyrics have always been in Icelandic and it has never occurred to the band to change that. By sticking to the mother tongue the band has inspired other progressive Icelandic rock and pop musicians to do the same even though many would like to think that English alone is suitable for that type of music. For its contribution to the Icelandic language hjálmar received a special recognition on the Icelandic Language Day in November 2010.
The individual members of hjálmar are all well respected within the Icelandic music and entertainment scene as either solo artists, text writers, producers (albums, music for TV, commercials, films and theater) as well as playing and recording with other Icelandic artists and bands.
Þorsteinn Einarsson - Guitar and Lead Vocals
Sigurður Guðmundsson - Hammond, Clavinet and Lead Vocals
Valdimar Kolbeinn Sigurjónsson - Bass Guitar
Guðm. Kristinn Jónsson - Guitar
Helgi Svavar Helgason – Drums
Brass Trio (optional)