On the Rise

GDRN - Guðrún Eyfjörð Jóhannesdóttir singer

In March 2019, Guðrún Ýr Eyfjörð Jóhannesdóttir, better known as GDRN, was called up to the stage at the Icelandic Music Awards.

Then she was called up again.

Then a third time.

Then a fourth.

In a single night, less than a year after releasing her debut album Hvað ef (What If), the 22-year-old musician had snagged four awards: Best Female Singer, Best Pop Album, Best Pop Song, and Music Video of the Year. In her acceptance speech, she encouraged upcoming artists: “Let yourself dream. Dream really big.” But dreaming alone is not what put those awards in Guðrún’s hands: it was also hard work, a go-getter attitude, a commitment to honesty, and a bit of luck.

It may be not seem so remarkable for a single artist to be awarded four times in one ceremony in a country of 350,000. But this is Iceland: what the music scene lacks in size, it makes up for in might. Its ranks are filled with international legends and local ones (interestingly, with very little overlap); self-taught rockers and highly-trained virtuosos; veterans who have been taking to the country’s largest stages for decades and teenagers releasing their first singles, freshly produced in their bedrooms. Perhaps the most exciting among all of these groups are the rising stars: those artists, like GDRN, whose first ventures into the spotlight – though confident, and capable – make you excited for what is yet to come.

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GDRN Sweeps Up at Icelandic Music Awards

GDRN Icelandic Music Awards

The 2018 Icelandic Music Awards were held last night in Harpa’s Silfurberg hall. Pop artist GDRN (Guðrún Ýr Eyfjörð Jóhannesdóttir) swept up at the ceremony, taking home four awards. Rapper Auður, who received eight nominations, took home two awards for songwriting and best electronic album, while controversial band Hatari left attendees with a political message.

GDRN took home the awards for best pop album, pop song, and music video of the year, and was awarded best female singer. “When I started making music in 2017 society was changing a lot, the MeToo movement was beginning,” the artist said when accepting the award for best pop album. “I have seen incredible growth among young women today and I wanted to encourage all young women who are watching this now: Let yourselves dream, let yourselves dream really big. It’s possible.”

Rapper Auður won best songwriter and best electronic album for his release Afsakanir (Excuses). Valdimar was chosen as best male singer, also winning for best rock album alongside his band. In classical categories, Víkingur Heiðar won performer of the year and album of the year for Johann Sebastian Bach. Jói Pé and Króli were awarded for best rap album and best rap song.

Hatari, who are representing Iceland at the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest in Israel, accepted the performer of the year award with a political message. Band member Matthías Tryggvi Haraldsson stated that although the group were fans of Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, it was time to “clear up for the nation whether Iceland belonged to the countries that ascribe to universal human rights, democracy, and rule of law. We’re a little confused.”

A full list of nominations and winners can be found on RÚV’s website.