Svavar Knútur
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Svavar Knútur

Reykjavík, Capital Region, Iceland | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | INDIE

Reykjavík, Capital Region, Iceland | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2008
Band Folk Singer/Songwriter


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Svavar Knutur
Free Times Café

I’ll admit that I am non-committal when it comes to NXNE. I’ve been known to catch a few songs of one act and then wander to the nearest venue to hear the next few of another. This is what I had planned on doing with Svavar Knutur – and then he started to play. I don’t know if I have ever seen anyone captivate a room like Knutur did. His contrast between sentimental songs and comedic storytelling was the perfect rest for festival goers. Playing self-described fjord folk, this Icelandic artist could do no wrong on Saturday night. - The Gate

Influenced by nature and a lifetime of growth and learning, Svavar Knútur has used great emotional depth and personal experiences to shape a style of folk music that is certainly all his own. Nowhere is that more present than in his latest work, Ölduslóð, translating to “Way Of Waves.” The record is a continuation of his debut solo release, Kvöldvaka (“Songs By A Fire”), with themes like happiness, redemption and the individual’s triumph over adversity.

Soon after the first track begins, you’re instantly whisked away to this other realm of existence that Svavar has portrayed with his music. “Baby Would You Marry Me” is blissfully romantic and angelic with every word. The first track introduces the collaboration present throughout the record with Markéta Irglová of Swell Season, who provides a marvelous vocal harmony and a soothing presence in “While The World Burns” and “Prayer For The Dead.”

The album immediately climbs to great depths and engages more melancholy themes as it follows with “While The World Burns” and the title-track. The darker hue envelopes the release as the record winds onto the rocky shores of happiness and examines the journey every living soul must take to find it.

“Prayer For The Dead,” the final number, concludes Ölduslóð on its darkest note about forgiveness and self-damnation. Knútur does well to create a finale that, while seemingly despairing, seems strangely hopeful, mirroring the feelings he tried to convey at the start of the record.

With the album split between Knútur’s native Icelandic and English, sporadically jumping between the two, Ölduslóð makes for one incredible release. Such passion and pride is seldom seen in modern music the way it’s crafted here. The bewitching charm of this emotionally moving album will remain a gem in contemporary folk music for years to come.

In A Word: Breathtaking - The Aquarian

As I enter the basement of Kaffi Cultura for the Melodica showcase, troubadour Svavar Knútur is playing his version of Clementine on a ukulele.

Introducing himself while still playing his ukulele, he even gets a la la sing along at the end of tonight’s first track. His stage presence and interaction with the crowd are just perfect, and his troubadour take on Nick Drake means we are all in for a special evening.
A few hardened fans in the crowd put in requests and are kept happy as most are played. There are more anecdotes, a ukulele solo and a tale of getting accosted on a Hamburg subway by drunk Germans that somehow turns into ukulele covers of Eye Of The Tiger, Living On A Prayer, Rock Me Amadeus and Firestarter—‘cause in the German’s words, “he is the party man with the ukulele.” You look round the crowd and everyone is smiling from the pleasurable gig. Svavar may not be the party man the Germans wanted, but he is perfect
for tonight’s mood. - Reykjavík Grapevine

Splendour, or the spectre of Monday may keep some from the Misery and Redemption Tour, but those who trek through a chilly ten degrees to the Troub are rewarded with a line-up of heart-warming melodies and Icelandic melancholy, perfectly suited to tonight's cold snap.

Local, Tara Simmons and her two cellists kick off with some musical chicken soup for the soul. The warm bass of a pizzicato duet is a joy on Patience, while an as yet unnamed piece is a highlight, Tara's electronic samples, cello, piano and voice demonstrating considerable maturation from last year's EP release.

Next, from more icy climbs, clad in a snug, 'fuck yoga' t-shirt, Svavar Knutur plays the kook, cracking troll jokes, and conducting a brief Icelandic lesson before introducing Pete Uhlenbruch (aka Owls of the Swamp). What follows is a journey through light and dark, Pete offering a layered soundscape of recorded and live vocals, samples and acoustic. Opener Midnight evokes the icy beauty of Sigur Rós' ghostly choir, while the stunning Death By Waterfall's sparse acoustic passage of spontaneous tuning transports us to the echoing majesty of a glacial waterfall.

Next, Canberran Tom Woodward slides into his set without introduction – appropriate really, given his music speaks for itself. His vocals a cross between Glenn Richards, Dylan and Gareth Liddiard, Tom's alt. country social commentary and observations of love put me in mind of a less saccharine Josh Pyke, and in all he's brilliant, particularly on A Little Tear For You.

Svavar rounds off the night with tracks from his album Songs Of Misery And Redemption. The jolly eccentrics of the earlier emcee are channeled into passionate concentration as he plucks away, adding swoon-worthy vocals to the beautiful simplicity and raw emotion of songs like Goodbye My Lovely. An outstanding evening of incredible talent.


Read review here:

Gig pictures here:
- Rave Magazine Brisbane

Svavar Knútur, singer of Icelandic folk outfit Hraun, toured Germany a few weeks ago. It was his second visit this year after touring under the Norðrið moniker this spring with Sprengjuhöllin and Dísa. This second sting was a solo tour, so he stuck mostly to playing smaller bars and clubs. This did him very well, as the concerts were generally attended by about 50 people. The rooms were thus packed, though the atmosphere was still intimate. The concerts were intimate sessions where folks gathered around the singer slash- storyteller, who for most of the tour wound up amongst his audience talking, listening or even playing guitar and singing with them after the show.
Svavar certainly managed to create a friendly and familiar atmosphere. He is the funniest guy I've seen play in years!
If it is his amazing solo-dialogue-play about a singer-songwriter's seminar on a castle in Denmark (“I even found a secret door”), the colourful interpretation of an Icelandic troll story or the final climax of the show a medley of semiclassic rock tunes (to name a few: The Prodigy’s Firestarter, Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer and Survivor's Eye of the Tiger - all performed on ukulele). Svavar has a sympathetic appearance and an engaging sense of humour that makes him an amazing entertainer. And he knows it: “Oh, you're just clapping, because I am amazing,” he says with played indignation. And nobody manages not to giggle.
Then suddenly —the laughter hasn’t even died down— Svavar gets all serious. What follows is impressive: He tells a story about a love long shipwrecked by geographical distance and mistakes. The room is completely silent and the first chords of Emotional Anorexic fall deeply into the ears of a stunned audience that had freaked out laughing just moments ago. He got us again. The following verses were at least as authentic as his hilarious songs, but he kept getting even more honest and emotional.
His honest lyrics grow large as life as the audience listens carefully. Everyone here has dealt with this: love, loss, hurt. We're not in this alone.
It would have been easy to stick to the clown-show, to exploit people’s good humour and snatch some cheap gags throughout. But Svavar chooses the really hard way, leading his audience through a wide palate of different moods this evening. This led him to talk about politics in the end, about Icelandic troll-myths, love and about quitting his 9-to-5 day job to become a troubadour. This man is living his dream, and I am glad he is. - Reykjavík Grapevine

Doing a so called “mirrow set” the five artists jumped on stage in flying splice. Every artist did two or three songs, always accompanied by the other musicians, than the next one came up and so on. One was baffled by how good this international songwriter group complemented one another. “We all love each others music and that works across the border” said Svavar Knútur to point out the motivation for their common musically journey. He had a lot to tell and he sang in between, what he did with adorable passion. Opening Svavar Knútur mostly played soft songs in best songwriting tradition. -

Translated from German: After the singing of poetic MYRRA Rós the conclusion of the evening belonged to Svavar Knutúr, an energetic man with entertainer qualities and soft cotton, nordic folk reverie. - Rolling Stone Germany April 2009


Brot (The Breaking) - 2015
Olduslod (Way of waves)
 - 2012
Amma (Songs for my grandmother) - 2010
Kvoldvaka (Songs by the fire) - 2009



Icelandic Singer-Songwriter, Svavar Knutur, has seen his star rising steadily in the past couple of years. A troubadour of humble beginnings and rural upbringing, Svavar Knutur's music tells stories of love, tragedies, sadness and redemption in a harsh and hostile climate. His songs and vocal delivery always seem to strike a chord with his audiences, along with his decadently charming on stage persona, his concerts at times comprised of stories within stories within songs within songs. An accomplished storyteller, Svavar Knutur loves to bring his audiences on a journey of misery and redemption with both comic and tragic stops on the way.

A founding member of the Melodica festival organization, a series of international grass-roots songwriter festivals, Svavar Knutur has been a driving factor in both building bridges between international songwriter communities and strengthening the bonds of local folkies.

Svavar's debut solo Album, Kvoldvaka (songs by the fire), came out in 2009 and has received great critical acclaim. Exploring the difficult journey from misery to redemption, Kvoldvaka is still a joyful celebration of triumph over adversity.

His sophomore album, Amma (songs for my grandmother), a tribute to the heritage of icelandic folk music, held the top position in the Icelandic charts for two weeks and stayed in the top ten for months. Recorded in his best friends living room in front of a room full of family and close friends, it is as intimate as an album can become.

Svavar third solo album Olduslod (way of waves) continues where Kvoldvaka left off, exploring the hazardous shores of happiness. Featuring collaborations with Czech singer/songwriter Marketa Irglova of Swell Season renown, it is a deeper and ultimately a little darker album than Kvoldvaka, even if the theme is happier.

Svavars latest album, Brot (the Breaking) presents a new and developing artist, ever seeking, ever exploring the waters of the human condition and ever improving on arrangements, orchestration and musical meandering.

His album art is a collaboration with his young daughter Dagbjort Lilja, an ever developing series of portraits of the artist.

Svavar Knutur has in the recent years toured Australia, the U.S.A., Canada, Great Britain and Europe extensively and is resolved to keep up the pace.

Svavar is also the first recipient of the Anna Palina Arnadottir memorial award for folk music excellence in Iceland. The award was in recognition for Svavar's continued exploration of new waters in modern folk music both lyrically and musically, a tireless effort to bring older folk music to young audiences and for his continuous work on helping out young and emerging artists.

A night with Svavar will bring you to hell and back, and you'll be smiling and laughing all the way. - Pete Uhlenbruch, Australian musician and music blogger.

Notable Appearances:

Eurosonic Norderslag 2016
SXSW Austin TX 2013
NXNE Toronto 2011, 2013 and 2014.

Iceland Airwaves festival Reykjavik 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Aldrei for eg sudur festival Isafjordur 2005, 2007 and 2012. 
Melodica Festival Melbourne 2010
Melodica Festival Hamburg 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Melodica Festival Reykjavik 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Melodica Festival Berlin 2011.
Melodica Festival Paris 2013.

Spot Festival Aarhus Denmark 2009 (Nordic Cowriters)
Siglufjordur international folk festival (2008, 2009 and 2012)

Band Members