Ylja was formed in 2008 by guitarists/singers Gígja Skjaldardóttir and Bjartey Sveinsdóttir in Reykjavík, Iceland. With a common passion for vocal harmonies and love for the acoustic guitar, the two friends embarked on a musical journey always trying to expand and broaden their sense for creativity.
Things took off immediately and Ylja was asked to do shows all over Iceland. As a couple of years passed, the duet was gaining live experience by the handful.
Icelandic slide-guitarist Smári Tarfur joined the band in the fall of 2011 and, led by the strong creative vision of the two girls, Yljas sound expanded even more. With their dreamy vocal melodies, tasteful guitar riffs accompanied by Smári’s unique lap-style slide playing – Ylja’s sound was born!
More opportunities came to pass. Four consecutive Iceland Airwaves Festivals, the annual Bræðslan Festival in the incredible East Fjords, gigs with Grammy Award winner Glen Hansard and a concert for the Icelandic President made Ylja one of the most exciting live acts of the cold country up North.
Their debut album, simply called Ylja, was released in November of 2012 which caused a nice stir in Iceland and the bands popularity kept growing. Ylja was nominated for an Icelandic Music Award as the best newcomer in 2013. Early in the summer of 2013 bass player Valgarð Hrafnsson and drummer Maggi Magg joined the band, and in January of 2014 the legendary guitarist Örn Eldjárn replaced Smári Tarfur and bass player Ingibjörg Elsa Turchi took Valgarðs place midsummer 2014, as the band was advancing in a new direction whilst working on their second album, set to be released later this year.
Ylja stands out as one of the most fresh band to come out of Iceland over the past few years. As one of the reviewer stated: “I’ll be lost in this album for days.”
9/10 A fantastic album Andrea Jonsdottir, Rás 2 / National Radio / Reykjavik, Iceland
8,9/10 Ill be lost in this album for days – The Classy Keep, Music Blog
-/+ “This is a strong showing” – Bob Cluness, Reykjavik Grapevine Magazine