Keeping a finger on the pulse


Wanna get tickets? Set up a band!

in Explore/Issue #1 by

by Bartek Wilk

It was 2006. Finnish band Lordi won the 51st Eurovision contest in Athens with their song ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’. A few months later, 15-year-old Unnsteinn Manuel Stefansson heard about a music competition that would take place in his school. The main prize for the winning band was a free invitation to the Musiktilraunir festival.

Unni couldn’t give up such opportunity. The only chance to get the tickets was to participate in the competition as a band. So, with a little help of his school teachers – Árni from FM Belfast and Bóas, singer of Reykjavík! he made a quick decision to set up the band. Unnsteinn gathered his friends from junior high school: Þórður Jörundsson, Jon Seljeseth, Þorbjörg Gunnarsdóttir, Haraldur Stefánsson and Gylfi Sigurðsson and together with his younger brother Logi Pedro they wrote a song. Although ‘Papa Paolo’ didn’t manage to win the school review, the newborn band called Retro Stefson was soon invited not only to watch, but to play at the festival.

The members quickly realized that their fun-filled band built on a friendship had something magnetic for audiences. They all had passion, energy and desire. Unnsteinn and Þórður decided to buy a bunch of instruments and spent their summer learning to play them and writing music, just to improve their skills. Although you should know, they were all playing in a band since kindergarten. It was a marching band, so things were a bit different. However, for them, the skills were not the most important thing: the energy had a much bigger role. In the case of Retro Stefson that was the key. When asked about the lyrics, they honestly admitted they were too young to write thoughtful songs. They were just kids, needed some time to experience a bit of life, get heartbroken and so on…


The first ever English-language magazine entirely dedicated to Icelandic music. Discover creative musicians, albums, and ideas that shape the Icelandic local scene.

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