KEXP Live at Iceland Airwaves 2016, Day 3: Moji & The Midnight Sons

Iceland Airwaves
11/04/2016
Katy McCourt-Basham
Photos by Jim Bennett

First up on day three of the KEXP broadcast live from KEX Hostel at Iceland Airwaves Music Festival was soulful Icelandic-American blues-rock band Moji & The Midnight Sons. Conceived of in a small Reykjavik whiskey bar under the light of the midnight sun, Moji and the Midnight Sons are new faces in Icelandic music, only having met about of a year and a half ago. Comprised of American singer Moji Abiola, and brilliant music from Icelandic musicians Bjarni M Sigurðarson and Frosti Jón, their debut single "Dog Days of Summer" has been received well in Iceland, and their recently released full-length What I Saw on the Way to Myself has been making waves as well. Their sound infuses rock, blues, and soul, with a bit of a southern bent. 

Moji is a petroleum engineer by trade, and after deciding she needed a change, asked to be put on the chopping block for layoffs at her job in Texas. She landed on Iceland as a destination after seeing it on a postcard, and planned to spend her stopover week hanging out with new Icelandic friends at bars. One night, a friend pointed her to Reykjavik bar Dillon for some good whiskey, and Frosti happened to be DJing. A quintessentially Icelandic story of chance and collaboration, they met, chatted about music, and at 5AM, they went to Frosti's house, and wrote "Broken Bird," one of the tracks on What I Saw on the Way to Myself that very night. She went on to Paris, her original destination, then on the way back through Iceland, they were asked to play a show with only a few days to prepare. They spent that Monday writing six more songs, that Tuesday rehearsing, performed that Wednesday, and then Moji flew back to the states that Thursday. Now, Moji lives in New York, but spends a couple months at a time in Iceland, working on recording and promoting their music, as well as rehearsing and playing shows.

Lucky fans of all ages packed into KEX to catch this incredible performance. Though they're described as a blues-rock band, they have an incredible stylistic range, ranging from soul, to RnB, to blues, all assisted by Moji's gorgeous and unbelievably dynamic voice. "Another Mile," their opening number, had more of a RnB feel, with quieter instrumentation perfectly framing Moji's voice. "Keep My Memory" was one of the highlights of the performance, a song "about those who are always in our hearts, but not quite where we are." It harkened to some of the soul greats, a real Aretha Franklin feel, an emotional performance showcasing Moji's killer pipes and incredible vocal range. They also performed "Island," one of the singles from their record, a mournful ballad written right there in the KEX bar, coming full circle to perform it at the very same bar. This performance was a true pleasure from start to finish, and definitely one of the standout performances of Airwaves 2016.

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