Of Monsters and Men is a five-member indie folk-pop band from Keflavík, Iceland, formed in 2010. The members are lead singer/guitarist Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir, co-singer-guitarist Ragnar “Raggi” Þórhallsson, guitarist Brynjar Leifsson, drummer Arnar Rósenkranz Hilmarsson and bassist Kristján Páll Kristjánsson.
The band won the Músíktilraunir in 2010, an annual battle of the bands competition in Iceland. In 2011, Of Monsters and Men released an EP titled ‘Into the Woods’. The band’s 2011 debut album ‘My Head Is an Animal’, reached the No.1 position in Australia, Iceland, Ireland and the U.S. Rock and Alternative Charts, while peaking at No. 6 on the U.S. Billboard 200 album chart, No. 3 in the UK, and Top 20 of most European charts and Canada. Its lead single “Little Talks” was an international success, reaching the Top 10 in most music charts in Europe, including No. 1 in Ireland and Iceland, and No. 1 on U.S. Alternative Songs.
Of Monsters and Men won the 2013 European Border Breakers Awards.
The band’s origins began in 2009 when Nanna decided to add to her solo project, ‘Songbird’. Of Monsters and Men entered 2010’s Músíktilraunir, as a quartet with members Nanna, Raggi, Brynjar, and Arnar. Raggi came up with the band name, Of Monsters and Men, and everyone else liked it, so it stuck.
Following Músiktilraunir, the quartet added two more members, Árni and Kristján, and continued to tour venues in Iceland and work on new songs. They were invited to perform at the 2010 Iceland Airwaves festival, and it is there that the Seattle-based radio station KEXP recorded the band performing “Little Talks” from a living room session.
The band signed with Record Records in February 2011 for the release of their debut album in Iceland. In March 2011 they went to Studio Sýrland in Reykjavík to record their debut album. Their album ‘My Head Is an Animal’ was released in Iceland in September 2011 with both it and “Little Talks” hitting No. 1.
With success in Iceland and growing popularity in the United States, the band signed with Universal for a worldwide release of their debut album. They released its ‘Into the Woods’ EP on 20 December 2011, which features four songs from their debut album, and later released ‘My Head Is an Animal’ in the United States in 2012.
The band performed at the Newport Folk Festival in Newport, Rhode Island, Osheaga Festival in Montreal and at Lollapalooza in Chicago in 2012. They have toured in several European countries including Ireland, Germany, Italy, and Sweden. Of Monsters and Men also appeared in 2012, on the new PBS music show ‘Sound Tracks: Music Without Borders’, performing “Mountain Sound”. Later Árni left the band to go back to school. Trumpeter Ragnhildur Gunnarsdóttir joined in the 2012 tour, and is simply a session player. The band has not commented on interest to eventually bring her into the band.
The band performed “Little Talks” and “Mountain Sound” on Saturday Night Live in 2013, and performed in the 1st Annual Boston Calling Music Festival on May 26, 2013. The band also played T in the Park in July 2013, the biggest music festival in Scotland. They performed on both Lollapalooza Brazil and Chile. They also performed at Coachella in 2013. On January 26, 2013, “Little Talks” was voted into the Triple J Hottest 100 of 2012 at number two, a prestigious musical honour in Australia. They appeared at Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee, in June 2013 and played at The Other Stage at Glastonbury Festival in that same month. In July 14, 2013, the band performed in Optimus Alive! festival, in Lisbon, Portugal, one of the most popular festivals in Europe.
Their song “Dirty Paws”, from which the title of the album originated, was featured in a trailer for the 2013 film ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ and the iPhone 5 introduction video released in September 2012. They contributed the track “Silhouettes” to the ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ soundtrack. Their song “Sinking Man” is featured on ‘The Walking Dead: AMC Original Soundtrack, Vol. 1’.
The band began working on a new album in August 2013. The band posted a teaser video on their site for the album’s first single, “Crystals”. It was released on March 16, 2015 along with the track list and other details about their upcoming album ‘Beneath the Skin’, set to be released on June 8. The album and single artwork was created by artist Leif Podhajsky.
My Head Is an Animal (2011)
Beneath the Skin (2015)