Icelandic Band Kaleo Film Music Video at an Erupting Volcano

Svanhildur Sif Halldórsdóttir

Svanhildur Sif Halldórsdóttir

The Icelandic blues-rock band Kaleo have released a stunning live music video of their track ‘Skinny’ recorded at the erupting Fagragdalsfjall volcano in Southwest Iceland.

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  • Cover photo: YouTube
Hike to Erupting Volcano Small-Group Tour with Free Photos
Photo: Hike to Erupting Volcano | Small-Group Tour with Free Photos

Readers might be aware that Fagragdalsfjall volcano is currently spewing lava in the Geldingadalur Valley, a small and difficult to reach spot on the Reykjanes Peninsula. The eruption followed weeks of earthquakes; the tremors stopped after the lava broke through the ground. 

While many visitors have been making the hike to see the lava flow in the person, JJ Julius of Kaleo decided to turn away from it, instead using it as an epic backdrop for a live acoustic performance of ‘Skinny’; a mournful track that brings just as much heat as the volcano itself. 

The Other Kaleo Volcano Video

Not to be upstaged by the depth of their singers’ baritone, Kaleo has long made a name for themselves not only through their Americana-rooted soul ballads but also the dramatic environments in which they record their live performances.

The trend began with the band’s single, Way Down We Go, performed to a small crowd in the dormant magma chamber of Þríhnúkagígur volcano; a geological wonder and tourist attraction on the Reykjanes Peninsula. 

In 2016, Kaleo followed this by setting a new precedent; performing ‘Save Yourself’ on one of Fjallsárlón Glacier Lagoon’s many floating icebergs—drum set, amplifiers and everything! The white, frosted slopes of Vatnajökull National Park surround the band, framing their haunting melodies with the very best scenery of the native home. 

Then, of course, who could forget their death-defying performance of ‘Break My Baby’, set out on the rocky pinnacles of Þrídrangar lighthouse. Surrounded by the crashing blue waves of the North Atlantic, this bluesy, ever-rolling juggernaut of a rock song drowns out all else around it, and the musicians show no fear of the heights atop which they play.  


We think there’s no arguing that Kaleo has, somehow, outdone themselves with this latest performance at Fagradalsfjall. Quite frankly, the visuals speak for themselves, and no words, whatever their order, will compare to watching it firsthand. For those that refuse such an invitation…

The skies are sultry. Red like old wine. Thick with floating ash and smoke, propelled by the jet plumes of lava frothing out from the earth. Watching on, we cannot help but slip away, hypnotised, into a deep state of awe. Not just in the beauty and drama and violence of the earth, but the soul-enriching effect of music. Oh, JJ Julius… just what do you do to us? 

The lyrics to the song are quite darker than what fans are used to. The chorus references a “girl” but it quickly becomes apparent that JJ Julius Son is not addressing a lover or a potential love interest. The lyrics show a darker side of the music industry, the one many female artists know all too well.

You’ve got to stay skinny, don’t you, girl?
You’ve got to stay pretty while you can
You’ve got to stay hungrier for the fans
Or they’ll try to burn you all out
They’ll try to burn you all out, yeah

Member of Icelandic band Kaleo in front of a volcano
Photo: YouTube

Who are Kaleo?

Kaleo formed in the small town of Mosfellsbær in 2012. Nearly ten years later and they have become one of Iceland’s most successful musical exports, with Platinum albums, countless media appearances and a loyal fan base that readily sells out concert halls wherever in the world they perform. 

Icelandic band Kaleo
Photo: Kaleo’s Facebook

Arguably their most famous song, ‘Way Down We Go’, has also been in numerous TV shows and films, including The Blacklist, Grey’s Anatomy and Suits. 

Though JJ appears alone in the video, there are five members of the band in total; JJ Julius Son (Singer/guitar), David Antonsson (Drummer), Daniel Kristjansson (Bassist), Rubin Pollock (Guitar) and Þorleifur Gaukur Davíðsson (Harmonica). 

Both ‘Skinny’ and ‘Break My Baby’ come ahead of a full album called Surface Sounds which is set to be released on April 23rd. The band has also announced a 3-month long tour of North America in the beginning of next year.

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