Ólafur Arnalds

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For the female singer, see Ólöf Arnalds.
This is an Icelandic name. The last name is a family name, but this person is properly referred to by the given name Ólafur.
Ólafur Arnalds
Ólafur Arnalds in 2007
Ólafur Arnalds in 2007
Background information
Born (1986-11-03) 3 November 1986 (age 29)
Mosfellsbær, Iceland
Genres Neoclassical, experimental, electronica, ambient
Occupation(s) Musician, composer, record producer
Instruments Piano, drums, guitar, banjo
Years active Early 2000s–present
Labels Erased Tapes, Mercury Classics
Associated acts Kiasmos, Alice Sara Ott, Janus Rasmussen
Website olafurarnalds.com

Ólafur Arnalds (born 3 November 1986) is a BAFTA-winning[1] multi-instrumentalist and producer from Mosfellsbær, Iceland.[2] Ólafur Arnalds mixes strings and piano with loops and edgy[peacock term] beats crossing over from ambient/electronic to pop.[3] Ólafur was a drummer of hardcore / metal bands Fighting Shit, Celestine, and others.

In 2009, Ólafur also formed an experimental techno project, entitled Kiasmos, with Janus Rasmussen from the Icelandic electro-pop band Bloodgroup. In 2014 Ólafur announced his electronic debut album under the Kiasmos project.


Early career (2004–2007)[edit]

In 2004, Ólafur composed and recorded the intro and two outros for tracks on the album Antigone by German metal band Heaven Shall Burn. On his Facebook page he described how he got to know them: "I was playing drums in a hardcore band and we were supporting the German metal band Heaven Shall Burn on their Icelandic tour. Being a huge fan, I gave them a demo with some very overly dramatic prog-rock songs I had been making at home – it was not so classic like this but had some badly computerized strings and piano in it. A few months later they contacted me asked if I would write some intros and outros for their new album, but only with the piano/strings elements – So I wrote my first classical pieces (incl the one i posted above). Their album was a big success in Europe and a few months later I got a phone call from a label asking 'would you be interested in making a full album with compositions like this?' I hadn't really considered continuing writing music like this, but said yes."[4]

Eulogy For Evolution and Variations of Static (2007–2008)[edit]

On 12 October 2007, Ólafur's first solo album Eulogy for Evolution was released. It was followed by the EP Variations of Static in 2008. In the same year, Ólafur toured with Sigur Rós. He is also reported to have sold out The Barbican Hall in London.[2][5]

Found Songs and Dyad 1909 (2009)[edit]

In April 2009, Ólafur composed and released a track daily for seven days, instantly making each track available within 24 hours from foundsongs.erasedtapes.com. The collection of tracks was entitled Found Songs. The first track was released on 13 April.

In October 2009, the ballet Dyad 1909 premiered with a score composed by Ólafur which was also released as an EP.[5]

Also in 2009, Ólafur formed an experimental techno project, Kiasmos, with Janus Rasmussen from the Icelandic electro-pop band Bloodgroup. They released a joint EP with Ryan Lee West of the EDM project Rival Consoles entitled 65/Milo.

Second studio album and Living Room Songs (2010–2011)[edit]

In April 2010, Ólafur released a new album entitled ...And They Have Escaped The Weight of Darkness.[6][7] During 2010 Ólafur also went on a well-received Asian Tour organised by China-based promoter Split Works.

On 3 October 2011, Ólafur started another seven-day composition project similar to Found Songs, this one entitled Living Room Songs. The tracks were made available at livingroomsongs.olafurarnalds.com/ each day throughout the week. The project was released as an album on 23 December 2011.[8]

2011 also saw the release of Ólafur's remix of Mr Fogg's track "Keep Your Teeth Sharp" on the EP of the same name.

Another Happy Day, Two Songs For Dance... (2012)[edit]

In 2012, Ólafur announced a new partnership with the Universal Music label Mercury Classics.[9]

2012 saw four releases from Ólafur; his score for Sam Levinson's film Another Happy Day; an EP entitled Two Songs For Dance; the second EP from his experimental techno project Kiasmos and another EP entitled Stare with German pianist Nils Frahm.

Also in 2012, his song "Allt varð hljótt" was used in the score and the soundtrack for the film The Hunger Games.[10]

Til enda was used in a trailer for the 2012 film Looper.[11][12]

Third studio album and further scores (2013–present)[edit]

Ólafur released his third studio album entitled For Now I Am Winter in February 2013. Four tracks featured vocals from Arnór Dan of the Icelandic band Agent Fresco. This was the first time Ólafur incorporated vocals into any of his released work.

More recently, he composed the score and end-credits track for the 2013 ITV series Broadchurch (again featuring the vocals of Arnór Dan[13][14]), for which he won the 2014 BAFTA TV Craft Award for Best Original Music.

Ólafur also composed the score for Ron Krauss' film Gimme Shelter.

For Now I Am Winter was used in the pilot of the 2013 US TV show Masters of Sex.

Ólafur Arnalds has been involved with various other projects and his music appears in many films, television shows and advertisements. His songs have been featured on So You Think You Can Dance in multiple seasons.[15] He also spoke at length on the subject of fan-submitted art in the 2011 documentary film Press Pause Play.[16][17]

In 2014 Ólafur announced his electronic debut album in collaboration with Janus Rasmussen under his project Kiasmos.

2015 saw the full release of his work on Broadchurch, as well as a collaboration with German-Japanese pianist Alice Sara Ott titled The Chopin Project. His 2015 collaborations with Nils Frahm, Life Story Love and Glory and Loon, were collected on a double CD entitled Collaborative Works along with 2012's Stare and a live improvisational film entitled Trance Frendz - An evening with Ólafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm.

Personal life[edit]

Ólafur's cousin Ólöf Arnalds is also a well known singer/songwriter.


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album Peak positions
BEL (Wa)
2007 Eulogy for Evolution  –  –
2010 ...And They Have Escaped the Weight of Darkness 73  –  –
2013 For Now I Am Winter 130  –  –


Year Album Peak positions
2008 Variations of Static
2009 Found Songs
2011 Living Room Songs
2012 Two Songs For Dance


Year Album Peak positions
2012 Stare (with Nils Frahm)
2015 The Chopin Project (with Alice Sara Ott)
Life Story Love and Glory (with Nils Frahm)
Loon (with Nils Frahm)
Collaborative Works (with Nils Frahm)


Year Single Peak positions Album

2010 "A Hundred Reasons"
(Ólafur Arnalds & Haukur Heiðar Hauksson)
 –  – ...And They Have Escaped the Weight of Darkness
2013 "Old Skin" 29  –  – For Now I Am Winter
2014 "So Close"
(feat. Arnór Dan)
54 Broadchurch
2015 "So Far"
(Ólafur Arnalds, Viktor Orri Árnason, Laufey Jensdóttir, Björk Oskardsdóttir, Sólveig Vaka Eyþórsdóttir, Bjarni Frímann Bjarnason and Hallgrímur Jónas Jensson)
 – 184 Broadchurch

*Did not appear in the official Belgian Ultratop 50 charts, but rather in the bubbling under Ultratip charts.



  1. ^ "BAFTA 2014: Peaky Blinders and Doctor Who win at Bafta TV Craft Awards". The Guardian UK. 
  2. ^ a b "Ólafur Arnalds: Beautiful the Same way the Arctic is". Headphone Commute. 
  3. ^ Fischer, Tobias. "Interview with Olafur Arnalds II". Tokafi. Retrieved 1 March 2014. 
  4. ^ Arnalds, Olafur (1 September 2012). "Song from the past #6". Facebook. Retrieved 22 August 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS – Ólafur Arnalds". WeirdMusic.net. Retrieved 1 March 2014. 
  6. ^ Ólafur Arnalds. "Ólafur Arnalds' Facebook page". Retrieved 2010-01-31. 
  7. ^ Dempster, Gemma. "Olafur Arnalds". Supersweet Zoo. Retrieved 1 March 2014. 
  8. ^ "Ólafur Arnalds – Living Room Songs". Erased Tapes. Retrieved 2011-10-05. 
  9. ^ "Ólafur Arnalds". Retrieved 20 April 2014. 
  10. ^ "Ólafur Arnalds". IMDb. Retrieved 1 March 2014. 
  11. ^ "Ads, Trailers and Promo Placements". Nettwerk Music Group. Retrieved 1 March 2014. 
  12. ^ Grant, Sarah (20 October 2013). "Olafur Arnalds Demands Quiet, Hears Riff in Movie Score". Bloomberg. Retrieved 1 March 2014. 
  13. ^ Hale, Mike (6 August 2013). "A Murder Haunts a Rugged Coast". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 March 2014. 
  14. ^ Langlais, Pierre (17 February 2014). "Le chant de "Broadchurch"". Télérama (in French). Retrieved 1 March 2014. 
  15. ^ "Ólafur Arnalds". Mercury Classics. Retrieved 1 March 2014. 
  16. ^ "PressPausePlay – Ólafur Arnalds Interview". YouTube. 
  17. ^ "Press Pause Play Press Kit" (PDF). Press Pause Play. 
  18. ^ "Ólafur Arnalds". UltraTop. Retrieved 2013-04-05. 
  19. ^ a b "Ólafur Arnalds". UltraTop. Retrieved 2015-04-29. 
  20. ^ a b "Ólafur Arnalds". LesCharts. Retrieved 2015-04-29. 

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