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Formed in 2012 in the town of Mosfellsbær, just outside of Reykjavik, KALEO (a Hawaiian word that translates to "the sound") originally featured childhood friends Jökull Júlíusson (vocals, guitar), Davíð Antonsson (drums), and Daníel Ægir Kristjánsson (bass). They began playing together as teenagers, later adding guitarist Rubin Pollock to the mix. Inspired by a blend of blues, folk, country, and rock, they made their live debut in 2012 at the Icelandic Airwaves music festival and recorded their first singles the following year. Their live radio performance of the traditional Icelandic tune "Vor í Vaglaskógi" became a surprise regional hit and the video went viral in 2013. By year's end, KALEO had signed with Sena, the country's largest record label. Their debut, 2013's eponymous KALEO), went gold in their home country, spawning five number one hits and inspiring their first European tour.
The release of their introspective acoustic single, "All the Pretty Girls" in 2014, became a turning point for the young band, and before long KALEO had signed with Atlantic in the U.S. and relocated to Austin, Texas, where they began working on material for their next release and touring North America. A pair of new singles arrived in 2015 as the band found their footing in the States. The inclusion of "Way Down We Go" in an episode of NBC's Blindspot garnered KALEO nationwide exposure, as did a promo spot for the song "No Good," which was featured on the trailer for the HBO series Vinyl. Another single, "I Can't Go on Without You," arrived in early 2016. Their international debut album, A/B, was released later that summer and landed at number 16 on the Billboard 200. In 2020, they returned with the singles "I Want More" and "Break My Baby," which appeared on their second full-length, Surface Sounds, later the same year. ~ Timothy Monger