Born 1986 in the suburban Icelandic town of Mosfellsbær, a few kilometres outside of Reykjavík, composer/performer Ólafur Arnalds has always enjoyed pushing boundaries with both his studio work and live-shows. Since the release of his debut album Eulogy for Evolution in 2007, he has built up a dedicated international following and is well established for his genre-crossing compositions blending classical, pop and ambient/electronica influences to create a unique musical language.
Starting out as drummer for several hardcore/metal bands, Ólafur was asked to write instrumental intros and outros for the album Antigone of German metal band, Heaven Shall Burn. This led to more work in the field of neo-classical strings and piano based music, and ultimately to the release of Eulogy for Evolution (released on Erased Tapes Records). In 2008 he embarked on a tour with fellow Icelanders Sigur Rós.
In 2009 he started a week-long project of composing one track by day, making it immediately available online to his fans. The collection was later officially released under the title Found Songs. He repeated the same experiment in 2011 under the title Living Room Songs. 2009 also saw the premiere of his first ballet Dyad 1909. Choreographed by Wayne McGregor it was inspired by Ernest Shackleton’s Nimrod expedition to the South Pole in 1909. His second full-length album ...And They Have Escaped The Weight Of Darkness was released in 2010.
His third album For now I am Winter came out in February 2013 and marked the beginning of his partnership with Mercury Classics/Universal Music. Expanding on his previous work the new album was the first to feature a full orchestra and vocals, delivered by Icelandic singer Arnór Dan. The album debuted at No. 1 in the US Classical Charts, was lauded by critics and fans alike and was supported by an extensive tour throughout North America, Europe, East Asia and Australia.
More recently Ólafur has been venturing into the world of film music. His work includes the full scores to Another Happy Day and Gimme Shelter, starring Vanessa Hudgens and Brendan Fraser. He also contributed to the soundtracks of Hunger Games and Looper, and has been featured several times on popular American television show So You Think You Can Dance.
In 2013 he scored the ITV thriller series Broadchurch. The series reached top ratings in the UK and France and subsequently earned Ólafur Arnalds a prestigious BAFTA Award for Best Original Television Music in 2014.
Projects in 2015 will include the work on the second season of Broadchurch, as well as a collaboration project with German-Japanese classical pianist Alice Sara Ott.