12 Tónar are also active as wholesalers for other music stores and are “getting bigger and busier as a record label” says Jói, who is one of the owners. The 12 Tónar record label is expanding fast; some of their featured artists include Mugison from Ísafjörður (record of the year in Japan), Eyvör Pálsdóttir from the Faroe Islands and Slowblow from Iceland.
So how did it all come about? “12 Tónar were founded in my cellar six years ago. At first we only sold one album, just in wholesale. It was the great “Nordisk Salon Musik” album which was a best seller in Iceland during christmas of ’99. “It was such a success that we decided to open a store of our own and for the past three years we’ve been situated by Skólavörðustígur.”
What was 12 Tónar´s next release? “Trabant live at Bessastaðir. It’s out soon, in only 500 copies and features Icelandic band Trabant playing live in a party held by the President of Iceland. On the cover are the band with the president in his office, and one track is simply a thanks speech to the band from the president just after that particular gig. It’s going to sell very fast.”
Grapevine orders a copy of the new Trabant album, bids farwell and walks smiling down Skólavörðustígur to go back to work, hoping it won’t be broke by the time that album comes out.
The name means 12 tones and when it comes to variety of music, it’s a music store that indeed fills the whole octave. With a friendly staff of four, including a rock star and a classical musician, two floors full of CDs, a sofa and free coffee, you’re in good hands when it comes to finding what you want. The classical stuff is on the ground floor but in the cellar you’ll find new and old Icelandic releases - it’s all there.