“All the quicker songs seem to be about this joy­ful and youth­ful sense of spon­tane­ity – that sort of spark of youth which means you’re not afraid of do­ing any­thing”

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Music -

thought it would sound,” says Jónsi.

The big­gest dif­fer­ence, though, came with the ar­rival of drum­mer Kos­mi­nen. “Sa­muli had no idea of what the songs were like when he turned up at the stu­dio,” he says. “He ar­rived with this big suit­case full of toys and sud­denly there was this big rhyth­mic en­ergy to the songs thanks to what he was do­ing. He’s re­ally spon­ta­neous and in­ven­tive and he gave this al­bum a real sense of en­ergy and propul­sion. At this stage, I was far away from where I thought I’d be, but re­ally en­joy­ing how the songs were be­ing changed by the per­cus­sion.”

Go is di­vided into up­beat and down­beat songs. “It’s funny the way it worked out, but all the quicker songs seem to be about this joy­ful and youth­ful sense of spon­tane­ity – that sort of spark of youth which means you’re not afraid of do­ing any­thing and you think you’re ca­pa­ble of do­ing what­ever you want to do. It’s a real sort of ‘re­alise your dreams’ sen­ti­ment. But with the slower songs, they’re all about the fear we all have in­side our­selves about try­ing to re­alise our dreams. And the older you get, it seems the less spon­ta­neous you get – you no longer have that ‘I can do any­thing’ feel­ing you have in your youth,” says Jónsi.

There’s a real sense of gid­di­ness to the al­bum – it’s a dif­fer­ent beast en­tirely to the more pon­der­ous and orches­tral-laden work of his main band – and there’s a real pop-rush feel to the pro­ceed­ings. “It does get a bit fre­netic at times, but in a good way,” he says. “I sup­pose a feel­ing of release, a feel­ing of just do­ing this to see how it goes and not re­ally wor­ry­ing too much about it. It re­ally does rock along at times and there’s ur­gency to a song such as An­i­mal Arith­metic – which is a very dif­fer­ent way of do­ing things for me.”

With Sigur Rós, Jónsi has writ­ten al­most ex­clu­sively in Ice­landic and his own made-up lan­guage, Hopelandish, but most of Go is in English. Jónsi lives in Ice­land with his Amer­i­can boyfriend, the artist Alex Somers, and the two com­mu­ni­cate ex­clu­sively through English.

“I sup­pose it was a chal­lenge for me to write lyrics in English – which was in keep­ing with the chal­lenge of bring­ing out a solo al­bum,” he says. “It’s like a men­tal ex­er­cise for me be­cause you have to get your mind tick­ing over in English. I do de­cide be­fore­hand whether a song is go­ing to be in English or Ice­landic, and maybe writ­ing lyrics in English is good for me be­cause I’m go­ing to be us­ing the lan­guage in a dif­fer­ent way. Look at Abba lyrics and you can see that.”

A tour to sup­port Go will see Jónsi trav­el­ling around the US in April for a month or so be­fore hit­ting the Euro­pean fes­ti­val cir­cuit. “I’m try­ing to get as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble who played on the al­bum on to the tour, and, just like Sigur Rós shows, I want to make the show dif­fer­ent from the tra­di­tional rock show. We’ll be do­ing a lot of pro­jec­tions and vis­ual stuff and I’ve been talk­ing to this re­ally cool video de­signer called Leo Warner about how far we can go with this. I still don’t know ex­actly how it will turn out though – I just know it will be dif­fer­ent,” he says.

He’s wearily aware that the release of the solo al­bum will prompt many a “Sigur Rós to split” story. “No, there is no split, none at all,” he says. “We’ve al­ready planned out the next Sigur Rós al­bum – it’s go­ing to be a back-to­ba­sics af­fair. And we’re record­ing it in a swim­ming pool.”

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