“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”
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.”