Some­thing kinda oooh

They started out as a bunch of low-key songs filed away in the back of his mind, but but the time Sigur Rós front­man Jónsi Bir­gis­son com­pleted his solo al­bum, the en­ergy lev­els were an aw­ful lot higher, he tells Brian Boyd

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

JÓN “JÓNSI” Bir­gis­son has a lot of com­part­ments in his head. “There’s one for am­bi­ent stuff, one for elec­tronic stuff, one for acous­tic stuff and one for rock stuff,” says the 35-year-old Ice­landic singer. With his band Sigur Rós on down­time at the mo­ment, Jónsi (as he’s known to every­one) took the time to flick through what he had stored in th­ese com­part­ments over the years and to his as­ton­ish­ment he found that he had 27 songs. A solo al­bum was al­ready there.

“It’s funny, but I do put songs into dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories, it’s the only way I can re­mem­ber which song is in which cat­e­gory,” he says. “Th­ese are songs which I would have writ­ten over the past 10 years of be­ing in the band but were never go­ing to be Sigur Rós songs. With the band we do ev­ery­thing to­gether, we’re like a very demo­cratic small com­mune. You don’t ar­rive in the stu­dio with Sigur Rós with a song al­ready writ­ten – that never hap­pens. That’s just the way it works. So I had all th­ese songs – some very old, some very new – ready to go.”

The only thing he re­ally knew about his Go al­bum was that he wanted to get away from, what he de­scribes as “that sort of floaty, dream­land sound Sigur Rós are as­so­ci­ated with”. He’s been an­gered of late by how he feels the band’s Hop­pipolla song has been “raped” by TV. “We al­lowed the Planet Earth pro­gramme to use it, but it seems that TV in Bri­tain doesn’t have to ask per­mis­sion to use a song if it’s in the back­ground – and it seemed to us that ev­ery sin­gle pro­gramme was us­ing Hop­pipolla.”

He thought the best ap­proach for his solo al­bum would be a folky/acous­tic af­fair. “This was mainly be­cause most of those 27 songs were from the ‘acous­tic’ com­part­ment,” he says. “How­ever, things didn’t quite work out as ex­pected.”

Two peo­ple were vi­tal to the fi­nal shape and struc­ture of Go – pro­ducer Nico Mulhy (who comes from a con­tem­po­rary clas­si­cal back­ground) and the drum­mer Sa­muli Kos­mi­nen (who, al­though Fin­nish, plays with the Ice­landic band Múm).

“The first time I met Nico he came around to my place and he had this lap­top with him. All the songs I had were writ­ten ei­ther for acous­tic gui­tar or a sim­ple pi­ano, but he started mess­ing around with strings, brass and wood­wind – but us­ing th­ese sounds in a very dif­fer­ent way – and we did up the ba­sis of five com­plete songs that night. So, al­ready, the al­bum had al­tered from how I ini­tially


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