Interview: Jonsi from Sigur Ros

Since omnipresent anthems like Hoppipola started hitting the airwaves in the mid-2000s, Sigur Rós have become everyone’s favourite Icelandic band, and lead singer and songwriter Jónsi has spent the last couple of years creating his debut solo album ‘Go’, which came out this April.

Hi Jonsi, are you excited to come to the UK?

Yeah, it will be super nice, and I’m really excited to come. We just played Latitude Festival, which was awesome

What was it like? You were amazing and popular at Latitude in 2008

It was amazing. A huge extravanganza

We know you have an unorthodox approach to music writing, especially with your use of volenska. Do you always use it, even when writing solo material?

No, on this album there is no…. oh yes there is one song. Candlelight uses Volenska

‘All Alright’ was the first song you sang in English – could you already speak the language or did you learn it as you sang? How did that happen?

I have been able to speak English for a very long time. I’ve been playing music for 15 years and been travelling for a long, long time, but for lyrics, sometimes it is a little harder to write than in Icelandic.

Like so many of Brighton’s citizens, you are an artist, a vegetarian and also homosexual. Do you think more towns should be like Brighton, with its liberal attitude? Is Brighton somewhere you would like to live? Will you be around for Pride?

Erm… yeah I don’t know if I would like to live in Brighton! The attitudes in Iceland are super. There are some laws, you know, like gay laws are very progressive in Iceland. It’s a really cool place to live. I’d love to be around in Brighton for Pride festival as I’ve never been before. My favourite thing in Brighton is the what’s it called? Merry-go-round? On the beach. Yeah, I love that.

You will be playing at the Brighton Dome in Spetember to perform your new show GO! The show seems very visually exciting – is the Dome going to be big enough for everything you have planned?

I’m not really sure how big the Dome is. I have no clue what it is like. But the show is very scalable, we can play in any size of venue. But yes, the show is going to be very good to watch and will be on an epic scale.

59 Productions have introduced some fascinating elements to the tour, such as live butterflies and real fire. How much were you involved with the preparation and staging of GO?

Quite a lot at the beginning. The guys came to Iceland and I wrote down the lyrics and told them the keywords for each song. We then stayed in touch by email and they showed me what they were doing. I kind of liked their attitude because they use all kinds of things, like animation and things.

Last year you worked with the superstar DJ Tiesto. What was it like working with such a pioneer of dance music and how did you adjust to switching genre from the music you are most famous for?

It’s quite easy. It’s basically just a song. You know, you can’t just say they are dramatically different. The songs I write share a lot with Tiesto’s music. We recorded it here in my house in Iceland. I enjoyed it a lot, you know, it was fun. He sent me the samples over the internet. I liked the beats he sent over and we worked on it together.

Hoppipola is known throughout the country, it is played in TV shows, films, trailers and even at football matches. Do you think it is a good thing to have one song that has achieved so much success or do you think sometimes it overshadows the other amazing music you have produced? Did you ever suspect Hopipolla would be so successful?

No I never knew it would be so big. But it is a good thing, it’s positive. It’s great to have such a success.

How are the rest of Sigur Ros doing? I hear they are beginning to settle down and have children. Do you think this will shape the sound of Sigur Ros in the future?

In some ways yes. We will be adding some new things to our songs, but at the moment I am concentrating on my solo stuff and my touring. We will be meeting more next year, writing new songs but not right now.

Finally, will we be seeing Alex Somers alongside you for the show in September? I can’t wait to see it. What surprise do you have in store?

It’s going to be great music, a great live show. It would be nice if you could all come and see it, it’s going to be like something completely new.