Sigur Ros frontman says the band endures despite his new solo CD
Verizon Theatre, 1001 NextStage Drive, Grand Prairie.
Oct. 25. 8 p.m. $32–$38.
As the openly gay frontman of groundbreaking Icelandic band Sigur Rós, Jón Thor Birgisson — who goes by Jónsi (pronounced Yónsi) — provided warmth and an ethereal quality to the band’s already atmospheric and lushly chilly songs. In fact, it’s hard to imagine what Sigur Rós would sound like absent Jónsi.
But on Go, Jónsi’s solo debut disc, we get the chance to hear him without his longtime band. His primary collaborator, openly gay orchestral pop artist
Nico Muhly, assists Jónsi in giving the album a fresh and original style. Alternately wildly rhythmic and sumptuous, Go offers Jónsi room to stretch in new and exciting directions. His fans would be wise to follow — which they can to Verizon Theatre on Monday. Now go!
— Gregg Shapiro
Dallas Voice: Congratulations on the release of your new solo album. How does it feel? Jonsi: It feels really good. I’m really happy with it. I’m really happy how it turned out.
What do you say to people who might be concerned that the release of a solo disc by you might be interpreted as the end of Sigur Rós? I’m going to be touring my solo album this year and I’m going to keep on working in Sigur Rós, writing and recording songs. Hopefully there’s going to be a new Sigur Rós album in 2011.
There is a radiant effervescence to some of the songs on Go, such as “Go Do,” “Animal Arithmetic” and “Around Us.” Is that a reflection of your state of mind at the time? Yeah, I think so — definitely. I wanted to push these songs in any way possible. “Go Do,” for example was written on ukulele, which sounds kind of weird when I listen to it now. There are so many layers on the song, so many instruments. I think I was pushing for more and more stuff to put on the songs. I wanted them to be energetic.
There’s definitely a powerful energy in those songs. “Around Us” and “Grow Till Tall” both contain references to growth and growing “till tall.” What’s the connection between the two songs? I don’t know why “grow” appears in so many songs. I think it appears in three lyrics on the album, actually. It’s probably about somebody growing.
Do you think it could be a reflection of your own personal and creative growth? Yeah, it could be, actually. I’m kind of taking a big step by myself by releasing this solo album and finally releasing these songs by myself. I’ve been creating for many, many years.
Are you referring to the passion fruit lilikoi in the song “Boy Lilikoi”? Or is it something else? Yeah! Ha!
Is lilikoi something that you like to eat? Maybe it has a different meaning. Maybe it’s about nature and living in the wild and dreams. Maybe meeting some young boy out in the forest.
You collaborated with your partner, Alex Somers, on the album Go as well as before. How does being in a relationship effect creative collaboration? It’s actually quite healthy. I like it. Alex is this amazing person who really inspires me. We have kind of the same taste in everything, like music, movies and books and clothes and food; nearly everything. We fit well together. It’s really good for me. We support each other and help each other with songwriting.
He helped me choose the songs for this album and produced the album with me. So, yeah, it’s really good.
What happens when you disagree on things? We just bicker a little bit and try to convince each other that you are right. But then somebody just gives in in the end.
If you hadn’t teamed up with Nico Muhly, how different do you think the experience of making Go would have been for you? It would be definitely different. It wouldn’t have so much stuff on it. I think Nico definitely added a lot of atmosphere and colors and playfulness and life to the album, which I’m really happy about. It’s what I wanted it to be and that’s exactly what I wanted him to do. I really love his arrangements and I’m really happy with him.
The woman-focused Lilith Fair was revived this past summer. A number of years ago, there was talk of a gay version of Lilith with Pet Shop Boys, Soft Cell, Rufus Wainwright and Magnetic Fields. If they were to try to revive it, is that something in which you might be interested in participating? Yeah, maybe. That sounds really cool, actually.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 22, 2010