How did you spend the holidays ?
I’m not really into holidays, you know ? I love doing what I do, and my job is so diverse. If I would have a day off, I would write tunes, do you know what I mean ? So yeah, I do try to swim a lot and just walk by the ocean. And there’s a little piece of the ocean wherever you go in the world.
Well, what did you do after Christmas ? Any Icelandic traditions ?
I spend every Christmas in Iceland, and it’s always the same thing. It’s on the 24th, and we eat dinner at six. Actually, I can almost taste the rice pudding with raisins and cinnamon. And after all the presents are open, we sit by the fireplace. And New Year’s Eve was brilliant as well because I invited most of my mates over, like the people I had been working with in London. There were 40 of them, and with my family there were, like, one hundred of us. And we rented a ski hut in the mountains, and we had fireworks. And all these people playing and doing magical tricks. It was very special. People snowboarding left, right, and center.
How long did it take you to find presents ?
I’ve got a massive family, so it was a lot of presents. So, this time around, I was working in Spain, so I found presents there. I love buying presents. I usually start in October. Finding the right thing for the right person is such a sentimental thing. It shows how well you know a person, if you know what they want, and you can still get them something that will surprise them. It’s a fine line, and you have to be aware that you are not going to give them something that they are never going to use. And it’s not a question of money, it could be the cheapest thing in the universe, it just has to be that right little object. And yeah, I love buying presents.
Did you cook at all ?
I cooked a little bit. But since I had all the people that stood by my side, which has been a brilliant time in my life, but it has been similar to the Vietnam War. I was lucky enough that I met such good people, who have stayed by my side. And that is just so beyond. Do you know what I mean ? They have stayed there during hard times, so I brought them to Iceland, and I was so busy trying to take care of them and showing them Iceland and going a lot to restaurants because food in Iceland is quite special. But I did cook a little bit, like salted fish.
What’s your favorite food ?
Yeah, I like berries. Precious little things. A little bit of this. A little bit of that. I don’t like in-between foods like a big plate of potatoes or bread. It’s just boring, not worth it. And I like really spicy things like Thai food. And I like tequilas, cognac. I like extreme, all-the-way tastes.
When you say things were like the Vietnam War, do you mean going out on your own ?
No, it’s been okay. When I was in the Sugarcubes, it was a very social thing. We were childhood friends, just having a laugh. And we started this company, mostly to put out poetry and shit and have parties. Reykjavík is a small town, and we just wanted to threaten that mentality, which is what you do when you are a teenager. And we got drunk on weekends and started this band as a joke. Then suddenly you’re supposed to tour the world and be a professional rock star, and we were laughing our heads off. It was ridiculous. And we did it, though, just for the laugh. And I stepped out of it when I did Debut. It was just music that I do privately, that I do for myself. And that brought even more attention, which I’m not complaining about, but it was not expected, you see ? It was a more pleasant surprise, as they say. But I don’t want to be a coward. I want to take it on and look the monster in the eye and all that shit. It was scary at times but very interesting. And brilliant, so brilliant. And so many people that are now lifelong friends. It’s like a close-knit family. I just find it romantic to be in a moment of crisis and people sticking together. But I’m just a hopeless romantic.
What do you listen to when you don’t want think about your own music ?
Oh, I’m obsessed with music. I listen to it all the time. It is not vital for me to be a singer/songwriter with a lot of lights in my face. I’m just obsessed with music and that’s the end of it. And that is why I will always do it. I had radio shows in Iceland, did soundtracks for films, produced heavy metal bands, DJ’d. I don’t care, as long as it’s about music.
In the last few years, I have been going to a lot of drum’n’bass clubs. And what is so brilliant about it is that it is still in the making. It’s like almost you can’t take it in your house, like bebop in the ’30s. It’s still raw. That music is so much speaking for life and the immigrants in England. It’s very English music. It’s their biography, their statement, their fight for life in a country that they’re not welcome in. You can’t stick that on a CD and play it in your living room. Most of bebop was recorded 20 years after people like Duke Ellington had been around. I’ve heard very rare recordings from the 1930s, and it’s so full of energy and fighting for life. And punk ? Ha ha ! Led Zeppelin ? Fuck off ! It’s the same thing with acid house in 1987, you can’t really bring it home to your house. Well, you can, but you’re bringing another chemistry there.
So you don’t think that electronic music should be listened to at home at all ?
It depends on what year it is. Now, today it is 1997, and drum’n’bass is still in the making, so you should listen to it in the club. Bebop, for example, you should listen to from a ghetto blaster, because, obviously, you can’t go there. But nothing beats the real thing. Music is the most adaptable creature in the world. You can always express yourself through music, it doesn’t matter if you’re a space alien on Saturn or a dog in Wisconsin. There’s a certain type of music that fits being in the home, in a domestic way.
What do you listen to at home ?
I like contemporary classical music, which is the most controversial music term I have ever heard in my life. I also like a lot of music from England, like Tricky and PJ Harvey. I listen to a lot of techno, but if you went to a record store, it would be classified as “intellectual techno.” I would rather call it “creative,” or “more interesting,” techno.
Would the techno bands that work with you on Telegram fit into that category ?
Yeah, there’s a brilliant techno label in Finland called Sanko, and they have a way of making techno innocent. And people still treat techno as if it’s an alien thing. Like something cold and not part of our lives. For me, pop music is walking down the street, hearing car alarms, fax machines, wind, sun, human voices. Just taking a risk and making magic. And that’s what’s really a pop song.