Do you mind if we talk a bit about Iceland, because you have spent quite a bit of your time in New York and London and elsewhere. Do you retain your culture as much as you’d like ?

Yeah, I’m still [Icelandic] because I spend half of my time there, and it’s been like that more or less since I was eighteen. I guess I was in a position that’s probably not offered to many, that we were touring a lot—and to be honest I toured a lot more with the Sugarcubes than I ever toured by myself. And then you set up this kind of balance where half the time you’re travelling the world and the other half you’re at home. And I really like that balance—it makes you even more patriotic than if you were there all the time. I’ve written my most patriotic songs—like for example on Homogenic, I did that in Spain. Sort of when you get really really homesick and you’re somewhere else and you look back and it inspires you.

But I think also part of me and what I stand for in Iceland, is very much [that] Iceland was a colony for 600 years and we were treated really badly by the Danish. And the first generation—like my father and my mother—they were born [in] the year of independence so it sort of took that generation to get their heads around that they were actually their own persons.

So it was sort of the role of my generation to be the first generation that kind of really broke off. And when Punk arrived in Iceland we weren’t fighting against Margaret Thatcher or class structure in Britain, we were more sort of declaring independence from the Danish, and we were singing songs in Icelandic and being very sort of punk/patriotic/Viking and also declaring independence from Scandinavia, because we were always looked at as being part of Scandinavia but we’re actually quite different. It’s very different, like literature from there and art are really different, it’s kind of more anarchic and more freedom-loving, ecstatic, kind of aggressive. It’s definitely not sort of Ingmar Bergman, let’s-sit-here-and-analyze-each-other-for-a-whole-movie-and-suffer. [laughs] That’s definitely not Iceland’s way.

I don’t say it’s better or worse—I don’t mean it like that—but it’s a very different mindset. So I would say when we started travelling and playing Icelandic music all over the world and [were] very proud of our heritage, it was to stop the isolation, because Iceland was isolated for 600 years from the rest of the world, and when we got our independence we were sort of still in the middle ages, it was like we hadn’t really had any progress. So part of my generation was saying—and there was a lot of fear, kind of "foreigners are evil and then they corrupt you and destroy you and they are like the Danish, and they just want to abuse you and everything abroad is horrible and we should just stick together and wear woolly sweaters and read the sagas out loud to each other and be isolated for ever and ever". [laughs]

So my generation was very much about about breaking that up and saying : listen, I could go and play Mexico and I could play New Zealand and I will be as Icelandic as any of you guys. I’m not going to get corrupted and I’m not going to get abused ; it’s okay to mingle with the aliens [laughs] and you won’t get destroyed. And that’s part of Iceland’s pride—it’s to be a country in the world and be able to communicate with other countries.

So I’m sorry it’s a very long answer but I think it explains a lot why I’ve always felt that it is important to travel and mingle with the aliens. [laughs]

New Zealand Herald (Online) 19 November 2007