A lot of your music tends to be a little quirky. What inspires you to make music?
I guess I try to make music that I like listening to myself. For my attention to be held, I need to be surprised or for something stupid to happen. I mean I love that, when something you don’t expect happens, but still within a kind of normal structure.
Does that make it difficult? To surprise yourself?
It’s impossible to surprise yourself as a musician. It’s just not possible. If you study the piano then you put down a chord you know exactly what possibilities you have to do next because you’ve done it before. And the guitar is the same, you know so many songs on the guitar, you almost know what kind of song you are writing before you do it. So the way I’ve been writing things is without listening. I get something into the computer and just press loads of buttons and hope that something good will happen and if nothing good happens then I throw it away and press loads of other buttons until something surprises me, something I couldn’t think of. Then I get them together and when I’m happy I try to sort of ‘tame’ them… What do you call it?
Yeah, make order out of the disorder. So in that way, you kind of start at the wrong end. Because if you have a song on guitar and you like it, then you’re scared of, you know… All the arrangements are just going around it, to make it as strong as possible and that’s what almost everyone in the world is doing. So it’s much more fun to do it impulsively, I really enjoy that. When I was doing the first album I was in a band and we were signed and we had a massive budget and it was driving me mad. I remember I just wanted to do something that was totally different to what I was doing at the time and so I started doing this Eberg thing and I just made some stupid rules and followed them, like the one I was telling you about [pressing loads of buttons].
You are working on your third album now. Is that going to be similar to your previous work? Starting with the chaos?
I’ve started writing songs the normal way again and spending lots of time making the same mistakes that I made in the old days, therefore I’m kind of trying to… I’m just going to start over again and do it the opposite way. I’ve got a few tracks that are ready and all the good ones have been a mistake or happened by chance or what do you call it… ?
Accidental yeah exactly. They happened to be the good ones.
Could you call yourself the ‘Accidental Musician’?
You’ve had some success in the states, a track on the O.C. and Veronica Mars and the theme song for the new iphone. How did you feel when you were getting the calls to put your songs on American television?
It was one of those ‘nice telephone calls’. But I’m always a bit pissed when I get calls from America because they tend to call on Friday morning then its Friday night in Reykjavík so I’m always very ‘extra happy’ when I hear from them. But it’s good, it’s been really pleasant and I’ll hopefully get more of them.
Are there any particular lyrics stuck inside your head at the moment?
Yeah. I went on this trip to the West Fjords with a bunch of people, no electricity, no nothing, I feel a bit proud about it. It was really good and I promised myself to write a lyric there. So I made everyone tell me what they do online what sites they visit and what they do you know whatever. The more people got drunk the more detail came out. So this one is called ‘Caught in the Net’ and it’s about how people seem to have a different life within in this stupid world.
Do you find producing other people’s music as rewarding as making your own?
It’s great. You’re making an album, and it’s a funny thing to do, it’s difficult and rewarding, anyway you finish it. When you’re an artist and you finish an album it’s just a beginning. But when you’re a producer it’s finished. You don’t have to do anything more with it. It’s done, you put your name on it and you remember it in a fun way, there’s no hassle, you don’t have to go out and sell it or worry if it gets any radio play or if you lose any money or make money. It’s kind of a dream job for me to do that. It’s good. And you learn a lot from working with other people. You get ideas. Everyone is teaching you something and no one is doing something in exactly the same way. Which is good.
And when you’re on your own?
I dunno, I’m never really happy when I record my own stuff. I’m happy afterwards but I’m never happy while I’m doing it. You’re pressing record and you’re running around the room and you trip on a cable and you did a great take and you realise you didn’t record it and there’s loads of frustration really. I sometimes wish I just had an engineer. I guess I’m just enjoying working with people for a little while before I tackle my own album. It’s definitely not my own album that is the most enjoyable thing in the world. I don’t know why. They are afterwards, but not during.