Oddly enough, ultra-independent Reykjavík rocker Jón Þór has mostly flown under the public’s radar for most of his musical career, despite being responsible for some really catchy tunes and playing with some really great bands. Iceland Airwaves veterans might remember him from indie rock greats Lada Sport (a classic Grand Rokk Wednesday band ca 2007) or Dynamo Fog or—most recently—performing sweet power pop under his own name, backed by a couple of friends.
More people should know about him, that’s for sure. Case in point: he released this wonderfully infectious track called Stelpur this spring and none of you have heard it. This should change.
Well. It’s changing right now! Because, luckily, Jón Þór sent us an email the other day. Here’s what it said:
would you like to post my new video for the song Stelpur (“Girls”), which is finally ready? Here’s some text you can use if you want to do that.
“Stelpur is the first song in a series on upcoming singles from Reykjavík-bred musician Jón Þór. The single follows his début LP, ‘Sérðu mig í lit?’, and falls under the category of ‘hard hitting Scando-pop’. A real summer hit. The song is about being driven by your libido late at night, in the Reykjavík nightlife. The video was shot in Barcelona, by director Helgi Pétur Hannesson.”
“What a nice video,” we thought. “What a great song,” we thought. “It’s like summer might come after all!” we thought. So we responded to Jón Þór’s email and told him, “sure, we’ll post your video! Hey, we should do a mini interview to accompany the post. So people can get to know the real you.” And we sent along some questions. Read on to learn what those questions were, and how Jón Þór answered them.
What were you doing in Barcelona? Did you go there just to shoot that music video?
Yes. We went to Barcelona with the sole purpose of shooting a music video in the sun and have fun. It was in January and me and Helgi Pétur (the director) needed a Vitamin-D infusion.
Is there a storyline in the video, or is it self-explanatory? You’ve given a brief explanation about the lyrics, but could you go a little deeper? For instance, what to some of the key phrases mean in English?
The video is sunny, like the song itself, but also lonely, like the lyrics. The lyrics basically focus on the need for human touch; a kiss, a dirty poem—something to make you forget everything else.
The key phrase in the chorus is “Ó, ég er svo þyrstur”, which translates to “Oh, I’m so thirsty.” That kind of says it all. It’s good to admit sometimes how libidinous you can or—cannot—allow yourself to be. And I really like expressing carnal needs in such a jangly song.
Why don’t you have a band with many members that you could jam with? Do you work better solo?
The song was meant for a band. I didn’t want to be a solo artist after I made my debut LP, ‘Sérðu mig í lit?’ But being in a band is frustrating to me, despite being surrounded by friends. Total strangers is probably better. And I guess I listen mostly to solo artists and bands that have a leading songwriter, e.g. Waters, Fred Thomas, Ben Kweller, Wheatus and Nada Surf. But I have very good friends playing on drums and bass in this song. It’s a three-piece band, a punk-pop trio, just the way I like it.
You seem kind of out of step with a lot of what (outsiders) would consider “Icelandic alt. music”, i.e. the stuff that’s fashionable at the moment. Like you’re drawing influence from a different era? Who do you consider your contemporaries in Icelandic music? What is your opinion of what everyone else is doing?
I really can’t comment on the Icelandic music scene. Some days I like it, but most days I think it’s complete shit. But I like a lot of Icelandic stuff. And that’s the thing with musical taste. It’s random.
What do you have in the works at the moment?
I have few things coming up. This fall I’m heading to the studio to record some more songs. Also, I have a side project with my friend, Flex Árnason, called Love & Fog. We finished an album, which is due out this fall in a limited vinyl edition.
Lastly, what do you think of your sometimes-collaborator Sindri Eldon’s new album? We hear it’s being underestimated and getting way too little press?
Well, I read some great reviews—and they are well deserved. It’s a thrashnik rollercoaster ride of punk pop terror. It’s great. But I can see why it hasn’t flown higher, considering what’s popular in Icelandic rock these days.
Go like Jón Þór on Facebook, if you’re into doing stuff like that.