“The Truth the Love the Life” by Markús & The Diversion Sessions came out in late 2015, after three years of recording in various places in Iceland. It was very much a collective effort, as lead singer Markús Bjarnason explains. “Without influences and additions from my friends in the band Georg Kári Hilmarsson, Ási Sigþórsson and Marteinn Sindri Jónsson,” he says, “as well as the guests adding their magic, this album would be lacking in so many ways.”
Markús says that songs and sounds from the past inspired the album, and that mixing many genres with his own sound was challenging. “In the end though,” he says, “it made for a melting pot of pop melodies, folk songs and rock ’n’ roll.”
This is one of two Icelandic-language songs on the record, and it reminds me of a Belle & Sebastian song. The song was recorded in my friend’s barn—we were jamming to it for a whole night until we got it right.
The song’s chorus was first to come. I was living in my first apartment, feeling secure and optimistic and looking forward to the future. Then came the economic crisis, and many stories of people painfully losing their money or houses. The verses are about remembering the fact that people can be happy and have decent times with or without money, if they feel secure.
‘’The Truth the Love the Life ‘’
Kristján Freyr Einarsson and I wrote the title song. It’s about being a young adult and figuring out that you know almost nothing about life, yourself, and that you have to make many mistakes in order to become a decent human being. Also about the power of friends working together.
‘’Get a Party Going’’
A friend who was living in the country for a long time having no luck finding a girlfriend inspired this song. As soon as he got his own apartment and could host afterparties, he found a girlfriend… he is now married with kids.
Kristján Freyr Einarsson wrote most of the song and I added some lyrics. It’s sad, rough and naive, in a beautiful way. The chorus is the one of the best choruses in any song I have ever heard. I can say that because I did not write it.
‘’É bisst assökunar’’
This one is a story told from many perspectives—it’s funny, but mostly sad. It’s only partly drawn from my own experiences, thankfully, but I have met people who can connect to it. Most of us struggle with bills and rent each month, don’t we?
‘’Now I Know’’
This is one of the best songs I have written, made so much better with the band’s work. It’s about finally knowing what to do, who to be and not being stuck in fear, wanting to change but constantly postponing it.
This was an attempt to write a Tom Waits-inspired song. It’s a chant featuring the Vox Populi choir about the fate of being born a musician or artist, and keeping on creating even though it can sometimes be a burden.
“Picture a Painting”
We recorded the voices and strings from a live session. This recording was good enough to be included in the album without anything additional. I love albums with stripped-down versions between big arrangements.
I love slow travelling and having to wait in airports, or being stuck somewhere because of weather. It creates a special time in which you experience the now. I’d seen a documentary about soldiers coming home from war, who’d been sent home on slow boats to give them time to work out their experiences. I wondered how a slow boat could help people after a traumatic experience.
Markús & The Diversion Sessions have several concerts upcoming this summer and fall including a performance at Akureyri’s Græni Hatturinn, HAVARÍ in Berufjörður July 14th , Ljósanótt in Keflavík, and a solo tour of Germany and Poland in september.