Published March 13, 2018
GusGus are a pioneering entity in Iceland’s electronic music scene that barely need an introduction. This band are well known for their energetic live performances and catchy synth-driven melodies both here and abroad. Since forming in 1995 they have seen ten album releases on six labels, and have had numerous personnel changes.
GusGus are currently a duo featuring two founder members: producer Biggi Veira—real name Birgir Þórarinsson—and vocalist Daníel Ágúst Haraldsson. We met and chatted over a coffee about their current endeavours.
Float on waves
Despite having different backgrounds, Biggi, whose previous electronic output as T-World was assimilated into GusGus, and Daníel, who also founded pop-band Nýdönsk, share a common interest in the possibilities of electronic music. “When I started performing with GusGus I was very conscious during the parts in the songs where the music had a chance to breathe,” says Daníel. “I felt like I had some gaps to fill.” After years of experience, his goal is now to listen carefully and bring on a continuation of the music. “I try to float on the waves that Biggi produces,” he says.
GusGus’ live performances as of late centre on the artistic partnership of Biggi and Daníel. “Experimentation is a very important part of our live show,” explains Biggi, and indeed their shows have a certain je ne sais quoi that adds a layer of enjoyment to their familiar songs. With fewer players on stage, they feel this has become more conscious and concise. Daníel explains: “There’s more focus and intimacy now when our collaborative energies get to be centre stage.”
Oroom for more
It’s been four years since the group’s previous release, “Mexico,” which implies a quality-over-quantity mentality. “It’s important for our music to be allowed to happen slowly,” Biggi says. “It’s about carefully making music that we can’t get enough of,” adds Daníel. Their new album is called ‘Lies Are More Flexible,’ and hit the digital shelves on February 23rd. It’s self-released on the band’s newly founded label, Oroom. “We are doing almost everything surrounding our music ourselves these days,” says Biggi. “So we thought we might as well release it, too.”
The title of their most recent effort suggests a theme of existentialist absurdity—an attempt to justify lying—with a mundane photograph from everyday life as the cover, and song titles like “No Manual” and “Don’t Know How To Love.” The sound has elements reminiscent of early electronic genres. “The late ‘70s and early ‘80s were an interesting, raw and very explorative period for electronic music, that wasn’t necessarily aimed at dance clubs,” says Biggi. “I felt like making songs with synth-heavy New Wave influences, and an industrial yet emotional energy.”
To be continued
GusGus will perform at Sónar Reykjavík on March 16th in celebration of ‘Lies Are More Flexible’—which will soon see a vinyl release—and a new remix EP is in the works. And if that wasn’t enough, the amount of promising music created in the process of making the new album was enough to help Biggi and Daníel decide that a follow-up, or sister-album, will be released next year. In Daníel’s own words: “To be continued!”
See GusGus’ album release gig at Sónar Reykjavík on March 16th.