Svavar Pétur Eysteinsson, aka Prins Póló, sits down regally on the bench, his back straight and fingers interlocked over one knee. Clad in a bright blue blazer, his pale, world-weary blues eyes look out from his powdered face beneath a gold cardboard crown.
The occasion for our chat is that ‘Lifið ertu að grínast’—an earworm pop song from his 2018 album “Þriðja kryddið”—is the winner of the Grapevine’s Song Of The Year award. “The title means ‘Life, Are you kidding me?’” says Svavar. “I didn’t know until I finished the album that it’s a theme album. You start making music when you’re young and then you keep making it as you get older. When you’re younger you maybe sing about more silly things than when you grow up.”
Svavar wrote the album around the time he was turning forty: a landmark age that had a defining influence on his new collection.
“I wanted to make an album that could express my feelings about being a musician,” he smiles. “Because being a musician is about being young and beautiful. It’s not as much about being… old and ugly. It only came to me afterwards, but the themes of the songs were about disappointment in life—maybe not mine, but also my friends and family, and people you chat with at a party. All those stories gathered in my head and became the album’s theme.”
Maybe your children will hate you
Svavar wrote the music with his friend Axel in 2015. Songs, he says, come easily—except for the lyrics. “You have to make a new story in every song,” he says. “The story in song one cannot be the same as the story in song three…. but there can be connection. So that’s how the theme arose. On this album, the fun times are over, and you’re in the middle of something. Maybe you don’t know where you’re going, or you’re stuck somewhere… maybe you’ll be there the rest of your life, or maybe you will die tomorrow. Maybe your children will hate you, and your work is dreadful… but there are all these questions about where life is going. And that’s how we arrived at ‘Life, are you kidding me?’”
It’s here that Prins Póló succeeds: the combination of simple, catchy songs with lyrics that can be intriguing riddles, relatable observations, or both at once. “If it was just making music, I could make five albums a year,” says Svavar. “But I want to put real meaning into it, not just some silly stupid words and rhyme that fit together. I want to have a real story to tell. And that’s the tricky part.”
Read more about the music awards here.