“It´s not a big concern for me that I will spread myself too thin.” Even in the world of Icelandic music, where musicians are almost expected to have numerous side projects on the go, the musician known as Þórir Georg Jónsson has ploughed a particularly industrious musical furrow of his own accord.
The 2000s saw him as a member of numerous hardcore bands such as Gavin Portland, Fighting Shit and The Deathmetal Supersquad, before going it solo for many years under the name My Summer As a Salvation. Now preforming under his own name, he’s released two albums, 2010’s ‘Afsakið’ and 2012’s ‘Janúar’. He is also a member of the bands Ofvitarnir and MVNVMVNTS, as well as a founding member of the DIY music collective/label Paradísarborgarplötur. With so much on the go, it´s a wonder he actually was able to talk to us at all! But talk to us he did…
Hello there Þorir! How are things in your world at the moment?
Hello Bob! Things are good. Busy, I’ve been stressed out trying to sort everything out for my new album to be manufactured but that all seems to be sorted out now so that feels pretty good.
Good to hear. For a few years now, you’ve performed solo under the moniker My Summer As A Salvation Soldier, but now you’re performing under your real name. Why did you revert back to your original name? Will we see MSAASS come back at any point in the future?
Well, the simple answer is that I just wasn’t feeling comfortable using that name for a myriad of reasons. And I just felt like mixing it up, making a change. In my mind I always thought of “My Summer…” as a some kind of a band or a collective but when it came down to it, it was always just me on my own working on it, so I figured I might as well just be honest about it and use my own name.
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As well as a solo artist you’re, known for a myriad of offshoots, with bands such as Ofvitarnir and MVNVMVNTS, as well as your new post-punk project Bömmer. What is it that drives you to work under so many guises? Is it a concern if you spread yourself too thin creatively, you may not get true fulfilment from each individual project?
It´s not a big concern for me that I will spread myself too thin. These projects are usually born because I find myself having written a few songs, or have been working on some ideas, that I feel are out of place with my two main projects (my solo project and Ofvitarnir) rather than me having an idea for a project and then start writing for it. My main ambition as a musician is evolving creatively and it’s also a lot of fun to explore these different ideas. I´m not oblivious to how that may make it complicated or off putting for people to check out my music but I´m willing to take that chance.
And on that note, what is the current situation with your projects right now?
Ofvitarnir have a new album coming out soon and we are already well on our way with writing our third one. MVNVMVNTS is a very un-organized affair and we’ve never really planned anything. But after playing shows for what must be about 4 – 5 years now we’ve started talking about possibly recording something. Bömmer is something I just work on when I have a song idea or feel inspired to work on something that might fit within that sound so I have no idea when or if there will be new material.
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You’ve been instrumental in setting up the DIY blog/label/collective Paradísarborgarplötur, or PBP punk for short. Can you give us a little bit of info on why and how it was started up? What’s happening at the moment with that?
Myself and Fannar Örn Karlsson (Ofvitarnir, Norn, MVNVMVNTS) started PBP because we wanted a label-like project to work on along with our bands. The idea behind it was kind of influenced by hip hop and jazz musicians where you´ll have this group of people that are working together on a lot of different bands/projects under different names. We wanted to make a collective of sorts to connect all our projects. And the website we made because we wanted to have a single place where all our music (or at least a great deal of it) would be available.
Earlier this year you released your latest solo record ‘Janúar’. The record felt a change from your usual abrasive music in that it contained several tracks of ambient sounds. Tell us about how you made the record and making these tracks. When did you start branching out into ambient music?
‘Janúar’ was a bit of a side-step and maybe shouldn’t have been released under my own name, but at the time it felt right so I just went for it. I’ve been making ambient music for over a decade now. I’ve never really released any of it apart from a few cd-rs and tapes that I’d give out to a handful of people. But I’ve always been interested in mixing it into my own music so that’s definitely something I’ll experiment more with in the future.
In October you have a new album coming out titled, ‘I Will Die And You Will Die And It Will Be Alright.’ That’s a very fatalistic album title by any standards. Will the themes of the album reflect the title, or is it there merely to keep us guessing as to the contents? Will the music on this album be a continuation of the music and sounds from ‘Janúar’?
In some ways it will be a continuation of what I was doing on ‘Janúar’. I feel like it exists somewhere in between ‘Janúar’ and ‘Afsakið’ (my first album under my own name). The title reflects the themes of the album but for me it’s not really a bleak theme. It´s pretty optimistic. But I suppose that depends on where you´re coming from in life. If I would try to sum up the theme of the new album it would be that life is utterly meaningless but therein lies life´s greatest meaning.
On this year’s Airwaves, you’re playing in a fairly rowdy line up with the likes of Æla, Morðingjarninr, and Croisztans. How will you be preparing for your performance?
I really don´t know. The last few solo shows I´ve been playing I’ve performed solo with an electric guitar and those shows have gotten pretty loud so maybe I’ll just stick to that format. Or maybe do something completely different. I honestly won’t know until probably about a week before my show.
Apart from yourself, who else should we advise travelling folk to see while they´re at the festival?
Well the obvious answer would be Swans. I am very excited about getting to see them live as it’s something I didn´t really think I’d ever get the chance to do. Cheek Mountain Thief are a great new band and I have high hopes for the Dream Central Station show. If people are into heavier darker music (as I tend to be this time of year), Ben Frost, Sólstafir, Svartidauði and Beneath will all deliver amazing sets I´m sure.
Final question – Metallica or Slayer?
Now this is a hard question and one that could be discussed at lengths. On the whole I would say Slayer have Metallica easily beaten. But had Metallica ceased to exist as a band after putting out Master of Puppets it would be a whole different scenario. But seeing as we live in the real world and not my utopia, my answer is going to have to be… Slayer.
No worries dude… SLAYER!!
Þórir Georg will be playing Saturday 2nd November, 21:40, at Café Amsterdam
You can steam and purchase Þorir’s music at his Bandcamp page
Book your day tours in Iceland right here!