Published October 10, 2022
When we at The Reykjavík Grapevine heard the news that Svavar Pétur Eysteinsson, best known as Prins Póló, had died, we didn’t really know what to say. As always when a loved one dies, it felt unreal—a harsh reminder of how fragile and short life is. Svavar Pétur was only 45 years old. He had been battling cancer since 2018.
Although Svavar Pétur died young, he was incredibly prolific in his short life. His humorous views on life punctuate his music. He managed to master the everydayness and elevate it to the verge of true magic. His music was always original and unorthodox in its simplicity and his lyrics were the true gem. He is one of the few Icelandic musicians who truly understood this odd nation. The complexity, the banality, the hardness and just the small moments that make us so human.
As Prins Póló, Svavar focused on the reality of things. It was always humourous, but never at the cost of everyday Icelanders, even when musing about drunk sailors, people who failed Danish lessons in college, and so on. Sometimes it was tragic-comical, like when he sang, “Life, are you kidding?” which became a national anthem and a saying among Icelanders. In his song, “Læda slæda,” he sings about the frustration of mundane Icelanders on the verge of losing their temper but eventually letting everything just slide instead of facing their feelings. It’s a deeper analysis of the Icelandic mentality than you think.
Although Svavar Pétur was beloved as a great musician, people tend to overlook the fact that he was truly one of the great poets of his generation. He began writing as a journalist in the mid-2000s and showed very early on that he was both a uniquely talented writer as well as a skilled humorist. It was at that time that he met his wife, Berglind Häsler, another brilliant journalist. He was also a graphic designer and put that talent on display through his visual art.
His Prins Póló persona is masterful, with its name nodding to the most popular candy bar in Iceland, the Polish Prince Polo chocolate biscuit.
Svavar Pétur was a multi-layered artist disguised as a warm, humorous musician. He was a wonderful and rare reflection of Icelanders and that’s just one reason we love him so much; he brought out the best in us. Rest in peace, dear friend. We will always appreciate your art, and cherish your understanding and your humour. Our hearts are crushed. You will be missed.
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