The phone connection is faint— it’s an international call—so the interview is fractured. But Jón Þór Birgisson, a.k.a. Jónsi, still conveys an attitude as mysterious and weirdly generous as his epic, dreamlike music. As frontman for Icelandic post-rock quartet Sigur Rós, Jónsi has earned accolades for his eerily alien voice, his bowed-guitar theatrics, his ornate stage costumes and his unique lyrics. But with a debut solo album, Go, released earlier this year, Jónsi unveils a broader sonic palette (synths, acoustic guitars) that has earned praise. So how does it feel?
“I don’t ever read my reviews,” he says. “Great to hear they’re incredible, though.”
The conversation takes an odd turn. Jónsi has always walked the line between apocalypse and transcendence. So when asked if he has considered making a doom-rock record or a folk album, he says, matter-of-factly: “Yeah, probably a thrash metal album is coming next.”
Um, excuse me? “Well, one of the first records I ever loved was Iron Maiden’s Killers,” he says. “But I’m not into new music too much. I do love [neo-folk act] Death Vessel, who toured with us.”
While Go isn’t as aggressive as expected, Jónsi’s solo effort still possesses cosmic powers. “It began as an acoustic album,” he says. “But it totally exploded … I definitely achieved what I set out to do.”
Jónsi’s synth-kissed “Sticks and Stones” appeared in the family film How to Train Your Dragon. So would Jónsi, who’s also a visual artist, do a children’s book? “A children’s book isn’t something I’ve considered yet,” he says. “But who knows?”