“I already have enough material to put on at least three full-length albums…”, Jón Valur Guðmundsson
A fantastic voice appeared online. Seemingly out of nowhere. The melancholy but catchy pop song had verses built around a minimalistic synthesizer loop. The beautiful and ethereal refrain urged us to “go back”. And we sure did. Go Back by Bird has been playing on repeat ever since. After some research we found out that this was the first solo-release from Bird or Jón Valur Guðmundsson, a 26-year-old singer/songwriter from Iceland. But we wanted to find out more. The result: Icytopics first interview ever…
Thanks for a great song. I discovered Bird via Hjálmar’s Facebook page, but can’t find much information about you. What is Bird?
“Bird is basically just a one-man project, for now. I play several instruments and I play all the music myself. I’ve played different instruments in many bands through the years from a very young age. Between projects I found that I have written so many songs now that I just have to get them out of my system before they turn to dust. The name Bird comes from my second name, Valur, which in direct English translates as gyrfalcon – a type of bird. I’ve always been very fond of birds as symbols when I think about it. I even have two older brothers that are also named after birds of prey.”
What are your plans for the project?
“My plan was to just start with this one single, Go Back, and see how things developed. I’m planning to work further on my first solo album this year. I already have enough material to put on at least three full-length albums, so now I’m taking some time to carefully choose and re-arrange some of the songs that might be best fitting for this project. By the beginning of summer, I hope to have put together a band to back me up live and start playing some shows. I don’t plan on releasing the album until probably late this year or early 2015, if it all falls into place.”
You played drums in Who Knew, a fantastically talented band. What happened with that?
“Who Knew ended so suddenly for all of us; like a band-aid that was ripped off. It was so quick and quiet that I sometimes feel as if the whole thing was just a lucid dream. I think our last gig was at Iceland Airwaves 2012, for the KEXP radio station, without us even realizing it. Thankfully, that moment was recorded and can be found online for everyone to see. At that time we just had finished two or three years of traveling and touring and soon after Airwaves a couple of the guys in the band wanted to take a step back and leave the music scene, for a while at least. The rest of us gave it a bit of time, to let everyone finish school, and allowed our minds to wonder off a bit. We always thought we would just start playing again but that was somehow harder than we thought, so we just went our separate ways. But we are all still very good friends and meet up regularly. So that was that, really.” •