Not actually a bird, but Jón Valur Guðmundsson – a 26-year-old singer/songwriter from Reykjavík, who has taken the moniker ‘bird’ for his new music project. Described as “catchy, lush melancholia, and minimalistic arrangements” this chap definitely shares similarities with Ásgeir, who he has previously worked with. Speaking of work, Jón Valur has also grafted as a sound-engineer for the Icelandic grand-masters of reggae, Hjálmar, over the last few years.
With such direct influences, it’s no wonder that his music is getting attention in Iceland. He’s already been picked up by national radio, despite having only a Facebook page and a website to release music from. I was going to glibly use some punning phrase here – bound to be flying high?! – but it’s really not necessary.
How would you describe your music?
Someone described it as electro-infused indie pop and I think I can agree to that.
Why are you called ‘bird’?
The name bird comes mainly 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 and when I was abroad I joked around and started introducing myself as Johnny Falcon to make my middle name easier, so when I started to think of an artist name I immediately thought it would be best to stay somewhat related to my birth name. I even have two older brothers with the Icelandic translation of Hawk and Eagle in their names.
Your first single ‘go back’ was quickly picked up by Icelandic radio stations, despite you having no record label. Were you surprised by this?
Yes, I was very surprised, I just released it on my Facebook page and somehow it got picked up pretty quickly.
Are you planning to release an album?
Yes, I’ve been writing a lot of songs the past 10 years and never released an album so there is a whole bunch of material laying around that I’ve been going through and re-composing them. But mainly I find myself always writing newer songs so in the end the old songs might not even make the cut (haha). However, I am planning on releasing an album early next year.
You’ve drawn comparisons with Ásgeir, would you agree with this?
Not quite. Although, I have been playing around with synthesizers for the first time, like he does, so maybe that’s where this is coming from. I think our voices and our sound are very different, but I actually worked with Ásgeir’s project for over a year so I’m not surprised if that is reflected in my music somehow. Ásgeir is a talented musician and a great songwriter so I have nothing against it if some people are drawing comparisons with him.
What are your plans for Airwaves?
I’ve put together a band to play with me on Iceland Airwaves. We are only playing one on-venue gig, on Wednesday, November 4, at Frederiksen Ale House. Then, we are playing two off-venue gigs, on Thursday at Bunk bar at 5:20 pm and then at Hotel Alda on Friday at 4 pm. It’s going to be a blast and I am really looking forward to it!
For further information, see bird.is.
Originally published on Iceland Review Online.