Jump to content


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jónsi at the Citadel Festival, Victoria Park, London, 2016
Jónsi at the Citadel Festival, Victoria Park, London, 2016
Background information
Birth nameJón Þór Birgisson
Born (1975-04-23) 23 April 1975 (age 49)
Years active1992–present
Member ofSigur Rós

Jón Þór "Jónsi" Birgisson (pronounced [ˈjouːn ˈθouːr ˈpɪrcɪsɔn, ˈjounsɪ] ; born 23 April 1975) is an Icelandic musician; he is the vocalist and multi-instrumentalist for the Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós. He is known for his use of a cello bow on guitar and his "angelic" falsetto[1] or countertenor[2] voice.

Jónsi released his debut solo album Go on 5 April 2010. A decade would pass before Jónsi would release his second studio album, Shiver, which was released on 2 October 2020. He would release his third album Obsidian a year later in conjunction with the exhibit of the same name. He has also collaborated with his ex-partner Alex Somers and has contributed to the scores for the films How to Train Your Dragon and We Bought a Zoo.

Musical career[edit]

When Jónsi was 13 years old, he learned his first song on guitar, "Wrathchild" by Iron Maiden. Iron Maiden remains one of his favorite bands to this day.[3] In 1995, Jónsi fronted a band called Bee Spiders, under the alias 'Jonny B'. He wore sunglasses on stage throughout their concerts. Bee Spiders received the 'most interesting band' award in 1995 in a contest for unknown bands called Músíktilraunir (Music Experimentations). The band played long rock songs and was compared to The Smashing Pumpkins.[3] Jónsi also fronted a grunge band called Stoned around 1992–1993. He also uses the alias Frakkur to release his solo material, e.g., the contribution to Kitchen Motors Family Album, which marked the first release under this name.

Since 1994, Jónsi has been the singer and guitarist for Sigur Rós. To date, they have released eight studio albums.

Aside from his many years with Sigur Rós, Jónsi has collaborated with his ex-partner Alex Somers[4] under the moniker Jónsi & Alex, releasing their album Riceboy Sleeps in 2009. In April 2010, Jónsi released his first solo album, Go, and began a multi-nation tour to promote the album from March through September across North America and Europe.

Jónsi's song "Around Us" was used for the American promotional trailer for Studio Ghibli's film The Secret World of Arriety and was also included in FIFA 11, the soundtrack by EA Sports.

His song "Tornado" was featured in Henry Alex Rubin's 2012 film Disconnect.

Jónsi also wrote the score for the 2012 Cameron Crowe film We Bought a Zoo.

"Boy Lilikoi" and instrumental versions of "Tornado", "Sinking Friendships", and "Around Us" were all included in the 2011 documentary This Is What Love in Action Looks Like.

Jónsi's song "Grow Till Tall" was used by the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps in their 2017 competitive program Jagged Line. It was also featured in the trailer for the third installment of the Divergent series, Allegiant.

In 2018, Jonsi contributed an original song titled "Who Are You Thinking Of?" to the soundtrack of the feature film Boy Erased. He collaborated with Troye Sivan on the song "Revelation", also included on the soundtrack.

How to Train Your Dragon franchise[edit]

Jónsi recorded "Sticks and Stones" for the score to the 2010 film How to Train Your Dragon,[5] for which DreamWorks Animation released a music video on 17 December 2010.[6] His song "Tornado" was featured in the arena show adaptation of this film. In 2014, Jónsi co-wrote the song "Where No One Goes" for the sequel, How to Train Your Dragon 2, with the film's music composer John Powell. He also co-wrote the melody for "For the Dancing and Dreaming". Jónsi additionally wrote a rough demo (entitled "Mama's Boy") for the film, which was eventually replaced by "Flying with Mother". He wrote and performed the song "Together from Afar" for the final installment of the franchise, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, in which he also provided the vocals for the track "The Hidden World".

Dark Morph[edit]

In 2019, it was announced that Jónsi and Swedish composer Carl Michael von Hausswolff had formed a new musical collaboration they were calling Dark Morph, and on 10 May 2019, they released their first album, also titled Dark Morph. The project "promises to explore the ramifications of ongoing environmental collapse to the oceans and its inhabitants."[7] The album consists mainly of ambient sounds, often simulating the sounds of animals and nature, and contains very few actual melodies.

Studio albums[edit]

Riceboy Sleeps (2009)[edit]

Jónsi and his ex-partner Alex Somers completed their first album together, Riceboy Sleeps, under the name Jónsi & Alex. The instrumental album was recorded in Iceland, played solely on acoustic instruments, and mixed in Hawaii. The album features appearances by the Icelandic string quartet Amiina and the Kópavogsdætur choir.[8]

The 68-minute album includes nine tracks and was released on 20 July 2009 on Parlophone Records.[9]

Go (2010)[edit]

Jónsi live in Ferrara (22 July 2010)

A post that appeared on Jónsi's official site on 26 May 2009 stated that the artist was working on a solo album that would feature predominantly acoustic music and string arrangements from classical composer Nico Muhly. The album was set to be produced by Peter Katis (Interpol, The National, Tokyo Police Club).[10]

On 4 December 2009, a free MP3 of the track "Boy Lilikoi" was made available to mailing-list subscribers through the website. The MP3 announced the title of the album to be Go and gave a worldwide release date of "the week of 5 April 2010" through Parlophone and XL Recordings.

On 5 April 2010, as promised, the album was released in Iceland and the United Kingdom, with a worldwide release date of the following day. The album was sung mainly in English, marking a change from the majority of Jónsi's previous work, which was sung mainly in Icelandic and Vonlenska. The album charted at No. 20 on the UK album charts on 12 April 2010[11] and reached No. 23 on the Billboard 200.

The Go limited-edition box set also included Go Quiet, a 45-minute film, directed by Dean DeBlois (director of the Sigur Rós concert film Heima), that features all nine songs from the album performed acoustically at home in Reykjavík, over New Year 2010.

Jónsi went on tour with his album Go on 6 April 2010. The tour did not include any venues within Jónsi's home country of Iceland. The artist's touring band included Alex Somers on guitar, sound effects, and keyboards; Thorvaldur Thór Thorvaldsson on drums; Ólafur Björn Ólafsson on keyboards; and Úlfur Hansson on bass and monome.[12]

Shiver (2020)[edit]

Jónsi went a decade without releasing any solo material. On 3 April 2020, Jónsi took to Instagram to announce that he was releasing music later that month,[13] which would be the lead single, "Exhale", to his second studio album, Shiver, with an accompanying music video directed by Jónsi and Giovanni Ribisi.[14]

The album was made in collaboration with English music producer, singer and head of record label PC Music, A. G. Cook. Jónsi had no expectation for his and Cook's initial meeting, but the more they talked, the more he realized they might be perfect collaborators.[15]

Jónsi released another single, "Swill", for the album on 24 June 2020, with an accompanying music video directed by Barnaby Roper.[16]


Jónsi makes a guest appearance under the alias 'Frakkur' on track 13, "Skyscraper Heart", on Hi-Camp Meets Lo-Fi – Explosion Picture Score by Dip (1999)
Jónsi provides vocal material on three collaborations with The Hafler Trio:
Exactly As I Say (2004 CD; a separate limited edition of 111 copies also exists containing DVD and 5.1 surround sound)
Exactly As I Am (2005 Double CD)
Exactly As I Do (2005 Double CD)
Jónsi makes a guest appearance on Tiësto's track "Kaleidoscope"[17] on his album of the same name, which was released on 6 October 2009.
Jónsi appears on the album In a Safe Place by The Album Leaf, on the song "Over the Pond".

In 2018, Jónsi collaborated with Troye Sivan on the song "Revelation" from the Boy Erased soundtrack.[18]


Jónsi at UCLA, playing to promote Heima

Jónsi's first language is Icelandic. He also speaks English, according to the official Sigur Rós website:[19]

On the first three Sigur Rós albums (Von, Von Brigði, Ágætis Byrjun), Jónsi sang most songs in Icelandic but two of them ("Von" and "Olsen Olsen") were sung in 'Hopelandic'. All of the vocals on ( ) are in Hopelandic. Hopelandic (Vonlenska in Icelandic) is the 'invented language' in which Jónsi sings before lyrics are written to the vocals. It is not an actual language by definition (no vocabulary, grammar, etc.), but rather a form of gibberish vocals that fit to the music and act as another instrument. Jónsi likens it to what singers sometimes do when they've decided on the melody, but haven't written the lyrics yet. Many languages were considered to be used on ( ), including English, but they decided on Hopelandic. Hopelandic (Vonlenska) got its name (from a journalist, not Jónsi himself) from the first song which Jónsi sang on, "Hope" (Von).[20]


Like a few other players of the bowed guitar, Jónsi plays mainly variations of the Les Paul.[21] He also plays Ibanez Les Paul copies, model PF200. The first Ibanez used to be his main instrument during the Bee Spiders era all through Ágætis Byrjun. It was largely refinished and decorated (as can be seen in Ágúst Jakobsson's documentary Popp í Reykjavík[22]). That particular instrument got stolen and broken but was on display in the Reykjavík Art Museum in the summer of 2003.[23] During the recordings of Takk..., Jónsi bought another PF200 to replace the Les Paul. Since the summer of 2006, Jónsi has been using a guitar that was made on the road by his then guitar tech Dan Johnson. The guitar is usually referred to as "The Bird", after the band's bird designs seen on previous album artwork that adorn the neck and frets of the guitar. "The Bird" is based on the body of the Ibanez PF200. The artist has also been seen playing a variety of other instruments such as the piano, acoustic guitar, electric bass guitar, harmonium, mellotron, baritone ukulele, and the banjo.


In 2003, he was escorted off the premises while protesting against Kárahnjúkar Hydropower Plant in Iceland.[24]

Jónsi is a vegetarian. He states that he "didn't go vegetarian because of the animals" but became gradually more concerned for their welfare.[25] Jónsi elaborated that he would find it difficult to date someone who eats meat, saying "I just love animals and I do not want to kill them, cook them or eat them so it'd be hard for me to watch anyone do that."[25] He briefly followed a raw food diet, although he no longer practices this as he felt it hindered his social life and he was "getting antisocial" when on tour.[26]

Visual arts[edit]

Alongside his visual art collaboration with Alex Somers, he has also exhibited his own artwork. Jónsi has exhibited at the Los Angeles branch of Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in late 2019 and again in 2023, as well as their New York branch in 2021.[27][28][29]

He also exhibited a large-scale experiential artwork titled FLÓÐ at the National Nordic Museum in early 2023.[30] Jónsi: Hrafntinna (Obsidian) was exhibited at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), Toronto in 2022 as well as the Museum of Old and New Art, Tasmania, Australia in 2023.[31][32]

Personal life[edit]

Jónsi is openly gay.[33][34] He began a relationship with fellow musician Alex Somers in 2003 and released an art collaboration with him. They announced their separation in 2019, after having been together for 16 years and remain close friends.[35]

He is blind in his right eye from birth as a result of a broken optic nerve from the brain.[33][34]



Studio albums[edit]

Title Album details Peak chart positions
  • Released: 5 April 2010
  • Label: XL Recordings, Parlophone
  • Formats: CD
64 6 86 100 74 84 35 31 20 23
  • Released: 2 October 2020
  • Label: Krunk
  • Formats: Vinyl, CD, digital download
  • Released: 30 October 2021
  • Label: Krunk
  • Formats: Digital download

Collaborative albums[edit]

Jónsi & Alex (with Alex Somers)[edit]
Title Album details
Riceboy Sleeps
  • Released: 20 July 2009
  • Label: XL Recordings, Krunk
  • Formats: CD, digital download, vinyl
Lost & Found
  • Released: 11 October 2019
  • Label: Krunk
  • Formats: Digital download
Dark Morph (with Carl Michael von Hausswolff)[edit]
Title Album details
Dark Morph
  • Released: 10 May 2019
  • Label: Krunk
  • Formats: CD, digital download
Dark Morph II
  • Released: 1 May 2020
  • Label: Pomperipossa Records
  • Formats: Digital download, vinyl
Other collaborative albums[edit]
Title Album details
Sounds of Fischer Vol. 1
(with Sin Fang, Alex Somers and Kjartan Holm)
  • Released: 16 September 2022
  • Label: INNI
  • Formats: digital download

Soundtrack albums[edit]

Title Album details
We Bought a Zoo
  • Released: 9 December 2011
  • Label: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
  • Formats: Digital download
(with Alex Somers, Jeff Russo and Zoë Keating)
  • Released: 5 February 2016
  • Label: Lakeshore Records
  • Formats: Digital download
Tom Clancy's Without Remorse
  • Released: 29 April 2021
  • Label: Paramount Music
  • Formats: Digital download

Live albums[edit]

Title Album details
Go Live
  • Released: 14 December 2010
  • Label: Parlophone, Krunk
  • Formats: CD, digital download

Compilation albums[edit]

Title Album details
2000 - 2004
(as Frakkur)
  • Released: 23 November 2018
  • Label: Krunk
  • Formats: CD, vinyl, digital download

Film albums[edit]

Year Album details
Go Quiet
  • Released: 2010
  • Formats: DVD

Extended plays[edit]

Title Details
All Animals
(as Jónsi & Alex with Alex Somers)
  • Released: 20 July 2009
  • Label: Krunk
  • Formats: Digital, CD, Vinyl
Go Do
  • Released: 22 March 2010
  • Label: Parlophone, EMI, Krunk
  • Formats: Digital, CD, Vinyl
Go Out
  • Remixes EP
  • Released: 16 April 2011
  • Label: EMI, Krunk
  • Formats: Digital, Vinyl
  • Released: November 2021
  • Label: Krunk
  • Formats: Vinyl


As lead artist[edit]

Title Year Album
"Go Do" 2010 Go
"Animal Arithmetic"
(with Troye Sivan)
2018 Boy Erased
(as Frakkur)
2000 - 2004
"Together From Afar" 2019 How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
"Dark Wave"
(as Dark Morph with Carl Michael von Hausswolff)
2020 Dark Morph II
"Exhale" Shiver
"Evol Lamina"
(with Gyða Valtýsdóttir)
Epicycle II
(featuring Elizabeth Fraser)
"Cul de sac"
(with Trayer Tryon and Alex Somers featuring Moses Sumney, Julianna Barwick and Nicole Miglis)
New Forever
"Salt Licorice"
(featuring Robyn)
"Mold" 2021
(with Sin Fang, Alex Somers and Kjartan Holm)
2022 Sounds of Fischer Vol. 1
(with Sin Fang, Alex Somers and Kjartan Holm)
(with Kjartan Holm and Sin Fang)
Non-album single

As featured artist[edit]

Title Year Album
(Tiësto featuring Jónsi)
2009 Kaleidoscope
(Sin Fang featuring Jónsi)
2016 Spaceland
"In Light"
(Julianna Barwick featuring Jónsi)
2020 Healing Is a Miracle
"Carry On"
(Mykki Blanco featuring Jónsi)
2022 Stay Close To Music

Other appearances[edit]

Song Artist Year Album
"Skyscraper Heart" (credited as 'Frakkur') Dip 1999 Hi-Camp Meets Lo-Fi: Explosion Picture Score
"Over the Pond" (uncredited vocals) The Album Leaf 2004 In a Safe Place
"Ammælisstrákur" (credited as 'Frakkur') Various 2006 Kitchen Motors Family Album
"Kaleidoscope" Tiësto 2009 Kaleidoscope
"Sticks & Stones" Various 2010 How to Train Your Dragon: Music from the Motion Picture
"Where No One Goes" Various 2014 How to Train Your Dragon 2
"For the Dancing and Dreaming" (melody-writer) Various 2014 How to Train Your Dragon 2
"Simple Gifts" Danny Elfman 2017 The Circle (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
(with Troye Sivan)
Daniel Bensi 2018 Boy Erased (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
"Who Are You Thinking Of?" Daniel Bensi 2018 Boy Erased (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
"The Hidden World"
"Together from Afar"[42][non-primary source needed]
Various 2019 How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
"One Life"
(Mark Ronson featuring Diana Gordon and Jónsi)
Mark Ronson 2021 Watch the Sound (Original Soundtrack)
"Oil + Honey" (co-production and additional vocals) Hyd 2022 Clearing


  1. ^ Larsen, Luke (23 September 2011). "11 Amazing Falsetto Vocalists". Paste. Retrieved 4 May 2014.
  2. ^ Hunter, James (26 November 2002). "Shades of Gray". The Village Voice. Archived from the original on 22 April 2014.
  3. ^ a b "sigur rós – trivia". sigur-ros.co.uk. Retrieved 8 March 2009.
  4. ^ Vaziri, Aidin (4 April 2010). "Sigur Rós singer prepares for U.S. solo tour". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
  5. ^ Richardson, Matthew (3 March 2010). "Jonsi Stars in New Documentary, Does Song For 'How To Train Your Dragon' (Video)". Prefixmag.com. Archived from the original on 13 June 2011. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  6. ^ DreamWorks Animation (17 December 2010). "Jonsi's "Sticks and Stones" Music Video" – via YouTube.
  7. ^ Bote, Joshua (1 May 2019). "Inspired By Environmental Crisis, Sigur Rós' Jónsi Announces New Duo Dark Morph". NPR. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  8. ^ "eighteen seconds before sunrise – sigur rós news". sigur-ros.co.uk. 17 April 2009. Archived from the original on 6 June 2011. Retrieved 2 August 2009.
  9. ^ "sigur rós – press releases". sigur-ros.co.uk. Retrieved 2 August 2009.
  10. ^ "jónsi recording solo album". 26 May 2009. Retrieved 9 June 2009.
  11. ^ "UK top 40 albums 12 APR 2010".
  12. ^ "Tour Diary No. 2". jonsi.com. Archived from the original on 3 August 2016. Retrieved 26 May 2010.
  13. ^ "Jónsi on Instagram: "🎹I'm releasing new music later this month 🎹 follow me on @spotify and @youtube for updates via the link in my bio"". Instagram. Archived from the original on 26 December 2021. Retrieved 10 August 2020.
  14. ^ Tan, Emily (23 April 2020). "Jónsi Makes Epic Return With 'Exhale' Video". Spin. Retrieved 10 August 2020.
  15. ^ "Shiver, by Jónsi". Jónsi. Retrieved 10 August 2020.
  16. ^ Ewing, Jerry (25 June 2020). "Sigur Rós frontman Jónsi releases video for new single Swill". Prog Magazine. Retrieved 10 August 2020.
  17. ^ Dombal, Ryan (4 August 2009). "Sigur Rós's Jónsi, Bloc Party's Kele Okereke on New Tiësto Album". Pitchfork. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  18. ^ Arcand, Rob (19 October 2018). "Jónsi and Troye Sivan – 'Revelation'". Spin. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  19. ^ "Sigur Rós Official Site". Retrieved 12 May 2007.
  20. ^ "sigur ros vs. NPR". gorillavsbear.net. 12 October 2007. Archived from the original on 13 July 2012. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  21. ^ "Sound on Sound on Sigur Ros Official Site". Archived from the original on 9 July 2009. Retrieved 25 March 2008.
  22. ^ "Popp í Reykjavík Stills on Sigur Ros Official Site". Retrieved 9 June 2010.
  23. ^ "Óformleg klippimynd af Smekkleysu". mbl.is (in Icelandic). 14 June 2003. Retrieved 9 June 2010.
  24. ^ "Sigur Rós Official Site". January 2003. Retrieved 19 November 2008.
  25. ^ a b Galbraith, Fiona; Montgomery, Kate. "Tonight, I sing for the animals". Viva! Activists. Archived from the original on 8 November 2010. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  26. ^ Baggs, Michael (7 May 2012). "Sigur Ros interview: 'We always knew we'd get back together'". Gigwise. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  27. ^ "November 16, 2019 – January 9, 2020 – - Jónsi – - Exhibitions – Tanya Bonakdar Gallery". tanyabonadkargallery.com. Tanya Bonakdar Gallery.
  28. ^ "November 11, 2023 – February 3, 2024 – - Jónsi – - Exhibitions – Tanya Bonakdar Gallery". tanyabonadkargallery.com. Tanya Bonakdar Gallery.
  29. ^ "October 30 – December 17, 2021 – - Jónsi – - Exhibitions – Tanya Bonakdar Gallery". tanyabonadkargallery.com. Tanya Bonadkar Gallery.
  30. ^ "FLÓÐ Opens This Week". National Nordic Museum. Retrieved 3 April 2023.
  31. ^ "JÓNSI: HRAFNTINNA (OBSIDIAN)". Art Gallery of Ontario. Retrieved 11 November 2023.
  32. ^ "JÓNSI: HRAFNTINNA (OBSIDIAN)". Museum of Old and New. Retrieved 11 November 2023.
  33. ^ a b "Icelandic rock". The Economist. 14 June 2001. Archived from the original on 14 May 2008. Retrieved 2 December 2007.
  34. ^ a b Price, Simon (17 July 2005). "At last! The populist person's thinking band". The Independent on Sunday. Archived from the original on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
  35. ^ Albertson, Jasmine (17 October 2019). "Jónsi and Alex Somers on Waking Up Riceboy Sleeps, Trading Glaciers for Sunny Beaches and Working Together Post-Breakup". www.kexp.org. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  36. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (PDF ed.). Mt Martha, Victoria, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. p. 149.
  37. ^ a b c d e "Discography Sigur Rós". Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  38. ^ "Discographie Jónsi". LesCharts.com. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  39. ^ "Discographie von Jónsi". GfK Entertainment. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  40. ^ "Jonsi | full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  41. ^ "Jónsi Chart History: Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  42. ^ Animation, DreamWorks (4 January 2019). "John Powell just announced the tracklisting to How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World soundtrack. Pre-order the album next Friday! #HowToTrainYourDragonpic.twitter.com/1F8GelgfhD". @DWAnimation. Retrieved 5 January 2019.

External links[edit]