N°110 Sigur RósHelga Mjöll Oddsdóttir
Before the alternative post-rock sensation that we know today as Sigur Rós was formed, the band was in search of a name. Luckily, the perfect opportunity came along just days before the band became official. Lead guitarist Jónsi’s sister, Sigurrós, was born and inspired the boys to name themselves Sigur Rós, meaning victory rose in Icelandic.
Sigur Rós was formed in Reykjavík, Iceland in January of 1994. In the beginning, the popular alternative post-rock band only consisted of Jón Þór “Jónsi” Birgisson, Georg Holm, and Ágúst Ævar Gunnarsson. Jónsi played the lead guitar and sang, while Georg played the bass and Ágúst played the drums. Quickly after their formation, the band signed with the local record label Bad Taste. They released two albums within their first two years of being together, the first called Von and then a remix album called Von brigði.
In 1998 Kjartan Sveinsson joined the band to play the keyboards and in 1999 the band came out with their most famous album Ágætis byrjun, which means “a good beginning” in Icelandic. This album launched their international careers and became extremely popular within the first two years of its release. Sigur Rós was opening for famous bands like Radiohead and their music was becoming popular enough to be included in both Icelandic and American films. However, after the recording of Ágætis byrjun, Ágúst Ævar Gunnarsson left the band and was replaced by Orri Páll Dýrason.
By 2001 the band released a shorter album called Rímur, which featured an Icelandic musician, Steindór Andersen, reciting traditional Icelandic poetry. There were six songs on this album, two of which Andersen was featured on alone. Sigur Rós went on tour in Canada for this album and performed at the famous Massey Hall in Toronto. The following year in 2002 the band released their next album ( ), where none of the songs were named at first. The album is also sung in Vonlenska, which is a language created by Jónsi, that has no semantic meaning. They wanted this album’s meaning to be up to the interpretation of the listener and for them to have more creative freedom. This album was a very different take seen within the music industry and distinguished Sigur Rós as a band who was willing to take risks with their music.
Following ( ), Sigur Rós released their album called Takk… and then came out with Heima, a documentary highlighting their Iceland tour. Finally, the band came out with Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust and toured this album. After the tour, Sigur Rós took a hiatus and Jónsi launched his solo career. The band ended their hiatus in 2010 and released their live album Inni in 2011. In the following years they released Valtari and Kveikur, while also incorporating their songs into mainstream American media like Game of Thrones, The Simpsons, and Black Mirror. Kjartan Sveinsson left the band in 2013 to pursue a different type of music career separate from the band.
2019 marked the 20th anniversary of Sigur Rós’ album Ágætis byrjun, so in order to celebrate they released a deluxe version of the album. The album featured demos of original songs and even music only performed at concerts years back. Surprisingly, this year the band announced the return of their famous keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson and a promise of a new album coming in the Fall. The band will return with Jónsi, Georg, andSveinsson, but without Dýrason since he quit the band back in 2018 due to controversy surrounding him.The remaining members of Sigur Rós seem happy to be working together once again and fans are ecstatic about the upcoming album.