Interview with Gus Gus

When you admire a band so much it’s quite easy to spend too long thinking up really profound questions only to find that they are in fact human and are ultimately baffled by your obscure and intricate questions… it’s like asking “what is the meaning of life?”. So, the poor and unfortunate President Bongo from Gus Gus was in for a real treat when trying to answer these ‘fan’ *cough cough* -tastic questions put together by Cat On The Wall’s editor in chief CB Lux…

Cat On The Wall: Some might say your music is cold and slick because it’s electronic yet there is a lot of soul and heart in it. This can’t just be due to being an Icelandic band, with the stereotypical icy landscape vs. warm inhabitants so how do you explain the vibrancy of your soundscapes?

President Bongo: We use analogue equipment that sounds soft ‘n nice and our skin is very soft. We use a lot of good cream every time after the swimming pool, everyday. It works wonders! This has to melt into the music, right? We also hate “toppy” music, that’s probably why it’s warm? But really, I don’t know the answer to this question.. hehe

COTW: To the risk of sounding like a fan, I’ve been following Gus Gus from the beginning and I remember fondly some great gigs back in 1997 and 98 when there were 9 people on stage. How would you say the live shows have evolved from being a collective of people to being a semi-closed circle of performers?

PB: There are less people on stage?

COTW: Your lyrics have been for the most part quite simple yet tinged with lots of depths and a shade of darkness. They might appear simple at first, what with you making music people enjoy dancing to, they’re great tracks to play in club but to listen to them in the comfort of one’s home they reveal a lot of layers and I wonder if using the English language might enable you to express a heavier side as artists as you might using Icelandic. What do you think about when you write?

PB: Daniel Àgust writes almost all the lyrics to the actual “songs”. I only wrote stems like
“I wanna dance, dance you down” and “If you don’t jump you’re English” hehe. So, I have no idea how he does it! But I love it! Daniel is an amazing singer.

COTW: In a recent interview you said “the new album might be described as some mixture of Gusgus from the past” and it’s easy to see why you would make such a statement. To me 24/7 is strongly reminiscent of tracks like Purple, Demo 54, Lust, Porn, Call of the Wild or even Remembrance. Considering Gus Gus started as a collective, how would you say it evolved over the years to end up going back to its roots 15 years later with only 3 band members? Have you developed a certain “artistic” language to ease up the creative process?

PB: All the tracks you mention are from a wide area of 12 years. We are what we are and of course some sounds are gusgus. We use synths that we love and they put in the colour that we are recognized from. I never think a lot about these things anyhow… I just try to make this boat move forwards and to make it interesting for us and others… as for development… I am 38 now, I have no idea how to answer.

COTW: 24/7 has been described by Kompakt as “a wet dream” and the video for Add This Song is certainly representing it well. Who did you work with to shoot the song? Was it strange to lick Daniel’s nose?

PB: The video for ‘Add This Song’ was written in collaboration with gusgus and Sexyworld Directors, Heimir Sverrisson and Jon Atli Helgason. It was wonderful to “outsource” the video making this time and the working period of the video was a pleasure!
Daniel’s nose was pretty sweet to lick I must say. 🙂

COTW: You have produced an extensive list of remixes for other artists. How are you approached in regards to producing a remix and do you choose who you want to work with? Is the creative process significantly different when you remix another artist’s track or do you handle it the same way you would a Gus Gus song?

PB: We never do remixes of songs that we don’t like. If we do and the artist wants (or we want) to mix the procedure is much like making a track of our own, especially when you have to add a lot of your own music. Sometimes the parts from the track to be remixed are so good that you only need to re-arrange and add some flavour of your own… These are the best mixes for me! The real re-mix!

COTW: Most of Europe is already under Gus Gus’s spell and I think it’s about time the UK finally wakes up to the band (I’ve actually been carrying your flag since I moved to the UK over 10 years ago). Do you think success is important when making music or you’re not that focused on breaking in a country or another? Do you also think the internet is changing mentalities of both artists and audiences in terms of opening horizons and prospects?

PB: Well, of course it’s important to be successful in terms of being able to concentrate on your music and don’t have financial worries. This is not possible for us. We all have different projects to keep us alive and one of us even works in a bank full time as computer scientist. We don’t really think about any countries when we make music or breaking those markets (when we do it’s for laughs really… like we knew that we were gonna conquer India with the ethnic bass solo in ‘On the Job’). It’s wonderful when people like what we do and we tend to go where they do.
I think the internet is what it is… it’s making a lot of dreams come true and killing the same amount. It’s opening and it’s closing horizons and prospects. It’s great! It’s horrible!

COTW: Finally, we want you to come play in Cardiff! When can we book a gig for you? Food’s on us!

PB:You pay the flights and we’ll cook the food! How about that?

Interview by CB Lux.

Gus Gus official website

Interview by CB Lux


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