INTERVIEW: Riceboy Sleeps

Riceboy Sleeps is not your average side-project.

Consisting of Alex Somers and Sigur Ros lead singer Jón Þór Birgisson, the two have been working under the "Riceboy Sleeps" moniker for some time, but -- interestingly -- it was only recently that they've included music as part of this experience. Alex and Jón have been working in the visual arts for some time, so far having released two whole books of their pieces (a part of which can be seen on the graphic above). Occasionally recording under the name "Jónsi & Alex", it wasn't until early this year when Riceboy made their formal recording debut with the gorgeous 8-minute instrumental "Happiness" on the Dark Was the Night Red Hot charity compilation. Now, their debut album is due in Europe next week. When Evcat spoke to Alex, he mentioned how much of this album was recorded on a solar-powered laptop, he doesn't like to classify what style of music the guys do, and we haven't even seen their recipe book yet ...


>>Riceboy Sleeps appears to be an evolution for both of you, as it relies more on texture than melody, making a sharp contrast to both Sigur Ros and Parachutes respectively. How would you classify your own material: drone? Post-rock? Ambient?

We have never classified our songs before. I guess we have never needed to do it... for me, the songs rely more on melody than texture. Even though these songs are slow and full of texture, without the melody it would all fall apart. Melody is always first for us.

>>What made you decide to contribute to, much less make your debut with, the Dark Was the Night compliation?

Our friend Bryce, from the band the National asked us if we would like to donate one song because he knew we were going to be releasing our album soon. We thought it was a good cause and we were happy to do it.

>>Though both bands have recorded in various locations prior, what made you decided to record your record primarily in Hawaii?

We actually recorded the whole album at home in our living room in Reykjavik. We did mix the album in Hawaii though, and that was amazing. We decided to not mix in a studio, and mix the album ourselves somewhere different. Jónsi ended up finding this Raw food commune in the middle of the jungle ... so we went there. We shipped our speakers and other gear there. And we worked from a laptop on 100% solar power. It was a really cozy was to mix the album.

>>Listening to "All the Big Trees" and "Daniell in the Sea", the small ambient touches remind me both of glitch/IDM artist Oval and the slower numbers by Four Tet, almost as if the song is based more on its atmosphere than it's formal structure. What was the writing approach like for this album? Much like Sigur Ros' Hvraf/Hiem release, can you see yourself ever taking these songs into a stripped down, possibly acoustic format?

We were trying to create an atmosphere that felt good to us. Making these songs was a little different to writing ‘pop’ songs on piano or guitar. We would slowly build a song over a long period of time ... until it felt whole. We worked on this album on and off for five years. The album itself is all acoustic instruments and voices ... there are no synthesizers or electronics actually ... We love to treat the voices and instruments heavily inside samplers to create new sounds. So if we decide to play concerts it will be all acoustic too ...
>>For both of your parent bands, it seems that the very purpose of your groups is aimed at sweet, beautiful catharsis. By abandoning traditional pop structures with Riceboy, however, it feels like you're trying to reach the same goal but by alternate means. What, ultimately, do you want a listener to take away from a Riceboy Sleeps experience?

There is nothing specific we are saying. Only hoping to give people a good feeling or inspire them...

>>Will there be live Riceboy Sleep performances in the near-future? If so, what can we expect?

Maybe, we are not sure yet. Nothing this year for sure though...

>>Finally, so far in the formation and recording process, what has been the biggest regret for you guys, and, conversely, what's been your proudest moment?

We are very happy and proud to share this album with people now. We are also quite excited about this special edition box we’ve been making. It is full of lots of neat stuff, plus another EP we made. One regret might be that we have not published our recipe book yet...


Visit Riceboy Sleeps' official website.