Jón Þór Birgisson

Jón “Jónsi” Þór Birgisson (b. April 23, 1975) plays guitar and sings lead vocals for the Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós. His trademark is playing an electric guitar with a cello bow and using delay and reverberation to get an ethereal and ambient sound. His vocal style includes the frequent use of falsetto. He is openly gay. His boyfriend Alex Somers has done much of the graphic design for Sigur Rós and they also perform together as an art collaboration called Riceboy Sleeps. They released their self-titled first book in November 2006. It was an embossed hardcover limited to 1000 copies. Jónsi is also blind in his right eye. He is a vegetarian.

Musical history

In 1995, Jónsi fronted a band called ‘Bee Spiders’, under the alias ‘Jonny B’. He wore sunglasses on stage throughout whole 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. Jónsi also fronted a grunge rock band called ‘Stoned’ around 1992–1993. He sometimes uses the alias Frakkur to release his solo material.


The name Sigur Rós is altered from the name of Jónsi's little sister, Sigurrós. It was also the name of his late grandmother (a fairly well known if eccentric figure in her native Skagaströnd at the time). Jónsi's sister was born at the same time as the band formed. Sigur translates to “Victory” and Rós to “Rose”, but the phrase “Sigur Rós” is not intelligible in Icelandic as it is in English. That is to say, “Sigur Rós” does not mean “Victory Rose” (like a rose one would receive for a victory), and is actually not grammatically correct in Icelandic.


Jónsi's first language is Icelandic. He also speaks English. According to the official Sigur Rós web site:

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).


Like a few other players of bowed guitar, Jónsi plays a Gibson Les Paul.


External links

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