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INTERVIEW: Jón Björn Árnason Of OurLives

October 24, 2014


I’m lucky enough to run across some pretty beautiful music doing what I do, and frankly most of it the general public will never hear. And then some albums come along (very few), and literally paralyze me; I can’t stop listening to them. With that, I give you the album “Den Of Lions” by OurLives. Without exaggeration , I have ridden their musical cloud all the way to the other side of the rainbow and back numerous times in the last couple weeks. And I do mean from beginning to end. It’s bliss every time.

I was smitten and wanted to know more about the band and album, so I hope you enjoy this gem that literally deserves to be heard by everyone. I want nothing more than to see this band grace the largest stages in the world. Yes, I personally feel like, they are that good.

I hope you enjoy this interview, and even more so. Their music. (BUY COLLECTORS VINYL HERE)

Can you introduce yourself?

My name is Jón Björn (Bjössi) and I play bass, keys and do some backing vocals in Ourlives.

What is your everday occupation?
I run a welding company with my father. We do a lot of different work, all out of iron (for example: railings, car trailers, etc.). I love my work.

What do you think Iceland brings to your music?
We’ve been asked this question a few times, and to be fair I still don’t know. I sometimes say that Iceland brings out a little bit of edge in our music, but to be honest I don’t know.

Seems that everything out of Iceland is very ethereal and beautiful. I’m not sure I’ve heard anything dirty or raw. Why do you think this is?
First off, thank you for this description of Icelandic music, but I can assure you that are a number of bands that I would describe as dirty or raw in Iceland. There are a lot of bands in Iceland, even though there are only 320,000 people that live here.

But again, I appreciate the gesture from you in regards to our music.

I was pleasantly surprised it was in English? Why that decision?
When we were growing up we listened mostly to music in English, and when we started doing songs our music sounded better to us in English. We have also always aimed for the stars, and the stars can relate to English better than Icelandic.

The album is incredibly gorgeous, but the song “Out Of Place”, kinda got me emotional. What’s the story behind that song?

Thank you very much. “Out of Place” is a special song for me too, and it’s also one of the most effortless songs we’ve done so far. The idea of the words came when Leifur was singing “figure it out” in a demo of the song, (we normally sing jibberish in the first demo, but in the middle of one of the verses he said these words) and I kind off took the words and started from there. The chorus started the song for me. For me it’s a rather tentative love song with a obvious twist to it.

Spartan Records of Seattle put this album ‘Den of Lions’ out. How did this come about?
John Frazier from Spartan Records heard our music four years ago, when he was visiting Iceland, and we have been working together ever since then. He has been a huge influence on us and we feel very proud to be part of Spartan Records.

Have you spent anytime in Seattle? if so, what do you like about it?/If not, what do you know about it?
I’ve never been to Seattle, but I’m 100% coming over at some point. We are destined to play some shows in Seattle as I’ve listened to music from Seattle all my life, and now I’m on a Seattle based label.
What I know about Seattle has mostly to do with music, as obviously all the legendary great grunge bands are from Seattle, but also a lot of bands that I’ve listened to over the years, bands like Foo Fighters, These Arms Are Snakes, Blood Brothers, Band of Horses, to name a few.
But my personal favorite Seattle band is Sunny Day Real Estate, they were a huge influence on me many years ago. “Diary” was huge for me when I was young.

Touring ….what’s the plan?
We are recording new songs so that is where our head is at right now. We want to finish a new album worth off material as soon as we can, as song writing is going well right now, so that is the plan right now. But I can tell you that in November we are playing some shows in Iceland, so if you are visiting for the Iceland Airwaves festival, come and say hello to us.

In 3 words, how do you describe this album?
Ambitious, hopeful, pessimistic

Thank you!

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