Riceboy Sleeps is an art collaboration between Jónsi Birgisson and Alex Somers comprised of still images, music, video, and storytelling. Releasing a picture book in Iceland in 2006(1000 hand numbered editions), they held their first exhibition at Gallery Turpentine in Reykjavik.
In 2007, a second unnumbered edition of the book was released as well as two singles, All the big trees and Daniel in the Sea. Further exhibitions outside Iceland followed in the US and Australia. They currently have an exhibition at the Agency Gallery in London(10 April-17 May, 2008).
Jónsi Birgisson is also a member and lead singer for Sigur Rós and Alex Somers who has worked on artwork for Sigur Rós is a member of the band Parachutes. As Jónsi and Alex were setting up their exhibition in London as the interview was conducted, each was interviewed separately though the answers are presented here in a compiled format.
Sioux: How did the Moss Stories and Riceboy Sleeps project develop and what were your motivations?
Alex: The project began four years ago and there was never any motivation, we didn't realise that we were starting a real project. It was just the two of us making music and making artwork for fun really.
Jonsi: It just started with me and Alex and we wanted to do something together. Alex is just in the same headspace.
Sioux: Did that start from the videos you've done?
Alex: Actually, we started making music a long time ago and we made lots of songs and we were recording and stuff and then at some point since we both did videos on our own, we decided it would be fun to make videos for some of our songs and that's how it began and then Jonsi and I moved in together so we began drawing and painting a lot together.
Sioux: What would you say are the key differences in your musical work with Riceboy Sleeps as opposed to your creations with Sigur Ros and Parachutes?
Alex: It's quite similar. We use the same instruments, same microphones. I think the process is quite similar except Parachutes is Scott and I, and Riceboy is Jonsi and I. I think working with Jonsi, everything is much more brave and spontaneous and I think with Parachutes we're not as brave as Jonsi, he's so brave in trying and going for things. And sometimes I forget that if I'm not working with him . They're quite similar.
Jonsi: Yeah, just different. Me and Alex work differently. Riceboy is more like playing with sounds.
Sioux: And would you say the Riceboy Sleeps project will have an impact on your future work in Sigur Ros and Parachutes? If so why and in what way?
Alex: I don't know. We have plenty of time to do both and we've had offers to do Riceboy and Parachutes projects together. I don't know if that will happen or not. And I don't think either will effect the other in a negative way, only a positive way, more creation and more making and having fun.
Jonsi: I don't know. It could do.
Sioux: Does the aged and worn aesthetic signify anything in particular to you and your work? And what was the motivation in using old, rustic frames in your gallery work?
Alex: It's more of a feeling and atmosphere we're trying to create than a specific message. We're never really aware of trying to tell people something, we're more interested in having people feel something so it's just a really good feeling and something we've both been really attracted to before we even met eachother. It's comfortable, it feels like things have soul. Before we met, we were both collecting old photographs and old books and didn't really know why, we just both really like them. Then when we started making artwork, it just got incorporated into our work.
Jonsi: We do the pictures first and we found these frames just lying and it would kind of suit so well with the other stuff we were doing.
Sioux: Who is Rice Boy?
"...when I met Jonsi, I was really, really poor and I was just living off of rice mostly..."
Alex: When it started out, it was the name of one of our songs called Riceboy Sleeps. It was just because when I met Jonsi, I was really, really poor and I was just living off of rice mostly and I was sleeping too much so Jonsi was writing a song while I was asleep one day and he named it Riceboy Sleeps. For some reason ever since then we just called whatever we were working on at the time, Riceboy Sleeps. We never decided for that to be officially be our name, it just happened.
Riceboy Sleeps - Daniel in the sea