Founded as a film collective in the early '90s, we're glad that Iceland's GusGus made the decision to mint themselves as a band. With nine LPs under their belt and an ever-evolving lineup, GusGus has experimented and evolved into many permutations over nearly two decades.
This time, their output is the poppy (and don't worry, we aren't using "poppy" diminutively here) Mexico, with nine songs crafted by the core crew of Birgir Thorarinsson, Daníel Ágúst, Högni Egilsson and Stephan Stephensen.
We've previously featured Maceo Plex's remix of "Crossfade", the first single from the album. Now, we're happy to premiere the video for opening track "Obnoxiously Sexual" below:
Read on for a Q&A with Biggi Veira (Birgir Þórarinsson), one of the original members of the group, about how Mexico relates with GusGus's past works, the collective nature of GusGus, and what's next for the group.
EARMILK: Mexico is your ninth full-length record. What's different about Mexico from your past records?
Biggi Veira: Not sure what to pinpoint exactly. The making of our albums has been more a flow from the last to the new. As Arabian Horse was kind of finishing the ideas evoked on 24/7, Mexico can be described as loosening up a bit from Arabian Horse, but with strong links to all our prior work. There are two tracks on the album that are worked from demos from 2005. Few tracks are worked as a joint summerhouse experience as on Arabian Horse, and few that we reached to friends outside of the group for input.
EM: Was there anything different or surprising that you tried while recording this album?
BV: Perhaps most surprising to me is Hogni detaching from his Meloncollic self as the lead figure in Hjaltalin and creating the Flamboyjant self inside of the GusGus sphere.
EM: Do you have favorite tracks off the LP?
BV: I think the members have different kind of favorite tracks. For me, all the tracks are close to heart. But if I need to name any, I would name "Sustain", as I love the lyrics and the New Wave feel.
EM: How did GusGus become affiliated with Kompakt?
BV: After the album Forever, we wanted to go bit more techno and deep. Out of that came the album 24/7, I was fascinated be the new sound coming out of Germany those preceding years, and with a good fan base in Germany, we thought that being somehow closer to that scene would fit us nicely. So why not contact one of the most respected label and see if they want to work the album? It could not hurt to try.
EM: GusGus formed as a film and acting collective. How did the transition into a focus on music happen?
BV: When we got a fax from 4AD in early 1996 stating that they wanted to release the album worldwide. We had a meeting and decided to be a band and sign to 4AD as such.
EM: The lineup for the group has fluctuated a lot over the years. What impact does that have on the music you're making? How does it affect the group dynamic?
BV: We have had the luck of working with such great vocalists over the time. It has of course influenced the music we made as different style fits different vocalist. You can hear it on Mexico, as there are three different singers, each with his own musical aura.
EM: With GusGus, to me it feels like individual celebrity is de-emphasized with a focus on the group as a brand of sorts. Would you agree or disagree with that?
BV: True, focusing on individuals is more inline with the needs of the tabloids creating a constant feed of the lifestyles of the riches to the masses. Artificial needs created by forced comparison with others is the fuel of consumerism, the world order of the day. This new thing of branding bands is off the same drive, selling stuff. I liked it better when artist could survive on album sales. I don't like idea of mixing music with material stuff. Music is a bit spiritual to me.
EM: GusGus has also done plenty of touring. What are your plans for the upcoming tour? Was the album recorded with performance in mind?
BV: Tour as much as possible I guess; there are lot of territories that we have not visited for a long time. Turning an album into performance is always a separate process than the making of an album. 24/7 was different though, as it was the other way around.
EM: Now that Mexico is complete, what's next for GusGus?
BV: Touring and figuring out what we want to do next.
GusGus: Upcoming Tour Dates
October 2nd – U Street Music Hall, Washington DC, USA
October 5th – Double Room, Chicago, USA
October 6h – The Highline Ballroom, New York, USA
October 8th – The Roxy Theatre, Los Angeles, USA
October 9th – Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, USA
- Kompakt Recordings
- June 23, 2014