GusGus:"In 1995 electronic music was more mainstream and popular than it is today"

After 25 years of music, memories, and unforgettable live performances, GusGus unfold into a new era with the announcement of their upcoming 2021 album. Rejuvenated and replete with creative aspiration, the collective welcome Vök’s Margrét Rán as the newest member of the circus, calling upon her illustrious dream-pop vocals to launch a new chapter in the GusGus saga.

Offering an immersive montage of short stories that will serve as their most ambitious and forward-thinking LP to date, “Mobile Home” echoes the world’s forgotten purpose, lost between screens of distraction and material consciousness. This conceptual manifesto is the embodiment of GusGus and their world, a virtuous blend of masterful compositions and profound ideologies. Mobile Home arrives May 28 via Oroom Records.

Many of us would never associate the name GusGus with the food couscous. We read somewhere that you took the name from an older German film where the actress while cooking couscous, pronounces it as GusGus. What impressed you so much that you decided to name the group after it?

In this movie, the female character expresses her love through those couscous dishes. Love is shown as something to consume. Music is like that, emotions to consume, and then in return being consumed by music.

The epidemic has affected the whole world in the last year or so. How has this shown in your performances, when was the last time you’ve had a live concert and how do you cope during this whole situation?

Well. We have not had a live performance since September 2019 so this has really messed up our income and the feed of energy we get from our live performances. It is a really important factor trying out new songs in the live set before we are finishing final versions and also to have direct contact with an audience while we perform music.

It might have resulted in the new album being introverted, but then again most of the groundwork was already laid out before COVID. It's only the last track on the album that was seeded in 2020. The oldest one dates back to 2015 as a demo.

You’ll release your 11th studio album in May, congrats! Do you still remember your first one? Would you say that the process of creating an album changed a lot since your debut album, released back in the days?

Yes, I remember the first one. I don't have very efficient memory, but I remember laying the bass on the track ‘Believe’ in 1995 like it was last year. That evening when I arrived at the "Blue Room" (as Danie painted it) and Maggi Lego and Daniel had this emo vocal on top of the Kool&theGang drum loop crinning.

Later in the studio, I dumped my Mackie mixer on the main desk and mixed Polydistortion for that extra preamp distorted crunch that the old Mackies had, that I loved. Sure it was fun times and more people were involved in the hive, but as you get more eccentric with age it is nice to have fewer sources of arguing and opinions.

The album also reveals that GusGus collectively welcomes Vök’s Margrét Rán vocalist. Is she a guest artist for the album or will she be a part of your path in the future as well?

Well, I hope she makes at least another album with us. She is an amazing vocalist and just what we needed to finish those tracks we had scratching our heads over for years. There are a few harmonies on the album that might be a path to examine more. You know, to finish this "Electronic Country" exploration that is in our new album "Mobile Home" is, in a sense.

In more than twenty years of operation, you’ve experimented with many genres, techno, house, trip-hop, electro. However, your sound cannot be placed in any of the categories, it is a mixture of everything. Where do you draw inspiration from?

I think that I am a bit immune to genres as I was listening to electronic music when it all was just electronic music and limited use of sub-genres. Back in the days, you had those electronic bands doing hits and then you got the instrumental version that was perhaps a bit modified for use at the Discotheques. And you loved both.

Then you also had the residual of the Disco infused with electronics as the Gay Disco called HiNRG and Italodisco for the summer parties in Italy or Ibiza. This was all electronic pop in my ears. When the Rave Revolution crawled in, it entered my circle first through pop with bands like Snap, KLF, 808-State, and Adamski that were at that time part of the pop charts. Then through my partner Maggi Lego I was introduced to the stuff that had been more underground in the late ‘80s and the latest ambient brakes at the record shop he worked in. So I guess all of this piled up as one big mix of everything in my nerve network.

GusGus has always been about making electronic pop and we feel free tapping into any influences we want. It is about exploring older ideas deeper and in a new context with modern times and pop culture.

Given that you have been present in the music industry since 1995, what would you say has changed the most in your opinion, apart from the style of course? When you’ve started your musical journey, electronic music wasn’t so mainstream and popular as nowadays. Where do you see the whole scene progress in the future?

In 1995 electronic music was more mainstream and popular than it is today. Then you had real electronic tracks and albums on top of the charts. Now it just Disney music and hip-hop strains, or plain jazz. That's not electronic music. In 1995 we had Underworld, Prodigy, and Massive Attack on top of the charts. That was electronic music.

Who is your biggest role model in music? What about in general (film, philosophy, ...)?

I have no role model in music, but I love to be inspired by new music and old ones that I have not noticed before. In music, I'm more a hunter than a settler. In general, I'm interested in how we see ourselves as beings and how we approach the role of existing.

I’ve been in love with Adam Curtis lately. His new series "Can’t Get You Out of My Head" is the most essential thing on the internet today.

GusGus was also formed as a kind of acting collective and mostly worked in the field of electronic music. The producer of all recent GusGus videos was Arni & Kinski, who were once also members of GusGus. Do you work a lot with former members of the collective?

No. This is a comeback for them taking over the visual department of the band. It has been working like a charm. The videos are amazing and the artwork is super cool. Before this, Siggi worked with us on the lyrics and concepts for the songs on the album. Let say that it was so much fun and the results are the best lyrics GusGus has ever forged.

Icelanders are known for their specific dark, powerful, but also calm style. When, say, other Europeans see/hear Björk or Sólstafir, we immediately recognize Iceland. How would you define your aesthetics?

I guess I’m cursed as a slave of music. It is an addiction to me. And as with all addictions, it goes more hardcore with age. Hardcore beauty.

Even though Iceland is a small country, there are quite a few festivals that are, in a way, hidden gems. In your opinion, what is the best music event/festival in Iceland one should experience?

Lunga is the event for the summer. Iceland Airwaves is always fun in the fall.

By Saša, edited on 12 May 2021