Earlier this week we wrote about ‘Fell Off A Ledge‘, the new single from Gunnar The Fifth. Now Lisa has had the chance to ask Gunnar himself a few questions about his music, his career as a tattoo artist, and Iceland.
We’ve touched on your story a bit in our article, but can you fill us in on the Gunnar The Fifth story from your own point of view?
I was in bands up until when I was about 25 but hadn’t played any music for a few years. Then my mother passed away recently and I got divorced and that just shook up my world and made me want to start making music. I didn’t really know what kind of music I wanted to make but at that point I was really low mentally so it just made sense to write about what I was going through and just to try to put that into perspective with my music. It has been a therapy in its own way to write these songs.
You come from Iceland but are based in Norway – is that because of convenience, being part of the European mainland rather than an island? Or is there some other reason?
I have worked as a tattoo artist since 2007 so I travel quite a lot to conventions so that is very convenient for me. Living in Norway that is. But I didn’t really move because of that. I came to Norway as a guest artist to work in a studio and just fell for the country. I still miss Iceland and consider myself Icelandic to the bone but I have made a life for myself here in Norway and I will stay.
How do you combine your tattooing and music? Do you combine them? Do you offer tattoos before/after your concerts for instance, or is your tattoo life kept separately?
Tattooing and music has been mostly kept separate except the fact that I have played many gigs at conventions. It is a good way to get my music out there. Playing for a large crowd of likeminded people.
What are your favourite musical instruments?
I started playing the guitar when I was young but have fallen in love with the piano in the last year. A lot of the songs are written on the piano. I have a soft spot for Cellos though!
Why do you think Iceland has become so popular in recent years? Music, actors, as a travel destination?
When I grew up, downtown Reykjavik was a pretty quiet place with the occasional tourist. But now it is the other way around. Finding a fellow Icelander is almost rare in some places.
I think the fact that we have had the strongest man in the world so many times and our national football team has risen in recent years helps but I think it all started with Björk back in the 90s and the mystery surrounding her. People just saw us as some kind of myth I think.
There is something different about Iceland that is hard to explain to someone that hasn’t spent a fair amount of time there. But those who have, know exactly what I am talking about.
What’s your take on the current state of the music industry? What advice do you have for anyone wanting to get into music?
I haven’t been so long in the music business this time around but I can already see it is different. You can do much more on your own.
Everything from recording professional sounding music on your own (In my case it helps that I studied audio engineering) to the fact that you can get your songs out there through all the online media platforms. That was different 10 years ago. It is freeing.
What’s been your favourite gig to perform at?
I would say maybe Moscow. it was a surreal experience. Everything from being picked up in a bullet proof car by a guy carrying a gun to the fact that no one spoke English. It was something different from the regular experience.
Who should we be listening to? What’s your top 3 artists on your playlist right now?
I love Moderat, Manchester Orchestra, and my friend Asgeir (from Iceland) just released a new album. It is great!
We loved ‘Fell Off A Ledge’ – it’s a very chilled, somewhat sad song; can we expect more of the same from your upcoming EP, or are the other songs different?
Thank you! Yeah I am a pretty chill person and everyone in the band is as well. We live a rough lifestyle from time to time but we are soft at the core and that is where our music comes from. There is a new single coming out at the end of the month called ‘Hide From The World’ I think it is our best yet!
What question do you wish someone would ask you in an interview, but nobody ever does?
That is a good question actually. Well I have mostly done interviews connected to tattooing in the last 10+ years so the questions there can be quite crazy so I am prepared to anything you can throw at me! I have been asked about peoples private parts countless times.
But I think being a tattoo artist for this long just makes you different. Meeting new people everyday and a lot of extreme people. So the norm shifts. I like that. I wish more people were open minded to all the crazy experiences that are out there!