Jónsi made us the ultimate calming self-isolation playlist.

By Balthazar Malevolent


Think about Jónsi and what it is that comes to mind? Maybe the Icelandic mountains, the Ryan McGinley-shot Sigur Rós album cover from 2008, or falling asleep to the sounds of his 2009 collaboration with Alex Somers, Riceboy Sleeps. You might also think about nature and the beauty of the well-captured field recordings that have long existed in his work, providing our fragmented world with the perfect score.

Jónsi of Sigur Rós.

Jónsi launched his first solo single in a whole decade last month, perhaps knowing we needed it. "Exhale" is a flippant piano composition co-produced by A.G Cook of London's PC Music, somewhat spontaneously — the organic creations of one artist meeting the more experimental outlook of another. The accompanying music video has been directed in collaboration with actor Giovanni Ribisi, and follows a dancer moving in monochrome.

Jónsi, still locked up at home in Los Angeles, alone except for his dog Atlas, has turned to cooking: creating his own incense and posting video guides to create his own special recipe for chili oil. "Aside from being slightly ill with COVID-19, I loved being at home and working on different artistic feats," he says. He's well past the worst of it by the looks of things and back to appreciating the little events in his life: chewing frankincense resin, admiring the jacaranda blossom in his neighborhood, and watching monarch butterflies circle the flowers in his backyard.

Jónsi is quick to remind you, given his many creative outlets, that there is zero pressure to keep at it. "When you're not feeling creative you don't have to be creative," he says. "You don't have to feel bad for doing something. You don't have to clean your room, you can slow down and be introspective.

Since Jónsi's music has long been a go-to get us through stressful times, we thought we should seek advice from the master and ask him to make us a playlist of self-isolation. Opening with thirty minutes of "Wood-masted Sailboat" (close your eyes and you're rocking slowly on the ocean), the four-hour collection takes us through a thunderstorm, past a humpback whale choir and via Times Square, for a crowd-based nostalgia spot and a reminder of what it used to be. A bath of sound to match all others. "Close your eyes and listen to the outside indoors," Jónsi says of his treatment.


Interesting fact:

Several times, designer Rick Owens would be giving inspirational playlists ahead of his shows. Bryan Black of Black Asteroid released an album featuring Zola Jesus, Cold Cave, and Rick Owens's wife Michele Lamy.

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