His album covers are works of art, and he holds regular exhibitions of his drawings. So it's no surprise that, for his first solo live tour, Jonsi, the Sigur Ros guitarist and vocalist, has abandoned the standard rock gig format and turned the shows into a visual spectacular with intricate effects to match his cinematic music.
Considering Jonsi is a vegetarian, the choice of stage setting – a recreation of a famous, burnt-out taxidermist's shop in Paris – for the tour that promotes his new solo album, Go, is bizarre.
"I kind of hate taxidermy and the notion of hunting and stuffing creatures, but at the same time I love age and decay, so the whole thing's an interesting balance for me," says Jonsi, whose album was inspired by nature and features the recorded sounds of animals and birds.
"I was thinking a lot about animals during the making of this album, and quite a few animal noises ended up in the songs, usually buried somewhere deep in the mix; a swarm of bees here, a wolf there, a flute sounding like a flitting bird or something. That in a way was the inspiration for the feel of the record, even before the songs had any words. I wanted it to sound like it was teeming with crazy life. So when 59 Productions showed me a book about a burned-out taxidermist shop on Paris, the idea of having all these long-dead creatures reborn just seemed a natural way to go."
During the show, which blends elements of operatic and theatrical staging and film and art installations with the lighting and dynamics of a live gig, animals including wolves, deer, butterflies, owls and rats, all come to life on screens and take flight.
It might sound odd, but fans and critics who have already seen the show on tour in America have been won over. "With 90 minutes of genuine, theatrical production, replete with an interactive set and costumes, Jonsi made the fifth stop of his solo career at the Roseland Theater with a performance designed for an opera house," said the Oregon Music News. "Bringing some to tears, the intensity and sheer force of the final minutes triggered cool perspiration to chill stunned onlookers – one powerful gasp before letting go forever."
Jonsi plays London HMV Forum on 26 and 27 May (jonsi.com)