BY Jason Lamphier
March 10 2010 9:00 AM ET
Birgisson and Somers, who met in Boston in 2003, have put their artistic heads together before. In addition to worldwide exhibits of their pencil-and-charcoal drawings, watercolor paintings, and video art, they’ve released a cookbook (both eat only raw food and are certified raw-food chefs), a limited-edition art book called Riceboy Sleeps, and last year’s moody instrumental album of the same name. The title Riceboy Sleeps originated soon after they met, when Somers was a broke student at the Berklee College of Music. “He was superpoor and used to buy these humongous bags of rice,” Birgisson remembers. “It was the only thing he could afford. He lived on it for months—rice, olive oil, and salt. And he slept a lot.” To mix the music for Riceboy Sleeps, Birgisson and Somers left Iceland and headed to a raw-food commune in Hawaii, where they used only solar power. “We had a small hut in the middle of a jungle, surrounded by fruit trees, with one laptop, two speakers, and a bed—nothing else,” Birgisson says.
Birgisson’s approach could have come off as twee or pretentious, but hearing him talk about his music and Somers, it becomes apparent he’s truly a hopeless romantic. Birgisson creates expansive projects because he feels things in a big way. “When I first met Alex I thought, Whoa! This boy is the most beautiful boy I’ve ever seen in my life,” he says. “It was love at first sight.” Does he really believe in that? “Of course I do,” he replies.
Before he and Somers became indie rock’s new John and Yoko, Birgisson had the idea to create a music video about two boys in love. The idea eventually became Sigur Rós’s stunning 2001 video for “Viðrar vel til Loftárása,” which depicts two adolescent footballers secretly in love in the 1950s. Shot entirely in slow motion, the majestic seven-minute clip is one of the most moving videos of the past decade—and certainly one of the few to portray a same-sex relationship. “I was very proud of it,” Birgisson recalls. “It’s still my favorite of our videos. I remember one of my friends told me he was sitting with his kid on the sofa watching TV, and the video came on. His son, who was 4 or 5, asked, ‘Why are these boys kissing?’ and he had to explain everything—about being gay and different. I think it was really good for him. That video is just a basic love story.”