Jón Jósep Snæbjörnsson — or Jónsi, as he is known among Eurovision fanatics — represented Iceland twice at Eurovision, in 2004 and 2012.
And to mark his 40th birthday, the “Never Forget” singer recently looked back on his career with Icelandic media pressan.is.
Among other things he discussed life as the frontman of Í Svörtum Fötum, one of Iceland’s most popular bands in recent years, fatherhood and, of course, Eurovision.
With his “devil may care” attitude and boundless energy, Jónsi frequently comes off as a goofball. But that’s just a part of him.
In real life Jónsi is quite calm, has been married for 17 years and is a proud father to two boys, age 11 and 16.
“They keep me grounded, no doubt,” he said in the interview. “I knew for a fact that I could’ve been stupid enough to waste my life completely, but I was so unbelievably lucky to meet my wife early and become a father, even before my band made it.”
“So I was already taking on a lot of responsibility, and I was already settled. But there have been ups and downs, of course, and there were times when I lost myself in ‘the stardom’ and became too fixated with my career and myself. But on the whole, I have focused on the real me. A husband, a father, a son and a friend. Those are the most important things in life. Plus I would hate if people saw me as some kind of an airhead with a huge ego. If that would happen, I would know I’ve failed completely.”
When it comes to music, Jónsi feels he has made most of his dreams come true.
“I wanted to make records, and I wanted to compete in Eurovision,” he said. “The band has been active for 20 years, and right from the start, we were certain of what we wanted to do, what kind of music we wanted to compose, and we were strong enough to make it work. And I got to go to Eurovision twice!”
Jónsi has always been a musician, though he struggled to label himself as such.
“The music is a part of me. I can’t ignore it. But now I feel like I understand better what signifies good music and a good singer. I’m more confident now, to do different things and what I feel is the right thing. Maybe this is what they call ‘growing up’?”
“I admire those kids today, who are not afraid to call themselves artists. For a long time I did not want to call myself a musician, even though that was my job. I always thought of it being temporary.”
But Jónsi is a musician. And not only that: He is also an air steward with a degree in psychology, and he is currently finishing a masters degree in human resources. He regularly works as an event planner and every now and then, he and his guitar do acoustic gigs. So even though he’s not currently touring around the country with his band, Jónsi has his hands full and that’s the way he likes it. As he said: “I feel so blessed being able to this!”
He doesn’t miss the days when he was constantly in the Icelandic media, and when everyone had an opinion about him. Despite performing all around the world, Jónsi really is shy and reserved.
“I’ve always found it a little bit uncomfortable to attract too much attention. Especially when it affects my children. I remember people shouting really nasty stuff at me, when I was in public with my sons. It got really bad at one point, and I didn’t want that for my kids. I didn’t want them to suffer from the fact their dad was famous. I wanted and still want them to lead normal lives, and I myself wanted to be able to take care of them, and not let my job as a singer, consume me. But I knew from the start that being in the public eye meant that I would unavoidably become a role model, and that is a responsibility no one should take on lightly because that is a privilege and you have to try and be the best version of yourself!”
Jónsi just turned 40 and is more than happy with that milestone.
“When I was a kid, being that age seemed overwhelming, but I find it awesome to be this age now! I’m only halfway through my life, and yet I have accomplished so much and for that I am eternally grateful.”