b. Einar Tonsberg, 6 February 1973, Reykjavík, Iceland. Tonsberg set up this experimental laptop folk solo project following involvement in a number of short-lived pop, punk and electro acts in his home-town and the London, England-based Lorien during the 90s. Although he had a limited amount of equipment and funds, Tonsberg managed to reach a wider audience through a combination of enterprise and an idiosyncratic approach to songwriting. The first 50 copies of 2004’s Plastic Lions were made available in a handmade, hand-painted, numbered, wooden box. The profits from this release were used to press up the next 1, 000 copies of the CD in a more conventional jewel case, before Oxford, England independent label, Rotator, gave the record a full release.
Tonsberg claims that his songwriting process usually began with a search for interesting sounds and rhythms for which to base a track around. Indeed, his music could be described as sparse lyrical mantras tied to skewed but charming sound collages, ‘Smoker In A Film’ being a perfect example. One of Tonsberg’s preferred instruments is the ‘eharp’, his own spurious hybrid of a Fender Stratocaster and a coat hanger. It was this kind of ingenuity, twinned with a particular Icelandic eccentricity previously put to similar use by Björk, which caused the UK music press to take notice.
In 2006 Tonsberg moved to another UK independent label, Instant Karma and with this came Voff Voff. Wittily named after the sound made by Icelandic dogs, the album was a step on from the debut release only in terms of production. The same sense of humour permeated Voff Voff, and was particularly evident on opener ‘Love Your Bum’, a track that had a lyric entirely made up from slogans used to sell toilet rolls. This wackiness was counterbalanced with sombre and whimsical acoustic compositions such as ‘Sober In June’ and ‘Place Between Now And Then’.