Video for "Inside your head" of iPhone fame, a song by Eberg
Nuts and Bolts
Interview with Einar Tönsberg aka Eberg in Iceland Review Summer 2007 Number 45.02
Eberg and Bono officially share something in common, and not just their single-word aliases. It’s not DATA , Africa or even Ali Hewson. It’s cooler – it’s Mac. This winter Eberg’s indie hit “Inside Your Head” recently electrified international airwaves as the track behind Mac’s new iPhone commercial that debuted during the Oscars. The same track was also featured on the American hit TV show The OC. But Eberg doesn’t need to proselytize do-gooding or rub shoulders with celebs like his Irish counterpart. Nope, he just wants to make music, finish his summerhouse and sit on the can with a roll of Charmin Comfort.
Sara Blask: You hit a home run with “Inside Your Head.” How did you hear from Mac that you were the chosen one?
Eberg: Well, I was about four pints in at my friend’s party and I got a call around midnight. They said they wanted to use it but that they needed an edit now. That sobered me up. So I told them, sure, I’d have to get back to my “studio.” My studio being my flat with my computer.
SB: It was probably 5 a.m. in Iceland when the Oscars were being streamed into Iceland from Los Angeles. Did you stay up to watch?
Eberg: I got this phone call in the middle of the night from a friend in New York. She said she was watching the Oscars and that they were playing my bloody song! It was the best reason I’ve ever gotten woken up.
SB: After reading some of the messages on your MySpace profile, it seems like a lot of young girls have fallen in love with you, perhaps because they also love The OC. Do you reply to them?
Eberg: Usually I don’t unless I’m in the right mood. But if you do it’s a bit dangerous. They become your best friend and then they keep sending you mail, which is lovely. But it’s also a bit weird.
SB: One of your tracks is called “Love Your Bum.” An ode to the arse?
Eberg: Those lyrics come from too much time on the toilet with nothing to read. I went to the grocery store with a pen and piece of paper to write down the advertising slogans from the toilet paper packaging. I think ‘break the habit’ is one of them. Also ‘your house is our house.’ I don’t really get any of them.
SB: I assume you like good quality toilet paper then? None of that one-ply stuff.
Eberg: Yeah. I like Charmin Comfort.
SB: Voff Voff is the title of your latest album, which you say is how Icelandic dogs bark. But there don’t seem to be many dogs here! American dogs pronounce it “woof woof,” by the way.
Eberg: There are dogs in the countryside – and they wouldn’t understand any of this “woof woof” business. When I’m in crowded areas, like on the tube or in train stations, I sometimes start barking. Usually what happens is that people think it’s so weird that they get up from their seats and leave, which is great because then I have a place to sit.
SB: Your name is Einar Tönsberg. I can see where you get “Eberg” from, but do your friends call you Einar or Eberg?
Eberg: My friends in the U.K. call me Eberg. For some reason they don’t hear the ‘r’ in my name, they hear it as an ‘l.’ Einal. [anal]. I gave up on that a long time ago.
SB: What’s playing on your iPod these days?
Eberg: Nothing. I don’t have an iPod. I depend upon my flatmates for music. I like Elliott Smith though, but I also just like conversation, people talking. That’s a kind of music. I’m also addicted to BBC4.
SB: Is Eberg just you? Do you ever play with anyone else?
Eberg: Eberg is just me, but when I play live there’s usually a drummer, a cellist and a very nervous computer.
SB: Nervous computer?
Eberg: Well, it gets a bit scared when we’re playing live and it makes some stupid mistake like stops playing in the middle of a track or just turns itself off. I think it might be a bit ill. I think it might be secretly watching porn or something. It’s getting some diseases I think.
SB: You sometimes play with unusual instruments like scissors and something you dubbed the ‘eharp’ that’s made from guitar strings and a wooden coat hanger. How’d you get inspired?
Eberg: I’m not really sure how that happened. After my first album I was terrified of playing live and I think this was my defense, to make something silly to hide behind. Somehow I got this wooden hanger thing, but then I had to go on a quest to find the right kind of wooden hanger. They don’t make them like they used to. So I went to this old man’s clothing shop where all the hangers are like 100 years old and those are the ones I used. It’s a great instrument. Also, I’m the best eharp player in the world. I hate being average.
SB: So many people drool over Iceland’s music scene these days. I’m not sure I buy it, do you?
Eberg: I think the arrogance is getting dangerous here. People are getting ahead of themselves a lot. People are losing humility. What happens here is you go to a radio station and most likely you know one of the deejays. They’ll play the track for you and if they like it, they’ll play it again and again. That’s kind of how it works here. I think the beauty of Icelandic music used to be, or maybe still is, that there’s no history of people making money out of music. So if you’re making music you have to be doing it because you love doing it. You have to be proud of it. And maybe that’s disappearing.
SB: You lived in London for a decade and decided to move back to the Republic last summer. How come?
Eberg: I felt like ten years was a long time. It was either stay and have a future there or come back and have a future here. It’s what happens when you go abroad – it’s a bit like you’re on a holiday and you don’t make any normal decisions like buying a flat. London’s great for being young and careless, but this is great for a family. I’m starting to build a little summerhouse in Hvalfjördur. The problem is that there aren’t that many screws holding it together now. And there’s no toilet.
More Eberg @ http://www.eberg.net/