Friends rally around
Given the short window of time between Sjonni's death and the semi final he was due to compete in in the Icelandic selection, Sjonni's widow Thorunn and his family had a big decision to make. Thorunn adds "I gave it a lot of thought and discussed it with my family and our friends and we all came to the same conclusion, that I should keep the song in the competition.Sjonni and I had been working on this together from day one and he was very proud of this song and happy with the result and couldn’t wait to sing it in the competion."
Moving message within the song
Thorunn also got positive support from Sjonni's friends with regards to her decision, she tells "His musician friends also stressed that the song was a really good song, so it would be a shame not to let it be heard. It was the last song he recorded, he sang the Icelandic version in the studio only a week before he died. The message of the song is also something he and I wanted to get across to people and I know myself that it’s an important message, I’ve been so harshly reminded of that, and I really hope that people will listen to the message and follow it."
Coming Home tells of how we should seize every moment and enjoy life to the fullest, Thorunn explains "It is a love story, a love story for all kinds of love, romantic love, love between friends, the love parents have for their children etc. Looking at the lyrics after what happened I strangely realised the sense of goodbye and distance within them.“But oh oh oh, it’s time to go, I’ll see you, I’ll see you soon.”We could have written a song about anything in the world, last year for example,Sjonni’s song was called Waterslide but for some reason this was his last song."
An easy yet painful decision
Thorunn delves deeper within the message of the song to explain "The lyrics remind us that life is short so we must live our lives today and not take things and people for granted. It tells the story of someone who can’t wait to get home to his family or friends to tell them he loves them and that no matter what happens, even after life on this earth, this love will lead us together again.As the lyric goes Cause no one knows his where or when. When my time on earth comes to an end,then I’ll find you, and I know that you will be my love again.So, in summary, for me, it was an easy yet painful decision, to carry on with the song without my beloved Sjonni."
Watch Thorunn's interview
Sjonni's Friends in their own words
Palmi Sigurhjartarson says "Eurovision Song Contest is a chance for Sjonni‘s Friends to make his music public and of course to honour his memory. It is also a great chance for us, the guys in the band, to introduce ourselves to Europe, both as musicians and as songwriters.
Hreimur Heimisson adds "Anyone can win, no matter who you are or where you´re from!"
Gunnar Olasson reflects "For me, it's about unity of people and getting to know others with different cultural and musical backgrounds."
Benedikt Brynleifsson sees the contest as "An opportunity to build relations with musicians from other countries. It is also great to gain experience as performers."
Matthias Matthiasson comments "First and foremost, I just wanna have fun, but then again it's a great change to be seen and heard trough out Europe. Love is you!! Eurovision brings life to the music scene every year in Iceland, everybody has a change to be heard, I love it. This year you are all gonna hear my voice, and it makes me feel proud, and hopefully I can live up to your expectations."
Finally Vignir Snaer Vigfusson says "Eurovision for me is first and foremost a celebration of music! Music ties people together wherever you come from. Music is love."
Sjonni's friends no strangers to this competition
Gunnar, Vignir and Benedikt have all participated in Europe's Favourite TV Show before, Gunnar as part of TwoTricky in Copenhagen 2001, Vignir played guitar with Birgitta in Latvia in 2003 and co-wrote Selma‘s entry in 2005, Benedikt was in Eirikur Hauksson‘s band in Helsinki 2007.
Furthermore, Vignir, Benedikt, Gunnar and Hreimur performed with Sjonni when he presented his song Waterslide in Söngvakeppni Sjónvarpsins, the Icelandic Eurovision preselection contest in Iceland in 2010.
Thorunn explains how she chose these particular friends to sing Sjonni's song "I chose them because they are fantastic singers and performers and they have all been working together and with Sjonni for many years.
They are the best of the best here in Iceland, they have led their bands for years, topping charts with their songs, so they have plenty of experience. Piano player Pálmi, guitarist Vignir and drummer Benedikt were bandmates of Sjonni in the band Rokk, and he had sung with Gunnar, Hreimur and Matti for years too.
But the best part about them is that they are extremely charming, handsome, lovely guys with a great sense of humor. We are all very close friends and they loved Sjonni very much and I can’t wait to see them perform our song on the Eurovision stage."
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Great support in Iceland
The support from the Icelandic public has been very warm hearted, Thorunn explains "The reaction here has been amazing. Everywhere we go we hear children singing our song and I know that Sjonni would have been so happy to see this, and it warms my heart too. People have been extremely supportive and gathered together to support us and Sjonni’s Friends, telling us how much they like the song and that they voted for it because they thought it was the best song and we’re very honored and grateful to have that support."
"Of course not everyone agrees on everything in life, the pre selection here had a lot of talent this year and our friend Magni who was the runner up and the talented Jóhanna Guðrúnand other canditates had support here as well. But at the end of the day it’s a song contest and our song won the Icelandic televote with almost a third of all the votes, the runner up Magni receiving around 18 % of the votes."
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Keeping Sjonni's music and memory alive
Thorunn is clearly very excited about presenting Sjonni's music to a wider audience and goes on to add "I am so happy to get this chance to bring Sjonni’s music to Europe. He was a very talented songwriter and I know that on the night when Sjonni’s Friends will take the stage to sing, Sjonni will be with us somewhere singing along."
"Sjonni has written other great songs in his career and it is my dream that peoplewill take the time to listen to his music and his fabulous singing voice. For me personally being a lyricist in the Eurovision Song Contest is a dream come true. I’ve been a fan of the competion ever since I was a little girl and always dreamt of taking part ,so therefore hearing my words sung, will be a very special moment for me. I’m looking forward to seeing Sjonni’s Friends perform and shine on that stage.I’m really proud of the song and it makes me feel happy and I hope it’ll make other people happy too."
Thorunn intends to continue publishing Sjonni's songs, and do her best to keep his memory alive. She has a website in the making where it will be possible to find all of Sjonni's music eventually.
Eurovision.tv would like to thank Thorunn and Sjonni's Friends for their time with his interview.