Alex Somers is a multi-faceted musician and visual artist originally from Baltimore. After college, he spent much of the 2000s recording as half of experimental project Parachute, doing artwork for bands including Sigur Rós and collaborating on art and music with Sigur Rós' Jónsi (Jon Thor Birgisson).
As Jónsi & Alex, they issued the album Riceboy Sleeps in 2009. Adding production, engineering, and mixing credits to his résumé along the way, Somers opened his own studio and collaborated with artists including Sigur Rós, Pascal Pinon, and Sound of Ceres throughout the 2010s. Bringing his atmospheric synths to the big screen, his early film scores included 2016's Captain Fantastic and 2019's Honey Boy.
A Baltimore native, Somers studied composition at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and visual art at the Iceland Academy of the Arts in Reykjavik. Continuing to split his time between the two countries as a professional in both fields, he formed experimental duo Parachute with Scott Alario in Boston in 2003, delivering a home-recorded self-titled debut EP that December. That same year, Somers began collaborating on art and music with Sigur Rós frontman Jon Thor Birgisson. Back with Parachute, Somers recorded what would be their only full-length, Susy, in Tuscany, Italy, releasing it in December 2004.
First calling themselves Riceboy Sleeps, Somers and Birgisson published an art book also called Riceboy Sleeps in Iceland in 2006. It was distributed internationally the following year. They also had their first gallery exhibitions outside of Iceland (in Arkansas and Melbourne) in 2007 and issued two pieces of music, "All the Big Trees" and "Daníell in the Sea," both with accompanying videos. Somers recorded the Parachute's EP Tree Roots in Iceland, delivering the finished songs in 2008. After a half-decade of working on their music intermittently and haphazardly, Birgisson and Somers decided to get serious about shaping tracks that had been recorded in Iceland entirely on acoustic instruments into a finished project. They included contributions from the string quartet Amiina (longtime Sigur Rós collaborators) and the Kópavogsdætur Choir. The pair spent February of 2009 mixing the songs for their debut album while staying at a remote, solar-powered, raw-food commune in Hawaii. One of those songs, "Happiness," appeared in unfinished form on the Red Hot Organization compilation Dark Was the Night. By the time it was released in July 2009, Riceboy Sleeps was simply the title of the album, the duo having changed their name to Jónsi & Alex.
Somers opened his own recording studio in downtown Reykjavik in 2010 and went on to produce albums such as Sin Fang's Flowers (2013) and Julianna Barwick's Nepenthe (2013), meanwhile collaborating on Sigur Rós recordings including 2012's Valtari and 2013's Kveikur. Beginning in 2014, he and Birgisson joined the scoring team of TV's Manhattan, a drama series about the Manhattan Project that lasted two seasons. Somers subsequently branched into film, scoring the 2016 indie comedy Captain Fantastic and the 2019 Shia LaBeouf film Honey Boy in addition to further work for television. In 2020, Somers' compositions could be heard in the Baltimore-set Charm City Kings (aka Twelve) and the Taylor Swift documentary Miss Americana. ~ Marcy Donelson & K. Ross Hoffman, Rovi