The Icelandic artist taking over the world.
Jumper GIVENCHY BY RICCARDO TISCI.
At only 24 years old, Ásgeir is already achieving more than artists twice his age could ever imagine. Releasing his debut album Dýrð í dauðaþögn in 2012 – with an English follow up, In The Silence in 2014 – the former stormed the charts becoming the fastest selling debut album ever in Iceland, breaking previous records set by the likes of Björk and Sigur Rós. With an estimated 10% of the entire Icelandic population owning the album, Ásgeir took a risk with his follow up record, Afterglow, moving away from the folk sound of his first LP into the world of electronic music.
Gaining critical acclaim for the sophomore album, released earlier this year, Ásgeir is going from strength to strength selling out huge venues worldwide and establishing himself at the top of the – already impressive – list of Iceland’s incredible acts.
Sitting down with him before his sold out show at KOKO last month, the humble and mind-blowingly talented artist told us all about his journey so far.
When did you first become interested in music?
I was about seven years old and my brother was always playing guitar and singing. I guess I just tried to do the same thing!
What artists did you listen to growing up?
I actually started listening to grunge music when I got interested in music. The first few years, I just wanted to play in rock bands. Then I went through different periods of listening to country music and folk music.
Yeah, your first album, In The Silence, is quite folky in comparison to your latest, Afterglow. What were your inspirations for that first album?
I guess folk singers like Elliott Smith and Bon Iver.
So what spurred the move towards more electronic music?
I was just kind of evolving in that direction. I’ve always been through periods of doing this and then doing that, so yeah, I was just evolving in that direction.
Do you have a favourite song from the new album?
It might be “Underneath It” but I don’t really have one song. Can I say the whole album?
Go on then. So what were your main inspirations when you were writing it?
It’s difficult to point at one thing. It wasn’t really any one thing that inspired it, it was just kind of a time and a moment. I began listening to electronic music a lot more than I did before about five or six years ago. I just kind of evolved into being more interested in production and synthesisers and all sorts of aspects of that stuff.
When you write, do you write in Icelandic and then translate it into English?
Do you find that sometimes it’s difficult to translate what you mean into English?
It can be difficult to get the exact same thing, but it’s usually pretty easy to get the same kind of lyric as a whole. It’s normally certain words. Like a word in Icelandic can mean so many things and that can get lost if it only has one meaning in English. But it’s kind of the same.
And you’ve previously suggested you prefer to describe your lyrics as poetry rather than song lyrics…
Yeah. I work with lyricists for my songs and I kind of think of them as poets. They write poems. I feel like my lyrics are more poems than just lyrics.
Is there a particular poet that you really like?
No… actually, Bob Dylan.
Well he did win the Nobel Literature Prize.
So obviously both of your albums have gotten a crazily good reception. What does it feel like to have people who have such love for your songs?
It’s good. Yeah, it’s really good.
You’re selling out loads of venues on tour at the moment too. How has touring been so far?
Yeah it’s been really fun. Well, most of it.
Has there been a particularly memorable moment?
Yeah! We played on a boat yesterday [Thekla in Bristol]. I think I’m gonna remember that. I might not do that again. It was really good, but you don’t get these opportunities every day!
Once you’ve finished touring, what do you have planned next?
We’re planning to not make the touring too hectic this time around. Maybe three or four weeks on tour, and then we’ll go home for two weeks. We’re trying to keep it a bit more relaxed this time around as opposed to before. But, you know, I just want to keep writing songs and doing what I love to do. I don’t really have any other bigger plans then that. I just want to keep making music and being inspired. And that’s kind of it!
Jumper NIKE, trousers 7 FOR ALL MANKIND.