Sunday, August 3, 2014


By the time he was 20, Iceland's Ásgeir became an instant sensation in his native land. The singer/songwriter who takes the natural influences around them and ties them into romantic pop songs has signed with Bjork's One Little Indian Records and released his debut last year. Now, as the album finally made it's way Stateside, Ásgeir is gaining momentum. We spoke to the man who has made his country, a place that has given us the genius music of his label's head, Sigur Ros, and many others news life. Take a look at our interview below:
 Iceland is known for giving the world such amazing artists like Bjork, Sigur Ros, Of Monsters & Men, how do you feel you will help continue the tradition of fantastic Icelandic artists?

I feel very honoured to be following in the footsteps of the bands you mentioned above.  To be given the opportunity to travel internationally with music is such an amazing experience!

Because your country has given the world so many great musicians, do you feel there any pressure on you?

Sometimes I do, but I try to not think on it for too long.  I just hope they are proud of what we are doing.  It's great to be able to represent my home country going around the world.

Being someone with such a unique sound, how would you describe yourself to someone who has never heard of you before?

Atmospheric melodic folk with electronic vibes.

Who are some of your influences?

Elliot Smith, Damien Rice, Thom Yorke, The Tallest Man On Earth, Bon Iver, Sigur Ros, James Blake, Mount Kimbie, Meshuggah, Jeff Buckley, Francisco Tarrega, Kelly Joe Phelps.

What is it like coming up in the music scene in Iceland and trying to gain attention?

I never really had to try to gain attention in Iceland. It was really simple in my case, we just recorded a couple of songs and put them out to the few radio stations that we have, and people picked it up from there. I wasn't really looking for the attention I was getting, I never felt ready for it. But, I decided to go with it to see where it would take me.

You have released music via Bjork’s One Little Indian label, what was it like getting a call from her people to be a part of her label?

That was a great feeling when we got the call. It was the first label at the time that showed some real interest in the album and they seemed eager to work with us. After getting to know how the label works and the people that work there it was no question of whether we should sign with them or not. Their long-standing experience of working with Icelandic artists was definitely impressive as well.

You had translated many of your songs from Icelandic to English, did you know English prior to doing this or did you have to learn the language?

I knew English before, most Icelandic people know English pretty well, and for most it’s their second language. Kids start learning English when they are about 9 years old, so I was at least a little bit prepared before making the album.

You linked up with John Grant of The Czars to help translate your material, how did that relationship come about?

My brother introduced me to John in the autumn of 2012 when we were starting to think about ways to get this album outside of Iceland. John had been living in Reykjavik for one year then, so he had been making appearances here and there through the year, collaborating with Icelandic artists, singing songs in Icelandic, making an album with Biggi Veira… so people knew about him. I liked his music a lot and felt that this would make a perfect opportunity to work with him and get to know him. We had a few ideas about how we could bring the album outside of Iceland, one of the ideas was just to release it in Icelandic, another idea was to make new English lyrics for each song and the third idea was to translate these Icelandic lyrics into English. I met up with John Grant and we talked about these ideas and in the end after going through the Icelandic lyrics with him, we felt that the most suitable thing would be to translate the Icelandic lyrics and keep the same meaning and feeling.

What was it like crafting your debut?

It was a fun period in my life. It was so different from anything I had done before. I had never been in a recording studio before so just that was very exciting for me. I worked closely with Kiddi, who was the producer on the album, and we also got some great musicians to work with us on the album, who really put their mark on the album.

It took us about 3 months to get the album together and just a few weeks later it was released in Iceland.

You are a very big deal in your native country, winning many awards, selling out shows in large places, your songs are all over the place there. What is it like coming to America and being an virtual unknown and having to start over again?

It’s been a long time since we played show’s in Iceland. We have been touring Europe for about one and a half years now, so we’re kind of used to beginning somewhere new and pretty much start from scratch. Our June tour was our first proper tour in the US, so we are not playing big venues here yet, but I like playing smaller venues as well, it becomes more intimate and you get a chance to talk to the fans after shows more than you can do after big shows.

 How do American audiences differ from Icelandic ones?

People often seem to be more enthusiastic about it here than in Iceland. The crowd is most of the time great, everybody is respectful whilst the band is playing and they seem to be there just to listen to the music. I feel like over all we have had a really warm welcoming over here.