We had a chat to Asgier in the lead up to the release of his new album 'Afterglow'. Available on the 5th of May. The Icelandic artist has spent the past three years honing and perfecting the eleven tracks that make up this magnificent affecting body of work and on Friday May 5, Ásgeir will release Afterglow to the world on POD via Inertia Music. Pre-orders are available here: https://asgeir.lnk.to/AfterglowANZPR.
Hey Asgier how are you going?
I’m good how are you?
I’m good thank you! What have you been up to how’s your day been?
My day has been good, I have just been doing interviews and sessions and stuff.
Awesome, where abouts are you in Australia now?
I’m in Sydney yeah, I love it over here, we’ve been here now for about, I think it’s my fourth time, I really like it here.
That’s good! Is it cold in Sydney?
Nah I don’t know what you think is cold haha but its Icelandic summer weather.
Yeah tell us a little bit about your hometown, is it true that there’s only 40 people that live there?
Yeah so there’s about 40 people that live there.
Thats pretty cool, it sounds like it would be a really beautiful and humble place.
Yeah it’s a good place, there’s not much to do in that small town, there used to be a school in there that I went to when I was younger but it moved into a another town now. There’s a town of like 600 people close to that town, so most of my friends and all of the fun that was going on was over there.
Is there anywhere in the world that you’ve visited that reminds you of home?
Na, I can’t remember any, not really haha there’s nothing really like it. I feel like when i’m in Scandinavia, that’s the closest thing that comes to it.
Afterglow, your second album is coming to our ears on May 5th, tell us a little bit about the journey you went on to make this album.
We got back from touring the first album in the beginning of 2016, and I took a small break from everything, about a month, and then started working on this album Afterglow in the beginning of summer 2016. It took about 1.5 years, I worked with some of the same lyricists from the first album, it feels a bit similar to me the songs in the beginning are usually written on guitar or piano, they were folk based songs most of them, and then I experimented a little bit more on this album with synthesisers and electronic sounds and some stuff like that.
Yeah I found that track 9 on the album ‘New Day’ is a bit like that, it starts off stripped back with the acoustic guitar and piano, similar to your old album, and then builds to the new style that you have brought out with this album.
Did most of your tracks start off like that?
Yeah most of the tracks begin like that, some of the tracks start in the computer with the beat first or something but most start with me playing guitar or piano.
When you talk about working with the lyricist from the other album, are you talking about your dad there, and your brothers?
Yeah my dad worked on quite a few lyrics on this album, and my older brother helped with translation and stuff like that.
That great, is it good working with your family, you must have quite a good connection when it comes to music?
Yeah, its very easy, it seems very natural for us to work together, especially me and my dad we have been working together for a long time now, I started using some of his words when I was 13/14, and yeah it’s very easy for us to work together which is kind of surprising because of this big generation gap there, he’s 75 and I’m 24, but i think that’s why it kind of becomes so special in a way you know?
Yeah definitely, your sound has become a little bit more chilled electronica, have you always wanted to take your music in this direction?
I don’t know, my music has just been growing, ever since I started making music and I think through the years of touring, I started to feel like I needed something more to kind of excite me with music and when I was making music, I felt like the guitar and the piano wasn’t enough for me to get excited about it this time around, so I needed to experiment with more sounds and try different things, and new things.
Yeah it’s a really beautiful album. Did you produce it all yourself?
Yeah most of it, and I learnt a lot from that experience and I enjoyed doing tracks like that, in the future I think it’s fun to work with other people in the studio aswell, figuring things out in the recording process, it’s a big reason why I enjoy that the most about making music.
Where did you make the majority of this album? At home?
Beautiful, have your family been big influences on you as an artist?
I guess mostly my older brother, I wanted to play guitar because he played guitar and he was really good at it, he still is, and he sang and wrote songs and when I was really young I wanted to do it because of that, i really looked up to him, but my whole family all play some instrument and so there was a lot of music going on in the house, it was very natural for me to pick up an instrument at an early age.
I was lucky enough to get a sneak peak of the album for this interview, and I was pretty blown away by it actually, listening to it start to finish is pretty special, you have already given us a taste with ‘Stardust’ and ‘Unbound’, why did you choose these tracks to be released first?
Well honestly I didn’t have a big opinion on what tracks would be released first, i think that’s kind of marketing's thing, I tried to not get my head to involved in the industry of this. I think it’s kind of part of the industry releasing things in the build up, but I’m always happy with whatever you know.
Would I be wrong in saying Bon Iver has a bit of an influence on you as an artist?
No you wouldn’t be wrong in saying that, big influence.
Yeah I can hear it, you both have this incredibly calming and surprising element to your music and it’s very special, I think it’s hard to create music that’s both happy and sad at the same time.
Yeah definitely, I have heard that before about my music, and it’s not a conscious effort it’s just the way I write music I think.
I really love the 6th track on the new album ‘Nothing’, it’s short but it reminds me of a sort of interlude, I could listen to it on repeat for days it’s so beautiful, what is it about?
Well the lyrics just sort of came when the song came, and I didn’t want to change it I just recorded it as a demo and we didn’t change anything after that really. It’s just this short kind of idea, that wasn’t really...I didn’t take it all the way it was just this idea and I just let it be this idea and nothing more, the lyrics just came to mind when I was trying to figure out the melody, it’s about some strong relationship with someone that is difficult to break, its not that deep actually it was just words that came out.
It ties the album really well together because the next track comes in with that kind of steady beat, and yeah it’s a very beautiful song.
What is your writing process, what do you do to get yourself in that creative zone, or does it just come sporadically?
I have a hard time figuring that out with this album and it’s not really a thing that you figure out, it’s just there or it’s not and it doesn’t really matter where you are, it’s not really about what room you’re in I think or what you’re thinking about, I feel like if the door is closed or the door is open, and the door could be open for a few weeks and then you can just do everything but I felt like the door was closed for a long time when I was making this album, but when it opened up I made most of the songs.
What was Splendour like when you came here? Was that your first trip to Australia?
I have been here about 4 times now, and I can’t really remember which festival was the first time I came, but Splendour was a great festival I had a great time.
Who was one of your favourite artists you had the pleasure of meeting while you were on any tour?
I think it was very special, we supported Alt J on tour here in Australia.
Oh great that would have been amazing.
Yeah that tour was very special, and I am a big fan of their music so it was very special.
Yeah that definitely would have been, what are you up to in Australia right now?
Were just on a promo tour, we just arrived yesterday morning, so I have been doing some interviews yesterday and today, and then I’m playing a showcase tonight for the industry people and then heading back to Iceland.
Do you get any relax time, do you get to do anything fun while you’re here?
Unfortunately not, I went to bed around 8pm yesterday and woke up at 6am I’m so tired because of the trip here, the trip was about 2.5 days, I’m pretty tired and then I’m playing a show tonight and I’ll be done by 8 so I’ll try and go somewhere good after that and then to bed.
You’ll be fast asleep on the plane home I think.
Is there an Australian tour coming up after the album is released?
Yeah we’re playing Splendour again and there are some sideshows around then.
Awesome! Well I could chew your ear off all day but I better let you go. It was an absolute pleasure talking to you about your music, thank you so much for sharing and sharing your album with me for this chat. I can’t wait to get it in May and have a hard copy of it.
Cool good to talk to you.
Yeah you too, good luck with the rest of your interviews.
This is my last one
Great! Time to relax for a few hours before work again haha
Hahaha yep! Ok have a good day
You too thanks!
Interviewer: Keeley Connolly