Ásgeir has made a massive impact on the music from Iceland since his debut album ‚In the Silence‘ in 2013. This album was a massive best-seller and established him on the frontline of Icelandic singers. His own style of part electronic, part acoustic singer-/songwriter folk music with those strong melodies in a a tradition of Bon Iver or James Blake creates a special atmosphere which brought classics like ‚Head in the Snow‚, ‚King and Cross‚, the smashing ‚Torrent‚ or the 100%-perfect-song ‚Going Home‚.
In 2017, Ásgeir Trausti Einarsson released his second longplayer ‚Afterglow‚ with the outstanding title track but going into a more mellow and more electronica based direction.
Now he returns with the long awaited ‚Bury the Moon‘ with ‚Youth‚ as a first single, that is in the tradition of the debut album. The whole album is a soundwise return to the beginning with even more intimate and acoustic elements that fit the compositions, texts and voice of Ásgeir very well.
The sounds on ‚Afterglow ‚ was with more electronics and pads whereas ‚Bury The Moon ‚ looks like a little return to the subtle use of those effects. Why that change?
Ásgeir: Definitely, it is a more simple album – going back to the roots. In fact it was supposed to be an acoustic folk album. We mixed all the styles all together.
And the songs sound lighter than the songs on ‚Afterglow‘, more airy, more spacey.
How long did it take to come up with the songs to it?
Ásgeir: On the first album we toured all the way from 2013 to 2015. Just pretty much constantly – and never really just siting down. This time it is very different. I like to write in a very calm and relaxed environment. Some of the songs I already had in my head. I went through all the demos I had and finished the ideas after another. In 2018 they were finished. Some were just scratches and we had to rethink it to come out in the right direction. I try to finish writing them before going to the studio – I tend to get too lost to do songs in the studio, thinking too much and having all those studio equipment.
Do you remember what was the first song for Bury the Moon?
Ásgeir: ‚Living water‘ – that was the first one.
And did it set the tone for the whole album?
Ásgeir: In some kind of way, there is always a special mood in it. In ‚Living water‘ I used a poem of my dad., it worked out astonishing well.
How is your process of developing a song? What comes first – Melody or text?
Ásgeir: It has always has been the song first. The melody and chords and the structure of the song. If I would have a certain text in mind, I would be more inside in a box – I like to be free.
You do create the songs with icelandic words first, right?
Ásgeir: When I write songs, the lyrics I think of are in english. I started writing songs when I was 11 years old and always listened to english music.
Its easier to play around more in english – but you have to be careful, in english you end up much faster in clichees.
You have released acoustic versions of songs from the album in Icelandic language. Will you release more acoustic videos with icelandic versions of song, like for ‚Youth‘ or ‚Living water‘?
Ásgeir: Definitely, we have done quite a few of those recordings that will be released.
And will the new album get a pure icelandic version too?
Ásgeir: Yes there will be. I am more involved on the lyrical process on this album and with a clear idea of what I want to transport with the songs. Most of the texts are from my father. I started to use his poetry when I was 14 and I am used to it and the workflow.
Do yourself have an answer what makes your sound so special? Is it the landscape, you have grown up in a small city outside of Reykjavik?
Ásgeir: I sampled the landscape in Iceland. (laughs) No, the landscape is not obvious the influences.
Who are your musical influences – folk singers?
Ásgeir: Yeah! Up until I was 13, it was just Pop music, after that Rock music from acts like System of a Down or Linkin Park. Then I got more into discovering artists on my own, listening to on youtube.
Acts like Tallest Man on Earth, Bon Iver or Elliot Smith. From the icelandic music scene Mugison – I was really into his music. And of course Sigur Ros.
And always trust a local insider: Is there a hot-spot bar or restaurant that is a „must-see“ recommendation? We’ve heard that the bar Húrra is a hot spot.
Ásgeir: Definitely, but I have been more in around in Hafnarfjordur and recommend a nice Café called ‚Pallet‘.
Thanks Ásgeir for the nice interview!
‚Bury the Moon‘ is an Icelandic folk-music album that couldn’t be done in any way better: Melancholic, intimate and yet wide open sounds, the right mixture of acoustics and electronica, intelligent texts (in the international version translated by John Grant) and the unique singing of Ásgeir.