Mon, 15 Dec 2014 08:46:13
Ásgeir made one of the year's best albums with In The Silence. It's a terse and sonically boundless collection that's as emotional as it is enigmatic. Moreover, it introduces a new star from Iceland with a voice and songwriting prowess to match his artistic prowess.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Ásgeir talks In the Silence and so much more.
Did you approach In the Silence with one vision in mind?
I never really thought it through. When we finished the album, I really thought each song was different from the others and had its own sound and genre. I didn't think anything really fell into one place in terms of style or things like that. It took some time for me to hear how it became like an album. When we were in the process of making it, I really wasn't thinking about it that way. We did it in a really short time—just over two months or something. It was all done in one place too. Everything happened really quickly. I suppose that's why it connects and flows well for people. I got used to it. The time we took recording the songs connected it together.
What's the story behind "Head In The Snow"?
That's actually a song I wrote the summer before we started recording the album. At that point, I was just experimenting with a fast fingerpicking style and using some melodies. I've always been into using melodies and having them play a big part of every song with the harmonies. They become their own instrument in that sense. I started thinking about the song in terms of making this fast-flowing track with fingerpicking and chord changes as well as a harmonic vocal thing. A programmed electronic part came after I arranged other things. I recorded most of the parts of that song in Garage Band too. It's the only one I did it mostly on my own at home before going into the studio. The vocals, guitars, and drums stayed the same as they were in Garage Band. My dad wrote the lyrics to it. It's about how difficult life can get so sometimes people think it's the best to choice to hide their heads in the snow and not come out for some time.
Where did "On That Day" come from?
That's the most folk-y, acoustic song on the album. My father also wrote the lyrics to that. It was about a time I was going through. When we made the album, we decided to make all the songs in Icelandic first, and I wanted my dad to be involved in it. We talked before the writing. "On That Day" is something that may be more personal to me than the other songs although I didn't write all of the lyrics. We ultimately did it together.
Is it important for you to tell stories with the songs?
Yeah, definitely! I'm finding paths that I want to stick to with that. I've always felt the music I'm making tells a story on its own. Lyrically or musically, you can see things in your mind that match what's happening and what it's all about. Before we made the lyrics, we got the feeling of what colors it brings to you and what feelings you get out of it. The lyrics sort of follow the atmosphere of every song.
What artists shaped you?
I could listen to a lot of rock music as well as folk singers. I was educated in classical guitar so that's where my fingerpicking style comes from. Folk artists would stand out the most. I applaud Damien Rice, Nick Drake, Johnny Cash, and singers like Jeff Buckley. Sigur Rós are from Iceland, and they really use their vocals as an instrument. They're definitely a big influence.
What else inspires you?
I do watch a lot of movies now. I didn't in the past. I used to spend most of my time playing guitar or playing sports. I was more into sports. I connected to music, and I used that as an outlet for myself. I grew up in a farm town really close to nature. I needed to get this relaxed peaceful life around me to go through the day without any stress. I moved to Reykjavík when I was 15, and I was too stressed out here. For three years, I didn't really like it here. I wanted to go back home to where I'm from. I felt the need to go back and get things together. Most of the songs on this album were written in this small town, and a lot of inspiration comes from that and being around the people and surroundings I was used to.
Have you heard In the Silence?