Artist Spotlight - Ásgeir
(Photo Credit - Anna Maggý)
We had the opportunity to interview alt musician Ásgeir! Ásgeir has a sound that evokes comps to Bon Iver and we bet you'll be sure to love it. While you check out his music, give our interview with him a read.
1. How did you come to pursue music and how long have you been at it?
"A few things played a role in why I got so interested in music from an early age, everyone in my family could play an instrument and my mom worked as a choir conductor and was a classically educated pianist so she wanted me and my sister to go to music school very early. But I was never that interested in classical music but the idea of being in a band and writing songs soon became much more attractive to me. My brother was and still is in a pretty popular band in Iceland so I looked very much up to him when I was starting out, as well as my guitar teacher. I started writing my own songs when was about 9-10 and since then I’ve always felt like that is a part of my life that I can’t be without. But I’ve been lucky enough to have music as my profession since I was 19."
2. Could you walk us through your process of writing music?
"I usually start by just sitting down at the piano or with a guitar and just play anything that comes to mind, usually I sing at the same time as I'm writing the chord progression and sometimes when I’m feeling good and maybe inspired by something a whole song floods out in real time, but other times it takes much longer to figure everything out, and then I hit a wall where nothing that I do sounds interesting but most days try to work on something. When the song is finished then I start thinking about the lyrics. Through my career I’ve usually worked with other lyricists and my father has played a big role there, he is a poet and writes amazing poetry and lyrics. When I’m working with him we would usually start by listening to the song/demo and think about what feeling it is giving us, then we would decide on a topic or mood for the lyrics. By then I’ve always written a dummy lyric so the syllables and emphasis are at the right places and work exactly as I want them to. He would then send me what he wrote and we would then make the last changes together before I record the vocals."
3. What artists have inspired you in your career?
"Some of the bands and artists that have had the biggest impact on me and my style of music I would say were Fleet foxes, The Tallest man on Earth, Radiohead, James Blake, Mount Kimbie, Bon Iver, Nick Drake as well as some names in the Icelandic music scene like Mugison, Sigur Ros and KK. But I try to always listen for new music for inspiration since the emotional impact of those albums that I used to love so much tend to dull with the years. So some of the recent music that I’ve gotten really into are bands like Tame Impala, Anderson Paak, Phoebe Bridgers, Jon Hopkins, Kendrick Lamar, Donald Glover, Beck, David bowie - Blackstar album for example."
4. Do you have any favorite music gear (guitars, amps, effects pedals, keyboards, etc.) that you love to use? If so, what’s the story on them?
"I love my old Gibson L series, it was made in 1935 and sounds and plays wonderfully, I also love my Martin OM 28v and I would say I play that guitar the most when I’m at home and sometimes I take it on the road as well, it has a special place in my heart since It was the first really good guitar that I’ve owned, when my music career was taking off in 2012 a music shop here in Iceland called Tonastodin gave me that guitar and I’ll be forever grateful for that. In the studio we have a lot of vintage equipment that I love playing around with, my favourite reverb is the EMT 246 and we usually use that on vocals. We have a nice collection of synthesizers as well and my favourites include the Korg Delta, Roland SH-2, Yamaha CS 60, Minimoog and Juno-60. I use those a lot when I’m recording my music and some of them have given me inspiration for songs. The song "Hærra" from my first album came about when I was playing around on the Korg Delta for example."
5. Can you describe the vibe at your live shows? Also, what do you enjoy most about a venue when you do a show? "I guess honestly, it’s always nice when there is a shower and a bathroom backstage. It’s not always like that and it’s very necessary when you touring on a bus where there is no shower. Other than that I think there are a few different types of venues that I’ve played, the club venues, black boxes, theatres, churches.. I think every venue sort of plays a role in how the mood is at the show. I think for my music it’s generally better if it’s a seated concert since my audience is always very much there to listen to music and not to get drunk and dance and scream. And I tend to like those venues the best, the theatre-like venues, and they also always look so beautiful."
6. What is one thing that you want the public to know about your music?
"I guess if I had to describe my music for someone that hasn’t heard it I would say that it’s usually driven by acoustic instruments but mixed in with some electronic instruments. Singer songwriter music with some influences from electronic music, but at the same time the music is very diverse and I’m usually not afraid to explore something different."
7. Can you tell us about the writing, recording, and promotion process for Bury the Moon? "The writing process started with me collecting about 15 songs that had a pretty good idea of how I wanted them to be structured and arranged. By that time, I also tried to have some idea of what I wanted the lyrics to be about, and went to the lyricists that I worked with on the album, mainly my father and my friend Júlíus Róbertsson. We started working on lyrics and when the Icelandic lyrics were finished I started translating some of them into English and eventually finished that process with John Grant. Then I went to the studio and started recording the songs. I’m so lucky that I’m working very closely with Kiddi (the producer) and he has worked on a tv program about music in Iceland and therefore he owns a lot of cameras and stuff to make videos with. We’ve spent some time on recording live versions of some of the songs on the album, in the studio or in the Icelandic nature, so the plan is to release those videos while the singles are being released and have a lot of different content for people to get to know the music before the album comes out. We’ve also worked on some official video for some of the lyrics and have a special idea of a series of videos that is going to be released after the album comes out and it’s subject is ghosts, I won’t say anything more until it comes out. We’ll start touring in February next year starting in EU and then to the US in March, other dates will be announced soon."