The third album “Bury the Moon” by Icelandic singer-songwriter Ásgeir is an album I would describe as an folky atmospheric dream pop album with lyrics that feel deep and meaningful. On the day the album was released, Ásgeir detailed the experience of leaving Reykjavik to go write at a friend’s summerhouse with just a guitar and piano, in an effort to bring his music back to it’s roots and make it more honest. He also detailed writing the lyrics with his dad which added a more personal uniqueness to each song. I really enjoyed the album, and was happy to have the opportunity to interview Ásgeir. Here’s my short interview with Ásgeir:
1.) I enjoyed your new album “Bury the Moon”. In particular I enjoyed Pictures, Eventide, Youth, Lazy Giants, and Rattled Snow. There were a lot of themes of memories. Were there any main themes and or motivators behind the album as a whole, or were the songs more of a collection of ideas?
There is no one thing or theme that ties the whole album together. I would rather say that it’s a collection of songs that I’ve made through the years but the lyrics were all written in a similar time period and maybe that has something to do with why they sound unified.
My idea and motivation behind making this album was to try and see if I could have fun again recording and writing. I felt like at times in the past I’ve been struggling with pressure and stress and not been able to enjoy the process as much as I should have. That’s why I wanted this album to be all about the songs and not the recording process as much. These songs were just simply recorded and I didn’t let my head get in the way of what I felt when I was in the studio.
2.) As a bilingual artist, does it change the creative process, when creating music that is going to be translated to both Icelandic and English? Is this something you have to keep in mind constantly when creating your work, or do you feel some themes are broad enough that they translate well no matter the language?
I never think about that when I’m writing a song. I always start by writing the song (melody and chords) first and then the lyrics come after that. They are usually written in Icelandic first and then translated into English. It’s just a step by step process. Never thinking about the obstacles ahead, only what is being worked on in the moment. Sometimes we struggle with the translations and it’s not always easy to find the right words and rhythm but it usually works out in the end. But obviously the lyrics change a little bit from Icelandic to English but that can also give the songs more depth in my mind.
3.) I read in an interview that when you’re home in Iceland, you enjoy going to the countryside where things move slower and the air is fresher. When you’re on tour do you seek these seemingly tranquil places out also, or do you try to take in as much of a new city as possible before heading to the next stop?
There is never really time to do much outside of the schedule when you’re on tour, and when you have a day off it’s usually spent at a hotel in some city.
I’m usually not that eager to go out and explore in my off time, I just like to rest
and take it easy. But when and if I go out I try to get to know the city a little by tasting something from the food culture or just walking the streets to sense the vibe from the cities.
Something I like to do to create a through-line for all the folks I interview is I ask the prior interview subject to provide 3 blind questions for the next interviewee with no knowledge as to who I would interview next. These next 3 questions were provided by my last interview subject Hip Hop trio, New Track City. New Track City asks:
4.) If you had the ability to communicate one message to a newborn baby and they could understand you, what would that message be?
Soup is overrated
5.) What’s one decision you made that you think shaped the person you are today?
There have probably been many that have shaped me but one was to give up on a career in sports and put all my focus into my music. I think also to move out of my parents home when I was 16, from the countryside into the city, it was challenging and something that made me who I am today.
6.) What cartoon, movie or TV show character do you think describes you the best?
Bilbo Baggins, Just want a quiet and simple life when I’m done with my adventures.
7.) For my last question, I’m born and raised in Seattle. I heard your cover of Heart Shaped Box and was very impressed. What do you feel is the quintessential Nirvana album and why?
For me In Utero was their best album. I loved all the songs and the sound on that record and I know that for them that was the sound they were always after. It had the rawness of their first album but songs that were more like something that could’ve been on Nevermind.