20-year old Iceland native Asgeir Trausti is a classically trained guitar phenom who recently dropped his debut release, Dyrd I Daudapgon, to much acclaim in the Icelandic music community. The obvious linguistic barrier prevents me from understanding his lyrics, but I can only describe the music as a delicate, complex guitar attack, coupled with a far reaching, warmly delivered vocal line to complement the expressive melodies Asgeir brings to his writing.
Since the primary goal of a music marathon is to explore performances you might not get to see otherwise, I checked out this year’s Iceland Airwaves showcase at SXSW. I mean, Bjork and Sigur Ros are from there, so why not see some of the other brilliance coming out of the country?
I caught up with Asgeir during his visit to the live music capital of the world after his performance to talk about the debut release, how his time in the US has been treating him, and the beautiful country of Iceland.
G- Hi there and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five today! It was a great performance!
A- Thank you.
G- How’ve you been enjoying your time? Is Austin treating you ok?
A- Yeah. It’s really hot in here, or just in Austin, compared to Iceland.
G- You do have a (winter) hat on.
A- (laughs) Yes, I do. I didn’t get time to fix my hair this morning.
G- (lifting my hat to show my age related baldness) You know, me neither? It’s difficult.
Any stories, moments, or drunk debacles stand out at this time at SXSW?
A- (laughs) One guy in the band drinks. We just go to sleep really early and wake up around 8am and start running. It’s not crazy.
G- The life of a touring musician… it’s not all sex, drugs, and Rock n Roll, right?
A- (laughing) No.
G- So, you’re still a very young guy… How long have you been performing and when did you first get started? Do you remember the moment that you really felt music was your “calling?”
A- This project started about a year ago, and that was the first time I got into the music scene in Iceland. We just started recording an album a year ago, and released it in late Summer of 2012. Then, things just started rolling and, yeah… here we are!
G- Nice! Now, you debut album, Dyrd I Daudapgon, was released this past September. Where did you record it, who was behind the boards, and how do you feel about the overall record?
A- I recorded it in Iceland in an old studio, and the producer’s name is Kiddi, and he’s also my manager now. I’m really just thrilled with how it went. It was the first time I got into a studio and the first time I had recording material, you know? We’re working on our English translation of the album right now, and it will be released worldwide, hopefully, in a few months.
G- Excellent! Any tentative label in the US that we should look for?
A- We’re collaborating with One Little Indian from Britain.
G- Nice! Now, as an international artist, how has you reception been in the states thus far, and how does it compare with your performances abroad, both in terms of the hospitality and the audience reaction?
A- Well, this is my second time in the US. I went to the Reykjavic Calling Festival last winter in Seattle, and that was my first gig abroad, and this is my second time in the US. But, it’s been really good. We started this little tour in Boston a few days ago, and then we went to NYC in a little venue, a full house. Just really nice!
The overall hospitality of how people have been treating us is just wonderful.
G- Excellent! Now, for some of our readers who may not be familiar with your material, do you have a favorite song you have ever written or composed at this time, or if you could only give 1 song to someone who’d never heard of you before, to try and make a new fan, what song would you give them and why?
A- For me, the newest song I write, the newest song, is always the favorite song, and a song I would recommend to people is maybe “Leyndarmal.” You can go on Youtube, but just write it down.
G- I’ll do the research on that one!
So, are there any bands or artists that you hope to share a bill with in the future? If you could pick out a feasible 3-band dream lineup to be on, who would you want to go on tour with?
A- My all-time favorite band is Nirvana, but that is…
G- That may be a little tough.
A- (laughs) They’re broken up, but I would love to do something with Dave Grohl or Foo Fighters, but the music is not the same, you know? I love Bon Iver, James Blake also… Something like that.
G- That sounds like a Coachella lineup! Nice eclectic bill.. I dig it!
Now to finish up today, again, you’re a young guy, but you’re doing a lot of very good things right now…
A- Thank you.
G- And there are a lot of people who want to be doing what you’re doing as a professional musician. What advice can you give some of the young, up and coming bands out here who want to go on the road and make it as a professional musician?
A- I don’t know. Just don’t be shy with the things you are doing. I’ve always been recording something, since I was a little boy, but I’ve never had the courage to show someone my stuff. One day, I just decided to show some demos to a producer, and we just started recording and got things rolling, so… Yeah.
G- That’s a good way to be! So again, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five today. Excellent performance!
A- Thank you.
G- Safe travels on the road, and we look forward to seeing you again!
A- Thank you.