Having recently released his second album Afterglow, Icelandic folk maestro Asgeir is currently on a world tour and setting to hit Australian shores starting at Perth’s Astor Theatre on July 25. JOSEPH WILSON spoke with Asgeir on how his tour was going and a newly found interest in electronic production found in his second album.
How has the UK tour gone for you?
That was two days ago, we did Manchester yesterday. The festival was great actually, except shit kept leaking out of the walls and the sewage, it wasn’t being maintained – it was a good show though.
You’re currently on your second world tour, how has the transition been from just playing music in Iceland to up until now doing world tour’s on a regular basis?
I’ve gotten used to it – but I tend not to think about it too much, it’s just my routine now.
Have you gotten used to touring on this level over a period of time?
Yes, we were actually talking about it. We have been on the road now for three weeks and we get into this routine, we’ve never stopped touring – it feels like we have always been touring. I was excited about going back on tour now, I am quite happy.
How long do tours usually go for you?
We are doing six weeks, a few times. I think six weeks is the latest or most I have done.
Is always tricking getting back into the studio after a world tour?
It was quite, it can be hard to get back into the routine of not being on tour. I cannot get back into the routine. It was quite difficult, it’s like everything, timing – just being comfortable at the end of it.
Do you prefer being in the studio or being on tour?
I prefer making music instead of being on tour. You don’t evolve that much when you are touring because there is not much time to write or think about your own music. You’re playing the same songs every night. I feel the best when I am most creative and being in an environment where I can write and do what I want. But I also like performing but I do prefer recording.
You’re playing the same music at every show; do you try to make them more improvisational to mix things up?
A bit, we are this live set. It doesn’t really offer any changes because a lot of the music is on a computer. We play the song; because we have some backing tracks, the songs usually just stay the same except for a few songs where we can improvise a bit more.
I’ve always wanted to get a bit further away from that, where the music has to be in this kind of “box” and you can’t really change anything if you wanted to.
You can see that with the change in sound with In the Silence to your second album Afterglow. What made you want to include more electronic production in your second LP?
I felt like I was evolving in a direction and tried this new approach. I felt like I was evolving in that direction when we were touring, listening to more electronic music and writing more songs like that.
Did you get more exposure to electronic music whilst touring?
I have always gone through my periods of mixing music there and back you know. The past two years I have been a bit more into electronic music I guess but I am going away from it now I feel. I think the next album is going to be more stripped down.
Do you take your music stylistically somewhere different each time?
I don’t know, I am not really trying to do anything – I have always gone through different periods of making different music. I feel with this album it was just more electronic influences – I am not trying to, I try not to think about how people are going think about it. I am just doing what is always done.
I did listen to an album Nordic Effect by Brain Damage and it is an album that is said to be influence by the Icelandic landscape. Could you say the same about your music?
I would say that your environment is always going to affect you or your music or your art in some way. But I wouldn’t say that the landscape helps me make something really. I get this question a lot actually; you can’t put your finger on exactly what it is. I am surrounded by, I live in Iceland and that’s going to be a part of me and my music somehow – but I don’t know how.
I imagine it can be quite annoying with people trying to decipher every facet of your sound.
It’s alright man. It’s just really difficult to answer – I don’t know how to answer it really.
I guess that can be a challenging aspect of being a musician when someone asks where your music comes from and you don’t know where.
Yes, and you don’t really want to know because the best music always comes about when you’re not thinking about anything and afterwards you’re just like where did that come from? You’ll never know. It can be weird sometimes when you try to break it down of what I’m doing.
Do you think modern music is getting deciphered too much to an extreme?
Yes, it seems like that. The corporate way of making music which it can be – you can hear and feel when it is something more than that.
Are you looking forward to your Australian tour?
Yes, I might not sound excited now because I’ve just woke up. But I always like going to Australia, it’s a wonderful place to play. I think it’s going to be good.
One last question, but do you believe in trolls?
No I don’t. There’s a misunderstanding that Icelandic people believe in elves and trolls. It comes from somewhere and people used to; but not in this day and age. Most Icelandic people don’t believe in them now.