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Ásgeir Trausti
Rockefeller, Oslo, December 8th 2014

The sound of silence : everything starts and ends with silence

Kaja and Asgeir, the posterIn early December, two days after I wrote a piece on the release of his In the Silence - Deluxe Edition, Ásgeir Trausti Einarsson, Ásgeir Trausti, or simply Ásgeir ended his everlong tour (taking him all over Europe and the rest of the world) since he released his debut album, Dýrð í dauðaþögn in 2012. He has been to Norway several times over the last couple of years (he first visited Oslo during by:Larm in February 2013). And, now he returned to one of the bigger club venues in Oslo, after doing a rather extensive tour of Norway (visiting some 6-7 cities).

On 24 November 2014, the deluxe version of In The Silence was released. All the summer my family played Dýrð í dauðaþögn during the three week car-trip holiday. My daughter, Kaja (7) and my son, Iver (3) are both bi fans of Ásgeir's music. So, of course I had to bring my daugther to meet Ásgeir. They are too young for the concert, but now she could tell the kids at her school that she had met a real pop star. Cool thing. Well, Kaja and myself met Ásgeir at the venue in the afternoon, some hours before the gig. When we entered the venue, he was occupied with a photo shoot, so we checked out the stage and the premises while we waited. But, we didn't have to wait for long. Twentytwo year old Ásgeir came, we shook hands, and entered the back-stage area.

Luna Kafé: How is life for you right now? You must be a happy, a busy, young man?
Ásgeir: "I am tired now. Right now, we are finishing this two and a half month run of touring, which is the longest run I've ever done. We have been touring the album now for two years, so... I am pretty tired now. Well, I'm not tired lke that... it's more that I miss home. I'm just really happy that we are going home, that I'll be home in a few days. We still enjoy playing. I actually enjoy it more now than when we started out. It is much more fun now. It took like a year for me to realise that I wanted to do this. I wanted to be a musician, to play msuic, and to perform for people. I really didn't like doing it, but in the past few months I've been enjoying it. I look forward to playing, I look forward to go on stage. In the beginning I was just nervous. I wanted to stay at home to play guitar for myself or something like that. Not that I was totally depressed or something, because it sounds like that, but it wasn't. I was just thinking: Is this really for me? Should I be focusing on something else? Is this the way I should be heading? Now I have found out that I really want to be where I am, and I appreciate everything that's going on. Everything became clearer when I accepted what I wanted to do, and realised what I am doing. So, I'm in a really good place right now. Much better than a few months back, or a year ago."

Luna Kafé: How is it: isn't it sort of awkward to start out as an artist and then all of a sudden everything takes off, in directions you maybe/probably didn't see coming your way, or impossible to see happen? This must make some of the excitement with being an artist. You can't predict or see what happens next?
Ásgeir: "That's the thing. I can handle touring, like you said I am young. But it took off so quickly, and I never got time to think about what happened. It just happened. Music was a hobby for me, and it still is a hobby. It's the most fun thing I do. Playing guitar, writing songs, singing. I've always done that for myself, but all of a sudden it became really big. Just in a few weeks. I think I.. no I know I've found my self now. I am really excited about writing the next album, I am so motivated... To make a better album. And to tour it. I'm ready to do this for years. I never inmagined myself being a professional musician. Growing up in a small place like I did... people didn't have dreams like that. This is so surreal, to think in that way. My dream was to play guitar in a band, on Iceland, and play once a week."

Luna Kafé: Lyrcis - by your father, and John Grant - what was the decsicion to go International, in English? Where and when occured that idea? Was it your idea? I guess you are happy with the result?
Ásgeir: "It was my idea. The people around me, the label I signed to, my manager...well, the story is quite long, but when I signed to One little Indian... we had discussed an English version - a translation - before that, but that's one of the reasons why they signed us. They liked the idea of an English version. So, probably around August 2012, we had decided to do this new version. The reason is quite obvious: to reach out to more people, and to let more people get to understand my music. It's kind of a simple idea. The music is based on the lyrics, words, so it made sense to take this step... to reach out of Iceland. So, we figured we would need someone to help us out, and John Grant was the first guy we thought of for doing this. He was the first one we called, and he was up for it, and we just started working together. John actually knows Icelandic surprisingly well. He is like a 'language genius', he knows Russian, and Danish, and German, and Spanish. Fluently. He moved to Iceland just a few years ago, and I met him for the first time when he was living in Reykjavik, and at that time I could speak to him, in Icelandic, and he could answer me back. Icelandic is not an easy language to learn right away. John knew Icelandic grammar almost better than I did. He's a genius, so he understood some of the Icelandic lyrics by himself. But... before we started he had someone to translate all the lyrics, so that he had the basic 'facts'."

Luna Kafé: I like the tone and the dramatic poetry of the Icelandic language, so I prefer the origianl versio of your album, even though I also like the international one. The title of your album, 'Dýrð í dauðaþögn' means - according to google translate - 'Glory of the silence of death'. What's the story behind that title?
Ásgeir: "That's exactly what it is. But it sounds much better in Icelandic, I think. Regarding the title, the album should be a metal album, like a black metal album: The silence of death! But I mean, that word, 'dauðaþögn' means 'silence of death', but the word itself has nothing to do with death. You know, it's just an old Icelandic word. It has this nice flow to it, that was the first thta got me when I first heard this title. 'Dýrð í dauðaþögn', it sounded good, and it's got this mystic over it. You kind of don't understand what it menas, but at the same time you do understand what it means. Like you can make up your own menanig. 'Glory in the silence of death'.... You know everything starts from silence. That's the same thing with music."

Luna Kafé: How come is it that you Icelandic people are so talented and got so many creative minds - in music, in litterature, in film, even in sports? There are many bands and artist coming from Iceland, and they do get a fine, big career abroad, from back to the Sugarcubes and on. How is that? And, Icelandic music export, through the KRAUMUR music organisation (with both Björk and Sugarcubes' old drummer sitting in the board). They must be important in backing all you artists?
Ásgeir: "We easily influence each other on Iceland, because we live so close. There are just a few venues in Reykjavik. If you go to a concert, or if you play a conert, you can at least meet ten different bands/artists at that club that night. You meet all this people/musicians so you get a better to connection to every one of them. I'm pretty much new to this, but you can see... there is not much competiotion going on. Bands/artist want to help each other out. People are doing it for the love of music, and they want to help each other out. It is so great that they [especially the ex-Sugarcubes] put their time and sort of expertise into this, because a lot of people looks up to them [still, the ex-Sugarcubes], because of what they have achived. Because they have done so much for the music scene. They also help the music secene in Iceland to attract new audiences from abroad. People look to Iceland for new music. Everything has been/become easier and better because of those people."

Kaja and Asgeir, in personThe show in the evening proved a very tihght and skilled band, but it also showed a tired, almost fatigued band. But, hey, they are professional, and deliver well despite being tried and worn. Even at the last night of a long tour. Where they are longing for home, to get some rest and a couple of weeks of a normal life, before they fly out on tour again (playing Australia, Asia, and North America as we speak). Ásgeir sung in Icelandic. Which I like. LIke I've said earlier, I prefer the original due to the exotic touch and the sound and melody of the Icelandic language. They played most of the songs (if not all) from Dýrð í dauðaþögn, and they played Nirvana's "Heart Shaped Box". So, allin all it was a fine evening, even though Ásgeir and his players could have sounded crisper and better if they hadn't longed for homes so intensely. Then again: maybe not. Maybe they should be somewhat dazed and dizzy after touring for some tine.

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