Born and raised in the hamlet of Laugarbakki (population, 40) in the wilds of Iceland, Ásgeir comes from a large family of musicians. But despite studying classical guitar as a child, he was originally headed for a sports career before encouragement to take his music more seriously persuaded him to change tack.
Last year, at just 20 years of age the singer-songwriter became an overnight sensation in his domestic music scene with the September release of Dyrd í dauðathogn breaking all records to become Iceland’s fastest selling debut album by a home grown artist – staggeringly, almost 10% of the Icelandic population now own the album.
And 2013 has only seen the momentum grow as Ásgeir gets closer to the worldwide release this October of the English language version of his debut, In The Silence. In February he was presented with no less than four Iceland Music Awards and nominated for the prestigious Nordic Music Prize on the eve of Dyrd í dauðathogn‘s wider release in the Nordic countries. He appeared at Sonar and by:Larm festivals the same month before making his US debut, including two appearances at SXSW in March. May saw his first exposure to UK audiences, playing support to John Grant (who was also responsible for the English translation of the lyrics).
Produced by Gudmundur Kristinn Jonsson, in Iceland the unusual poetry of Dyrd í dauðathogn has attracted almost as much attention as the music itself, in part because they were mostly written by Ásgeir’s 72 year old father. Combining both electronic and organic elements, the songs themselves are all Ásgeir: light and airy, inset with his distinctively melancholic voice, their vibrancy elevates his appeal way beyond the folktronica tag.
“Working with Ásgeir has been quite fun and has also been very inspiring,” says John Grant of his young prodigy. “Although on some days I want to tear my hair out at how young and beautiful and talented and simultaneously nonchalant about it all he is. His knack for melody and gorgeous harmonies coupled with his amazing sense of rhythm and virtuosity on acoustic guitar should make him a household name, no matter what language he’s speaking. I can say with total certainly, that at the age of 20 that I did not know my asshole from a hole in the ground. Or however that saying goes.”