Feeling the electricity

Feeling the electricity

Iceland's hottest new star tells Chris Lau he isn't sure how to describe his sound

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Asgeir Trausti brought his brand of electronic folk to Kitec
Asgeir Trausti brought his brand of electronic folk to Kitec
Photo: Chris Lau

If it wasn't for British singer-songwriter James Blake, Icelandic musician Asgeir Trausti freely admits his debut album wouldn't have been as successful as it was.

"The music of James Blake really opened that door for me. I'm just really connected, as both of us are also singer-songwriters. The ideas he has, the bass and the sounds and everything he does are really attractive to me," says Trausti.

It is surprising the 21-year-old, who was recently in town to play a gig at Kitec, admits this, as he used to look down at electronic music.

"Growing up, I was more into rock music. That was my whole world, until my teens, when I started to grow fond of folk music," he says.

"I also started playing acoustic guitar which made a huge difference. I used to look down on programming and using computers as a way of making music."

But just before he recorded his debut album, In the Silence - known as Dyro i dauoabogn when first released in Icelandic - he had a dramatic change of mind. Trausti was introduced to electronic music that really spoke to him, particularly that of Blake.

Trausti was so captivated by the versatile beats that he decided to find ways to fit them into his music. That gave rise to some of his dance-inspired tracks, powered largely by synthesised riffs, such as Higher, King and Cross, and Torrent.

What Trausti shares with Blake is the ability to break the stereotypes of electronic music. He creates something downbeat out of sounds usually associated with thumping dance music.

This influence lurks in every corner of Trausti's mid-tempo, electro-folk tracks. But the Icelandic singer also has a soft side, which makes use of crisp acoustic guitar.

That's why Trausti often looks confused when asked what his style is. He replies with a polite smile: "Some people say my style is electronic, but I don't know. I think it's just all over the place.

"It was just like a bit here and there. I don't know where to put it, really. Some songs are just really electronic with a fast beat, all about programming. Other songs are big and powerful, especially when played live with instruments."

The singer did doubt at one point whether his album would ever take shape.

But the concern was quickly dismissed when the Icelandic version of In the Silence proved so successful he was able to launch internationally.

Now he is fast becoming one of Iceland's top music exports. He's in impressive company: this small island has already given the world Sigur Ros and Bjork.

And he's so popular in his native country that he's even featured on the website of the Icelandic Tourist Board: just Google "Asgeir Trausti guide to Iceland".

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Feeling the electricity

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