World Music At SXSW
3:25 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

The Meteoric One-Year Rise Of Iceland's Asgeir Trausti

Full interview with Ásgeir and Deirdre Saravia

Iceland's Ásgeir Trausti has taken the music charts in his native country by storm since his debut album, "Dyrd I Daudathogn," came out in September of last year. The presale of his album broke records on Icelandicmusic.com, reached gold sales in six weeks and has since gone platinum.

While some of the musical backing in his songs may sound familiar, the vocal stylings in his native Icelandic make the vocal feel more like a participating instrument than a means to deliver the lyrics.

"I actually don't write any of the lyrics on the album, my father writes seven of them and my friend writes three of them. My father has always been into Icelandic and lyrics have always been important to him and me and my brother and family. He has been teaching Icelandic for 50 years or so and I knew he was much better than I was in writing lyrics and I went to him."

Ásgeir was a javelin thrower until injuries forced him out of track and field. For all the astronomical success he has had in Iceland, he hasn't been actually singing for very long.

"Probably just a year ago with some seriousness. I've always considered myself a guitarist and a year ago I contacted a producer I had heard of - his name is Kristinn - and I sent him some demos that I had self-recorded at home and we just started recording an album and I was a singer all of a sudden."

Ásgeir is in the middle of working on an English version of his album, which will be released in a few months. Following his time at SXSW he is off on a short tour to L.A., San Francisco, and an Icelandic festival in Toronto.

Judging by the reaction from English-language fans commenting on his material online, it is clear that Ásgeir has a style that resonates with people - even though they don't understand the lyrics.

"We are just working on that right now and John Grant is translating the lyrics - or maybe just trying to get the meaning out of the Icelandic lyrics more than translating them."

An English-language album will only bring more success to this 20 year old that clearly has it in his blood.

Hear more from Ásgeir and other world music artists who played at this year's SXSW on World Music with Deirdre Saravia this Saturday at 8 p.m. on KSTX.

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