A few weeks ago, Lightning 100 was lucky enough to have Asgeir stop by for a visit on his way to play a Not-So-Secret Secret Show at 12th and Porter. The 22-year-old phonem from Iceland chatted with our own Lt. Dan and played two songs, “Going Home” and “Leyndarmal”—the original Icelandic version of his hit “King and Cross.”
Asgeir hails from a hamlet called Laugarbakki, about as remote a location as you can imagine producing a prodigious artist. “My town is about 40, 50 people,” he told Lt. Dan. “I grew up with Internet, but we didn’t have CD stores, or music stores, or venues. Even guitar strings, we had to drive three hours to get that.” Even so, he was able to develop prodigious songwriting skills, and his first album, Dýrð í dauðaþögn, broke several Icelandic sales records—it is estimated that ten percent of the country’s population purchased the LP. Working with American expatriate John Grant, he translated the original lyrics (written by his father) into English and released the album online as In the Silence in October 2013. For the most part, Asgeir feels as though the team was able to ensure that no meaning was lost in the translation. “[Grant] helped us a lot with it,” he said, “and kind of to get the same poetic lyrics into English it was kind of a difficult job, but he did a good job on that.” In the Silence has done well over the past year and spawned the single “King and Cross,” which has received regular airplay on Lightning 100 since its release.