As guitarist for The Lovely Lion, he made just a slight impact on a global scale – but assuming a solo guise, Ásgeir (or to be full-named, Ásgeir Trausti Einarsson) is set to ensnare anyone whose tickers are still beating red goo. He’s poised to usurp both Björk and Sigur Rós as Iceland’s foremost musical exports, after snatching a swath of awards and breaking a smorgasbord of records at the ripe old age of 21. Back in Iceland, his first record, which 1 in 10 Icelanders own (it’s the best-selling album ever in his home nation), has made him a folk hero.
21-year-old Ásgeir Trausti’s first album became the biggest selling Icelandic debut of all time upon its release in 2011, outstripping usual suspects Björk and Sigur Rós, and meaning that one in 10 people in his native country now own a copy. Such success obviously facilitated greater, global, ambitions for the album, but with a title such as Dýrð í dauðaþögn, it’s probably not surprising that an English language version was chosen as the way to go. John Grant was recruited to help translate the lyrics, almost entirely drawn from poetry composed by Ásgeir’s father.
For a country with a population roughly that of Coventry, Iceland has produced more than its fair share of musical exports. Björk and Sigur Rós are firmly established as internationally renowned megastars, Of Monsters and Men and Ólafur Arnalds have enjoyed breakout success across the world in the last couple of years, and the likes of Sóley, Sin Fang, FM Belfast and Retro Stefson have all garnered cult followings. Ásgeir will be looking to join their ranks in 2014 - he’s already become a firm favourite in Iceland, with his album Dýrð Í Dauðaþögn becoming the fastest-selling domestic debut by an Icelandic artist ever and subsequently going triple platinum.
There has rarely been a shortage of musical talent emerging from Iceland, an island that is cast away in the northern echelons of the Atlantic Ocean, but which is rich in cultural and artistic talents, with the likes of Björk and Sigur Rós dominating their respective genres across the world. Icelandic tastemakers have also hoisted Ásgeir Trausti's debut album to the number one spot in the charts, a record which additionally scooped top accolades in the 2012 Icelandic Music Awards. Originally released as Dýrð í Dauðaþögn in his homeland, Ásgeir enlisted the help of John Grant to translate the record into English for this international release, and renamed it In the Silence.
Particularly assiduous fans of singer-songwriter John Grant will already know about Iceland's hottest new export, Ásgeir Trausti Einarsson, and his debut album. Grant, a confirmed polyglot, was asked to do the English translations of the lyrics on Ásgeir's Dýrð í Dauðaþögn, which came out in Iceland last year. At the time, Grant was in Iceland working on his most recent album, Pale Green Ghosts; he later took Ásgeir on tour with him.
Online, you can find a list of France's 1,000 biggest-selling singles of all time. For anyone not conversant with the French charts over the past 60 years, it's like something compiled for a joke by a committee involving Jeremy Clarkson and Nigel Farage. Every page provides some new logic-defying outrage.