Icelandic singer and songwriter Áslaug is taking 2020 in her stride, even with the difficult circumstances. She has been steadily progressing her beautifully emotive pop sound for almost a year now and went on to play lots of shows whilst that was still possible. Following on from last year’s “Take From Me,” she created a self-titled EP that came out in April to widespread support. Still, early on in her journey as an artist, we checked in with Áslaug to see how she wrote the EP, and how she plans to progress.
For anyone who doesn’t already know you, what’s your backstory as an artist? When did you start making music as Áslaug?
As soon as I knew what a “professional singer” was I wanted to be one. I’ve always made music and written songs, but releasing those songs was a different ballgame. I struggled a lot with insecurities and didn’t know how to get my foot in the door of the music industry. So my early twenties consisted of working side jobs and then going home to make music. Eventually, I wrote a song called “Take From Me” and I knew I had to release that one. It ended up being my first single which was released in August of 2019 and ever since things have been quite crazy. I played a lot of shows with my band, I’ve released my EP and made a short film… It took a while, but things are slowly falling into place.
When it came to writing this EP, did you have an idea in mind about how you wanted it to sound? Did it end up going the way you expected or did any of the tracks take their own path?
As I said, I had a very strong feeling about “Take From Me.” I knew I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror if I wouldn’t release that song. Once Take From Me was written the rest evolved very playfully and almost by accident. It was the catalyst for the rest of the EP. I kept on writing and started setting up studio sessions. I found a producer that was very good at translating what I wanted to hear production-wise. Vigorous drums, layered synthesizers, ethereal vocals. It all happened quite effortlessly.
Which track from the EP do you feel most connected to and why?
Though it sounds cheesy, I feel very connected to all of them. The songs tell four very different stories about four very different phases of my early twenties. All of which have contributed a lot to how I view myself as a human being. I’m not the type of songwriter that needs to write for therapeutic purposes, but writing down your thoughts and trying to capture your feelings in words can definitely help to put things in perspective.
The collection also came with a stunning visual that allows us to identify with you as an artist. Could you talk us through how that got made?
Before the songs were released I decided to send them to some close friends, just to show them what I had been working on. A couple of days after that I received a DM from one of my friends’ boyfriend who had heard the songs and wanted to make music videos for me. I was a bit sceptical at first since we had never met, but we hit it off immediately. It was very much a DIY project, which makes it even more special to me. We found a group of amazingly creative people to work on it with us. Tackling problems along the way and figuring out what the end result should be while we were shooting. And then all of a sudden, we’d made a short film. It almost sounds like my whole career has been an accident haha! But I am a very big believer of the idea that opportunities present themselves when you’re ready for them. I love working hard and going for what you want, but sometimes you just have to sit back and let life happen to you.
How have you found lockdown for you as a songwriter? Are you feeling inspired at the moment or taking a step back to process everything?
The past few weeks people have jokingly asked me if I’m releasing an album after this whole situation since I have loads of time to write new songs. Honestly? No. I have written some small things, but I find it very difficult being creative when real life isn’t happening. Thankfully I have some great songs lying around so right now I’m planning studio sessions to finish those.
Where do you want your sound to progress in the coming months?
I haven’t really made up my mind about that yet. I think it’ll be a process that will unfold once I hit the studio. I know there are some elements within the sound of the first EP that I definitely want to hold on to, but I’m very curious to see how other elements will change. One thing I know is that I’m interested in a more analogue approach. Using a lot more real-life instruments than we did on the first EP and combining them with “in the box” production. I can’t wait to start working on it!
If you could summarise Áslaug in three words, what would they be?
Nostalgic, polyphonic, honest.
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