Tiny puzzles of language and obscurity
By Rebecca Louder
After five years of living abroad, Fannar Ásgrímsson, moved back to Reykjavík in October 2010 and found himself feeling like a stranger in the electronic scene.
Fannar is one half of Plastik Joy, a duo signed to the Californian label n5MD, which incidentally also releases music by Jónas Thór Guðmundsson, better known around here as Ruxpin. Fannar threw the proverbial dice and got in touch with Jónas with the idea to make music. “He took kindly to the request and invited me to his concert where we officially met and decided to meet up again in his studio to see what would happen,” says Fannar. “This first session yielded two tracks, one of which became the title track of our album.”
Almost two years to the day, they remain together as Asonat, an electronica pop band with a Catalan name meaning “has sounded”. They have released a full-length album “Love in Times of Repetion” chocked up with guest vocalists and are now on the cusp of releasing an EP.
You’ve worked with several guests vocalists, namely French singer Olèna Simon who worked with you quite a bit on your debut album. How did you come to work with her and how was the experience of collaborating?
JTG: She was performing at Kaffibarinn one evening and her voice sounded interesting. She understood right away what the idea of the project was and everything went quite smoothly. She showed extreme patience with us, as our working habits are very nerd-ish and sometimes quite chaotic. She’ll be featured in some of our future projects as well as assisting us on concerts, both vocally and with technical work.
Do you have plans or intentions to work with any other specific guest collaborators? Who would be your dream collaborator, anyone living or dead?
JTG: My dream collaborator is David Sylvian. Such an amazing vocalist. We keep all options open for this project.
FA: For our upcoming EP we are further exploring our collaboration with Olèna, and we’ll see where that takes us. My dream collaborator would be Ryuichi Sakamoto. I wouldn’t say no to working with both Ryuichi Sakamoto and David Sylvian since their collaboration on the track “Forbidden Colours” [from the soundtrack for ‘Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence’] is just mind blowing.
SCHEMES AND LANGUAGES
You have a new EP coming out in soon. What can you tell us about it? Can we expect to hear tracks from it in your Airwaves set?
Both: The new EP is an extension of our debut album in a way. We are going the same path of obscure electronica with some certain pop elements involved as well. On the debut album we had vocals in French, English and even Japanese. On this EP we will have vocals in Icelandic, so it’s all a small puzzle in our big scheme of covering all the languages on the planet in our project.
What are you listening to these days? Make us a quick playlist or share a few artists that are up your alley right now.
JTG: Ugh, okay. I’m never up to date with this kind of stuff. I’m listening now to the new Roel Funcken, Crisopa ‘Biodance’, and the new single from Villagers.
FA: Like Jónas, I’m quite outdated. I’m constantly listening to Ryuichi Sakamoto and can’t get enough of his album ‘BTTB’. My album playlist at the moment would look something like this: Ryuichi Sakamoto ‘BTTB’, Apparat ‘The Devils Walk’, Telefon Tel Aviv ‘Farenheit Fair Enough’, Moses Hightower ‘Önnur Mósebók’, Four Tet ‘Pink’, and Washed Out ‘Within and Without’.
You’re almost certain to be playing alongside several bands at the same time. Tell us WHY festival goers should decide to see you instead of the other?
JTG: Because we almost never perform. You can see all the other bands some other time. I’m moving abroad straight after the Airwaves festival, so this will be the last chance in a while to catch us. Oh, and also, the music is all right.
FA: We do a lot of improvising with the music and singing on stage so people can expect something new from our live performance.
For all non-Icelandic festival goers, what Icelandic acts do people need to look out for? Are there any hidden gems in the dirt that need to be discovered?
JTG: Jeez. I don’t want to mention names as I might forget someone. I’m sure Tonik, Apparat Organ Quartet and Ghostigital will bring smile to music lovers. Stereo Hypnosis is also a good choice for the ones who are looking for more calmness.
FA: Ojba Rasta, Ásgeir Trausti, Hermigervill and Bix are amongst Icelandic acts that are on my To Watch List.
And finally, what is the last movie you watched that you loved?
JTG: Forbidden Planet, a science fiction from 1956. Loosely based on the Shakespeare’s Tempest. Watched it last weekend for the 14th time.
FA: I hardly ever take the time to watch a movie but I think the last film I watched and really enjoyed would be the Japanese film Confessions (Kokuhaku) directed by Tetsuya Nakashima.
Asonat are playing on Saturday November 3rd, 20:50 at Faktorý upstairs.