We asked Ásgeir a couple of questions about his influences, what inspires him. See the interview below followed by a Spotify playlist with 10 of his favorite tracks at the moment…
ÁSGEIR STARK INTERVIEW
What inspires you?
That’s a tough one, since there are so many things you can get inspired by. But spontaneously, I would say honesty. I’m just kind of tired of filters and all the masks that some people wear, consciously or not. Or that you need help but are too proud or afraid to ask for it. I’m not saying I’m unique in that remark, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s usually better to be open about your emotions and thoughts even if it’s easy to forget sometimes. I think that’s a shame. Especially when it comes to music I find that it’s easy to tell when something is honest or real, it’s a gut feeling. So a lot of different things inspire me, mostly when I feel something very strongly. In a way I think I’m mostly inspired by the things we are afraid to talk about, which is why I chose honesty I guess, there is too little of it going around.
My lyrics often start with an idea from nowhere, something that just says ”Hi” and then disappears. That’s why I often have to sit down and start writing before I forget it, in order for the cocoon to become a butterfly, so to speak. When I’ve written everything that I want to say about any given idea, I tend to be surprised by how much I actually had to say. The creative process doesn’t always look the same however, sometimes I’ll start with a simple melody and work from there.
Who do you look up to?
Johan, my best friend. We’ve been friends for as long as I remember and I’m fortunate to have a person like him in my world. We share just about the same interests which could be a contributing factor as to why our friendship has moved so frictionless through time. There was this one time, though, when we, as boys, argued over the ownership of a Pokémon card. Interesting trivia is that he, without a doubt, possesses one of the greatest abilities to memorize that I have ever encountered. Unbelievable, he is like a database of both precious and totally irrelevant information. I envy him for that. But I’m not sure if there really are any mindsets impossible to live up to. I’ve never really had idols in the extreme sense, but I’ve started to understand what that could feel like. Tom Odell is as close as you can get right now of being an idol to me. He’s great at expressing his feelings, especially live. His voice tells me more than the lyrics themselves, I guess. It’s raw and uncontrolled in a controlled manner. But the most important thing as I see it, is that I’m content with what I do and that I can practice what I preach. Unfortunately, it’s kind of hard for me to be completely satisfied with my work, seeing as how I have an inherent perfectionist. For better or for worse, I’d like to add, since sometimes it can be helpful too.
What other interests do you have?
Football, or soccer, depending on where you’re from. I haven’t played for a while but it’s a good way to distract the brain or more accurately to focus. If you’re not paying attention on the pitch, it can really cost you. Football may never have been my strong suit, but it gave me good exercise and some new friends. My left foot wasn’t as good as my right foot, so nowadays the game usually gets observed from the stand. Let’s just leave it at that. Watching movies is another one of my great escapes. I love Interstellar, Inception and all of Christopher Nolan’s work, really. Also, the first season of True Detective was exceptionally good.
What were you like as a kid?
Age of 5 to about 10: Kind of a mischievous little kid. Teenage years: A whole lot of hormones running through my body. Right now: In a state of transition, I think. Sometimes the fury from my teenage years reveals itself, like the aftershocks from an earthquake. I’m also in a quite existential period in my life right now, asking a lot of big questions. But all in all, I had a very good childhood, with lots of love. I had a somewhat hard time dealing with authority and liked to test the limits of both my mom and dad. I found great joy in the occasional prank, I guess. Not saying I was a bully or mean, but I just liked to joke around with my teachers a bit. Bullying of any sort was actually very hard to find in the schools that I attended. Sure, it probably occurred, but definitely not to the same extent or in the same way as some of the stories that you hear.
When did you start writing music?
Two years ago. I got talked into it and got hooked on it. In the beginning the writing went slow since it was pretty unfamiliar for me to write down my thoughts and ideas like that but eventually it evolved to an undiscovered talent, if I may say so. On the other hand, I can also sit for hours trying to force words out of my mind with little if any success.
When were you on stage for the first time?
When I was 16 or 17. I wore a Santa hat and sang Jingle Bell Rock in an ill rehearsed school performance. It was scary, for sure, and my heart was pounding and my brain was on overdrive but once I got up there and I had sung my song I wanted to sing even more. Although I had barely practiced I received a lot of good feedback. Somebody even came up and kissed my shoe; it was really strange.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
In 10 years time, hopefully I’m still engaged in music. It’s what I love to do and it is part of my identity now.
I guess all I can really hope for is that I’m at good health and that my near and dear are as well. Obviously, I’m also keen on making progress in my career. But my career will be my second priority, after the wellbeing of my friends and family. The progress that I make with my personal development and the relations I see myself in are more important, put simply. As I said though, I hope I’m still writing music and I’m excited to see how my writing will develop over time.
What are you listening to at the moment?
ÁSGEIR STARK Listening To:
Mumford & Sons – After The Storm
One of my all time favourites. All of the songs from the Sigh No More album are amazing.
James Blake – Radio Silence
This song has a hypnotic effect. And I love the piano.
Etta James – At Last
It just makes me calm and happy.
Beach House – Myth
This is one of my travel songs. It sounds best when you’re on the road.
Tom Waits – Little Drop Of Poison
This is so fun. Can anyone tell me if it’s a musical saw or a singer?
The National – About Today
I love that he’s not in a hurry to say what he has to say.
Frank Sinatra – Fly Me To The Moon
Frank is one of the first artists I started listening to when I was a child.
Tom Odell – Entertainment
It’s about expectations. I love the details in this song, like the choir and the whistle.
Lana Del Rey – Ride
“Been tryin’ hard not to get into trouble, but I, I’ve got a war in my mind”
Johnny Cash – Man In Black
Wearing black until the world becomes a better place, maybe not a great way to live but I do like the song.