Daniel Agust has had something of an illustrious career without ever
threatening to become a household name here in the UK. Way back in the
eighties he had a not particularly successful stab at the Eurovision
Song Contest, had a brief flirtation with the big screen, had a very
successful rock career in his native Iceland and achieved three number
one singles there as well as nationwide acclaim with the
off the wall dance ensemble Gusgus. Now hes released a fine debut
solo album, so weve collared the guy for you and asked him to
talk you through his career
Making the Album
It was a lot different to making the GusGus stuff because I was
working on my own and the songs were a lot more personal. It was also
a really refreshing change for me to arrange the songs for classical
instruments. Id never done that before and it was a real challenge.
The Albums Content
Its a concept album really, in which I set out to fathom my
own existence. I was trying to describe how I see things and express
my own feelings. Its autobiographical in as far as you CAN be
in just over thirty five minutes! Id say it POSSIBLY covers all
my story but it DEFINITELY covers big chunks of me anyway!
Nick Drake was a big inspiration, especially one particular song
Way To Blue and I tried to get that kind of
intimacy across in my own music. I wouldnt say I set out to make
ten replicas of that track necessarily, but it was definitely my biggest
The Film Career
I didnt find it very exciting or rewarding, to be honest.
It was fun to see myself on a huge silver screen in that film (NB -
English title As in Heaven), but I didnt take much
pleasure out of it. Its hard to stay in character when youre
not in a leading role and there was a hell of a lot of waiting around
involved. Thats why I prefer making music I can always
keep myself busy even when theres nothing to do.
The Eurovision Entry
That was back in 1989 and it was all just fun to me. I was just
laughing the whole time. I dont regret it and I enjoyed it a lot
except that I didnt actually want to win the pre-contest
to find a Song For Iceland! I only went in for that because I wanted
to work with a guy who I respected very much. Id say Eurovision
was an education really, but its just a silly competition and
it was fun to do.
GusGus have been going for about ten years now, and I think we manage
to stay fresh because were all in it for the excitement and are
willing to experiment. There are always things I havent explored
yet and Im always curious and open to new ways of writing or recording.
I see making music as an excursion and theres a lot of sightseeing
Its impossible to pick just one. There have been so many,
but I think probably finally having my new solo album out is the highlight
for me because its so personal. Of course, with GusGus we sold
a lot of records, we toured the US and Europe, had number one hits back
and even Nydonsk (the rock group) was amazing. Still, I think
Ill go with my new album as my career highlight.
Id like people to still be listening to my music when Im
seventy. Not just the stuff Im putting out now but the music Ill
be making THEN as well! And I guess, ultimately
to die in peace
Bix is a huge inspiration to me. Hes the soundscape man and
he comes up with all these filtered noises and basically hes just
sprinkled the magic all over my album.
The Songwriting Process
I have many different methods. Sometimes I can just pick up an acoustic
guitar and try to sing a melody over the top, or maybe Ill go
straight to the computer and start building beats. I normally do the
lyrics a bit later and that can be inspired by hearing someone say a
phrase or even just a single word sometimes. It generally flows as long
as I have some kind of basic idea what Im going to do.
I just want to go out and play as many pieces as I can, and Im
already looking forward to recording my NEW album. After all, this ones
been five years in the making and one tends to write more than just
ten songs in that time!
Swallowed a Star is out now, so hurry along, because
therell be another Daniel Agust album out by
Interview: Tone E
Little Indian - Artist