Daníel ÁgústDaníel Ágúst is one of the instigators and band leaders of GusGus, Nýdönsk and Esja and is an active songwriter in all of them as well as tending to his own solo career. The Drift is his second solo album. It's quite different from "Swallowed A Star" where he portrayed his romantic side with blissful mini symphonies. There is a more traditional rock band setup on "The Drift", which features a bunch of great musicians who create a mesmerizing ambient blues rock frame around Daniel's straight-from-the-heart stories of his emotional life. There is a variety of moods and feelings in the songs where he jumps from being heavily melancholic to extremely happy.
The first single is "Yeah Yeah Yeah" a happy-in-love song that's been prominent on the radio for a few weeks.
The album has gotten two 4 out of 5 reviews in the Icelandic media and the release concert was awarded 10 (out of 5) stars on the state owned radio station. The Drift is released on Hands Up Music and distributed by Sena
It took a while to follow up from Swallowed A Star - what have you been doing in between?
I’ve had a baby and made a couple of GusGus albums...
The record is a pretty different fish from the debut -- was that intentional or just the way it came out?
I was quite sure about rowing in different waters with this one. Initially I was going to make a whole album with just acoustic guitar and vocals but having finished that version I knew I was far too lustful and greedy to let it go just like that and my friend from Nýdönsk, Jón Ólafsson, invited me to record some drums and synths in his garage. The blending of the synths and acoustic elements came natural to me having experienced both electronic and organic music making...
You've formed a band this time around -- who's in it and what do they do?
Well it’s Jón who plays all the synth-bass and keyboard synths on the record, then there’s Stefán Már who plays drums and conjures all the electric guitar sounds, a true genius. Playing live I’ve got my friend Krummi (from Mínus) on percussion, Gummi Péturs who plays the electric live but played most of the acoustic guitars on the album. Then there’s Bjarni Sigurðarson (from Mínus) who also laid down a few guitar tracks on the acoustic version and then there’s Birgir Ísleifur (of Motion Boys) who plays all the keyboards meticulously live.
What made you go in a blues rock direction?
I saw it as a convenient departure from all the tight string orchestral arrangements I’d made for Swallowed A Star. In this environment it’s much easier to let things go in a more spontaneous flow.
It's a pretty personal album...
It pretty much touches on nearly every part of my rollercoaster life the past few years, whether it being exercises in happiness, depression, insanity, moments of despair, narcissism or silliness.
Is working on solo stuff a whole different process to the GusGus stuff...?
The process of songwriting is not that different from when writing songs with or for GusGus, Esja, Nýdönsk or anyone else for that matter, as I put everything in the emotional grinder every time. It just ends up in various different environments.
Does GusGus ever get in the way of your solo stuff, or the other way around, or do they complement each other?
Doing a solo album for me is like masturbation. It’s healthy for a creative person to explore and carry out fantasies and not suppress them or squeeze them into a single outlet. It doesn’t get in the way of my steady relationship with the boys : )
I'm sure I heard a cover from 24/7 on the album...
What you heard on the The Drift is a tune I wrote five years prior to it’s first release on the GusGus album 24/7 where the name of the song is “Thin Ice”. I had written it when dealing with infidelity in my relationship and the boys liked it so we chose it to be on the album. On my solo album it’s called “Feel Like Dancing”, which actually was the original title of the song...
What are your plans now the album's done? Some touring maybe? With the whole band?
I already played a release concert in a small theatre, Tjarnarbíó, which was great and then again in Akureyri in a similar size but cozier place, Græni hatturinn, where I was much livelier and the performance was even greater. I’m quite wrapped up in GusGus stuff at the moment, but I am looking forward to playing my solo stuff again with the incredible band I’ve got.