GABRIEL OLAFS’ DEBUT ALBUM ABSENT MINDED OUT TODAY ON ONE LITTLE INDIAN RECORDS
“Olafs shows himself as a pleasantly concentrated interpreter who does not forget his listeners”
“The young artist thrives best when he embodies a sensitivity in his music that may be lost in adulthood”—Radio Ens
At just 19, the composer and pianist played on Icelandic national television, where he was discovered by Björk’s manager Derek Birkett. Birkett noted Olafs’ exceptional talent for telling a stirring symphonic story through instrumental music, and they announced a record deal with One Little Indian Records shortly after. Olafs has released two videos for the lead singles off of Absent Minded—“Staircase Sonata” (watch/share HERE) and the record’s title track (watch/share HERE).
“My favorite thing is to compose a ‘theme’ for somebody—a character or even a place, a memorable melody that instantly takes you somewhere else,” says Olafs. He began composing titular single “Absent Minded” at 14 years old as an imagined theme piece, the bedrock of his forthcoming debut album of the same name. The single expresses those lost-in-thought moments, the daydreams and imaginary worlds created in the quietest hours. “The piece is very personal to me,” he continues, “I’ve had this melody in my head ever since I was 14, and I finally completed the piece this year.”
Olafs is expert in the art of tension, creating a lingering breath in between the gaps. He began playing the piano at the age of five, studying classical and jazz piano, but always preferring to veer away from traditional teachings. Playing by ear and making up his own miniature melodies and musical phrases, the young musician discovered how the use of felt piano created a new otherworldly texture—a certain density to the notes he composed.
“I like to put a layer of fabric between the hammers and strings of my piano to make it sound softer, and then I just play,” Olafs says.
His pieces have uniquely visual inspiration. “Staircase Sonata,” for instance, was borne out of Olafs’ experiences during a particularly rough Icelandic storm. “The lake flooded into my studio,” he remembers, “all my instruments and microphones were in a big pool of water and the fire department came and carried my piano into the stairwell.” Despite the tragedy, he went to his displaced piano and “really enjoyed the reverb in the stairwell—so that’s where I composed the song. It’s bittersweet but it’s meant to capture positivity in a moment of unhappiness.”
“Floral Hymn,” another track off of Absent Minded, is inspired by Olafs’ mother, who he describes as a fellow introvert. “She has a beautiful garden with many plants where she spends a lot of her time. It’s meant to capture a peaceful solitude.”
ABSENT MINDED TRACKLIST
- Absent Minded
- Cyclist Waltz
- Another Fall, Another Spring
- Staircase Sonata
- Floral Hymn
- Think of Home