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Icelandic pianist Gabriel Olafs shares mesmerising new single ‘Cyclist Waltz’ |Debut album Absent Minded Out 23rd August on One Little Indian Records

May 19, 2019
Gabríel Örn Ólafsson

Icelandic pianist
Gabriel Olafs

shares brand new track ‘Cyclist Waltz’

Debut album Absent Minded
Out 23rd August on One Little Indian Records

Gabriel Olafs possesses an exceptional talent for telling a stirring symphonic story through instrumental music. At just 19, the composer and pianist wowed viewers and a live audience on Icelandic TV during his first ever live performance, where he was discovered by Björk’s manager Derek Birkett,announcing a record deal with One Little Indian Records shortly after.

“My favourite thing is to compose a ‘theme’ for somebody – a character or even a place. A memorable melody that instantly takes you somewhere else” the young musician elucidates. New single ‘Cyclist Waltz’, which Olaf’s shares today, is a theme for a man on a vintage French poster in Olaf’s house. “It’s a painting of a guy with a moustache and his bicycle, and it hangs on the wall across from where my piano is, which is where I compose.”

At just 14 years old he wrote ‘Absent Minded’ – an imagined theme tune and subsequent debut single (and his first ever released) from forthcoming album of the same name, out 23rd August on One Little Indian. Practically overnight, the track’s video shot up to 21k hits on YouTube.

Olafs is expert in the art of tension, creating a lingering breath in between the gaps – something he observes about good movies. “I am very visually-minded, and I often compose to an imaginary story or character. You could say my album is a score to a non-existent film.”

Single ‘Cyclist Waltz’ accompanies those lost-in-thought moments, the daydreams, the imaginary worlds we create in our quietest hours. “I love old movies and stories. I enjoy the fact that film scores demand a piece of music to have emotional depth. It has to convey multiple emotions and therefore has its part in telling a story.”

The teenage pianist says that he is often somewhat isolated growing up in his small Icelandic hometown, creating cinematic moments in his head from mundane things he sees around and nearby the house; a poster of a French cyclist, his mother gardening, the harbour down the road, a female friend who is named after an Icelandic bird, ‘Lóa’. His home studio is his world, his family home his universe.

Gabriel began playing the piano at age 5, 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 within his own imagined world. The musician discovered how the use of felt piano created a new other-worldly 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 what I’m feeling or thinking at that moment – and then I try to capture it on my tape recorder”.

The undoubtedly emotional pieces are somewhat surprising for an artist so young – yet the young artist flourishes most when encapsulating a sensitivity within his music that’s perhaps lost in adulthood.

Pre-Order the debut album ‘Absent Minded’:

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