Interview by Alessandra Cognetta
You may have recognized her at E3 this year, singing for Bear McCreary at the Sony conference. But Faroese singer/songwriter Eivør also has a long-standing career of her own spanning many different genres, and yet characterized by a very distinct style. I caught up with her via Skype not too long ago to talk about her current projects, from the album “At the Heart of a Selkie”, to writing a song about getting lost in the foggy Faroese mountains. Read the interview below and make sure to stay tuned and follow this amazing artist!
Hello and welcome once again to Femme Metal Webzine, Eivør! How are you and what have you been up to lately?
Well, I’ve been playing some concerts, I just came back from the Baltic countries where I did some shows with my band and then I’ve been doing a lot of work on new songs as well, recording and now the festival season is coming up. I only have a few days left to record, so I’m trying to get it all done. It’s just sketches, but it’s important to get them out of the system.
The last time we met was at the “At the Heart of a Selkie” concert in Copenhagen. Could you describe this project for our readers?
Working with DR Big Band and DR Vocal Ensemble was amazing and a very inspiring project to be involved in. Me and composer Peter Jensen worked on the music for almost 3 years before we did the recordings. One thing that made this project so special for me was the contrast between the classical choir and the sound of the Big Band.
We wanted to blend the classical human voices together with horns and to create a unique soundscape that neither sounded like Big Band nor like a choir but rather “one” voice. It took a long time to put this all together because of the many people involved. I wrote melodies for 7 poems by Faroese poet Marjun Kjælnes. I have been a great admirer of Marjun’s work for a long time and I was very pleased when she agreed to be part of this. We made a story line for the whole project, and decided to use the old Nordic myth about the seal woman as our inspiration. The whole piece is like a journey built around this ancient tale. It’s a story that you are told as a kid, so everyone knows it in the Faroe Islands. And Marjun has a special relationship with this story because she comes from the little village where it originated. It’s about a seal woman who is caught in-between two worlds – the ocean and dry land –and she has a life and family in both these worlds. She’s an animal and also a human. The story is about love and the sacrifices she has to make to become whole. This myth has been interpreted in so many ways and usually the seal woman is portrayed as the victim. But in Marjun’s poems she is strong and I was amazed by how she managed to pull it in a totally new direction where the seal woman for once is a strong female with her own choices, strength and free will. Peter Jensen did all the arrangements and also composed three pieces for the big band and choir.
You basically just made a spoiler for my next question, because I was going to ask about your collaboration with her! (laughs)
Oh (laughs)! Yeah, I’ve collaborated with Marjun before. I worked with her on another track on the “Bridges” album and I buy her books and poem collections every time she releases something new. I am a fan 😉
And also on “SLØR”, right?
Yeah, the three poems she has written on “SLØR” are actually born form this other project. It’s the same songs, just “dressed” differently.
I remember that “Salt” had a lot of percussions and a slower tempo in the concert, which was different from the version on “SLØR”.
Exactly, much different! The version on “SLØR” is more like I wrote it originally and the Selkie version is adjusted to the Big Band, choir and the idea of performing the material in churches or big caves.
You released two lyric videos, one for “Silvitni” and one for “Verð Mín”. Their imagery is both very simple and very fascinating. With the rising popularity of lyric videos, it feels like they are pretty much replacing what was once the role of singles. What do you think of the way the music industry is evolving to accommodate new forms of communication and promotion?
Yeah, it’s true! I mean, I think we live in very exciting times, where everything is changing, but it’s also a hard time for musicians to earn money. Creating lyric videos and stuff, that’s something for everyone to watch for free, instead of the old days where you’d release a single. But that’s over now and I think it kind of forces artists to be more creative and to do things differently. I think that’s very interesting because that’s how you get to new places. I love lyric videos! I love to watch imagery, especially if it’s pretty.
You also shot a beautiful music video for “BROTIN”, with director Dávur Djurhuus, and you finished shooting another video recently.
Yes, in early summer I made a new music video for “Í TOKUNI” with Heiðrikur [Á Heygum]. It’s is a song that I wrote about an experience I had when I was a girl. I was walking up the mountains in the Faroe Islands and it’s very typical that the fog comes sneaking in sometimes, especially in the summer. That happened while I was walking there and I got lost in the mountains all by myself for hours.
(laughs) It took me many, many hours before the fog disappeared and I finally got home again, but that was a very scary experience and this song is very much inspired by that. We filmed the video on the mountain Sornfelli and on a beach called Leynasandur – two beautiful spots in the Faroe islands.
Yeah, I remember your previous videos from “Room” that you shot together and in our previous interview I was all over talking about them because I loved those so much!
Yes (laughs)! He is amazing, he’s really talented!
It’s amazing how, if you get lost in the Faroe Islands, you’re on a mountain in the middle of the fog. As a kid, I would get lost in a supermarket at best (laughs). Different levels of danger!
A supermarket (laughs)! Yeah exactly, we don’t have many supermarkets in the Faroe Islands, so it’s… the mountains is where you get lost (laughs). This video is much more minimalistic than for example “True Love” and “Rain”, it’s more abstract – visual images that reflect on the feeling of being lost and surrendering to nature.
One of the most recent developments in your career has been the involvement in the soundtrack for the TV series “The Last Kingdom”. Your song “Trøllabundin” was used for the opening theme and you worked on the score with Scottish composer John Lunn (Downton Abbey, The White Queen). What can you tell us about this collaboration?
Yes, that’s been one of the most inspiring things that I have tried over the past year. I started working with John after he contacted me. He needed a Scandinavian voice for his soundtrack. I just did some recordings at home and sent them to him and this collaboration just evolved into me performing on the whole series with him. I flew to London a few times to record for various scenes and it’s been such an amazing experience to work with him. He’s been very inspiring. I think that when our worlds met, something very interesting happened and that’s why we kept working together.
I think it’s very nice, also for fans of your music, to be able to instantly recognize your voice in the opening theme.
Yeah, it’s quite recognizable, it’s true. He contacted me because he heard “Trøllabundin” and he wanted something like that, some ‘Viking sounds’ I guess (laughs).
You also were on a “high profile trailer writing trip to Hollywood”, according to the news. What did you do? Did you have fun?
Yes, I had great fun! This is very new to me too, working on trailers, movies and stuff like that. I got the opportunity to fly over to Los Angeles to work with various composers and it was mainly just a writing trip where I would write tracks along with film composers. I did a whole bunch of things (laughs)! And that’s what I’m catching up on right now as we speak. There’s a lot happening. I’m fixing vocals, doing some things over again. It’s a quite different working approach than I am used to and I see it as a fun side project along with my own touring carrier. I don’t know what will come out of it yet, or where it will take me, but I see it as a new thing to learn and try out.
That’s very nice. I think it’s very rewarding for an artist to just go and do stuff. You can still learn anyway, regardless of what gets published.
Exactly. I’m always up for writing music with people, it keeps me going. I see that as a part of my maturity, to grow as a musician and a songwriter.
So, that was our last question, Eivør. Thank you so much for being again with us and we hope to see you on the road again soon!