19 August 2013

Interview: Eivør Pálsdóttir

Today I have as a guest Eivør Pálsdóttir, one of the most popular Faroese singers and songwriters, with a voice of rare beauty and power. From the age of fifteen she decided to dedicate her life entirely to music, and her roots in these remote and astonishingly beautiful islands have been the source of her musical inspiration ever since.
Today, she will tell something more about her music, art and personal inspiration..

Let’s start talking about your latest performance at Faroese G! festival. How does it feel, for you that have become an internationally well-known artist, to come back to your homeplace and play in front of your fellow Faroese people during one of the most important events of the summer?

It is always special to play at the G! festival. The festival takes place in my little hometown where I spent my childhood and teenage years. I always get a bit sentimental when I come back. I also get extra nervous because I know so many people in the crowd and I feel that they know me so well. I really loved playing at the festival this year and I still feel the rush from the warm welcome I got from the crowd this year. 

Moving to your latest release: the album Room is quite different from your second last production, 2010’s Larva. How has this album come to life? 

The songs on this album were all written in 2011. This was a very emotional year for me because I lost my father who was a very dear friend to me. I started writing the songs for the album in this period and they all come from a very fragile and lonely place, but at the same time they are filled with gratefulness and love. I ended up producing the album with my husband Tróndur Bogason. And we decided to record the album in the Faroe Islands. 

Speaking of, the recordings of Room have taken place in your home country, in a studio of Tórshavn. Why have you chosen the Studio Bloch and how’s this experience been? 

I have always recorded my albums abroad because I like studios with good equipment and big rooms. We never had that kind of studios in the Faroe Islands until just recently. My friend Jónas Bloch opened up the studio at the same time as I had finished the songs for the album so the timing was perfect. It was a special experience to record this album in my homeland. And – with these songs - it made more sense to me than ever to be “home” among good friends.

Two of the most catching songs of this album, True Love and Rain have also become respectively a short movie and a video. How would you describe these attempts to translate the power of your music into a visual concept? 

I like good music videos because they can either help you understand the meaning of the songs or even give you a completely new angle to understanding the song. It is tricky though, because it can also put things too much into boxes. 
So I am at the same time quite sensitive about the videos being made for my songs.
The video for True Love was directed by Heiðrik A Heygum. He asked me if he could use this song for a school project as the final exam. He wanted to make a short film based on the lyrics and also a music video out of the same material. Being a fan of his previous works I thought this was a brilliant idea.  I decided to give him a lot of free space to work on the visual ideas for the video and I like how he interpreted the song. 
We are editing the Rain video at the moment and I am very exited to see the final result.

Still on Room: why does the album not feature any song sung in a language different from English, with the only exception of the bonus track Eg Veit

I grew up listening to artists like Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchel so there is something about the English language that resonates in me as well as the Faroese. My previous albums have been mainly in Faroese but my two latest ones are in English.

The bonus track Eg veit was written before the rest of the material on the album and I decided to translate it from Faroese to English and have both versions on the digital Room album.

Your breathtaking music and amazing voice leads to a quite obvious question: what does inspire you to create such works of art? 

Thank you for your kind words. Well I am inspired by a lot of artists and people that I have meet in my life. Some of the people that have made big impression on me are Yma Sumac, Nina Simone, Billy Holliday, Nick Drake and not to forget Leonard Cohen. And above all Nature inspires me over and over again and gives me the energy that I need. 

The Faroese label TUTL has also re-released one of the gems of your discography, Krákan, which was originally published in 2002. Which are the reasons that led you to release this album again? 

To make it short the album was sold out for a long time and after sorting out some record label issues we decided to re-release the album with a new cover made by the Faroese artist Edward Fuglø. I have been getting a lot of requests from people asking about this album so I am happy that it is available again.

This year you’ve already done several international gigs and, during this summer, you’re touring throughout different Scandinavian countries. Is there any chance to see you performing in other European countries soon? 

Well, I have a tour coming up in Germany this fall and I am very exited about that.  It will start in Hamburg (November, 15th), followed by Frankfurt (Nov, 17th), Berlin (Nov, 18th), Halle (Nov, 19th) and Flensburg (Nov, 20th).

You are one of the most well-known Faroese artists in the world and you’re now also working with one other Faroese band which has seen its popularity quickly growing in these last years. How would you describe your collaboration with the doom metal band Hamferð

I like the dark music that Hamferð creates. There is something very Faroese about it. Like me, they are inspired by Faroese folk ballads so we have something in common even though we are opposites. They asked me to sing on their track Sinniloysi and it think that our opposite sound scapes combined very well. Singing with Hamferð is like riding a big heavy wave in stormy weather. 

Now our interview its coming to its end. Thanks for the time you’ve dedicated answering my questions. Before you leave, could you describe your plans for the future? 

In two weeks I will travel to Victoria in Canada to participate in Gavin Bryars new opera called Marilyn Forever  based on aspects of the life of actress Marilyn Monroe. I will have the role of Marilyn. A very challenging and exciting project.
After that I will be touring Denmark with Eivør&Ginman after dark, a collaboration with bass player Lennart Ginman that I am very excited about. Then in November Room will be released in Germany and I will start my Germany release tour on Nov 15th in Hamburg. 

And hopefully new music will be born for 2014.

Eivør's discography:

Eivør Pálsdóttir (2000)
Krákan (2002)
Eivør (2004)
Trøllabundin (2005)
Mannabarn (2007)
Eivør Live (2009)
Undo your mind EP (2010)
Larva (2010)
Room (2012)

More on Eivør Pálsdóttir on her official website, Facebook and Youtube page

All the photos in this article, courtesy of Sigvør Laksá | Eivor.com