Eivør is the internationally most acclaimed musician from the Faroe Islands. Stephan Lücke met her during her Germany tour in November and spoke with her about her way to stardom, competition among Faroese musicians and the healthiness of being bored.
Eivør, you have been in the music business for 15 years now. When did you first realize that you have a special talent for singing and song writing?
Ever since I was a little girl, I have been in love with music. I started singing when I was just 2 years old, and have loved it ever since. When I became a teenager, I started dreaming of becoming a singer in a Rock ´n´ Roll band. That dream kept growing bigger and bigger. When I was 12, I started making music with some boys from my home village. Back then, people thought I was a bit strange because I was the only girl that was interested in that kind of stuff. When I was 16, I recorded my first album. It was released in 2000.
How were you able to release an album at such a young age?
Over the years, I had written a lot of songs. When I finished 9th grade, I decided to make music professionally. To make the dream come true, I applied for grants. I was lucky enough to get financial support from all kinds of people and institutions – a local bank here, a fisherman there, my parents and so on. And I worked in a fish factory for 4 months. I really hated that job but when I had collected the money I needed, I finally went to a studio and recorded the album.
Did you have any education in singing at that time?
No, I was just singing by my natural talent. But then I realized that I needed some kind of education to keep on turning my dream of becoming a professional musician into reality.
Was there someone who supported you?
First of all, my parents have always been very supportive. That really encouraged me to continue.
Have you always believed in yourself?
I think so, yes. Of course, I had doubts sometimes and feared not to be good enough. But I always knew that music was my passion. So I struggled to make it become real.
Today, 15 years later, you are the most successful and internationally most recognized Faroese musician. How does that make you feel?
It makes me very happy to be able to continue with what I love doing – and that I don´t have to work in a fish factory (laughs). I am grateful that many people have helped on my way – the founder of Tutl Records, Kristian Blak, who released my first album, was one of them. I´ve also met a lot of great musicians over the years from which I learned a lot.
What kind of music did you like when you were a teenager?
I listened to a lot of horrible stuff, but ever since I was 12 years old I have admired Elvis Presley. I loved his way of singing and wished to be like him. I admire all singers like him that know how to tell a story. I´ve always been amazed by musicians who could do that.
When you were 17, you moved to Reykjavík to study classical singing. After living in Copenhagen for some years, you moved back to Syðrugøta, your home village in the Faroe Islands, in 2008. Was there a specific reason?
Having lived abroad for some years, I felt the desire to return home. So I bought a house in my home village. It was a very nice house and I decided to live there for a while. But I ended up living there for only 2 years and moved back to Copenhagen. This was because I had met my husband just shortly after I bought my house and he lived in Denmark.
Is he a Dane?
No, he´s Faroese but he has a daughter who attends school in Copenhagen. So for the time being, our family life is based there.
“What I love the most about the Faroe Islands is the generosity of the people. They care about each other which is a very precious thing.”
How often are you coming home to the Faroe Islands?
I go there about 4 times a year.
Do you have a favourite place there?
Yes, it´s of course my home village. I love being there, it gives me peace and everything that made me who I am today can be found there. I can see my footsteps there. And my family still lives there, so it´s always good to come back home.
What in your opinion is the best thing about living in the Faroe Islands?
What I love the most is the generosity of the people. They care about each other which is a very precious thing. Of course, I also love the nature – especially the pureness of the environment.
When you visit the Faroe Islands, you are probably recognized by everyone everywhere you go. Is that hard for you at times?
I don´t think about that so much really. If people are nice – and they usually are -, it´s just fine. Only sometimes it can get a little bit hard, for example when you go out on a Saturday night and everyone is saying something about you. But most of the time I´m okay with that.
Can you imagine living full time in the Faroe Islands again?
I think I could do it but I would need some place to escape to when it gets too small. And since I am travelling so much, I would need some other place to come home to which is more central.
This month, you are touring in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Holland. What is it like being on the road every day and play concerts every evening?
Usually it´s fun because you are doing what you love doing. If you are travelling with people you like, everything becomes very easy. Of course, it is exhausting sometimes but I don´t mind. It is a great feeling of having played a good concert. After every concert, I just feel so happy!
This year, you released two albums – one in English, one in Faroese. Why did you do that?
It happened a lot of times recently that I wrote a song in English and suddenly, just a bit later, another song came to my mind in Faroese. They all came in pairs and each pair fit together. So I decided to make two albums which are about the opposites in life – like Yin and Yang. The English album is about longing for home and being so far away, while the Faroese album deals with staying at home and feeling wanderlust. So these albums belong to each other in certain ways. It is a bit crazy to do two albums in one year but I had to do it. Sometimes I get an idea of something and get really obsessed by it.
Do you have a special technique of writing music?
Usually I collect ideas in my everyday life. I get inspired by all kinds of things and people that I meet. Some ideas and thoughts later become songs. I spend a lot of time writing songs actually. Sometimes I begin writing lyrics, put them away and continue at a later point. In the end, I want the songs to be as pure as possible – so that you can tell your story in a very simple way. Simplifying is the most difficult part of song writing, I think. It is an arduous process.
What role does language play within that process?
Language – either Faroese or English – is some kind of instrument. Singing in Faroese has a different sound and singing in English has another sound, too – so it´s like a guitar and a drum.
As you know, there are a lot of talented Faroese musicians. Which of them do you like the most?
That´s a tough question because there are so many good musicians in the Faroe Islands. One of my favourite musicians these days is Marius Ziska. He was with me on my last tour in Germany and I just enjoy listening to his music again and again. I really, really like what he is doing. Other great artists are Teitur and Guðrið Hansdóttir. And there is a heavy metal band called Hamferð which is really cool as well.
Do you feel competition among Faroese artists?
Not really, they support each other and collaborate a lot. Everytime I come home, some friend of mine who is a musician calls me and asks if I could sing his or her song. The Faroese music scene is a really nice community where people help and support each other. At least, that´s what I have experienced.
The following question is often discussed: Many people wonder why a small nation like the Faroe Islands has so many gifted artists. Do you have any idea why the Faroese are so creative?
It´s because we´re all alone in the middle of nowhere. There is nothing there so what should you do? (laughs) But seriously, I really think it has to do with the isolation. The weather conditions also play a role. When it´s cold outside and nothing is happening, you can´t help but get creative. It´s really healthy sometimes to be bored because then your creative mind starts to work.
Over the last 15 years, you have accomplished a lot as a musician. Do you have a personal highlight of your career so far?
I´m the kind of person that always lives for the moment – and I always think that this is the highlight. Each step of your career is linked together somehow, so I find it very hard to pick out one specific moment. In the end, all of my albums and projects led to the point where I am today.
Do you sometimes feel pressure to follow up each time?
I would lie if I said no. It is an ongoing issue, you are always looking for the perfect song or the perfect album. Even after I released a new album, I never feel that I am finished. I am always looking for the next move. I should relax more but it is difficult.
Do you sometimes have periods in which you simply do nothing?
I think I should do that sometimes. It´s important to empty your head from time to time. But on the other hand, I easily feel bad and sad when I am not creative.
What can we expect in 2016?
Next year I plan not to make too many albums (laughs). I will release an album with a Danish big band and choir at the beginning of 2016. After the release in January or February, we will play big concerts in Denmark, Norway, the Faroe Islands and Iceland. It is a huge project, around 70 people are involved. Otherwise, I will just continue touring with my band – that´s my plan and I am looking forward to it. I will never stop doing what I love the most.
Featured photo: Photo by Sigga Ella / Layout by Heidi Andreasen
Tags: Eivør, Faroe Islands
Stephan fell in love with the Nordic countries, especially the Faroe Islands, when he was a teenager. The 34-year-old German is originally a health care editor and writes about Nordic culture on a freelance basis.
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