Helgi: “I want to share my art and see where this can lead me”

Helgi is known for experimental electronic music, DJing and modeling. Soon he will release the first single off his new EP. Stephan of Nordic Style spoke to the 30-year-old Faroese about all of his new projects.

Helgi, when can we expect new music?

I recently moved home to Tórshavn from London where I spent 5 years. Now that I am home, I am finishing my EP, so that I can release it in February. The first single off the EP will be out very soon. The title of the single is “Lívið er ein fongur”, which translates into life is a catch. I am also planning a video for another song off the EP. Other than this I have also started DJing at Sirkus, a lovely bar in Tórshavn.

What will be the title of the EP and how many tracks will it consist of?

Oh, that´s a good question. I have been trying to come up with a name that somehow represents the thoughts behind the EP, however the title is still to be confirmed. What I can tell you though is that there will be 5 tracks on the EP.

All written and produced by yourself?

Yes, I produced all the music. For this project I didn´t really write, I mainly improvised the lyrics. It´s very minimal with words, quite a bit of repetition. “Okkurt var” is one of the songs, and now that I come to think of it, that is also the title of the EP, which I totally forgot. Anyway, this song is actually all improvised vocally and the music as well. I want to somehow embrace imperfection, so words can make sense, however they don´t have to. All of it is in Faroese.

Is this EP your first commercially release?

Not really. However, it is the first one that I will be selling on online platforms such as iTunes. Usually I´ve just put stuff on Soundcloud, or given away for free.

Do you have a record deal?

No, I don´t. I will be releasing it by myself, it will only be online, at least to begin with, although I have been playing with the thought of releasing a limited edition on LP.

Very good idea!

Yeah, for some reason I think this EP would be cool on an LP.

Why exactly?

Because the music itself is quite inspired by old electronic music such as early House, Acid, Disco and old Bollywood. So I´m really curious about how my EP would sound on such an old format which has gained popularity again these past few years.

Yes, vinyls are quite popular at the moment. Do you buy vinyls yourself sometimes?

Not at all, but my parents always had a record player, so I remember going through some of the vinyls. My favorite from their collection was definitely Boney M. They also had the “Upside Down” single by Diana Ross which of course is an amazing song. Love Unlimited´s album “He´s All I´ve Got” from 1976 is another one I fell in love with. I was actually surprised that my parents had records like this.

Helgi Faroe Islands

A song of yours that I really liked was “Overtime”. Who produced that track and who did the nice video?

Thanks a lot. I produced and performed the track. Jamie Paul Smith directed the video. I met him through a Faroese friend who was in London at the same time as me. They studied together at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design.

In the video you appear as the perfect new Nordic pop star. Has that been a dreams of yours?

Being a pop star was possibly a bit of a dream before, however things change and my thoughts have changed. Now I just want to share my art and see where this can lead me.

How would you describe your art?

My music is my art but I also make other stuff. In 2015 I made an audiovisual piece and as I mentioned I will be directing a video soon. Although art isn´t always very inclusive, I somehow find freedom in art. In art you can do whatever you want.

When did you start making music?

I learnt from listening to music and started producing music around 2001. I started singing when I was very young, in a church choir. I always sang with family. If there was a birthday party or New Year´s party, someone would bring out the guitar and we would sing Faroese folk songs.

You just mentioned that you lived in London for 5 years. What did you do there?

I did a BA in Commercial Music at University of Westminster and in 2014 I finished my MA in Sound Art at University of the Arts London.

Why did you decide to move back to the Faroe Islands last year?

Well, London is expensive and I wasn´t really feeling that it was for me anymore. People in London are very competitive and I´m not a competitive person. Here, I have much more time to do my work, and if I want or need to travel, I can do that.

Do you have your own apartment or are you living with your family?

I´m living with my family at the moment. When I can afford it, I will rent an apartment. But even if I can afford it, it´s very difficult to find apartments here.

Isn´t there plenty of accommodation?

I wish (laughs).

If you could choose, where and how would you like to live in the Faroe Islands?

I would like to live here in Tórshavn, preferably in a spacious apartment. I want to have two bedrooms because it´s always good to be able to accommodate friends visiting from abroad. A space to work would be great as well. Modern apartments are more my thing. I´m not so much into old houses, they always scare me a bit (laughs).

Sorry for the question, but how do you earn your living at the moment?

“It´s all about the money, it´s all about the…” (laughs) I´m not really earning much at the moment to be honest. However, I received some funding from Mentanargrunnurin for my EP project. It´s the Faroese art fund.

Your parents are okay with it and let you just do your thing?

We have a big house and loads of empty rooms, as I have 6 sisters who do not live home anymore. So it´s good that I stay at my parents´ house to fill up some space, or that´s how I like to think about it. They let me do my thing. Of course, it wasn´t always like this but I suppose they learnt that this is what I do and they support me in this.

Helgi Faroe Islands 2

Apart from music, you are also known for modeling. When exactly did you start with modelling and how did you get this opportunity?

I wouldn´t say I am known for modeling, although I did get the opportunity to model a few times. Now when I think about it, many years ago, when I was probably 13 years old, I was with my mother at work and there was a well known Faroese photographer having a shoot there for an ice cream. I was asked to join and I was standing further behind the main models. I was blurred out in the ad though. The Guðrun & Guðrun photos you refer to were shot by my sister who is a photographer. So most of the time it has all been down to knowing people or meeting people at the right time and in the right moment.

As you mentioned earlier, you´ve just moved back from London to Tórshavn. What does that mean for a young gay man?

I am not sure if it means anything, I love the Faroe Islands and even more after having been in London. Maybe you could be a bit more specific?

Lack of opportunity …

I thought that´s what you wanted me to get to. Well, the opportunity to meet other gay men here is not as great as in London. I do play with the thought of importing, of course not against his will (laughs). Oh, and I still need to meet this person …

What you think about the Faroese gay movement of the recent years?

It´s really good, I think that it has helped a lot of people who do not fit inside gender norms. I decide to put it like this as I don´t think it only has something to do with being gay.

You said you love the Faroe Islands even more after having lived in London. Why?

Because I got to know the Faroe Islands from outside, I guess. While being in London, I started appreciating where I grew up. It wasn´t until I was in London that I started using Faroese in my music, you could say I turned nationalistic in some sense. London has a lot to offer, just not our beautiful nature.

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Photos by Sunrid í Gong