June 30, 2020

A conversation with... Teitur

Photos by Tróndur Dalsgarð

Congratulations on your release of “Modern Era”. Remarkably (and sorry for reminding you of this) coming on for 20 years since your “Poetry and Airplanes” debut, which sound tracked so many people's journey through adolescence, just after the turn of the century. What does Teitur music mean now? Has your approach or relationship to music changed much since "Poetry and Airplanes"?

When I released Poetry & Aeroplanes I had waited and prepared many years to make something I could build on, both musically and personally, because it was my debut and music was everything I wanted in life. At the time, it felt like a very safe record and I have always felt as if I am headed somewhere away from what I am doing at the time and this feeling never seems to change. You find new interests and things you want to learn on the way. The creative process is in many ways the same. I feel well centered in what I want to do and have set out to do. It is mostly about telling stories in songs and accompaniment. I still get just as exited about music as ever, but circumstances keep changing the older you get.



"It is mostly about telling stories in songs and accompaniment. I still get just as exited about music as ever, but circumstances keep changing the older you get"


Yes, circumstances do change, and over those 20 years, you have lived through huge changes in the industry around you. You operate as an independent artist in 2020, having left Universal in 2006 you moved back to live in the Faroe Islands in 2012 - Was this move back to the Faroe Islands a part of the development of communication technology? How much a role has this played in your journey and independence?

The move to the Faroes happened because I was tired of living in many countries UK, Denmark, Sweden, US and always playing a hundred or more shows per year. During this time the intimacy and isolation appealed to me, and the Faroe Islands seems a lot sexier station for me to have than Frankfurt or the US, because I am always traveling for work anyways. When I met my wife, we decided to settle down here. 
I guess technology made things better, worse, simpler and more complicated at the same time. I felt like we were a test generation just when everything shifted and we still are. At one point you had ten different SIM cards for touring and you forgot the right setting on your phone and paid too much for communication, too much for travel, your gear could come, your gear could not come, your VISA was fine, your VISA was not fine and the studios were changing, the record stores, MySpace, iTunes, Live Nation, it was as if everybody was re-inventing themselves, also the musicians, the very structure was being formed in a new way and we all had to randomly fail in this direction and succeed in this other, there were all these alleys you could go down and you were never sure what lasted and it still feels like some parts of the music industry are in its infancy, or maybe teenage years, by now. It's not over yet, and it will keep changing - I believe into a more fair place, but there will also be all these uglier places we have to go to first. It makes sense to sit back in an outpost with a view, just as much as it makes sense to be right in the fire. 
Maybe that is how technology has both taught me and forced me to be independent. But I still feel like I make my music when I go for a walk or when someone says something interesting. The music has nothing to do with technology, that's just a tool, just like my shoes. Technology is an instrument and what a great one. Creatively, I feel we are in a golden age.


"It makes sense to sit back in an outpost with a view, just as much as it makes sense to be right in the fire" 


That is certainly how we have experienced you in recent times, putting a huge amount of energy in to creation. For the latest EP you have also been making and directing your own video as well. You clearly enjoy the creativity, and it connects me you to your music and the world in which your art inhabits. How do you approach learning a new medium? And where do you draw influence and inspiration for this multi disciplinary approach?

The video making just happened, because I had bought a camera and my three year old son was into cutting paper. The first video for "Clara" I made on iMovie, I think out of curiosity and boredom. Then one of my friends, who is a video photographer, came to the Faroes in December to shoot some backdrop images for my tour - it was just close-ups of motion by either wind, water and that kind of thing, grass moving, hair, drops and so on. One night, we downloaded Final Cut Pro, so we could better deal with these large files and I was blown away by how intuitive and fun it was. I think it's the home advantage of never having tried something before, like when someone plays poker for the first time, they often win, because they believe in it all they way and are unafraid to gamble without a clue. Maybe next year I will be embarrassed and never play poker again. My latest kick is the iPad Pro and that drawing program Procreate and all of this is mostly because I enjoy playing with new things and learning how stuff works, there is a lot of that with electronics in gear, when you buy a new device and need to figure it out. I think as long as your motivation is to tell a story, then you can use most mediums, as soon as you start to learn their language.



We are buoyed by your outlook, where so many are wondering where the second half of 2020 will lead them, we appear to have experienced Teitur in a really prolific period of creativity and sharing, where for so many the first half of 2020 has meant an absolute grinding to a halt of plans.
From the release of “Modern Era” (which must have been made in a somewhat differerent modern era we are now experiencing) to your live streams, and open air drive in concerts in the Faroe Islands.

It must be slightly surreal to be performing to rows and rows of cars shining their headlights at you, and beeping their horns in appreciation?

It's bonkers and I love it for that. During my first drive-in we started to have this dialogue with horns, blinking of lights, window wipers meaning cheers and the emergency lights meaning no or buh. If I said "Sørvágsvatn" instead of "Leitisvatn" they turned on the emergency lights in Vágar. It was also nice in they way that we all enjoyed going out and listening to music. We were all in it together, hungry and doing it despite the impossibilities. My ears are literally still hurting.


"I know it's a cliché, but music is what unlocks our emotions and it speaks that language that words cannot and so it becomes relevant in these times"


And in early June you found yourself back in Denmark, on your Live Nation drive in live series with Claus Hempler. You must have been amongst the first to appear in front of a physical audience in some time. And so quick to adapt and embrace your circumstances. To give the reader some perspective, due to the global pandemic, Teitur's first tour to cancel this year, was 33 shows in Spring and early summer. This is incredibly difficult to navigate. I think we could all take a leaf out of your book! What has most inspired your resilience and positivity?

I know it's a cliché, but music is what unlocks our emotions and it speaks that language that words cannot and so it becomes relevant in these times. I think this is inspiring. It has also been nice to be forced to be with my wife and kid, so that we have overcome this together and come closer... Cliché number two. All of my shows have been postponed, many until next year. In this time it is possible to finish projects and create. I have made recordings in Argentina in November that are on a hard-drive, waiting to tango... And there was cliché number three. The thing about clichés is that they are always true.

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