Name: Eydís Evensen
Occupation: Composer, pianist
Current release: Earlier in 2021, Eydís Evensen released her debut album Bylur, an intimate, chambermusical, yet all the same cinematic work in which many smaller puzzle pieces combined into a dark, borderless landscape. Now, for Bylur Reworks, seven remixers have entered the personal realm of Evensen's mind and created an alternative version of the album. It spans the gamut from Janus Rasmussen's dream-house-rendition of “Dagdraumur” via ambient electronica mixes by Ed Carlsen and Uele Lamore up to Paddy Mulcahy's noisy “Wandering II”. For fans of the original, Bylur Reworks offers another chance to enter the both surreal and beguiling dream of Evensen's compositions.
Recommendations: I highly recommend for anyone to watch 'In The Mood for Love' by Wong Kar-Wai and to listen to 'Soccer Game' by Jóhann Jóhannson.
If you enjoyed this interview with Eydís Evensen and would like to find out more about her and her compositions, visit her official website. She is also on Instagram, Facebook, Soundcloud, and twitter.
When did you start composing - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I started to compose at the age of 7 in my hometown Blönduós. I was highly influenced by all kinds of music of which my parents listened to while growing up, ranging from jazz, classical to rock and Icelandic folk songs.
I've felt drawn to the piano since I can remember myself, as well as feeling very intrigued by the record player we had - my favourite moments were those observing how the music became alive through this format of listening as well as observing my older siblings playing other instruments.
For most artists, originality is preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you: How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice?
I felt as if I found a missing piece of myself which I could never put into words through composing on the piano.
Throughout the years as I've been travelling and gaining a more mature perspective towards life that I feel even more so comfortable being able to be honest with myself and with my music, how experiences affect me and how they affect my musical creativity.
How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?
It's everything to me - My music comes from within and the stronger sense of identity of myself I have, the more honest and true the music becomes for myself.
What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
I guess I could say that not being sure of myself as a person when I was a teenager, reflected into my music in the sense of not really knowing what direction I wanted to take on my musical journey.
Slowly I started to develop a stronger taste for what kind of music I liked and what influenced me, and from there I started to feel more confidence which direction I wanted to develop towards.
Time is a variable only seldomly discussed within the context of contemporary composition. Can you tell me a bit about your perspective on time in relation to a composition and what role it plays in your work?
Time has been a good friend of mine throughout each composition. I've felt it strongly when I've needed to put a piece on hold while starting to work on other pieces for example. It's given me both the space I needed while it also has pushed me into a specific mindset by working within a tighter timeframe.
How do you see the relationship between the 'sound' aspects of music and the 'composition' aspects? How do you work with sound and timbre to meet certain production ideas and in which way can certain sounds already take on compositional qualities?
I personally like warm and soft textures within the sound world at the moment and I feel inspired by different sounds in daily life which bring life to perhaps a melody within a piece.
Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives?
I have mostly been collaborating with other instrumentalists for recordings and live performances - My current aim is to create an atmosphere in which everyone can feel comfortable as themselves and from there to focus on how we communicate and perform music as one voice together.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please. Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
Everyday for me is different compared to different moods. Sometimes I wake up feeling such an urge to start my day with a cup of coffee and by starting with my technical warmups on the piano, versus other days I feel a greater sense of need to evoke inspiration by taking hikes and writing down anything that I feel or notice in my surroundings.
Despite that, I always try to find a certain balance within each mood each day which presents itself in the forms of practising meditation, exercising and tending to different music projects.
Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?
I feel that my most recent live performance for KEXP still feels incredibly special to me. I collaborated with incredible talents here in Iceland and we filmed our session in a wonderful studio called Hljóðriti.
The reason why this experience felt so special is that I felt a great sense of ambition of quality on everyone's behalf and for me it felt like pure magic. I started to prepare for this a week or so beforehand, my idea behind it came from the importance of feeling present at each moment.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
Personally I feel the most creative when I don't limit myself in any way. This is supported by being able to let yourself flow creatively and taking time off from social media and emails whilst dwelling in that headspace.
Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?
I can say that I have experienced both. I feel as if everybody has a different association of which pieces of music makes us feel within the headspace of healing, acceptance, hurt and grief to mention a few.
I feel that there is much need for peaceful and honest music as a tool within the journey of healing, whereas it can hopefully ease one's mind.
There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art?
I don't feel that there should be such a thing as a limit both in arts and within our existence.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work?
I feel the overlap of hearing and experiencing visual art during a concert has felt inspiring lately. In our modern world where social media has narrowed most of our attention spans that a visual element can perhaps aid the audience to experience the concert more presently.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
My approach is to be able to be myself, to be honest as a musician and trying my best to learn and grow as a person.
What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?
I feel that music can provoke emotions which only feel that way to each and everyone - I may for example interpret these emotions from different pieces in a way whereas I have associated a specific emotion or life event to a piece of music which I feel a connection to.