Meet the Icelandic instrumentalist bringing the world of post-classical to its knees.
Few artists are so effortlessly able to twist your heartstrings into a contortion of joy, sorrow and despair like Eydís Evensen. The Icelandic instrumentalist has had quite a bit of practice doing so too, taking up lessons in flute and piano when she was just 5 years old. After composing her first piano solo at age 7, a feat of epic proportions in itself, Evensen knew that classical music would always be a part of her life.
Since then she’s studied at Reykjavík’s Hamrahlið college, sang in a choir that boasted membership from Björk and several members of Sigur Rós, and even moved to London and New York after becoming disillusioned by the classical scene altogether. It’s fair to say that Evensen has pretty much done it all, and she’s now bringing this adventurous spirit to her hauntingly poetic music.
Take her latest single – “Midnight Moon” – for instance. At its core, the song about being in love, and all the beautiful (and albeit slightly strange) baggage that comes with it. Originally coming to the singer as a poem during her stay in New York City, Evensen then started to methodically chip away at the instrumental, translating the songs many precious lines into English before inviting Icelandic pop powerhouse GRDN into the fold to voice her innermost thoughts and emotions as she saw the project to completion.
Despite a frosty surface, underneath is a warmth and serenity that sets Evensen apart from the rest. We decided to catch up with the fascinating multi-instrumentalist below, delving into her many sonic influences, as well as plans to set free her debut album BYLUR (which translates into ‘snowstorm’) at the end of the month. Take a look…
Hey Eydís! How’s this past year been for you?
This past year has been very challenging, rewarding, full of realisations and personal growth. This time last year I was living in New York City and since then I’ve moved back to Iceland, recorded my debut album, collaborated with artists here, created my first music videos, all while taking my very first steps as a full-time professional musician. Right now I feel only incredible excitement for the future.
What is your earliest memory of music?
I remember listening to ‘The Swan Lake’ by Tchaikovsky on vinyl with my mother at the age of 3. My parents have a musical taste that spans over many different genres, but for some reason, I connected the most with classical music at such a young age. I later started taking flute lessons at the age of 5 and then later moved onto piano lessons when I turned 6 years old.
You’re a classically trained composer and pianist, how did you first get into composing?
I started composing music at the age of 7. The process came very naturally for me; as I remember feeling what I would now call emotionally stuck, I sat down by the piano and the music starting flowing freely. I had experienced a quite traumatic life event which was why I felt so stuck within. When I sat down, as I improvised and composed this piece, that helped me to feel a sense of relief and calm. I’ve felt throughout the years that the piano was and is always going to be there for me no matter what emotions I went or will be going through.
Congratulations on your new single with Singer GDRN, talk us through the production process and working together?
Thank you so much! I am first of all incredibly grateful and fortunate to be able to collaborate with such incredible talents here in Iceland, and especially during such global hardships. This piece which GDRN performs stunningly wouldn’t be the same without her performance. GDRN (real name Guðrún Eyfjörð) is an award-winning Icelandic pop singer who’s very popular here. GDRN’s unique and beautiful voice, with a broad vocal range made me want to collaborate with her on this piece. It felt like such a magical experience to collaborate with a talent from a different genre for my album.
You took the song from an Icelandic poem, what about this poem struck a chord with you? Why did you want to make it into a song?
Midnight Moon first came to life as an Icelandic poem that I wrote a few years ago while living in New York City. I was sitting down in a café in midtown Manhattan, observing this fast-paced life around me and then the words and emotion started to slowly come together in my notebook. I felt so strongly about the poem that I’d written down, that the melody and instrumentation came subconsciously to me.
The accompanying video is absolutely stunning! What was it like working with Einar Egils on the video and why did you choose to go for a contemporary dance routine?
It was an inspiring process for Einar and I to be able to create this visual world with such a strong concept and story of love. Einar is an Icelandic director who’s nominated as Director of the Year at the Icelandic Music Awards 2021. He’s created incredibly beautiful visual worlds for some of the most renowned Icelandic artists which connected with me emotionally. I had worked on another project with Einar previously where we’d filmed around my hometown of Blöndós in the north of Iceland.
Our collaboration during that project went so well and we both wanted to work together again. We started discussing different ideas and concepts and started to feel very strongly about expressing the emotions behind Midnight Moon using contemporary dance as a medium. We did not set any restrictions nor specific choreography for the dancers, since we felt that it would be something to be captured in the moment, on set as the dancers Andrean and Erna improvised around each other and the cameraman so wonderfully.
Your debut album BYLUR is out on the 23rd of April – how are you feeling about it all?
I am so incredibly excited to be able to share all of these emotionally inspired pieces with the rest of the world. I compose and improvise frequently, and can only say that I am excited to get back to recording new pieces in near future.
Who would you say are your inspirations?
Víkingur Ólafsson, an Icelandic classical pianist, has been a big inspiration for me for many years, His mother, Svana Víkingsdóttir, was my piano teacher for a few years before I moved abroad at the age of 19. Víkingur has since been a motivational character in my life, whereas I feel inspired by his approach to being a classical pianist, performing so stunningly all across the globe. I also feel very inspired by multi-award winning composer, Hildur Guðnadóttir (Joker, Chernobyl). It was her very speech at the Oscars which gave me incredible motivation to feel more confident as a female composer, in an already male-dominant genre of music.
What’s next for you? What are you most excited for?
– I am very much looking forward to being able to start touring for the first time. I am so excited to be able to share these raw, natural and emotional moments with an actual audience.
Check out the video for “Midnight Moon (feat. GRDN)… below!