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Hamferð. HAMFERÐ: from a distant Faroese shore

00:33 - 27.04.2018
John Sinterson:
| www | icq |

: 1545

b>In HAMFERÐ songs one can find heartbreaking tragedies of a mystical nature happening against the bleak landscapes of the Faroe Islands. We had a talk with HAMFERÐ (also BARREN EARTH) frontman Jón Aldará and discussed their new album Támsins likam, the bands music in general and of course the life on the Faroese. Have a read our exclusive interview!




                    How is the tour going?


                    Its going well, actually. We had a few bumps on the road, but nothing more than usual. Its been a long time since weve been touring; actually, our last proper tour was three years ago. Its a certain mode, you need to be in a certain shape, I think, so it always takes a couple of days to get it and to get used to driving and waiting, and how to use your time properly. Now were properly into it, it took us a couple of days, but now its smooth pretty much.


                    What about any expectations or surprises on the tour?


                    Well, we had quite a rocky start, but thats because of some restrictions and stuff like that made everything super complicated, but that was before we started the tour, so luckily we managed to find the solution there. Mostly its been going quite swimmingly, and the turn outs at least in some venues have been very surprisingly large, so that was very good, cause others are maybe not so large, but you can never estimate this things. And its very different from area to area, I mean, how many people come. Were not a huge band yet I say yet, so


                    Thats the main thing yet. Lets hope for the future!


                    Yeah, we always do.


                    Tell us more about your new album. How did the recording process go?


                    Well, its not just tour thats taking lots of time; the recording has taking hell of a time. Or maybe not the recording itself, but writing the new album has taken us almost four years. Its been a really long process, a lot of overthinking things and just trying to do something extremely tight and well-connected throughout the whole album. That part has taken a lot of time, and thats the first thing I think about it. The album is already getting a little bit old as well, because we were finishing recording it more than a year ago and working with a proper release and everything, so its been a very big process all in all to get the album out properly the way we wanted to release it, which was a step out from the last album, and get it even wider promotion and that kind of thing. Recording was pretty easy. When we finished writing it finally, we spent some time on the Faroese recording it the time that we needed. Theodor [Kapnas] works in the biggest studio on the Faroese, he was able to get us the time we needed to record it really well, and then we got awesome Daniel Bergstrand to mix, and luckily Theodor became friend with him a little bit before the whole thing, so we could have a direct line, as you might say, and ask him to take a look at it. All in all, it was a really interesting process.


                    Have you changed anything in the recording compared with the previous one?


                    Yeah, we tried to make it sound as natural as possible this time, both the recording and the mixing. We had to take it to the next level. Were quite proud of [the first album] Evst and how it turned out, but when we have worked with this album for so long, writing it was different, because we had a different approach on it, we wanted to create something more classically inclined, maybe something similar to a symphony when the songs have different movements instead of being separated songs. The whole writing process was based on it, and the lyrics should reflect it as well. With recording we also wanted to try someone else in the end, because we spent so much time on it. Its quite easy to get lost in this, its a very big job when youve been writing something for three years to get into producing it as well, and Theodor could have done it, but we just felt that it was the right thing to get someone else from the outside, someone really experienced to look at it. Were happy that we did that, this is the first time we had an outside mixer, but he didnt produce the album. Theodor still produced it and he mixed it, and the result is really great, in our opinion.


                    Yeah, it really sounds like one piece, very natural.


                    Exactly. Maybe some people might not enjoy it so much, but thats at least the intention. It helps maybe to have that attitude before starting the album, to know that youre not going to pick out any individual songs as the hits. Thats also why it was also difficult to pick out singles to release one by one, you know, but yeah.


                    You managed pretty well!




                    All your albums are based on the concept of journeys. Why journeys?


                    Its just a really good way of telling a story, to use a parallel of a physical and a spiritual journey. Were moving somewhere physically as a representation of where youre moving as an individual personality or in growth, so its a lot of to do with that, but also because were all inspired by the Faroese landscapes, the nature, the weather, the hills, the valleys, the ocean. I feel almost required to do something that happens throughout this environment, kind of carried along in these different types of landscapes, so thats always the way Im thinking of it, like how can I incorporate the mountains as much as possible. They mostly represent kind of violence and chaos, the uncontrollable nature of surroundings, which is always very useful in telling a story *laughs*


                    Speaking of landscapes, I really loved the ones which were shown in a video for Frosthvarv


                    *at that moment Im taught that hv in Faroese actually sounds as kv*


                    Was it your idea of the video, I mean the script, or it was someone else who came up with it?


                    Its based on the album concept, the storyline, and we started out that way, we wanted to do something that represented the arch of the story somehow. Of course its a five minute song, so you cant really get into the different colors and details, so we in Hamferð sat together and wrote kind of a very simple draft, and then we turned it to our director Franklin Henriksen, and he then was able to device a screenplay from that which was partly his vision and partly ours. But it was generally based on our idea.


                    Its better than tons of videos where the band is doing nothing but playing


                    Yes. We see it more like a short film than a proper music video, but of course its based on the music and moves along with the music.




                    Was singing in Faroese the original idea when founding Hamferð or you have probably thought about using the English language?

                    It wasnt said in stone from the beginning. The first song we wrote was both in English and Faroese, we usually play it as closing for the most part of gigs and since its a song that we think is pretty cool as the live song, but we never recorded it. The first third of it is in English and the rest is in Danish oh, not Danish of course, what am I saying? Faroese! That was terrible, just slip of the mind I was trying the idea once when we were starting that maybe we can try to write something about some sailor from the mid XX century who was sailing to England, and when he was in England we could do the lyrics in English, you know, some kind of a weird story like that, but that never really turned out as I thought about it, so we kept the Faroese, and now we got more and more solid as a part of the concept of the band, now its just what we need to do.


                    Yeah, just keep going and be Faroese as much as possible


                    Well, yeah, theres a lot of cool things you can get through using your native language. If I was English speaking, of course I would sing in English, right? But since Faroese is my mother tongue, its easier for me to express myself in some ways with that language, you know. I think the performance itself becomes more honest with using your language.


                    I actually wanted to ask about the lyrics since its in Faroese and most people can hardly understand it. Do you use the high language, so to speak, or is it quite simple? I feel kind of sorry for asking this




                    Do you write very simple lyrics? No.


                    Because usually on Youtube, for example, someone in comments asks for the translation, but the answer is like Sorry man, its so complicated that it cant be translated properly


                    Thats the same with us. Languages have their own world unless you write very simple, you know, like this happens and this happens, very straightforward lyrics, it becomes a bit difficult. Basically, the poetry gets lost in translation as it usually does. Sometimes you can translate in a poetic way, bit the languages have their own phrases and their own kind of ideas that are difficult to relate to other cultures, it always gets a little bit hard. Its a very challenging task to translate our lyrics. I might work on trying to do kind of a summary. Im working on a novel about the story of Támsins likam...




                    but its in Faroese. If I get it finished, Ill try to get the translation into English as well. Lets see.


                    That would be nice, because its cool to read the description of whats going on, and it would be really nice to read the whole lyrics with all details and everything.


                    Thats very understandable, but yeah, it can become maybe a bit banal if you translate it into English, and then some things will be like how is this even meant to be understood. Its a challenge, and it takes a lot of time, so I think if we decide to do it well spend a lot of time on it.


                    Maybe you need to hire a professional translator


                    Yes, exactly.


                    Lets discuss more Faroese stuff. Your metal colleagues Týr had several shows canceled in Europe because of the whale hunting. Has it also affected Hamferð in any way?


                    I think there was a period in time when there was a lot of commotion around that, especially with this Animal Planet show.


                    Yeah, Sea Shepherd guys


                    Yes. They were really stirring lots of stuff up which is their job, I guess. It was back in 2013-14, we were on tour with Amorphis, we did experience some threats and stuff, you know, just online keyboard warriors, basically, whos gonna come and fuck you up here and there, but no one showed up, there was no sign or a person saying anything. We were a bit alarmed by that, because we hadnt experienced that before, and then we tried to do some kind of press release trying to defuse the situation, but really we shouldve just ignored it, because its just people playing tough and going about things in a bad, destructive way. I mean, they have their right for their opinion, but going around threating violence and terrorizing people, in our mind, is not a correct way to do it, and we shouldnt take it on ourselves. Anyway, weve seen a little bit of that back then, but since then there was basically nothing. Wed seen a few really awesome Youtube comments calling us barbarians and stuff like that, thats about it. With Týr its a different case, because they seek out actively the whole conflict and [Týr frontman] Heri Joensen is a crazy guy *laughs*. He has a very strong opinion and wants also to inform people who he thinks are misinformed, and thats his peaceful way of doing it. He just makes Youtube videos and tells how he sees the situation very rationally, I think. Thats too bad for them; rationality is not always at the forefront in these situations.


                    I watched this show and the way they tried to express their opinion looked kind of stupid. I mean, they werent even prepared. When they noticed lots of boats, they decided that it was the beginning of hunt, but it turned out to be just a holiday race.


                    Yeah. They didnt even try thats the problem of coming to a country and from the start being confronting and claiming were here to stop the grind, were here to stop your traditions. People will respond with anger or slight. You wont get the information you need to get around if you behave this way, so clearly they didnt have much contact with Faroese people and they didnt ask whats going on. There was this regatta where people were rowing from one village to another, its held in August, yeah, it was so silly. Basically all their shows are like that, its a lot of drama about things that have no real point, so nothing really happens in a bigger whole, but theres constantly things like were driving to this place, were driving to that place, and we were just laughing at it, because it was cut in such a weird way. We have to get to Tórshavn, and then they show a picture of them driving away from Tórshavn. They didnt care of any details. Its just a show, you know.




                    If Im allowed to ask, what is your opinion on whale hunting?


                    Well, Id rather keep Hamferð away from any political stances, so I can only answer for myself. I dont see it as anything else then what is being hunted anywhere else for food. Its an old way of sustaining yourselves, we get food out of it, its always distributed equally between people in the village where the grind comes in, so its kind of a community thing as well, and of course there are some problems with it. The problem is not as it seems in sustainability, because it seems to be quite sustainable as from the research that I have looked at; most of it supposes that there are quite enough whales in the ocean, so were not hurting any kind of population. Theres a situation about health and the mercury, and its being taken quite seriously by many people also on the Faroe Islands, so theyre reducing their intake of the whale meat, especially women who are pregnant or in age suitable for being pregnant. Theres lot of complicated things around it, but the actual killing itself to me is not really an issue compared to anything else, but if you have stance that no animals should be killed then sure, its fine. But its not worse compared to well, its actually much better compared to the meat industry.


                    Yeah, the conditions animals are kept in


                    Exactly. These are free-living animals, and usually if it goes well, the grind will be killed in a minute. Its a way of sustaining ourselves, I dont see a problem here compared to transporting meat from the factories or another places.


                    It would be more expensive.


                    It would be more expensive, and the whole transportation system is an extremely polluting thing as the whole meat industry, plus the animal welfare issue If youre able somehow to sustain yourself from your environment in a way that doesnt hurt the population around you then its fine. You always need to look for the numbers and how the animals are doing and so forth.


                    As far as I know, you live in Denmark, right?


                    No, I have been living in Denmark for some years while studying. Im a biologist and I was finishing my master thesis in September, so I moved back home with my girlfriend.


                    So how was it to live in Denmark?


                    It was different, you know. People in Denmark are quite different from people on the Faroe Islands, and the whole culture is quite different. But its quite nice; we had good relationship with Danish people in general. The only difference is probably the environment. Personally I cant say really much about the social things, because Im not a super social person, I try to isolate myself a little bit, so I havent been so much part of a social scene in Copenhagen. I have a few friends which I found, and its enough for me *laughs* And then moving home I was finally like ok, now I can relax and get away from everything. The environment is something I really need. I need to be close to the ocean. I have lived right by the ocean for my whole life in my childhood home, and the mountains and everything Its just something I need to be close to somehow, so I dont think I will move permanently anywhere else again.


                    Do you have any jokes or stereotypes about Danish people and do they have anything about you?


                    Yeah, sure. I think Danish people are a bit like In general, theyre a little bit ignorant about the Faroe islands. They dont worry too much about the Faroe Islands, its not something which is part of their everyday life at all cause were quite far away and we dont really do anything for them. Only when the grind controversy shows up then the Danish are like oh, we have to protect the Faroese or we have to try the Faroese to change their way or something like that. Ive read an article about ten years ago about some people actually thinking that Faroese people live in caves or something. It was something really weird, hopefully it was a spoof article, but maybe it was just a reflection of how little Danish people even know about the Faroe Islands. But then again lots of Danish people come there as well, and we have some Danish people who have contributed a lot to our society. For example, the driving force behind the Faroese music has been Kristian Blak since the 70s. He is a Danish guy, but his family is on Faroese now, and his kids are grown up on the Faroe Islands. He is probably the most important person in the Faroese music. He looks like a down to earth guy, he is a wise man, and he has this kind of incredible spirit of fire to work for music, do everything you can for the Faroese music.


                    In your lyrics theres lots of mystical and supernatural stuff. Do you actually believe in supernatural and have you ever experienced it?


                    No, I havent experienced anything like it. Some people seem to be more receptive than the others; they experience it more often maybe, because theyre more opened to these different kinds of ideas. Im a scientist, so I have very empirical mind, but I love the idea of it. Its a way of people trying to sense things in the surroundings back when the knowledge wasnt really available. Its something Im really fascinated with, it made sense back then, its such a strange part of peoples life. People have really believed in these things for not so long ago, so its something Im really fascinated with. It becomes a part of culture, if the stories are really good they never really die, it becomes a part of us somehow.


                    Agree. And the last question for today, I guess: its believed that you should try everything in life. Is there anything you would never try?


                    Never try?




                    Personally me or Hamferð?


                    Personally you.


                    Ok Well, there are probably lots of things I would never try like But I really do subscribe to this belief if trying everything once at least if it makes sense or its something you want to try. I wouldnt pick up anything specific that I wouldnt want to try.


                    I actually asked many people, so I have very different answers


                     I can imagine that. Some people have some idea about things they dont





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