Heiðrik Á Heygum: «I don’t make music videos for the money or to get famous»

The well-know (at least, in Russia) phrase «A talented person is talented in everything» exactly pictures a Faroese artist Heiðrik Á Heygum. I personally acquainted with him through his videos for the songs of Eivør Pálsdóttir and such bands as ORKA, Byrta, Bloodgroup. Then I realized, that Heiðrik was not so simple. Aside from shooting music videos for the friends-musicians and short films, he also sings his sincere and very melodic songs pretty good. Heiðrik draws and takes nice photos, and some of his album covers (for example, for Guðrið Hansdóttir and the abovesaid Eivør — entirely his work). About own musical projects and the wish to make a full film Heiðrik told your humble narrator.

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— First of all, I want to say “thank you” for videos, you make. I think due to this we can form a picture of both modern Faroese music and the Faroese islands. Can you tell us something about yourself? Where were you born, for instance?
— After school I went to Denmark, to the music school. After that I was working at some commercial companies in the Faroe Islands. While in the Faroe Islands, I recorded my first album back in 2006. About the same time I felt in love with film making. It was a great way for me to combine music and pictures. I filmed my first short film in 2008, and since then it's just been on a roll. While doing art and film, I have recorded a lot of songs and my plan is to give an album out next year.

-Did you study to become a director?
— Yes, I went to Denmark and applied to become a film director. I got in and I just graduated this summer.

— How can you make absolutely different videos for absolutely different musicians? Where do you get so many ideas from?
— I don’t make music videos for the money or to get famous. I do a music video if I like the song and if I can relate to it. When an artist approaches me with a song, I listen to it ,and if I get any pictures in my head, I say “yes”. I have often said “no”, because even though I like the song, no pictures pop up. Some artist/bands are of course more filmmatic, then other artist/bands, so it's easier.

-You also shoot films. Are there any chances that we see full films and not only short films?
— I really hope so one day! That's a big dream, of course. But making a full length movie costs a lot of money, and that's basically the fundamental problem. I have many ideas for movies, but I guess, I need some back up and a good producer who is willing to help me. It's hard to take on such a big project if you’re working alone. But one day I promise.

-Are all the videos created by your ideas, or is it the result of mutual work with other musicians? For example, video “True Love” of Eivør is your idea? Russian people are fond of it, by the way.
— Yes, so far it's just been my idea. With “True Love” Eivør gave me the CD, and asked, if I would do a video for her. She asked, if I would maybe do it for the song «Boxes». I tried to think of something there, but I couldn't really come on something. But this song “True Love” kept coming up. I just got the idea for the video while I was taking a walk and listening to the song.

-Also many people like a lot an amazing video “Norðlýsið” of Byrta. Heads from this video, as I see, become legendary. Did you need a lot of time to make this video?
— We shot the video in two days. Very short time. The great thing is about working with Byrta (Janus and Guðrið) is they are one of my best friends, and we like similar things and we like, when things are extreme, so we are a good team. It was a lot of fun doing the video, because we understand each other and they are very professional and also have an extreme understanding, when it come to art and film.

— The latest released video…Tell me, please, how it was created.
— The latest video I made was also for Byrta called «Í tínum eygum» (“In your Eyes”). This is a funny story. Janus played me the song while they where in the studio, and I loved it. I said I really wanted to do something for it, but it was quite hard, because it was summer, and Byrta had a lot of concerts and very little time for anything else. So, one week before we had to leave Faroe Islands we had a meeting, and I asked «Should we do a video for the song?» Janus and Guðrið were not so optimistic, because we had only 5 days to prepare and almost no money. I said to them I would take care of everything and they should just show up. 3 days later we were on the top of a mountain in the Faroe Islands, filming with dancers and fire. This was ONLY possible, because of people's good will and very talented people. I think I never made a video in such a short time. I usually prepare for months — and that is also, of course, the best way, so I guess, we just very lucky regarding weather, support and peoples free will to do art.

— According to your account in Instagram, you are on friendly terms with Guðrið. Don’t you want to record a joint album? You have already had a duet with Greta Svabo Bech. It was very nice.
— Guðrið is one of my best friends, and we have been writing music together sometimes. I have made back vocals for her and she had done for me. Who know, maybe! I will definitely ask her to help me out on my next album.

-However, I am also interested if you please us with your solo LP?
— I'm gonna make an EP first called «Pop» and that I've started to record. There is gonna be 5 song on it — all sort of sort of radio friendly. I've been writing songs for 6 years now, and I have enough material for 5 albums. So I'm gonna do that, and then in April I'm going to start recording an album. That's gonna be more mellow and very simple. Janus from Byrta is going to produce it, and I can’t wait to get started on it.

-You have several projects. They are all interesting, the songs are wonderful, and the voice is great. Personally, I hear notes of Antony and the Johnsons, Perfume Genius, and Wild Beasts. Or it seemed to me this way?
— Thank you! These are good bands, but I hardly know or listen to these bands. If you are asking for inspirations when it comes to vocals, I guess, I listen a lot to old jazz songs from the 40's up the 60's. Also folk music, as well. But generally, I don’t think about my sound or who I want to sound like. I just sing.

-Who do you usually look up to in music? Is it Kate Bush which concert you have recently visited?
— I absolutely love Kate Bush. She is a great inspiration. I think she's probably the most underestimated artist of all time. Me and Guðrið (Byrta) saw her in September — it was amazing.

-What are you interested in apart from music and films? What do you usually do in your free time? Maybe, you like reading or, for example, playing football?
— Well music, art and film is my life, so that's what I do when I'm not working as well. Apart from that, I spent a lot of my time with friends. People are very important for me, and it’s a big source of inspiration for me.

— One more facet of your talent is that you also draw. In addition to the fact that you made covers for albums for the Faroese musicians, you also painted some pictures. When I visited the Faroe Islands I noted that every house has several paintings. Is it nature which inclines you to become artists?
— When you are surrounded by nature like we are in the Faroe Islands, it makes a great impression on you and it becomes a big part of you. So, I guess, when we express ourselves through art, we express what we see and feel. And nature is a big part of us. I have lived in big cities, and I have felt very lonely, and I missed the sea and the nature. I guess, when you’re born in nature, it's pretty hard to leave it. It is such a big part of you.

— Is it hard to build a career on the Faroe Islands? Or are there all conditions for it?
— It's, of course, hard, because it's very small and it's hard to live of art. If you want to make it big, you have to go abroad. But since the internet came, it has become more easy for artist to make themselves visible and work through the net instead of being there in person. Faroe Islands has many great artist and musicians, so it's a great place to be.

-You are often in Iceland or in Denmark. Have you ever thought about moving there to live?
— I live now in Iceland, because it's easier for me to find people to work with here, because it's bigger. I do, though, work a lot with Faroese people, but because it is so small, it's good to have good contacts in Iceland and Denmark, if you’re making film, for example.

— Many European countries have quite negative image of Russia. What image of our country do you have?
— Well, to be honest, I don't know much about Russia. For the rest of the world we don't hear much, what is going on there. We don't hear any Russian music. We don't see any Russian movies or art. Seemed very closed off to us. I would love to see and hear more. The things we hear and see are hate crimes towards homosexuals and the stuff, that happened to the Pussy Riots. Of course, I know, there are a lot of good things about Russia, but I wish, we could see a bit of that in the news sometimes, as well. One day, I hope to come to visit Russia myself, and see what Russia is all about.

— Yes, I also hope, that you'll visit our country one day. I'm sure, it'll deeply astonish you.

P.S. You can see more videos, picture, photos and listen to music by Heiðrik here.

Interview by Anton Kovalsky.

Translated by Marina Zlatoustova and Irina Boiko.

Russian version interview.