If you would ask me about my opinion on the most beautiful beard of Iceland’s music scene, I’d have to make my decision between two in the end. And it would definitely be a tough decision. Both Berndsen and Teitur Magnússon have grown downright masterpieces on and around their faces. At the mere sight, I lose myself in thoughts of a kind like “when I’ve grown up, then…”
And when I listen to Teitur Magnússons first solo record “Tuttugu og sjö” while dreaming about facial hair, the cozy illusion becomes almost graspable and I’m running against the wind with my eyes closed and my beard flying in the wind behind me. Maybe it’s the beguiling sitar of the song “Nenni”, reverberating like a mantra between basalt columns while unfolding a conciousness-expanding effect. Very likely. Or the delightful flute of “Staðlaust hjarta”. Equally likely. In any case, the album, whose title means “27”, undoubtly is one of the most remarkable, exceptional and beautiful ones of the past years in Iceland. Teitur developed a unique style and sound on this record, especially because he’s simply trying out everything which came to mind – most obviously the uncommon instruments. But also a track like “Drekktu”, which sounds like a poem recitation, is proof of Teitur’s love of experimentation. Teitur was 27 years old when it was released and its length of 27 minutes I don’t consider intended long beforehand but as providence. Definitely.
What is a typical Teitur Magnússon day? Is there a typical Teitur Magnússon day?
No day is the same, but most days I spend with my family and working on or around music. My days involve communication with people I love. Planning concerts and rehearsals Then I sometime have to do a little paperwork. I like to immerse myself into all kinds of influences, music & litterature especially. Then I have to feed the cat.
How did it happen that you decided to make music? Is there really something like “oh it’s always so dark during Icelandic winter so what to do…ah let’s make music!” or is this something like an Icelandic myth?
I’ve always loved music so much that i’ve wanted to be involved. The dark periods might have something to do with it, cause music can be a form of therapy. It feels great to play music and elaborate ideas creativly alone but even more so with other people.
Your solo debut album makes me wanna go down to the lake sit at the shore and pretrend to watch a summer sunset (though its not even summer yet). Is it a summer album? From Iceland? There are a lot of Icelandic bands that flirt with the gloominess, the melancholy, the force of the landscape/countryside. Please tell me something about your approach to music.
You could call it a summer album cause it was recorded during the high peak of summer in a creative bliss and alot of the production brings forth these elements. Some people fancy it as a Christmas album because it came out right before Chrismas and they associate it with some holiday memories.
The songs were written during winter and spring (the more delightful ones that is) so I guess the seasons had an affect on the songwriting now that you mention it. I have spent the last couple of years living in downtown Reykjavík inbetween travels to the countryside and sometimes abroad, all this has brought forth some subconscious creative force with out a doubt. After each chapter in my life I seem to write something and it often involves traveling, circleation of energy I suppose.
You are one of the latest Kraumur award winners for your album, congratulations! What is this award about and how does it help Icelandic musicians in their development?
Thank you! This award means you’ve done good and made an outstanding album. The Kraumur organization then donate their work to spread the music. It’s a big honor.
What are the Icelandic lyrics on your album about? Especially Vinur vina minna, I love the song. What are your inspirations for your lyrics?
The lyrics were mostly cowritten with my cousin Skarphéðinn and are about life as we know it. They are often playful and each one has a certain theme going on, a little story. Vinur vina minna means a friend of my friend and it’s about love, trust and friendship but also how everyone knows someone who knows that guy. In a small community like downtown Reykjavík you can’t stay mad at someone cause he’s probably the friend of your friend. The word friend in english actualy comes from the word frændi in icelandic wich means uncle/cousin, so now we have come full circle.
You’re quite active performing in Iceland, are there also plans to play abroad in near future? Of course I’d love it to see you playing in Germany 😉
I would love to play in Germany! I’m invited to play in Wrocław, Poland this April and I’m very much looking forward to that. Maybe Germany is next.
Are you involved in other projects? You are also active in Ojba Rasta?
Yes I play guitar in a band called Justman. I’ve written lyrics for Gus Gus and Hjaltalín. I play guitar and sing in Ojba Rasta. I help organizing the Reykjavik Folk Festial which is held every year in March. I’m also collaborating with new friends but that’s still evolving.
And what are your personal Icelandic favourites when it comes to music?
Oooohh that’s a tough one, depends on my mood…..
Thank you very much for the interview, Teitur!
Teitur Magnússon performs his song “Nenni” in front of Gröndalshús in Reykjavík. The video was recorded by our friends at Orange ‘Ear, who are running an amazing video blog on Icelandic music. It’s absolutely worth it to have a look at their site!
Featured Image & portrait © Magnus Andersen
Album cover © Sigurlaug Gísldóttir