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Interview von: Matthias Rauch mit Teitur Lassen, am: 02.03.2011 ]

Die Floskel, dass man selten Musik von den Färöer Inseln auf den Tisch bekommt, darf man sich bei dem neuen Album „Let The Dog Drive Home“ des Singer/Songwriters Teitur eigentlich sparen. Obwohl seine Musik schon immer sehr international klang und sich auf keinen Regionalismus eingrenzen lässt, haben wir dennoch mit Mr. Lassen über seine Heimat gesprochen. Nachdenklich und intelligent instrumentiert ist seine neue Platte, manchmal geradezu gebrechlich, wobei dem Album ein paar mehr Ecken und Kanten durchaus gut getan hätten. Nichtsdestotrotz haben sich auf dem Album einige sehr eindringliche Popsongs versammelt, die gehört werden sollten. Wir sprachen mit Teitur über Jonathan Franzen, Musikerkollegen auf den Färöern und was ein Song mit einem guten Gespräch gemeinsam hat.


Musicscan: Please tell me a little bit about how approached this album? Did you do anything differently than with your previous efforts?

Teitur: I wrote for two years and prepared arrangements with my friend Tróndur Bogason for the last few months before recording. The recording itself took only 10 days. I believe strongly that the recording process should be an execution - not a place where you search for something. That's why preparation is everything. You can't bring 30 people into a studio if you don't know what you are going to do. The album was also recorded in an environment where I feel at home, in Copenhagen. All my other records have been recorded in far away locations. Spain, California, London, and my previous record was recorded in an old princess estate on an island in the Baltic Sea. It was time to get comfortable.

Musicscan: Is there something like a larger theme running through the different songs on the album?

Teitur: Yes. Most of the songs are about letting go, about being small, about the fact that you cannot decide everything that happens in your life. I wanted to make a record that was generous and clear. Everything is tuned really well and there is always a solid pace in the songs that drives them, even though the pieces are slow and mid-tempo.  I wanted to make the opposite of intense. I wanted to make body & soul music. For the sake of it being healthy and not driven by fashion or a want to impress or being cool.

Musicscan: How did you grow and develop as an artist from your own perspective since your last album?

Teitur: I feel that I am not driven by fascination anymore, like one does when starting out. I'm older now. I would rather share what I know, say it clearly and give what I have and look forward. I am quite tired of music that is solely driven by the need to be different from others. I think that kind of music is more of a personal identity crisis more than it is great music or art. The best music is the music that only you can make and the song that only you can write. Not music that others have never done or music that tries really hard to be different, weird or cool. You can hear it and feel it immediately. That is pure shallowness and insecurity from an artistic perspective and it doesn't contribute much to the history and heart of music. I think I felt the need to be a bit provocative toward myself and make something that is as uncool and untrendy as West-Coast sounding music. I never think that I was trendy anyway. Why bother? I want to make music that still sounds good in 30 years.

Musicscan: What are you looking for in a song? How would you define something like a perfect song?

Teitur: You know when you are at a family dinner... And your dad tells that story at the dinner table that he's told 17 times. The story that everybody knows? And he'll happily tell it again. About the time when he met so and so - or about the time that this and that happened? That's one of his songs! That's his song, that's the one that only he can tell and write. It will communicate something important, about how he is as a person, about what he has learned, about how life is, about how things work, or something like that. You could take that story and easily accompany it with music. You could re-write it, make it better, shorter, longer, whatever. That's a perfect song for me. And I think that's how songs are naturally born. Not in a studio, from the sound of a keyboard or a guitar amp. That's not where songs should be born. Songs are born from the inside. You could play that song on a plate. No need to go to the studio with the Philharmonics. That's for the process after the song is written. That's for sound and arrangement, for taste, for the art of recording, for sound painting, for more dimension and storytelling. That's not the song. The song is neither words nor music, it's the story.

Musicscan: Is it necessary to create a certain distance between you and the music in order to get a better understanding of its inherent quality?

Teitur: I would actually think that connection would be better than distance. The more you know about the music the better. But you need to have perspective, so you're not just inside of a bubble. You must be able to look at the big picture. Sometimes a producer can help an artist or songwriter do that, sometimes not. Depending on the artist. I am all for collaboration. It's all about making the music as good as possible, like having a wine waiter in your restaurant. That's a good thing. But someone needs to have the eyes and imagination that overlooks the whole thing.

Musicscan: Where do you currently live? How has being from the Faroe Islands influenced your music?

Teitur: I have a small house in the country on the Faroe Islands where I wind down and I also rent a room in Copenhagen. I change between the two. I feel the need to be in familiar places after having traveled and learning about new cultures and societies for so long. I still travel a lot. I think the Faroes are very minimal. You know, the ocean is only blue and the hills are only green and there is only one kind of spider and one kind of ice-cream. But then you see 150 nuances of blue and green in one day and you know the exact taste of your ice-cream. That's minimalism for me.

Musicscan: Could you briefly describe the music and arts scene on the Faroe Islands? Are there any artists that you have collaborated with or that you admire?

Teitur: I like Orka and we sometimes work together. They build their own instruments. We just recorded a song at my house last week. I played a harp made from a satellite dish. Jens, the guy who formed Orka, started to make instruments in his father's barn, his father is a farmer and Jens likes to build things.

Musicscan: Do you think there are still genuinely new sounds to be discovered or can modern music basically be said to be a recombination of already existing forms and elements?

Teitur: Absolutely, new sounds and directions will always be discovered. There is no stopping that. Music is a part of nature. It's not like that's going to stop. I think that a lot of artist and genres in particular run out of ideas if their whole and only motivation is to make something new within their genre or perception... But new music has a life of it's own. Someone will always find it, sense it and make it more physical and bring it to life for others to experience.

Musicscan: What is the difference between art and entertainment in your opinion?

Teitur: I think you will find the answer in motivation. In asking why is this person doing this. Why has this been created....What is the drive behind this. Art is more about discovery and communication. Entertainment is just about being entertained and pure fun. I also like it too when the two are combined - say, in architecture. But I do think there is a difference in an entertainer and an artist. Entertaining artists? Why not.

Musicscan: What inspires you apart from other music? What makes you want to create something?

Teitur: It's hard to say. It's just something that you sit down and do. I'm inspired by everything, I guess. By conversation, discovery, food, people, understanding and truth in general. If I don't have anything to say, then I can't create.

Musicscan: What are some other passions in your life besides music? What do you think you would be doing if the whole music career had not worked out?

Teitur: Dunno. I think I would always be myself and make music and songs. I could probably be just as happy being a chef, but I would always be making music anyway. I'm also a chef. I make food everyday, too, but it doesn't pay the bills.

Musicscan: Almost everywhere music can nowadays be downloaded for free at any time. In terms of quantity, people have never listened to more music than today. However, do you think that the value of music might be decreasing because of its availability?

Teitur: The real value of music is in if it's good music or bad music. Not how much money it makes the first year. No. I say bring it on. It's great. The music is getting better and better. It's just a bit sad that the telephone companies are taking all the revenue from users who crave music and meanwhile music studios have to close down and everyone in a band has their own hole in the ozone-layer because they have to travel and tour so much to make any money to continue. Music and information in 2011 is on that place they call the internet, but no one seems to admit that that's what it's there for. It will turn around at some point. The internet is still a baby and it doesn't really talk yet. The internet is not free, but music and information is basically free. That will all change. All the technology is there to see who downloaded what and the providers of internet are getting paid. But I think it's pretty obvious that the telephone companies should start paying the rapper and label whose YouTube video has been shown 12 million times on their service. It's pretty obvious that the users and music lover used the internet to see this video and they paid the telephone company in doing so.

Musicscan: Do you think the new ways of distributing and listening to music have changed how music is made? Do you think that the format of the album will survive or do you think it is feasible that people might only be downloading individual songs in the future?

Teitur: That's up for the artist and composers to decide. How they want to express themselves. I think that albums will always be around because they are collections. If songs are short or long, who is to say, that will always differ. I think of my albums as one long song - the recordings and stories belong together. I also think that people and especially modern songwriters will be more and more open to songs and music pieces that are 15 minutes long so that they really go into the depth of a subject. Like an opera. That's also one song of say, Figaros Wedding, or La Boheme, even though it's several pieces of music. Composers have been doing that for hundreds of years and they are still doing it. Why not a modern album with three really long elaborate songs? There is not way why that should be unlistenable if they are good. People will buy and listen to whatever is good, to whatever that communicates.

Musicscan: What was your favorite film, book and record of 2010?

Teitur: Film - Dexter, the series. I named my dog Dexter. It's a pretty good name. Animals respond to "ss" and everyone says it the same way. Book - Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. I wrote a 7 minute choir piece based on three pages of the book. It's a scene where Walter, the protagonist, is in a car with his sexy assistant, Lalitha. Record - No idea. That is the hardest question so far. I don't pay so much attention to what music is being released or to new bands and singers. There is so much music out there to discover, already released. I've studied a lot of scores last year. Orchestration books, studies etc. That's also music and long players in my book.

Musicscan: What can we expect from you in the near future? Any collaborations or tours planned?

Teitur: I hope to continue working on this project called Confessions that I did with my friend Nico Muhly for the Holland Baroque Society. It's a song cycle based on people's home videos performed by a baroque ensemble. A modern soundtrack to everyday monotony.

  Edel Records