Anna Maria_Nokl2013Das Gespräch führte Adrian Breda

Im Rahmen des “Nordischen Klangs” fand am vergangenen Freitag ein Konzert der isländischen Sängerin Anna María Björnsdottír statt. Die in Kopenhagen lebende Newcomerin absolvierte mit Bravour ihre Deutschlandpremiere und stellte mit kraftvoller Musik untermalte Lieder vor. Textlich bedient Sie sich auf ihrem Debütalbum bei isländischen Dichtern aus den drei letzten Jahrhunderten. Nachdem der Auftritt im voll besetzten Theater zu Ende war, fand sie noch Zeit für ein Interview.

Adrian: The title of the Album “Saknað fornaldar” means “Desire for old times”. What kind of desire and old times are you referring to?

Anna Maria: “Saknað fornaldar “ ist the title of a poem. I got really fascinated by it because it was written 250 years ago but it is still really up to date. Eggert Ólafsson who wrote it was kind of criticizing the people who were leading the country in the 18th century. He thought that they should go back to the old days when people used to be wiser and more conscious. What I really liked about that is that this is happening again nowadays.

Do you think this is caused by the international financial and bank crisis?

No, not necessarily. I think people are never satisfied. Even in the old days he wanted to go even further back in time.

You have been living in Kopenhagen for almost three years now. On the other hand, this is the first time you played outside Iceland. How do you managed to do so?

We recorded the album in 2010. I flew to Iceland and stayed there for several time. So when I’m in Iceland I just do this project. In Kopenhagen I have another project which is called IKI.

Could you please describe the relationship between Denmark and Iceland? Iceland used to be a colony of Denmark. I can imagine that people from Iceland are not so fond of the Danish?

No, I don’t fully agree on that. But it’s true: we were under Denmark for a long time. We gained independence in 1944 so it’s not such a long time ago. Like when my parents were young, Danish was spoken in their homes on Sundays.

As you did, a lot of musicians – nowadays and back in the past – went from Iceland to Kopenhagen to study music there. Do you think there is an Danish influence on Icelandic music? Does a typical “Icelandic sound” exist?

Iceland is a very isolated island. A lot of people move away from Iceland at some time. For me it was very good because it made me more Icelandic. It made me more interested in my own culture. Before I moved to Kopenhagen I’ve never sung in Icelandic. Additionally, Iceland and Denmark are very different countries. For example the dramatic nature and weather in Iceland. You can have rain, snow and sunshine in one hour. In my opinion it shapes people. In Denmark there is not such a dramatic landscape. Furthermore life seems to be more like “easygoing” you know?

Anna Maria auf der Bühne mit Band im Theater Vorpommern.

Anna María Björnsdottír auf der Bühne mit Band im Theater Vorpommern.

Do you think you can also find this difference in Icelandic and Danish music?

I think you can often hear a difference between musicians from different countries. I think that the landscape and atmosphere of your country shapes your music and all art. I think you can see it clearly when looking at the different Nordic countries and musicians. They all make beautiful music but you can hear it is different.

A study says that record stores in Iceland sold the same amount of CDs by Icelandic artists and artists from abroad. In Germany music is mostly dominated by foreign influences: Scandinavian and British “indie” music, American hip hop and so on. Can you explain this?

Anna Maria: I think when something gets popular in Iceland it gets really popular. There is not much of a underground scene so when something good comes up it takes not such a long time until it reaches everyone. This is probably the reason why Iceland people know a lot of Icelandic artists and buy their CDs.

How important do you rate the lyrics in your music?

I really like the musical sound of words. The language of the poems I used is quite old. It’s not like the language used in ancient Icelandic sagas but it’s different from modern Icelandic language. I think it just sounds beautiful. Unfortunately, I don’t have the same vocabulary as these poets anymore. When I see the poems I think: they should not be just in some books and nobody knows about them. I want to keep them alive. Furthermore, meaning is really important to me. I have to have a picture in my head when I sing.

What do you think about the cliche that everybody plays in a band in Iceland?

Well there is a lot of music schools and many children go to learn some instrument. Iceland is an isolated place with cold and dark winters. Sometimes it is kind of depressing there, especially during winter. Plus there is not so much to do in Iceland especially compared to other European big cities. So that’s probably one reason so many people play an instrument.

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