Faroese electro folk pop artist Eivør was release her new album ‘Segl’ on September 18, 2020. Including co-production from Lana Del Rey collaborator Dan Heath, and featuring an appearance from Ásgeir, ‘Segl’ is the follow-up to Eivør’s widely-praised 2017 release & UK commercial debut, ‘Slør’, which also triggered her debut appearance on Later….With Jools Holland. Eivør is soundtracking the current series of Netflix/BBC flagship The Last Kingdom (co-written with Ivor Novello/BAFTA-nominated John Lunn), with her music previously also synched on Homeland & Game Of Thrones alongside hit video games Metal Gear Survive and God Of War. The release of ‘Segl’ will be accompanied by a 34 date international tour, including 4 UK dates kicking off at London’s Union Chapel on October 22, 2020.
Eivør Pálsdóttir is an artist perfectly attuned to the savage vicissitudes of nature. Born & raised in Syðrugøta, a tiny community on one of the northerly Faroe Islands, Eivør grew up surrounded by the windswept landscape of the North Atlantic, a backdrop that has deeply influenced the elemental electronica she creates. Songs such as ‘Tides’ & ‘Fog Banks’ have tied themes like love and growing old to the primitive environment of her youth; she wrote ‘Into The Mist’ about getting lost as a child on a local mountain, Støðlafjall. Forthcoming record, Segl – Eivør’s ninth, since releasing her debut at just 17 – builds on these motifs, exploring the journeys we undertake, both metaphorically and physically. The title – meaning ‘sail’ in Faroese – alludes to our desire for growth and direction, and the role of fate. “You have to hoist your own sail,” notes Eivør; “but you cannot control the wind.” ‘Segl’ explores the navigation between the soft and rough edges of life – the balance that must be struck between strength and vulnerability, dark and light. “How will you find calm in the chaos?”
It’s a question that’s tailed Eivør since the release of ‘Slør’, an English-language version of her 2015 album of the same title, whose Faroese lyrics she spent an 8-month period translating into English, alongside fully re-worked music. With numerous side projects and collaborations also competing for her time, ‘Segl’ is the culmination of “my longest process of writing and creating an album”, a fact that, Eivør says, “definitely” shaped the music. But then, so has her illustrious career to date, and a life spent honing her singular musical talents.
Eivør immersed herself in music from 13, fronting a trip-hop band after discovering seminal albums by Massive Attack and Portishead. Gigs soon followed, held afloat in rowing boats, in the pitch-black darkness of a huge cave on the island of Hestur. At 16 Eivør quit school, moving alone to Reykjavik to release her debut album and pursue classical singing training. She has since won the Icelandic Music Prize, twice – the first non-Icelandic artist to do so. The approval of contemporaries including John Grant and Ásgeir, a move from Iceland to Copenhagen, and numerous sync spots across TV and film are all testament to the crossover appeal of her music. Eivør also collaborated on the soundtrack for Metal Gear Solid and performed to a global audience of 50 million at the launch of God Of War.
Such itinerant tendencies have bled into her music, with ‘Segl’ no exception. “My creative process can be very chaotic and abstract, so I need to find the space to dive deeper into it and sculpt it,” she says. “After sitting on songs for a year or more, I’d go in and edit the melody or the lyrics. Sometimes the production too. The whole album is very much about change, so it’s quite apt.” Working closely again with Faroese composer/producer Tróndur Bogason (also her husband), the extra space allowed Eivør to explore programming and production more thoroughly than ever before, marking a completely different way of working. She pulled apart the writing process, focusing on a free flow of ideas, and enriching collaborations with other writers and producers.
The impetus to seize control of life is writ large across ‘Segl’. Single ‘Sleep On It’ heads off a night of insomnia with stabs of synthesiser and an exhortation for calm & clear-sightedness, whilst ‘Let It Come’ harnesses inner power to deal with whatever life throws your way. Elsewhere, the spectral ‘Mánasegl’ counsels in clear terms, taking its title from a Faroese word for “moonsail”, the highest sail found on square rigged clippers, and also known as the hope sail, or hope-in-heaven.
Eivør’s modern electronica has long been deeply informed by the brutal beauty of the Faroes, assimilating strings that swell almost like storm clouds, alongside synthesiser and percussive elements that land almost like the crash of waves. There are also subtler ways this woven into ‘Segl’, not least on the tracks Eivør has created with Golden Globe nominee Dan Heath. Their partnership brings ‘Segl’ to a spine-tingling conclusion on ‘Gullspunnin’. With lyrics written by poet Marjun Syderbø Kjælnes and a title meaning ‘cocooned in gold’, it transmits the essence of the islands – as Eivør puts it; “The magic play of light, fog, and astonishing contrasts that are unique to The Faroes”. Elsewhere, it’s no coincidence that ‘Skyscrapers’ equates the struggle for self-awareness to breaking beyond a city’s towering horizons. Other collaborations across ‘Segl’ see Ásgeir accompany on vocals, while Norweigian Einar Selvik, frontman of Wardruna, adds sonorous depth to ‘Stirdur Saknur’ ‘the frozen-loss’). “I wanted to be very playful,” says Eivør; “Visiting other people’s creative world, and inviting them into mine. Something magical happens when two different worlds meet, it expands the space. And it’s full of contrast; that’s quite interesting to me.”
There it is again – contrast. Change. Stepping outside one’s comfort zone. In a way, we’re all adrift on our own personal sea, looking for meaning and wondering which direction to take. Segl is an exploration of this, but also a record that suggests that everything will be ok; as Eivør says, over the last three years she’s “felt both deep doubt and cloudless confidence. I was lost and found again a hundred times.” That’s the real beauty of life; no-one knows where that wind in their sail will take them.
02.Let It Come
03.Sleep on It
05.Nothing to Fear
08.Only Love (feat. Asgeir)
11.Stirdur Saknur (feat. Einar selvik)