Marta Kazimiera Bialowas interview with Jón Hansen (Hamferð)

15 October 2013

“The music scene and it’s diversity is a tremendous asset to Faroese society and culture, and it continues to grow seemingly exponentially.”




How can you describe Hamferd’s music as European and how as Faroese? How do you derive from the both cultures?


I would say that our lyrical concept – although containing material to which anyone can relate – is unmistakably Faroese, while the musical inspirations are found both on the Faroe Islands and throughout the rest of the world. Europe in general is home to most of the music that the other bandmembers and I listen to, and especially the European metal scene is an inseperable part of our musical views. But there are a few Faroese artists that are probably a bigger general influence on Hamferð than any metal bands, and personally I would mention Hanus G., Kári P., Eivør Pálsdóttir and Stanley Samuelsen as some of my musical monoliths. The other might agree on some of them.



People of Faroe Islands are often said to be one of the most musical nations in Europe. Can you confirm this statement?


I certainly can. It’s of course a statement that is difficult to prove, but considering the approximately 49.000 people in total living on the islands compared to the amount of people performing and recording music, it’s quite staggering. The music scene and it’s diversity is a tremendous asset to Faroese society and culture, and it continues to grow seemingly exponentially.



Are you as musicians connected to your roots, tradition, folk music, eventually: history of the Faroe Islands? What part of your culture inspires you the most?


Yes, we maintain a strong connection with some aspects of Faroese culture within our music. Compositionally we do not directly draw inspiration from folk music such as the “kvæði” – as Týr does – or other traditional Nordic music, but much of the lyrical content has strong parallels. Old superstitions and fears that emerged in the times before electric lights, stories of trolls, shapeshifters and mountain people as well as accounts of entire villages crippled from losing their sole providers – the fishermen – at sea. There is much darkness inherent in Faroese history and culture, and this is one of the foundations of Hamferð.





Have you, as a band or a front man, has ever been thinking of taking an inspiration from Faroese early middle ages? I mean adaptation of the Viking or old Nordic themes to totally new music, like yours. You did something similar once with “Harra Guð…”. Do the literature more distanced in time is also interesting for you?


Our concept and lyrics are not rooted in any specific historical periods such as the Viking times, but focus on subjects that may be applied to any Faroese era. Such subjects, such as man’s struggle with surrounding and internal issues, are presented mostly as philosophical poetry and do not attempt to describe or analyze historical events. “Harra Guð…” is of course an exception to this rule, since it is a psalm that refers to God, but it’s main purpose on the “Vilst er síðsta fet” album is to set a tone and to point out the way humans perceive themselves in the presence of something more powerful and lasting. In content, the psalm is quite timeless as well, as it does not incorporate any obvious trends of certain eras, perhaps excluding style of writing. That being said, we are interested in historical and fictional literature of both the near and distant past, but we present these influences in a way that cannot obviously be traced back to certain literary pieces. What I’m saying is: We will not be writing about the middle ages or the Vikings any time soon. Týr already beat us to it!



You are giving quite an amount of gigs. Do you enjoy having interaction with the public more than recording in the studio and making the music brainstorm with each other?


Writing and recording the music is such a different experience from performing the music live, and I enjoy both intensely. The former has struggles such as disagreements about the material, fluctuations in how inspired one feels and long hours of takes, retakes re-retakes and so on. But the joy of coming up with something that really makes you feel “YES! This is the best thing ever”, those are my favorite moments of all. But playing live – especially at well-sounding venues – is an integral part of our music, as almost all music has a stronger effect when played live. All emotions are reinforced and converted to joy; even with such sorrowful music as ours. Of course, when playing live you are also able to see and speak with people that have had positive experiences with your music, which, in the end, is just as rewarding as writing the music.





The atmosphere plays a very integral role in your performance (for example: performing in churches). It seems that the atmosphere is very important for you. Atmosphere, doom metal… does it all correspond to the surroundings of the remote Faroe Islands?


We would like to think so, yes. The Faroese landscape is quite dramatic, as are the weather conditions. Harsh winds and heavy, whipping rains are as common as anything and the islands are made up entirely of mountains and steep cliffs. The Faroese people have adapted well to the surrounding and generally function as any western society does today. But if you reach just a little over 60 years into the past, things were quite different. Faroese men were regularly pitted against nature in their everyday work life or even just when traveling from village to village, as there were few roads and cars. And going further back in time, the conditions get progressively harder. These elements have caused much sorrow and many dark periods in Faroese history, and we feel that this somehow embedded into the Faroese culture and into the collective soul of the people, to use a poetic term.



What about the next album? Do you plan to release it in the near future?


Yes, a release date will be announced on October 1st, and that date will be before the end of the year. It has been in the works for a long time now, so we are very excited for people to hear it!



Personally, I love your voice. Have you been taking some vocal lessons as a child or are you connected with some other forms of singing?


Thank you. I have never taken lessons, no. I have been singing with a few short-lived and not very productive bands and projects since I was about 18 years old, but I have never sung professionally or in choirs (even though I have tried and lost complete interest in the latter). I do, however, have plans of taking lessons, as I have much to learn.



Concerning that the public can see you during events of such a range like Wacken, is it possible that we will see you guys in Poland, for example during Days of the Ceremony in Warsaw?


There is always a possibility! We aim to tour as much as possible as well as reach any city with a functioning concert venue, so coming to Warsaw is definitely not unthinkable. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you when.


Thank You!