Petur Polson, farojski Damir Urban priča o svom stvaralačkom radu i mentalitetu ljudi sa područja po kojem su prije 10. stoljeća plovili Vikinzi…

For those who maybe don’t know, Petur Polson is a musician from far, far, Faroe Islands. I saw his name and bunch of compliments on his work on couple of websites, went to his homepage and downloaded everything downloadable. But, it wasn’t enough, I got myself his album “Koma”. I was stunned. I would describe him, something like faroese Nick Cave… but, you got to hear it on your own. First, read some of his words… and you’ll see that he is everything but cranky stuck-up superstar :)

We will start as usually, tell us some basics about yourself. Who is Petur Polson, as a person, and as a musician?

Petur Pólson is a man born and raised on the Faroe Islands. A bastard breed between a lot of contradictory norms and values. This has resulted in someone, who has – since day one – sought meaning and coherence in things, that don’t match or blend, and who – somewhere along the way – settled with being torn between contradictions and inner conflicts throughout life. And I feel at home like this, because it has given me things to write and sing about for as long as I have a breath in me.

I have always been blessed in the sense that I have been fortunate to have an outlet in my life. Since I was no more than 6 or 7 years old – ever since my grandmother gave me an old typewriter – I have been writing poetry and stories and songs. This has – in more ways than one – kept me alive and going. I am also – born in 1973 – somewhat the product of a typical “grungy” kind of person. Divorced parents, feeling a bit like an outsider (probably more because I wanted to feel like one).

I am now 33 years old, got a woman, a daughter, a job, a car, a house. Pretty normal in the eyes of the world. Owe a lot of money to the bank. But – to my eternal well being – I still have my outlet.

You are the first musician from Føroyar whose music I have heard, and surely I am not the only one, at least in here. Føroyar is for our people pretty exotic country. Can you explain this isolation of your fellow musicians within worlds’ proportions? It’s obvious that you have more than something to offer…

Well, the Faroes are pretty isolated geographically. This means, that isolation towards the rest of the world is something that has been an integral part of our national heritage, our very identity. This has also meant, that travelling hasn’t really been an option until not so long ago. It also means that we’ve had a very compact and in many ways narrow kind of life. With fishing, storytelling and singing being the most important parts of social activities. This has never faded, even though the acceleration of modern times has drawn us into its cycle. This has also created a very intense kind of music, because the Faroes are very intense… the landscape is dramatic, the weather changes several times a day… life has been very protected (we’ve never seen wars, crime is limited in our small societies), but at the same time it’s been vulnerable… the ocean has been our main source of industry, and the killer of a lot of families. This has created a music of grand proportions… you can hear the weather and the landscape in the music, which is very often born of melancholy and humility. This is also something you see a lot when you see other people reviewing Faroese artists that, “you can feel the Faroese nature and brutal landscapes in the voice and the music”. This is something we cannot and should not change, even though the last couple of decades have produced a lot of pop bands that sounds exactly like everything else in the world. There is still this raw, and in some ways, primitive and ancient tone in most of the music coming from Faroese artists.

Also, how did people from Føroyar reacted when they have heard your music? Don’t be modest :)

The reaction to the music has been extremely positive, on the verge of humbling amazement. I was in a band, Clickhaze, which was very big on the Faroe Islands in 2001 – 2003. This has probably given me some kind of headstart and pre-determined recognition. But my first solo album was called a masterpiece and one of the greatest album ever to be released by a lot of people on the Faroe Islands. It’s not a “hit record” that spurns sing-alongs, but two songs still made it to the National Radio Charts and the album was nominated for “Best Album of 2005”. There were also strong reactions to the atmosphere of the songs and especially the lyrics, which are very intense and filled with melancholy, dealing with the “heavy” things of existence. The lyrics are in Faroese, but they are very outspoken and direct in dealing with issues we don’t talk about, but feel every day. Death, destruction, isolation, alienation and religion. The live shows have also been received with great enthusiasm. But – as I’ve said – it’s not really a pop album, so it grows into people, and sticks with them for some time. The coolest thing I heard was a friend of mine, who is also a musician, told me that his girlfriend could tell just by looking at him that he had been listening to my album, because his expression changed. And a reporter wrote – after a concert – that is was “hard listening to my songs, because they are so intense, that you actually feel exhausted after hearing them”. This, I think, is the greatest compliment I’ve ever read.

You make astonishing, ethereal, almost divine music – where do you find inspiration to make something beautiful as this?

Thanks. It’s really humbling to see your reaction, and it fills me with great joy. The inspiration is first and foremost from life itself. I’ve gone through a lot of changes, in life and within myself, the last 5-6 years, and this has been the backbone for the thematical content of the album.

My inspiration also comes from the Faroese landscapes and dramatic nature. Darkness has been inspiring. We rehearsed and recorded the album in a basement, that was actually underground. Fyodor Dostoyevskiy is also an inspiration. Ever since I read his book, Note From Underground, when I was 13, I’ve felt a kinship to his literature. My “new” life, being a father has influenced me in more ways than I can contemplate. God and contradictions is deeply rooted in my soul. There is a line in one of the songs that goes, “could the fires of hell burn your soul into heaven”, and it sums up a lot of the things that go on throughout the album.

Koma is a multi-angled word play. In Faroese, koma means arrival. Arriving at some place, be it geographical or metaphysical. Koma also refers to the state of being comatose. Which is a state I sometimes feel I am in. Or have spent a lot of time in. I was also influenced by the musicians playing on the album. I spent more than a year working on the songs with Eiler Hansen, the guitar player, before we introduced it to the rest of the group. When we started recording the songs, the album was structured beforehand. The tracklist never changed from the first rehearsal to the final release. This is something I am very proud of because it means that my vision and inspiration for the album was based on an instinct that would stay true throughout the entire process. The album, the title track and a few songs, are dedicated to my daughter. Her birth was also a great inspiration.

Your album sounds also very personal, intimate and warm… For all those who don’t understand even a bit of Faroese, what it’s about?

The album is very autobiographical. It’s a description of my personal journey through the last 5 or 6 years. It’s in some ways my final wrestling match with demons I’ve been struggling with since early childhood. It’s very honest and there is absolutely no compromise in any way. We decided to not hold anything back. To everything on the record. Strangely, it resulted in songs that were deeply personal, very low-key and underplayed, rather than bombastic and grandiose.

The first song is called “Jarðarferð”, which is translated best as “Funeral”. It’s about dealing with the fact that everything you hold dear, is going to die and whither into the ground. “Einsemi”, means “solitude” and it’s based on contradictions, with lines like “what ever you hold sacred, will be hated by someone”. The song, “Timburmenn”, is actually a cover version of a Faroese song from the 80s. It means “Hangovers”. It’s a story about a man, lying in his bed with the worst case of hangovers ever. He’s afraid to open the door, because he has hallucinations and is shaking all over. In the end, he finds a bottle of alcohol, and is finally ready to open his door. “Fremmandur” means “alienated”. It’s about how the most basic things in your life, like faith and home, can feel like the worst isolation. It’s about feeling pointless and fragile, with an exploded heart. “Úr dýpinum” means literally “from the deep” or “from the bottom”. It’s the silence before the noise, the calm before the hurricane. It’s about feeling desolate and dry and left behind by people. The recurring line “í nátt er hjartað í neyð” is roughly translated to “tonight my heart is deserted”. “Eyma sál” means “tender soul” and was written for a friend who had some serious issues with depressions and self-destructive behaviour. It’s about the scars in your soul that feel like they will never heal and you fall on your knees nowhere praying to someone for just a second of something that feels like peace. “Ekkó” means “Echo”. It’s just a narration describing a cold winter morning when everything is silent and peaceful, except for this one person, who is broken, and the feeling is magnified by the silence, but there is a female voice whispering some hope of a better day in the future. “Fráferð” means “departure”. It’s basically a song about the sadness of leaving. It also contains a line of hope, and reaching your destination. “Synd” means “Sin”. In Faroese the word has many different connotations. It can be sin in the religious sense. We also used it when something goes wrong, like “too bad”. It’s a surreal songs where the first lines refer to Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. And the last few lines talk about how the world can be an ugly place and total darkness is the only comfort. The refrain says “the sun comes up to one more day of sin and grief”. Very uplifting stuff. The last song, Koma, the title track is like the chorus for the whole album. The first lines speak “dying grass, and a morning sun, indifferent souls lose their way”. The following lines speak “awakening dew (my daughter’s name is Døgg, which means “dew”) and the birth of something sweet, a soul is content and finds its home”. Pretty intense stuff, a lot of it.

I like also artwork that came with your CD and website – it really reflects your music trough images and design, you can see the obvious connection. You must tell us who made that piece of art and how did he “caught” the mood.

We actually made the artwork ourselves. The drummer, Uni, is actually an amazing artwork artist, and has created almost all of the coolest artwork for the last few years. The whole thing is made of photographs taken by us throughout the recording process, in and around the studio. Me and Uni worked on it for some time and then he designed the website and album artwork from everything we had put together. Layers and layers of photos, is what it is. It is really a result of everything that was going on when we recorded the album and – in my opinion – perfectly captures the mood and meaning of it.

I won’t ask you about your music role models, but I’ll paraphrase this question – which song do you consider as your favorite?

My absolute favourite song of all time would be “Like A Rolling Stone”, but there are so many. “Such Great Heights”, Iron & Wine’s cover of a Postal Service song. “In A Radio Song” by Okkervil River. U2, Pearl Jam, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen. I have a new favourite song several times a day. But “Like A Rolling Stone” is the best song ever written, if you ask me.

And from all songs that you created?

I think it changes a lot but the one that still makes me weak and cry is the title song, Koma.

And last, but not least, tell us where we can find your album “Koma”?

You can find it on www.tutl.com on their “webshop” but I also have a lot of copies, so maybe people could contact me on petur@peturpolson.com. Or via my myspace profile on http://www.myspace.com/peturpolson. We have started working on the follow up to “Koma”, so the website will probably be reconstructed very soon, so one of those two options will probably be the most effective.

I wish you all the best in your music career, keep up with good work!

Thank you. It’s been a pleasure and good luck with your work.