– Ein Interview mit Høgni Egilsson
Høgni Egilsson, Multiinstrumentalist und Komponist, sprach mit „jac“ über die Bedingungen der Kreativität, über das Suchen und Finden der Liebe und über Züge.
Er war Mitglied der Indie-Darlinge Hjaltalín und GusGus bis er 2017 sein Debut-Album Two Trains beim Londoner/Berliner Label Erased Tapes veröffentlichte. Nach seiner Album-Release-Tour, während der dieses Interview entstand, ist Høgni nun zurück in Hannover und spielt Two Trains live mit Streichquartett am Samstag, 23. März 2019, begleitet vom hannoverschen Ensemble Orchester im Treppenhaus bei Feinkost Lampe in Hannover. Beginn 21 Uhr.
Hæ Högni. Nice to meet you.
You’re a composer as well as a musician. You play the piano, the guitar and the violin, you sing, you compose—what of this do you like most?
I suppose I play the piano most, these days, because I got a very nice purple piano, which I cherish and like playing. I write, compose, but playing the piano is what I do every day. I wake up in the morning, have a cup of coffee and then I play the piano: I do some scales, try to play a jazz standard, write a song. In between I write some mails. But all in all, I try to play for two hours each day.
Is that more exercise, practicing or more chill out time, a smooth musical meditation for you?
Well, both. I am not so organized with my piano. Basically, I just play whatever comes to my mind.
What inspires you when you’re composing?
Ummm … [long time thinking] You mean, what inspires me when I compose my music, what creates the music that I make?
I guess, it’s a special atmosphere. In my life either you’re working as a songwriter or composer on your own and you put your vision into a certain organized format like a song or arrangement. And then—in terms of writing—you can also do it in collaboration with other musicians. From that I think it’s the chemistry between people, a certain story or something like that. From my perspective, it’s often a certain story I work with. It’s a kind of foundation, a mind map, which I think of and lay down to work my way through from there.
But just as often I work by feeling and improvisation. I watch where the melodies are going, what trail the melody is on and me as a composer try to catch that trail. It goes with me to some direction and then I have to fill in the blank spaces. Sometimes it feels like a puzzle or mathematics—something I have to solve.
Do you compose by writing or by playing?
It depends on what kind of music I am looking for. Different methods create different outcomes. I often start with the melody. And if the melody has a narrative, a story or development then I accompany that melody with harmony and rhythm. The melody itself can thereby come from a certain atmosphere or situation like a heartbreak or whatever. But basically, on a technical level composing is a kind of crafting and sculpturing. Even though, a good song or good music is so much more: it’s so many elements and counter-narratives that come together in a big picture.
That all sounds quite technical. What about nature? Many artists used nature not only as a motive, a theme but as a source of inspiration. Do you go for a walk and write a song afterwards?
Oh, for sure. That’s a very good idea. Going for a walk is always nice. If you go out and certain music comes to your mind and you record it on your phone for example. A lot of music is happening all the time—in every composer’s head, I guess. When I feel inspired or happy while walking by a lake, melodies come by and so much music is in the air that I can feel it vibrating in my mind. Imagining, feeling the music is not the most difficult part. I think, the difficulty is to put it into the real work. Composing music by itself is very easy, but to write it, to produce it, to make and shape it—that needs time and discipline.
After your music projects Hjaltalín and GusGus you’re now on your tour as Høgni, as yourself. What does it mean to you to do your individual and completely own music?
It’s very interesting and scary at the same time. But all in all, much fun, because this music now is particular and a certain vision that I have been working on for quite some time. And I am very happy to see it coming to life on stage. The album is very complex in terms of instruments and sounds and how different worlds of sound somehow collide. So, to put it into a live setting was a difficult task, and I am happy having realized that now. Furthermore, on a personal level it’s a dream coming true: After all I have released my own album. I play some concerts and collaborate with a record label which praises itself for doing music for music’s sake. That’s pretty exciting!
To summarize: You have found what you were looking for as an artist, haven’t you?
(laughing) Yes, maybe. […]