Heiðrikur: “Being gay was a bad thing”

Think of a time in your life where you longed for closure. Perhaps you suffered through a difficult breakup or you quit the job that was holding you back. Who knows, maybe you had a traumatic childhood with many obstacles and roadblocks. After going through these life changing experiences, it’s easy to reflect on the past and dwell on the details that once impacted you so intensely. Like solving a puzzle, it’s a process that involves the unravelling of your inner thoughts, fears and emotions.

While there are many ways to find closure from the past, we sometimes lean towards ceremonial practices to find the strength to “let go” and seek new beginnings. As for Faroese artist Heiðrikur (who goes by the artist name Heidrik), he’s found his own closure from the past, metaphorically through the most commonly practiced ritual on the planet: a “Funeral”, which happens to be the title of his latest LP.

Usually portrayed as a sad or dark event, Heiðrikur sees it differently. For him, the word “funeral is such a beautiful word because it holds so many elements of closure.” And while nobody can put the “FUN” in “funeral”, Heiðrikur’s newest body of work opposes the idea of it being an ending, rather than a new beginning. His multi-disciplinary talents have brought him all over the world, winning awards for his directed films, and now earned him a record deal with a Polish label (Fonobo). Having lived in Reykjavik for the past three years, we wanted to dig deep (at least 6 feet under) and learn more about his creative path, his tour in Poland and the re-release of his brilliant album.

He answers the Skype the call on his way to a cafe with a gentle smile on his face. The sun is shining and you almost feel the summertime air through the iPhone. Upon his arrival, he seats himself in a cozy corner, quietly like a student who’s late for class. “For me, to combine music and videos is sort of the ultimate marriage because you get lyrics, you get music and you get the visual. It’s a brilliant way to tell stories. You’re using all of your human senses and specifically for this album, I wanted to use all my skills,” he tells me.

It’s rare to find artists nowadays who film their own videos, perhaps that’s what sets this Faroese creator apart from the rest. “Not to sound arrogant, but I don’t consider my videos as “music videos” in a commercial sense. I consider them art pieces, as they hold no commercial value. For me, it’s an artistic extension of the song, to pass on the full message. That’s what I love most about the video part.”

Having grown up in the Faroe Islands, one of the smallest countries in the world, Heiðrikur was raised in a conservative environment. He was part of the first generation of Faroese kids to own a TV and grew up feeling different. “I come from a very conservative background back home, where homophobia was thriving and I often felt shame for being myself. It was easy to feel isolated on the islands, as I was surrounded mostly by fishermen and we were only 20,000 people in Tórshavn after all. Religion was also very prominent in my childhood, which is where we were told that being gay was a bad thing. Nobody knew why the church thought homosexuality was a bad thing, it was simply what we learned and that’s probably why I stayed closeted for so long.”

“Religion was also very prominent in my childhood, which is where we were told that being gay was a bad thing. Nobody knew why the church thought homosexuality was a bad thing, it was simply what we learned and that’s probably why I stayed closeted for so long.”

A waiter from the cafe interrupts our conversation, telling Heiðrikur to order something. He laughs about it, orders a latte and continues talking about his upbringing and how it affected the writing of his album. “I had been going through a lot, and I felt that I needed closure to move on from my life. I felt like I was going to explode and I needed to put these songs out. From the start, I had tons of ideas, most of which I wrote down and I even sketched some of them. Finally, one of my good friends from Sweden came to visit and we wrote the entire album in just 10 days.”

I pause for a moment, wondering if I had heard him correctly. “You mean 10 months?” I ask, unable to believe him. “No really, we wrote it in 10 days. The entire album was already in my head along with the concept, so it was easy to write it all down and bring it to life. I knew what I wanted to say. Janus (Rasmussen), my producer and best friend, was great to work with since we had known each other for a very long time, he knew my background and ultimately I trusted him with the vision.”

Heiðrikur’s album “Funeral” has a striking mix of cinematic acoustics with vulnerable and raw vocals, giving his listeners an intimate look inside his mind. “In the beginning, I sent a bunch of raw demos to Janus, me singing with a only piano or guitar. He advised me to release them as is… only tweaking a few things! Although I wasn’t too sure about it, he reassured me that it made it special and for that, I trusted him.

He’s more famous for his electronic music stuff in Iceland but he’s a very talented writer and also amazing with acoustic recordings. This album has no electrical instruments; everything was recorded the same way it would have been done many years ago. With my music, I refer to a lot things that made me happy as a child, such as Hollywood movies from the 50s, Disney movies… old glam Hollywood. My music refers to that era a lot, as that was my way of escaping my own life, watching those movies made in the golden ages of Hollywood. Those were very precious and important times.”

In his latest self-directed video release for the stunning “Boy”, a gorgeous audiovisual that captures a young boy wearing a dress with pearls, Heiðrikur alludes to a funeral, which makes me wonder: what is his fascination with funerals and what was the reason behind the title. “I wrote the song “Boy” about a boy I knew who passed away in high school. He was so beautiful, the kind of beauty that never went unnoticed, but his peers gave him a hard time. He came out as gay and received a lot of hate. After he died, all the people who bullied him were sitting front row at his funeral, feeling their guilt. The shame on the community was remarkable. His funeral was so huge and it was a very memorable moment for me, as it reminded me of how cruel we are as humans. This image stuck in my mind forever.”

He pauses in thought. “In that moment, I came to the realization that “funeral” is such a beautiful word because it holds so many elements of closure, and is linked to a ceremony, where people can have a space to grieve. If you look at all the cultures in the world, each of them have an element of funeral in their society. It’s something about being human, needing a ceremony to fully let go and move on. It’s very beautiful and I see it as a positive thing. It’s not even about the death, but more about the ceremony itself; the flowers, the celebration of life… symbolically, it felt right to compose music from this perspective. Unconsciously, I wrote about things that spoke to funerals: flowers, new graves, ceremonies…”

It struck me initially that the death of his friend became a milestone in his life and a fuse to his creativity. While the video for “Boy” challenges the heteronormative masculinity complex, I can’t help but ask: Have the Faroese people made any progress for the LGBTQIA community? “In the last 10 years, things have changed! We have a big gay pride, which hosts thousands of people and it’s such a beautiful change. We were the last of the old Scandinavian countries to legalize gay marriage and for me, it’s exciting to know that it’ll be easier for people to come out and be themselves. In my album, I wanted to encourage young people to be themselves and to know that they are beautiful.”

Having lived in Reykjavik for the past three years, Heiðrikur seems at home in his new city. “The Faroe Islands are very similar to Iceland: we have the same culture, same way of building houses and our languages are similar. Reykjavik feels almost like a bigger version of Tórshavn, maybe more open and current in comparison.”

From his new home, he works remotely with his label team in Poland. In fact, he’s now touring around the country to promote the re-release of “Funeral”, coming later in 2017. “My ex-boyfriend was Polish and upon going there to visit, I met one of his friends who is a famous singer. We really got along and without telling me, he sent my stuff to a label called Fonobo. At the time, I just wanted to put an album out, and I never dreamed of someone actually listening to it. Long story short, they contacted me and offered to sign me.

“I wrote the song “Boy” about a friend of mine who passed away in high school … He came out as gay and received a lot of hate. After he died, all the people that bullied him were sitting front row at his funeral, feeling their guilt.”

So now I’m performing around Poland and we will plan the re-release of “Funeral” for October. It’ll be interesting because the Polish societies are currently operating from a conservative headspace and I think my tour might challenge this mentality and hopefully become a safe space for people like me. I wouldn’t consider my act political, but I think it’s relevant in countries that are more ignorant towards music that pushes a liberal agenda,” he confesses, as he takes a sip of his latte.

It’s clear that Heiðrikur’s journey over the past few years in Iceland has helped him find some closure. He isn’t focused on burying his past. Instead, he’s celebrating the death of his younger self by ceremoniously embracing himself through music, videos and art. “Funeral” is an open-casket: vulnerability, sadness, loss, reflection and resolution. While the “funeral” he speaks about in his album is metaphorical, his positive reframing of the ritual itself challenges our societies apparent resistance towards letting go of tradition. The death of his childhood wasn’t an ending, rather a beginning that shaped the artist he is today. And when I ask him where he sees himself in two years, he replies: “As long as I can do what I love, I’ll be happy.”

The Hamburger Factory
- gourmet burgers

Ok. You’re in Iceland. Most likely for the first time.

You will probably bathe in the Blue Lagoon and take a road trip to Gullfoss and
Geysir. That’s all well and good. But neither Geysir’s nor waterfalls are
something you eat. That’s why we have 15 brilliant and creative hamburgers at
The Hamburger Factory. And they are all perfectly square. Don’t miss out on
Iceland’s most beloved hamburgers.

The Hamburger Factory is Iceland’s most innovative gourmet burger chain.
Packed with burger-craving customers since it’s opening in 2010, among the
regulars is Iceland’s best known fisherman, Eric Clapton. In our restaurants we
welcome tourists with our newspaper like menu and smiley service. They are
packed with fun items and memorable connections to Icelandic pop culture.

Locations:

Omnom Chocolate
- award-winning chocolate maker

    Omnom Chocolate is an Icelandic craft chocolate company based in Reykjavík. We produce handcrafted chocolate from organic cacao beans sourced ethically and sustainably. We’ve developed direct relationships to create premium chocolate with fine flavor cacao beans.

    Our creative flavors are carefully crafted by meticulous chocolate makers. The cacao beans are roasted, winnowed, ground, and refined into melty-smooth chocolate.

    Omnom’s process is one of constant exploration, invention, and experimentation. If it doesn’t please us, if something isn’t absolutely delicious, there’s no reason to be doing it. So, we always start with our taste buds and follow our instincts. Our team searches for the finest ingredients in the world and new ways to improve chocolate. This obsession with knowing where our ingredients come from has led us around the corner to dairy farms in the Icelandic countryside and all the way to rainforest cacao farms of Nicaragua.

    In only a few short years, we’ve grown from our 50 sq. m. petrol station space and become an award-winning chocolate maker. Now, with our headquarters in 101 Reykjavík, our chocolate is sent out around Iceland and all over the world.

    At the end of the day, our goal is to make chocolate.

     

    Alfred’s Apartments
    - gay owned an operated

      Alfred’s Apartments and Alfred’s Studios is a gay operated and owned accommodation in the heart of Reykjavik.

      Alfred’s Apartments offers spacious apartments at a good price located just around the corner from Laugavegur shopping street. You can choose the apartment starting from a Small Studio for 2 persons to a large One-bedroom Apartment with balcony for 5 persons.

      Their staff will ensure your comfort during the stay and provide the most updated information about the city, gay and night life in Reykjavik.

      Each apartment has a private bathroom with a shower, fully equipped kitchen and free Wi-Fi. Guests can buy groceries at the local grocery store 50 meters from the apartments. Because of their very central location, numerous shops, restaurants and cafés are available in the surrounding area. The Church of Hallgrimur is located 350 m from the apartments, a tourist agency is just 50 m away and the nearest gay bar is less than 5 minutes walking distance.

      Laekur hostel
      In the hostel we have dorms for 4-8 persons with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. The rooms are furnished with free internet, lockers, and a USB charger by each bed. The beds have linen provided and you can rent a towel in the cafe on the ground floor for 5 EUR.

      All the dorms are mixed with both genders. You can also book a whole room with 4-8 bunker beds.

      Blue Lagoon
      - a world of wonder

      Named by National Geographic as one of the 25 Wonders of the World, the Blue Lagoon is a shimmering expanse of warmth, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Its unique geothermal seawater comes from 2000 meters within the earth where sea and fresh water converge in a tectonic frontier of porous lava and searing heat. Propelled by extreme pressure, the water ascends to the earth’s surface, emerging enriched with silica, algae, and minerals: the elements that endow Blue Lagoon geothermal seawater with its radiant, healing properties.

      From its humble beginnings in the shadows of a geothermal power plant, Blue Lagoon has evolved into a world of wonder, now encompassing a hotel, a restaurant, a luxury lounge, a renowned line of skin care, a research center, in-water massage, and a wealth of spa and refreshment facilities.

      Achieving harmony with the volcanic landscape of Iceland’s Reykjanes lava plain, the lagoon and its surrounding architecture embody the unification of the man-made and the natural, and adhere to the highest principles of sustainability.

      Blue Lagoon. A wonder of the world. A world of wonder.

      Whales of Iceland
      - larger than life

      Whales of Iceland is the largest whale exhibition in Europe (and perhaps even the world), where guests can learn about the giants of the sea in a calm and modern environment. The permanent exhibition features whales like guests have never seen them before. It is truly a giant experience.

      Landsbankinn
      - leading financial institution

      Landsbankinn is a leading Icelandic financial institution. It offers a full range of financial services and is the market leader in the Icelandic financial service sector with the largest branch network.

      The present bank was established on 7 October 2008 but the history of its predecessor dates back to 1886. The bank is owned by the National Treasury of Iceland, which holds 98.2% of its share capital, and other shareholders who own 1.8%.

      Landsbankinn’s strategy is to provide comprehensive financial services that meet customer’s needs. It emphasizes providing exemplary service to customers, developing e-banking for their convenience, increasing the efficiency of support functions, modernizing its technology and ensuring effective utilization of its balance sheet.

      The bank’s vision is to be exemplary and its role is to be a trusted financial partner.

      Special emphasis is placed on promoting a performance-oriented culture in the bank. To follow up on the implementation of this strategy, the bank has defined key goals which are measured regularly to determine progress. These goals include, for example, customer satisfaction and loyalty, profitability, cost efficiency and the correlation between risk appetite and employee satisfaction.

      Landsbankinn wishes to lead the development of a sustainable society in Iceland by integrating economic, social and environmental concerns in its operations. The Bank aims to ensure that both its owners and society at large benefit from its activities.

      It intends to achieve this aim by building solid infrastructure and a strong team of 1.100 employees, by listening to its customers and by respecting and encouraging its employees to actively participate in their community. Landsbankinn was a founding member of Festa, a Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, and is a member of the UN Global Compact.

      Landsbankinn has been a proud sponsor of the Reykjavik Pride since it was first celebrated in Iceland.

      Dohop
      - get inspired

      Dohop allows people to find the cheapest flights available with just one click. Founded in Reykjavik in 2004, it is the only Icelandic company of its kind and quickly became the go-to tool for finding cheap flights among the locals. Dohop finds the best deals among hundreds of different airlines and online travel agencies, to make sure that the user is getting the cheapest price. Dohop also offers hotel and car rental search engines, so users can make all of their travel bookings from a single website.

      Dohop‘s specialty is finding so-called “self-connect” flight options, which can save travelers money by booking a ticket through two or more different airlines. The ability to look for these self-connect option is what sets Dohop apart from its competition, as it can save people hundreds of dollars on certain routes.

      More recently, Dohop has developed a unique product called Dohop Go!, which allows users to check for the cheapest available flights from their home airport. This tool is perfect for those who are looking for travel inspiration but are not willing to overpay for their flight ticket. Dohop Go! is now available in the Dohop Flights App, both for Android and iOS, along with its traditional flight, hotel, and car search engines. “

      Macland
      - for all your Apple needs

      From starting out as a proper startup with only a good idea and the need to change things, to becoming an established company with 6 employees. Starting from scratch and expanding organically has allowed us to love our expansion and take our customers on the ride with us.

      Macland is located at Laugavegur 23 (101, Downtown Reykjavik)
      For all your Apple needs. We are here.

      Aurora Reykjavik
      - northern lights center

        Aurora Reykjavik is a Northern Lights Center situated in downtown Reykjavík at the Old Harbor next to Icelandair Hotel Marina and Vikin Maritime Museum.

        Aurora Reykjavík is Iceland’s first educational and recreational Northern Lights Center where multimedia is used to explain when, why and how the Northern Lights work, with the highlights being large HD projection of the Aurora’s. We also share myths and legends about what our ancestor thought about those mystical lights.

        The Northern Lights Center is for all ages. Children are our favorite guests and we created the exhibition in a way that children can have a look freely and parents don’t have to worry about things being broken.

        Aurora Reykjavik offers a great selection of souvenirs that are designed and made by Icelanders along with nice little coffee corner, where you can enjoy free coffee and tea while browsing through the souvenirs or just planning your next step.

        Contact Aurora

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          Ísey skyr
          - once tasted never forgotten

          Our Story
          Once upon a time, 1,100 years ago in fact, Nordic settlers began arriving in Iceland. They brought with them the skills and knowledge for producing skyr. As time passed, the know-how and recipe for this nutritious food slowly faded out elsewhere in the Nordic region. Luckily, the Icelandic skyr-making tradition continued.

          For centuries, Icelandic skyr formed a cornerstone of the national diet, helping to keep people strong in living conditions that were often harsh. On family farms countrywide, it was the women who nurtured this dairy and passing on both the recipe and the original Icelandic skyr cultures from mother to daughter.

          Ísey skyr builds on this remarkable legacy. It was some of those very same women, the recipients of their mothers’ expertise, who, around 90 years ago, taught Icelandic dairy scientists the art of skyr-making. The production process is more high-tech these days, and the quality standards more rigorous. However, the basic recipe and the use of original cultures to ferment the skimmed milk remain the same. Protein rich, fat-free, creamy and delicious – Ísey skyr is as relevant to consumers now as it was all those centuries ago.
          This is our secret and you are in on it

          You can read more about Ísey skyr on our website.

          Núðluskálin
          - noodle bar

          Núðluskálin is a small gay owned and operated fusion noodle bar.

          All of our courses are individually made from fresh ingredients and therefore highly customisable.
          We offer fully Vegan versions of all courses.
          Though originally a take-away we now seat over 30 people.

          Núðluskálin is located right in the heart of Reykjavík on Skólavörðustígur 8 (street leading up to the big Church) near the junction with Laugavegur (main street).

          Seatours
          - adventure cruise

          Ferry Baldur – the gate to the West fjords
          and VikingSushi Adventure – Bird & Nature watching Tour for everyone all year around

          The “VikingSushi Adventure” is the right boat tour for travelers who are adventurous and want to experience something new – close up to the nature seafood simply doesn’t come fresher than this! The archipelago area of the Breidafjordur Bay always surprises her visitors during winter or summer with spectacular sights. Where else you get to try delicious fresh scallops and sea urchin roe straight from the ocean served with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger.

          600x400-seatours-tasting

          This old volcanic area, characterized by the typical basalt formations of the islands, is the home of countless birds. Here you will also find the strongest currents in Iceland. The VikingSushi Tour takes roughly two hours and our captain is also the tour guide.

          600x400-seatours

          The VikingSushi Tour is a true adventure through incredible nature which should not be missed by any traveler to West Iceland.

          Birds, possible to spot:
          -puffins (from the middle of April until the middle of August)
          -eider ducks
          -shags
          -kittiwakes
          -fulmars
          -white-tailed eagle

          The car ferry Baldur is the bridge to the West fjords via the island Flatey
          Ferry Baldur crosses Breidafjordur Bay daily from Stykkisholmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula to Brjanslaekur in the north. A ferry ride considerably shortens the route between the south and mid-west of the country and the West Fjords region. It also gives you the opportunity to experience a floating restaurant.

          Take a stopover at the charming island Flatey when you are crossing the bay or go to a day tour to Flatey and back to Stykkishólmur. At Flatey are no cars allowed and between the houses of the 18th century you get the feeling of a journey back in time.

          Contact Us


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