From the northern Icelandic town of Blönduós emerged 27-year-old composer Eydís Evensen, who burst onto the scene this December with a slew of gorgeous post-classical pieces with haunting music videos to match. She’s on the cusp of releasing her debut effort, ‘BYLUR’, which she underlines will be a stirring, emotional journey that’ll bring you to the edge and back.
Eydís Evensen’s hypnotising start
The album, she explains, is a compilation of her life. “All of the content of the album is material I initially started composing when I was seven,” Eydís says. She speaks with a light hybrid-French accent, a result of her time in Paris, she explains. “I remember the feeling of [that first composition]. I had this emotion stuck inside me and it kind of just hypnotised me and I just walked straight to the piano, sat down, and played this piece.”
While the piece has been substantially reworked in the two decades since, it’s clear that the memory is still a deep one for the artist—the start of what would later become the biggest part of her life. And in the 20 years since that initial composition, Eydís never stopped writing.
The purest form
Eydís has spent much of her life working as a model, for years journeying from city to city and living out of a suitcase. While vastly different from composing, Eydís sees her experiences as a model shaping her music from a visual perspective.
“[Composing] is sort of representing you in the purest form,” she explains. “But when releasing music for the first time, I asked myself, how do I want to create this visual world? With all these visual elements that I’ve made to accompany the music and with that, just being yourself—it’s been interesting to create that.”
Emotionally, the jump allowed Eydís to live fully and authentically.
“In modelling, you get to work on beautiful locations with really interesting people from across the world, so it can be incredibly exciting. But it was also my job,” she says. “Versus music, that’s always been my passion. So throughout my journey of working as a model and living in different cities, my passion was still always music. I’d always seek out a piano to just get some headspace for myself.”
Eydís released her first song “Næturdögg” (“Dew”) in early December. The track begins like a waltz, meandering in a soft fog before moving into a more sensual, instinctual direction. At all moments, Eydís’s technique is visceral, physical. Every slight pause she makes between notes, every small disruption of the beat, every slight change in her force on the keys is full of meaning. Without hyperbole, it’s unusual to find someone who can make but a few notes feel so loaded.
“It was something I had been waiting years for,” Eydís smiles, when asked about releasing the song. She laughs—a tinkling sound that stands in stark contrast to the solemnity of the song she’s discussing. “It was a wonderful feeling, like you have a new bottle of champagne.”
Eydís composed much of it while living in Cape Town before finally finishing the piece when she moved to New York. “I was going through a bit of a challenging time in my personal life, so ‘Næturdögg’ was like a peaceful mission for me,” she explains.
The spectrum of feeling
The album as a whole, Eydís emphasises, is an emotional journey that encompasses every aspect of her inner world.
“It takes you—at least for myself, personally—on a broad spectrum. You have extreme joy and being in love, all of these incredible, wonderful emotions, as well as melancholia and my inner darkness—things that have been very challenging in my life,” she notes. “It’s a whole spectrum of different emotions flowing from a solo piece into a string septet.”
Eydís points to two tracks, “Wandering II” and “Brotin,” as prime examples of this range.
“‘Wandering II’ is a two-part piece; both were composed when I was living out a suitcase, travelling from city to city every two weeks, or two months, or so. This second part is about a continuous way of living, so it has a continuous underlying beat throughout it. It’s a state of flow, of changing your environment and the emotions around that,” she says.
“Brotin,” meanwhile, breaks that exciting veneer, journeying into the more hidden parts of Eydís’s life. “It’s [a reflection of] my most vulnerable emotional state of feeling kind of broken inside. There’s heavy darkness, especially in the latter half of the piece, where we sort of take a moment to pause,” Eydís says softly. “And that’s when it really is a piece of me, and one that hits.”
The first showcase
Once she releases the album, Eydís is excited to bring her music and visuals to a live audience, whenever that will be safe. Despite only releasing her music in 2020, she actually played her first ever show at Iceland Airwaves 2018 in a showcase organised by Simon Raymonde.
“It was really exciting. It was very challenging putting this show together for the first time, but it was a wonderful showcase. I was generally really excited to have my first ever performance—I had a little bit of the sweaty palms, but I really enjoyed it,” she laughs. And just after the show, she explains, a representative from Sony Masterworks came up. She was later signed by the label.
“I ran outside to tell my family and friends about the representative, holding his business card, and the Northern Lights were out,” she smiles.
The duality of Eydís Evensen
Outside of music, nearly all of Eydís’s favourite activities involve the outdoors. She enjoys hiking, swimming, snowboarding, and is, she explains, generally up for any surprise. “I like a last-minute adventure,” she says brightly. “My friend this week said, ‘Hey, should we go for a 4 a.m. hike to the volcano? And I said, ‘Yes, of course.’”
Eydís lights up when she begins to talk about her worldwide adventures—from skydiving to impromptu globetrotting. Her voice becomes airy, glittery, and it’s hard to reconcile her wonder with the serenity and sureness she emits when discussing her music.
“I completely understand that. It’s hard to explain, but sometimes I feel like I have these different sides of me,” she concludes. “One day, I’m skydiving in South Africa, which is just insane and so much fun, and the next day I’m by myself, composing something and just being a bit sad about life.”
But when asked if she has any last words on the album, her eyes go wide in surprise as she’s jolted out of her stories of adventure and back into the pool of her music.
“Goodness, no! I don’t think so. I’m just excited to be sharing this for the first time with the rest of the world,” she says kindly. “I hope everyone will enjoy it.”
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