An Interview with Teitur, Singer/Songwriter, at Workplay

By Kelly Clinton

BFP You've traveled all around the world, where is your home now?

T I'm based in London now. I've been based in Copenhagen before that and just moved like a year ago.

BFP Is this your first time visiting Alabama?

T Yes. Yea. I've been coming back to Nashville, you know, and I was in Huntsville at one point, just for a gig once, but I haven't really been here properly yet.

BFP What do you think about Birmingham?

T It seems really nice, but I haven't really seen it proper yet! So you need to tell me where to go actually.

BFP This is my first time to this theatre (Workplay) What do you think about it? Do you like it?

T It seems very nice. It has really good sound. I think what I like is that it seems very listener friendly that people would actually, you know, sit down and listen. It's not so much as a bar. It's very musical, you know?

BFP What strikes you as unique about the South?

T Well, I mean, there's definitely a different…I've been on the East Coast, and the West Coast, and coming down this way it's definitely a change of scenery, you know, when you come further down.

BFP Do you think the people are different?

T Yea! They are, in a way. Yea. I don't know. Just the humor and then…yea, I definitely think they are different. Especially in the humor, I think.

BFP Really?

T Yea. It's a different sense of humor.

BFP What is your inspiration when you're writing your songs, writing your music?

T I just sit down and play and try to…you know, whenever I get an idea I write it down as a piece of information and then sit down and work on it. So, I guess where it comes from, I don’t' know, you know? I read a lot and just try to experience things and talk to people and get close to things.

BFP What is your process for writing music?

T Actually it's never really the same. I kind of couple the things together, you know. Sometimes I'll write a short story or something and then I'll narrow it down to a song. And after, you know, the rhythm or the words will inspire some kind of melody or you might have a melody that you write on your guitar and then you set words to it. I don't have the same structure every time. Often the best songs are the ones that happen in just twenty minutes and you've written it. But I like to work on a song for a long time and craft it. I think that's very important.

BFP I understand that English is not your first language. It's Faroese-am I pronouncing that right?

T Yea, yea.

BFP So how did you decide that English is the way to express yourself musically?

T Well, I mean, that's like…the music that I'm attracted to and I'm best at playing is all in English. You know, that's what I like listening to.

BFP Like pop music?

T Yea, yea.

BFP Who do you like to listen to?

T Well, just pop music, you know, everything. Well now I kind of…I listen a lot to classical music, to contemporary classical music, you know, Bartok, that kind of thing, I like that.

BFP What do you have in your cd player right now?

T Right now? Right now, what do I have? I have the Ipod. I'm listening to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.

BFP O.K.! Things have been going really good for you for the last couple of years, right? But I feel like when I listen to your cd (Poetry and Aeroplanes) the overall tone is very sad. Do you feel like those are sad songs?

T Well, in a sense they are, but not really, I mean, I don't know…I guess so. But I hate being a sad person because I'm not, you know, and you kind of step out of it, you know, be careful that it doesn't take over. If only sad people came to my shows…

BFP That wouldn't be very much fun, would it?

T But the ones we chose for the album were kind of essential and sounded best and right now they were the songs that have these things in common. And yea, they are sad. I like sad songs. I don't really like music when it doesn’t' go anywhere and say something. If it's just 'I had a cup of coffee' and it doesn't say anything, that's not a good song.

BFP Where do you see yourself in five years?

T Writing more songs and getting more albums together, and making sure that they're not the same. This is a very safe album (Poetry and Aeroplanes) and it's a good start and now it's about building the next floor.

BFP Well, I'm looking forward to hearing what you have next for us.

T All right, cool.

BFP I'm a big fan already. I listen to Poetry and Aeroplanes all the time in the car and am really enjoying it.

T Very good! It's a good driving cd.

BFP It was really nice to meet you, Teitur. Now I'm going to go and enjoy your show!

T All right, cool.

Book Sense
by Stephen Smith
Because everyone in the office is afraid the Birmingham Free Press is starting to come across as too Left wing I'm going to start off with a review of Bill O'Reilly's book "Who's Looking out for You?" O'Reilly has become a target for the Left not because of his particular views but because of his success at bringing hoards of viewers to the Fox news channel. Politically he's far from a Right wing ideologue and on some issues, like the death penalty and the environment, he's left of Bill Clinton. But forget about this new book. Go find a used copy of "The O'Reilly Factor: The Good, the Bad and the Completely Ridiculous in American Life." The chapter on class is insightful, eye opening and alone worth the price of O'Reilly's finest achievement.

If you're into nonfiction it's actually best to avoid books with the author's picture on the cover all together. My advice is to forget all the pundits and grab "The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America." Erik Larson, author of "Isaac's Storm" cranks out another masterpiece with this history of the 1892-3 World's Fair in Chicago. It's hard to imagine the enormity of the undertaking but Larson brings it all to life. The Arts and Manufacturing Building alone had an open floor that covered 38 acres. Beyond the fascination of the Fair itself are the characters who developed it and just down the street lurked the macabre castle that America's first serial killer constructed for his victims.

"The Devil in the White City," is the story of two men. Daniel Burnham is the visionary who developed an impossible dream. His centerpiece was designed be more spectacular than the Eiffel Tower. I can't tell you what it is but its inventor and his invention are household names. The second man is H. H. Holmes, a psychopath who confessed to killing 27 people. Larson spins such a compelling tale you'll wonder why you've never heard it before.

Finally I'd like to mention the new book by Bill Bryson. Bryson's travel books are truly funny, if not necessarily useful. His new work is titled "A Short History of Everything." This is a great book and it was even better when Isaac Asimov wrote it in 1991. Asimov's "Guide to Earth and Space" even had the same cover. So forget "A short History of Everything" and go get the Asimov book. If you haven't been turned on to Bill Bryson yet try "Notes from a Small Island," about England or "I'm a stranger Here Myself," about America.

A retired truck driver named Teri Horton bought this 5 by 4 foot abstract painting in a garage sale for $5. The painting turned out to be an original Jackson Pollock and could end up grabbing $10 million dollars at auction. Horton's comment to the Los Angeles Times was, "I still think it's ugly."

Speaking of money, a lot of Andy Warhol's prints are being devalued because he hired people to make them for him. Warhol's Pop Art concepts about anonymity and reproduction work fine in philosophy books but they don't translate well into the commodity aspect of art.

Did you see the big spread about Birmingham in Art & Antiques magazine? I hope this is a sign that we've arrived and not just a stop on Art & Antiques' cross-country ad selling tour.

Be sure to see the Samuel Mockbee and the Rural Studio exhibit at the BMA before it closes Jan. 4. Mockbee's ideas about architecture were very forward thinking. He was a great asset to the Auburn program and is pretty well established as one of the most important architects of the twentieth century. Mockbee's Rural Sudios program was even featured in the Whitney Biennial.

Another great architect who gets way too much press is Frank O. Gehry, the guy who designed the new Walt Disney Concert Hall. He's been putting these things up all over the world. They all look like each other but don't look like any other buildings at all. The joke is that one Gehry building will make a city, two will establish a city and three will ruin a city. Throughout the twentieth century there's always been this strange amorphous sort of architecture, the best example is Gaudi's Cathedral in Barcelona. I guess it's some kind of reaction to Modernism. Modern architecture would be all right if everyone got a super fast motorcycle so we could just zoom by all those boring geometrical buildings.