Hildur, an Icelandic singer, was one of the strongest pop artists and women in general at the Tallinn Music Week 2018, and this is said humbly. In addition to performing two completely different shows she is also very passionate about the music industry, especially representing females there, guiding young girls and her path to where she is now. It is correct to say that she is a pop idol, a teacher, a mentor.
The first thing we discuss is actually the Icelandic Airwaves Festival, which she assures is definitely worth a visit. It has been in my mind for a while and considering how many amazing people from Iceland have visited Estonia over the 10 years, I am glad to look forward to maybe exploring more of the country itself.
We are talking after her first show, so to start off easy, I ask Hildur’s opinion of Tallinn and if she has been here earlier. “I was here when I was sixteen, actually. It was when I was a runner. I didn’t really see that much of Tallinn, though, as it was for a competition.” This is something I did not expect. I guess talented people have many more skills than just one. “Running is quite strange indeed. I started playing cello when I was six and quit at 14, because I was in national runners’ team. After getting injured, I decided I didn’t want to do sports anymore. I wanted to do music.”
It is obvious how certain she is of herself, and how much her career really means to her.
“So I was very busy at 17; I joined a band. I hadn’t really sang in front of anyone and I originally went there as a cellist. Then suddenly we were asked if anyone here knows how to sing. I did. But in my mind I was like… Should I? Should I? I was very shy, but I ended up being a singer in the band.”
“After some time, albums and tours we decided to quit. Some of the band moved to another country and I always wanted to do solo act. Solo and band are very different – the procedure of writing songs is different. Six people in a band, it can be said we hit a lot of walls, especially because we didn’t even have the same music styles. Some of us liked heavy rock; I have always liked pop music and I always wanted to do it. I can now write the songs like I want them to be.”
This is presented beautifully during the gig. Hildur is emotional at some parts, energetic at others, but she never loses focus, her voice never wavers and I got chills listening to the clear messages and clear emotions this made me feel.
Why pop? “What I like… if you have good pop music, it can reach a 3 year old kid and a 70 year old man. During my shows I see mixed groups, it is not only girls listening to it, even though in my image and messages there is a lot of girl power. And I am happy when I see a lot of women.”
I am eager to know if she has any set goals for herself as an artist, a main message, perhaps. “Mostly it is just that I love writing songs, I am sad when I don’t get a chance. I want to work on my passion. Music is a platform for getting messages across. I used to be a board member in an important organization in Iceland – women in music. Music industry is sexist in a lot of ways and I just want to inspire girls to follow their dreams. For 3 years, when I was active there, it was really inspiring to see girls who didn’t believe in themselves develop. They sometimes just need a little, tiny push. I want more girls in music.”
Being able to discuss this topic that a lot of people in all business areas consider difficult, I see strength and love for fellow artists that is so pure and so motivating.
What keeps her going? Is it the chance to play cello, write lyrics, perform or sing? And which of those she likes doing best?
“Singing and songwriting. I love to sing, especially when I sing my own songs. I don’t like singing cover songs – they don’t have my messages, my ideas. It is a powerful feeling – singing on stage. And songwriting is fun in general, it is a new thing for me to write for someone else, it is interesting to do different styles.”
As a language lover I have to ask about her preferred language for singing as well as if she thinks someone singing in their native tongue could be just as popular as someone singing in English.
“I actually prefer singing and writing in English. When I was in a band, we had two albums in Icelandic. And Icelandic is really poetic. It is difficult to make casual pop lyrics in it. In English you can reach bigger audience and be more understandable. A lot of labels could be closed to other languages, even though Icelandic sounds very unique. In business aspect, singing in English is probably more profitable for them.”
We discuss her being a festival person and the great chance to play several shows. Same song can be and feel completely different when performed on another venue, during another time and to a new set of people.
To finish the amazing, inspiring and eye-opening chat, I ask for one thought she would leave us with. What kind of advice would she have for girls who are starting their journey, wanting to be where she is one day?
“Believe in yourself. If you are not going to do it, no one else will. You have to be your own biggest fan. You should be aware of your talent, see how amazing you are. A lot of people find one tiny mistake and point that out. Don’t tell yourself the things you would never tell your friends.”
This is brilliantly said and can be adapted to other situations in your life as well. I do believe you have to be your own biggest fan, but from this experience I learned that maybe – probably – quite likely – if you believe in yourself, do it with love and see how amazing you are, someone will become just as big fan of yours.
Just like me whenever I listen to this absolutely superb pop artist, Hildur.