The Icelandic Skáld - Interview with Sigurboði Grétarsson

Sigurboði Grétarsson is Icelandic musician who released his debut solo album Kvæðamaðr August 1st 2020. He has done collaborations with Danheim, Heldom, Munknörr, Vévaki, Ursprung and Rúnfell.  

 

You are a Skáld. Dictionary* says that “(in ancient Scandinavia) a composer and reciter of poems honouring heroes and their deeds” What this title means to you and how it defines your work?

A Skáld was more than that, they were also musicians, storytellers and teachers who would

travel and tell stories of Norse Mythology and Folklore and play and sing poetry.

The 11-track album is called Kvæðamaðr.  ''Kvæði'' is old poems from the old Nordic myths and folklore about the Norse gods. Why you did select these 11 poems to your album?

 

 I’ve been singing ancient poetry for many years and I finally decided to record some of them and publish. I tried to pick a few ‘’popular’’ eddic poems that many have heard before and do my version of them but I also chose poems like Hjaðningarímur and Gróttasöngr that I haven’t heard performed by anyone before. It’s my way of pulling the past into the present.

Is there any one track/a song is particularly meaningful to you?

Kyrrð is a track I’ve been using as an opener for my own Blót for many years and the poetry in that one is the only one on the album written by myself. In Nordic cultures it was important to let the Landwights (Spirits of the Land) know that you were doing a Blót, a ritual to the Gods. Kyrrð is a prayer asking all beings to witness you, and the four dwarves holding up the sky to look upon you, asking for their protection by calling out the rune Algir ᛉ the rune of protection. If the dwarves at the edge of the world are looking upon you then so must the Landwights. 

KOM AUSTRI                                   

KOM VESTRI

KOM SOĐRI 

KOM NORĐRI

 

ALGIR

 

VAKNIĐ • VÆTTIR 

DÁIST • DVERGAR 

ÁHEYRN • ÁLFAR

ÞEGIĐ • ÞURSAR 

VERIĐ • VANIR 

ÆJID • ÆSIR 

FYLGIĐ • FYLGJUR 

TEMJIĐ • TRÖLL

Sigurboði - Kyrrð (Youtube, 08.06.2020)

What kind of process is the work before doing the actual song? How do you make background research? What would you recommend for reading to person who wants to go deeper to the topics of your songs?

 

The Eddic poems are my main source of inspiration but I've delved into other old Icelandic poetry as well, like Bólu-Hjálmars Hjaðningarímur. Sometimes I like to sit with my instrument for hours just playing something purely at random, it’s very therapeutic, and occasionally a nice melody forms which I can then later find a poem that fits with the vibe of the melody. It takes a long time to hammer out all the details and make everything fit together nicely but that’s a thing I enjoy as a solo artist, there’s no one rushing me.     

Sigurboði Grétarsson "Kvæðamaðr" album:

At BANDCAMP

For free listening in Youtube and Spotify. 

Other major music streaming services: iTunes, Google Play,Tidal, Deezer, and Pandora.

Check out his Instagram profile! You will find tattoos ,horn work and much more.

Related links

The Icelandic Saga Database is an online resource dedicated to publishing the Sagas of the Icelanders — a large body of medieval Icelandic literature. The Icelandic Saga Database is maintained by Sveinbjörn Þórðarson.

The performance of Eddic poetry -interview with professor Terry Gunnell (Youtube). The Nordic Mythology Channel by Dr. Mathias Nordvig offers knowledge and insight into pre-Christian Scandinavian myth and religion.

FREE ONLINE STUDIES at the University of Iceland: The Medieval Icelandic Sagas is an introductory course on the single most characteristic literary genre of Medieval Iceland. Mainly written in the 13th century, the Icelandic Sagas are comprised of roughly 40 texts of varying length. In this course, you will learn about three Sagas, written at different times, with the aim of giving an overview of the writing period and the genre as a whole. These are Eyrbyggja Saga, Njáls Saga and Grettis Saga. We will explore the landscape and archaeology of Iceland to see how they can add to our understanding of the Sagas as well as take an in-depth look at the most memorable characters from the Sagas.

* “Skald.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/skald. 

© 2019 - Dalva Lamminmäki