Faroese singer/songwriter Marius recently returned home from his first North American tour. A whirlwind of gigs over the course of three weeks brought him and his trusty, talented band mates to several locations in Washington, Oregon and California. Lucky for me, Hans Marius Ziska and his band stopped in Portland, Oregon, my hometown, where I caught up with him and asked him questions about his musical past, his impressions of small coastal towns in America, and his performance at the annual G! Festival in the Faroe Islands.
Here’s my interview with him after his show:
Tell us about the musicians playing with you on your tour.
The musicians on this tour are all from the Faroe Islands. We have been playing together for about 3 years. The musicians are have all been playing music for most of their lives: Heðin Ziska on guitar and laptop vocals (we’ve been playing together for about 7 years, I think), Allan Tausen on Bass steel guitar vocals, and Brandur Jacobsen on drums keys and vocals. I really enjoy playing music with these guys. They are really great musicians and we share some common thoughts on how we like our music.
Share the story of your performance in the rock band Flux as a teenager in the Faroese talent show Prix Føroyar.
That was a while ago. I remember it as a good time in my life. I was 16 years old and the year was 1999. We played this mixup between grunge and some kind of new wave :) I remember being really influenced by Eddie vedder and Soundgarden and stuff like that at the time. I guess in a way that was the start of finding out that music was what I wanted to do. Looking back I think that it was kinda brave just going out and playing songs for a lot of people. I hear that we weren’t very good at that time, but I’m glad that I started playing and making songs at an early age.
Over the last few years the music you’ve been writing and performing has transitioned from harder rock music to thoughtful, soulful alt-folk. What influenced this change?
Well, that is a good question. I guess when I was younger I just wanted everything to happen as fast as possible, and I really enjoyed playing melodic/experimental rock but somehow I began listening more and more to the music I used to listen to when I was a kid. I used to listen to my father’s records. He had all the classic stuff like The Beatles, CCR, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Jimi Hendrix, and Simon & Garfunkel. I also listened to great Faroese records that I still enjoy, like Annika Hoydal, a very charming Faroese artist that was in a band called Harkaliðið. It’s hard to explain why I changed. I guess I just got older. I feel like I change all the time when it comes to music and that kinda motivates me. For me it’s no big deal if I’m playing rock or folk, as long as the music comes out right.
What similarities and differences did you see between your homeland Faroe and the coastal cities of Seattle, Washington, Annacortes, Washington and Astoria, Oregon that you visited at the beginning of your tour?
I think the people are very similar in some strange way. After a show when I talk to people they seem to share the same thoughts as people in Faroe Islands, but the people in the States are way more outgoing and way less shy. Faroese people are sometimes a bit shy and they don’t wanna say too much, which also is very charming. I find it kinda hard to draw similarities between Faroe Islands and a big city like Seattle, but there are definitely similarities between Faroe Islands and Anacortes and Astoria. If you remove all the trees they would look a lot like the Faroe Islands, and the people are very friendly which is a lot like Faroese people. In Astoria we ended up at a party after our show and jammed with people that we had never met before. That reminded me so much of being in the Faroe Islands that for a second I forgot that I was in Astoria. I was actually suprised how friendly people really are in the States.
You’re playing G! Fest in the ancient, seaside village of Göta in Faroe later this month. Tell us a bit about G! Fest.
G! festival is the greatest. I live very close to where it is, I think it would take me about 30 minutes to walk there. One thing that I really like about G! is that they always have great bands that you might never have heard about otherwise, they are good at doing their homework on up-and-coming acts, and they always have good headliners as well. I think that the G! Festival has had an huge impact on Faroese music over the years because they usually have bands from all over the world. I would recommend visiting the Faroe Islands in the days of the G! festival. I’m looking very much forward to play at the G! festival.