Teitur has written one of my all-time favourite lyrics and his music is much adored by all of us writers. From the first time I heard I Was Just Thinking, the moving lyrics of “I think about long distance rates instead of kissing you babe; I’m a singer without a song. If I wait for you longer, my affection is stronger. I, I was just thinking, merely thinking, this boat is sinking” completely captivated me and I’ve been a fan ever since. When I listen to his music, it’s like an advanced piece of poetry being sung into my ears. The musical experience he is able to give (not only on record but also live) provides me with one of the most inspirational and divine emotions I’ve ever felt. Here talks his own music, collaborations, songwriting and a lot of Happy Birthday! …I give you an interview with Teitur Lassen!
AMBY: You’ve just released your first EP Four Songs, is that a teaser for an upcoming album or are they tracks everyone needs to hear?
TL: It’s an collection I made for this tour with simple accompaniment. A teaser, I don’t know. It’s just four songs that you can listen to.
AMBY: Let the Dog Drive Home is a lovely album filled with inspired songs. What’s the real story behind Freight Train?
TL: That song is actually not about something that happened in reality, but it’s about a subject that means a lot to me. I sing it for my father and for parents who wish for their children to do all those things that they never did.
AMBY: That’s a lovely purpose behind a song. You’ve toured in many different corners of the world, what are some of your favourites to play?
TL: I love coming back to places where I’ve had many good times and where my friends live. Toronto is indeed a favourite since one of my best friends lives there. I’ve also had the great pleasure of having all my belongings stolen in one of your fine taxi services. I went to the Danish Embassy the next morning with nothing but 40 dollars in my pocket and said I would like a new passport and identity, please. Miraculously, there was a girl in the embassy who I went to school with, so she vouched for me. Toronto. Good people at the embassy. Bad taxi drivers.
AMBY: Oh wow, well come back to Toronto whenever you want because we’d all love to see you again. …But watch out for the taxi services! Who would be your dream collaboration?
TL: No idea…. When I hear something great I don’t necessarily get the urge to want to collaborate. I like to go on my own path and I wish for other artists that they go on their own path. Usually my collaborations are start from the fact that I need help to get to some place – in short, I prefer practical collaborations. I don’t mind going on someone else’s journey though. The idea of me doing a track with… let’s say Apex Twin in some studio in Copenhagen… is fun, but I don’t really see the point. I’d much rather listen to Apex Twin doing his thing that only he can do – whatever sounds mostly like him. My favourite collaboration so far has gotta be Nico Muhly, I’ve learnt so much from him and he is very smart and so much fun to be around. I also write with lots of songwriters because I love making songs and I’m interested in the process. I mostly like to work with those in my community.
AMBY: When we saw you in Toronto I watched one of the most unique performances I’ve ever seen! Especially your a capella rendition of The Singer. What’s one of your favourite concert experiences?
TL: That’s wonderful to hear! I saw one of my favourite singers Little Jimmy Scott in London once, for me, that was special. I also witnessed a British performer take his entire audience for a walk around the neighborhood. I was the opener. It was literally just me and the sound guy in the empty venue looking at each other going going “huh?”
AMBY: You played a version of Great Balls of Fire live, what other songs would you love to cover?
TL: I’m about to record a cover of Bye, Bye Love in a couple of days. I like old rock’n’roll songs. I seldom sing other people’s songs, though.
AMBY: And one of my all-time favourite songs is I Was Just Thinking. Which songs would you say are your all-time favourites?
TL: Hmm… I’m gonna be boring and say Happy Birthday To You because that is literally the perfect song.
AMBY: Where would you go in a time machine?
TL: Bearing in mind that everything tends to get more and more complex as time goes by, I’d probably want go backwards – I think that simpler is always an improvement.
AMBY: Smart, and what would you say is the best song of 2012 so far?
TL: I seldom listen to radio and don’t really have a finger on the what’s-hip-and-cool pulse. Best song I heard this year was probably Happy Birthday To You, it keeps winning every year!
AMBY: Who inspires you as a songwriter?
TL: I get inspired by stuff that moves me. When someone tells me something important, honest and insightful. For me it’s all about where it’s coming from – the intention. I look for it in everything, not just in music. It’s gotta be pure and generous. Food is also very inspiring to me. I know, I sound like a total douchebag right now.
AMBY: And that leads me to our next question, how do you think your song writing has evolved over the years?
TL: I try to get better and better at what I do and I feel like I am just beginning to get pretty good. I feel like my career has just begun even though I’ve been releasing records worldwide for almost nine years. In the last few years I have been mostly taking on projects that I know will make me better, so that I can improve my work. I look at it as an investment in my career and I’m fine with the idea that I’m not hot stuff and famous. I believe that writing is 25% inspiration and 75% intellectual process. It’s hard work, but the most fun I can think of. I’m lucky to have an audience which allows me to keep developing. I think in 20 years there is a slight chance that I could be pretty bad ass. I’m just getting the hang of it.
AMBY: And lastly, what’s something that nobody knows about you?
TL: In general, nobody knows anything about me. I sometimes wear baseball caps when I write. Again, for practical reasons. To keep the sun out of my eyes.
Haven’t heard any of his lovely tracks yet? Then take a listen below to I Was Just Thinking off his first album Poetry & Aeroplanes. Teitur doesn’t just deliver gorgeous songs, but also a concert I will never forget! And of course I have to say thank you very much Teitur, for giving me your answers!