Pradžia / Garsas / Sound

Torgeir Vassvik: My music is a fortunate combination of elements from East and West

To my sympathetic and enthusiastic friends in Lietuva: I would like to come back again and again, to play and to meet all the nice people there! Music have always travelled, musicians meet, play and inspire each other, this is how music develops. Today you can travel and explore by internet and records to experience new music. So in the end it is up to your own aesthetics to shape the sound together and the way you introduce it live.

Mindaugas Peleckis
2015 m. Spalio 12 d., 14:48
Skaityta: 378 k.
Torgeir Vassvik: My music is a fortunate combination of elements from East and West

Torgeir Vassvik is a Norwegian Sami musician and composer. Vassvik combines yoik and overtone singing with drumming, traditional instruments, and nature sounds. (


Torgeir Vassvik's interview-talking to 

There is only 8 % of Sámi people who are working with reindeers. The rest 92 % are doing all things that runs a society in Oslo ore in other parts of Sápmi. I come from the coast and on the coast the Sámi culture have met a hard assimilation. The Norwegian authority has had this idea in the past that we must have one people one language one culture. So my parents, my grand parents and I speak only Norwegian, the politics have been successful. But not that successful. Today you can have a grandmother who have stopped to being a Sámi, she's got a daughter who are Norwegian and this daughter got a son who identifies him self as a Sámi. I am a Sámi and today Norwegian is the biggest spoken Sámi language.

I settled in Oslo and have lived here for 23 years. I got children, and you know, for me it is so important to be with them all the time, the family.

I came from the northernmost point of the Norwegian mainland in Sápmi, Gamvik in Finnmark this is a stormy and barren landscape hidden in darkness through the winter. The polar sunlight that flows day and night throughout the summer months never manages to enhance temperatures that normally would be associated with summer. But some days when the ridge of high pressure is over Kola in vest Siberia can it be like + 28 day and night.

There is a stone desert with no trees around, but in Gamvik it is breathtakingly luxuriant in June, July and August. I try to go there as often as I can.I am a coast Sámi artist and my soundscapes mirror this landscape. I grew up here, it was a free life in and open nature with people who are like people all over the world in small groups, interested in small things, big things and people and that is good, but I needed to run out find my group, do my things.

My mother (peace to her memory) told me that I wish to be a Sámi when I was two years old. I am a Sámi and have always had this grand need to express myself and it was natural to do it like I do! I have done music since I was nine. I am a keeper and a renewer of the coastal music tradition and identity. I have played concerts in France, Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Japan, England, Germany, Russia, Sweden, Siberia (Tuva), Belgium, Iceland, Hungary and Norway.

Sámi music in general and our music in particular, have a huge international potential. I have an innovative music project where the unique Sámi joik is the foundation of the unfolding experience. Joik is our traditional music and is possibly the oldest tradition in unbroken use in Europe. Joik is different from other type of vocal expression in this way that you do not sing about a subject you are the subject and it is often performed with a narrow vocal chord. The joik is unique in the way it is traditionaly used, without instrument, but sometimes together with the Sámi drum.

Most of the time it is only the voice alone in the nature.

The sound of nature have been the instrument. And the quality, colour, soundboard of the joik is a reflection of this nature. I have been listen to the oldest recordings of Joik, and this lay in the bottom of my compositions, in this old material I hear equality to music from other circumpolar people. In music and culture from Siberia I find similarity in the world picture, rhythmics and vocal technique that works good together with Sámi joik. My music is acoustic in a free flowing and thriving format, with musicians mastering a broad range of music genres like contemporary, improvisation, pop, and indie rock and everything in between. My music is a fortunate combination of elements from east and west. I have never used electronic instruments in my records, only acoustic instruments and one prepared electric guitar. On the "Sápmi" record I do not add any reverb at all.

And live I have cello, viola, violin, frame drum and icelandic fidle.

My music is often described as powerful, dreamy and innovative, delivering a unique experience to the listener. I perform in a quartet format, and have created a band based on material from the two CD’s "Sáivu" and "Sápmi" and newer pices. This venture has been very successful and I have performed a series of concerts and festivals in France, Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Japan, Germany, England, Sweden, Russia, Siberia (Tuva), Belgium, Iceland, Hungary and Norway.

Every concert is a possibility to do the best one, and every concert is like starting up something new, you meet new people, it is important always to try to keep the music flexible and of course surprise ourselves. I have some shamanistic experience, and this experience is present in all I am doing. And no doubt joik comes from ritual practice. Shamanism is the core in Sámi culture.

The Sámi music today are going in many directions, you have many combinations. Like popjoik, havyjoik, afrojoik, softjoik and so on, I like to do something that sounds and feels different, something that is natural in the development of an indigenous culture like the Sámi.

So for me it has been natural to look to the east. I came to this expression and together with innovative musicians I take it further.

I have always had this grand need to express myself and it became natural to do it like I do now! I have done music since I was nine.

There are nine different Sámi languages in Sápmi (Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia) The biggest is North Sámi and that is the language used by the Sámi Parliament. There are some languages that only a few people speak today, south Sámi is one of them. The Sámi Parliament now have started to focus on this and strengthen the educational establishment.