Elin Brimheim Heinesen
… was born in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands, in 1958. This Biography is about Elin’s carreer as an amateur musician. To read more about her professional carrer, click here.
Elin is a Faroese singer and songwriter, who has been on and off the musical scene on the Faroe Islands since the seventies. She is a soloist but has performed with several other artists from time to time – the cowork with Faroese composer/producer Kári Jacobsen being the most well known, with whom she published their debut album Nalja in 1988. Though she hasn’t been very productive as a composer her published music has none the less been very well received and popular in her home land.
First public appearances
The first time the public ever heard Elin sing was when she was 6 years old. She sang a Faroese children’s song – “Nú fiskur er á grunninum” by Hans Andrias Djurhuus – in a children’s programme on the Faroese public radio station. But her first real public appearance on stage as a singer was when she was 16 years old in a play at the theatre in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands, where she sang a Faroese version of the song “Streets of London” by Ralph McTell translated or rewritten by herself, which became popular and has been recorded with her lyrics by various other Faroese bands a couple of times since then.
After this performance she was asked to participate in a live radio entertainment show called “V4″ in the Faroese public radio. She became well known by the Faroese public these years, because she toured the Faroe Islands with the other performers on the radio show and was heard singing on the radio every Saturday evening in the wintertime for almost three years. It’s worth to mention that there was no TV on the Faroe Islands these years – not until 1981 – so everybody listened to the radio.
The legendary Tórshavn Jazz Club
In the late seventies Elin was involved in forming the first Jazz Club in Tórshavn – a legendary club, which not only presented jazz but all kinds of rhythmic music. The jazz club became a reknown place many Faroese musicians still remember with gratitude because it offered them an opportunity to play and listen to music never heard live before in Tórshavn. Furthermore several foreign bands and musicians were invited to the Faroe Islands to play at the jazz club, which was very inspiring for Faroese musicians.
At that time Elin played music with some of her classmates – Ívar Bærentsen, guitar, and Bergur Hansen, flute – she sang and played the piano herself. She also began composing her own music mostly in folk tradition with inspiration from jazz and blues, and performed several times in the jazz club – also with other musicians.
First jazz record ever recorded in the Faroe Islands
Elin appeared in 1977 on the first jazz LP ever made in the Faroe Islands “Jazz í Føroyum 1″ (TUTL HJF 1) on the track “Hundasjúku blues” (Hangover blues) composed by Kristian Blak, which is one of the songs that has stayed the longest ever on the Top 15 hit list in the Faroe Islands (aprx. 20 weeks). The album was recorded in the legendary Faroese music producer Milson Zachariassen’s studio in his cellar.
The same year (1977) Elin appeared on a record for children “Nu ska’ vi u å sejle” [TUTL HJF 3] 1977 with the band Kræklingar and others with music made by Kristian Blak. She sang Girafsangen (“The Giraf Song”)
In the summer of 1977 Elin went on tour in Scotland, Orkneys and Shetland where she was a part of a group of Faroese folk dancers and a folk band. She also performed on stage herself with guitar player Ívar Bærentsen and bass player Kolbein Simonsen and sang some of her own songs and some of Ívar Bærentsens songs. The concerts were popular especially in Orkney and Shetland where all tickets were sold out at all the concerts .
Elin has contributed to several albums
Since then Elin has participated as a singer (mostly as backing choir) on several music album recordings with various artists. The best known album is “Blátt” by Jákup Marner Antoniussen, where she – among other songs – sang duet with Jákup Marner in the hit song “Tú og eg”.
Another duet song also became a hit on the Faroe Islands – “Meg minnist eina mynd” by Hans Andrias Djurhuus, which Elin sang together with Jógvan Telling.
She also sang choir on the hit song “Lítli fuglur” by Anfinn T. Hansen.
Elin has also sung several popular childrens songs on the Faroese public radio.
In the mid-eighties she was living in Århus in Denmark – for a short while she sang and played keyboards in a heavy rock band with the brothers Kaj & Karl Anton Klein a.o. and participated on a recording (published as MC) with them.
A musical / theatre performer
In the early eighties Elin performed as a singer in the music theatre play “Seymistovan” which played for full houses more than forty times.
She appeared singing on a theatre stage again in 1993, where she played a role in “Glataðu Spælimenninir” (The Lost Musicians) based on the novel of the same title by Faroese famous author William Heinesen. This took place at the Nordic House in Tórshavn.
The two man pop band NALJA
In 1984 Elin and Faroese composer/producer Kári Jacobsen met at a party. Elin was 26 years old at the time, and Kári only 16! Even though they were ten years apart and came from very different musical backgrounds, they found out that their chemistry was perfect.
Shortly after they formed a two man pop band “Elin & Kári”, and in the summer of 1988 they published an album on music cassette called “Nalja” on the Faroe Islands. They wrote, composed and arranged all the music themselves, but Faroese legendary music producer, Óli Poulsen, helped them produce the album.
There were 10 tracks on the album. 5 by Kári Jacobsen and 5 by Elin Heinesen. Here are samples of the 10 tracks on Nalja:
“Á, tann deiliga Havn” by Kári Jacobsen:
“Sjeikurin” by Elin Heinesen:
“Loyndarmálið” by Elin Heinesen:
“Hygg at mær” by Kári Jacobsen:
“Eitt dýpi av dýrari tíð” by Elin Heinesen:
“Ansa eftir” by Kári Jacobsen:
“Livandi ljós” by Kári Jacobsen
“Eydnan” by Elin Heinesen:
“Øgiliga væl” by Elin Heinesen:
“Aftaná” by Kári Jacobsen:
All the tracks – more or less – have been hit songs, and have gotten a lot of airplay on Faroese radio stations. And still do. Every Faroese knows these songs.
After many requests it was decided to republish “Nalja” on CD in the summer of 1998 as a celebration of the 10 years anniversary of the album, published by the Faroese record company, called TUTL. On the CD were all the old tracks + a bonus track: “Heimlongsul” with music by Kári Jacobsen – and lyrics by Elin:
Elin & Kári go their separate ways – and meet again
Elin & Kári appeared on stage several times – including two times at the big concerts at the Faroese national holiday, Ólavsøka (Sct. Olavs Wake), which takes place every year before crowds of thousands of people.
Elin & Kári had planned to publish a second album in 1992 “NALJA II”, but at that time the Faroe Islands were hit by a very severe economic crisis, which made it impossible to finance the production of a new album. After that they became busy with other things in their lives and went their separate ways.
Kári is a successful music composer and producer in Denmark today, and is the man behind many of the jingles, trailer songs or theme songs in popular TV programmes on Danish TV, as well as the man behind very popular pop acts – like the Faroese girl pop band Popp Korn some years ago, and the pop band Faroe 5. The albums of these two groups are some of the best selling albums ever on the Faroe Islands.
In 2012 Elin & Kári performed together again on stage for the first time in 20 years. They were asked by the arrangers of the Faroe Pride if they were willing to perform together again – and thereby support gay rights and the gay community in the Faroes. Of course, they said yes, and then NALJA was recreated! They had a great performance with a full band in front of an audience of several thousands of people.
Here is an excerpt from the concert:
A couple of days later, the two music veterans, Elin & Kári, played another concert at Ólavsøka (Sct. Olavs Wake, the national holiday in the Faroes) in front of an even bigger crowd of more than 10.000 people.
These were very touching and nostalgic moments, because everyone was singing along with the old, popular NALJA-songs at the two concerts.
Elin’s most popular song
“EITT DÝPI AV DÝRARI TÍÐ” (In english: “An abyss of precious time”) is the title of one of the most popular songs on the Nalja album. Elin wrote and arranged the music to the song, and her father, the Faroese author Jens Pauli Heinesen, wrote the lyrics.
In 2002 the song was rearranged by the Danish Film composer Søren Hyldgaard and was recorded with City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra under conduction of Mario Klemens. Elin sang as a soloist backed up by Tórshavnar Manskór (Tórshavn Mens Choir) under conduction of Bjarni Restorff. The song was published in a TV film about Elin’s father – the author Jens Pauli Heinesen shown on Faroese public TV to celebrate his 70 years birthday. This song has been said to be a milestone in Faroese music history.
Read more about it here.
Listen to the original version of the song:
Listen to the symphonic version of the song .
Elin’s musical come-back
Elin has not appeared much in public as a musician since the early nineties. She became a mother in 1990, and she has had a busy career in culture administration, marketing and journalism – so she hasn’t had the time nor money to pursue a musical career.
But Elin has made kind of a come back in the summer of 2010, when the album “Yndisløg” was released. In 2005 she went in to the studio to record eight songs together with her uncle Svenn Brimheim, who was a well known guitar player on the Faroe Islands, and with the band he played in, Ad Libitum, which is a very popular easy listening folk band on the Faroe Islands. They planned to record a number of other songs later, and the album was intended to be released in 2006, but Svenn unfortunately died in the spring of 2006, before they could make the rest of the recordings. Later – in 2007 – Elin went into the studio with the rest of the band to record the seven remaining song.
The new album has the title “Yndisløg – Ein ferð aftur í farnar tíðir” (Treasured songs – A trip down memory lane) and contains her, her uncles and mothers favorite cover songs most of them evergreens from the sixties translated to Faroese by herself and others. Eight of the songs were recorded live in a studio at the Faroese public radio station in September 2005 with Svenn and Ad Libitum. The remaining seven tracks were recorded with the band – but without Svenn.
This is what Elin has written on the cover about the CD:
“In 2004, my mother, Maud Heinesen, and her brother, my uncle Svenn Brimheim, were both diagnosed with incurable cancer. My mother had cancer of the lung and Svenn had melanoma skin cancer. So we, the family, could do little more than seek comfort in each other in these hard times. I worked in Denmark at the time, but I tried to come home as often as I could and stay as long as possible. In May, 2005, my mother was paralysed from the chest down and was bed bound after that. I spent much of this period by her bed, singing songs from her youth that I knew she loved. These songs formed an important part of my upbringing as a little girl in the 60s. We agreed that it was strange to see that such great songs had never been translated to Faroese. So I decided to translate or rewrite some of them.
Svenn, who was relatively well at the time, also visited my mother a lot. Sometimes he would bring his guitar and I would sing, just like we used to do when the family gathered together in the past. And then the idea struck me: why don’t Svenn and I record these songs together? We had been talking about recording music together for at least 25 years – without ever doing it – so why not do it now before it was too late? Svenn agreed, and he added a few of his personal favourites to the repertoire. The thought of making a CD didn’t really occur to us – simply recording the songs was the most important thing to us. Both Svenn and I have been working for the Faroese national radio in the past, so I went to them and asked for permission to use their studios. They kindly offered us free use of their studio for two nights.
Unfortunately, my mother didn’t live to hear these recordings – she died on 7 September, 2005. This made me realise even more how important it was to record these songs. Two weeks later, we went into the studios to record.
The first evening when I went to pick up Svenn, he was rehearsing with his band, Ad Libitum, a band with two mandolins, two guitars and a double bass. I went in to meet them. They were playing the song Nánd when I entered and I started singing with them spontaneously. We looked at each other and I think both parties agreed this was a good combination, so I asked them if they would like to join me and Svenn in the studio, hoping that something would come out of it – and it did: the following evening we had recorded eight songs, four of which with all the Ad Libitum members. The songs were recorded live and without any previous rehearsals, but afterwards we agreed that perhaps the recordings were still good enough to release on a CD.
However, eight songs are not enough for a full CD, so we decided to record seven other songs at a later date. I had to return to Denmark where I worked as a magazine editor, but I promised to come back to record the remaining songs. This was a time when Svenn travelled a lot to Denmark for treatment. He used to live with me there and we rehearsed the seven remaining songs. We decided that I should come back home to the Faroe Islands at Easter, 2006, to record these seven songs. Shortly before Easter, however, Svenn’s condition deteriorated fast. I went home but only a few days later, Svenn died.
I know how sad he was about not being able to complete this project. Two days before he died, I promised him to complete the CD together with Ad Libitum and he was very happy to hear that. We managed to keep our promise and I recorded the seven songs with the remaining Ad Libitum members in January, 2007. You’re holding the result in your hands right now.
I have chosen the title Yndisløg – Treasured Songs – because these are songs that I grew up with and which my family loved so much – especially my mother and Svenn. I hope these songs will become favourites for others too, so that they will support this release. If there will be any profits, the Faroese Cancer Association will receive a donation of every sold copy.
I would like to dedicate this CD to the memory of my mother, Maud Heinesen, and my mother’s brother, Svenn Brimheim. I love you.”
Elin Brimheim Heinesen , July 2007
Later Elin hopes there will be a follow up with a solo album – or two maybe – with her own songs, which have been hiding in the drawer for far too long, as she says.