sunnudagur, febrúar 04, 2007

Emiliana Torrini by Desmond Sampson (2000)

Emiliana Torrini

Desmond Sampson

June 2000

Iceland - a country rich in contradictions - where volcanoes and glaciers clash, where the sun illuminates the Midnight sky in summer, or scarcely shines in winter.

Emiliana Torrini - a 23 year old romantic - is as riddled with contradictions as her homeland. Half Icelandic and half Italian, her clash of cultures has made her a melting-pot of diva and dilettante, minx and moralist, realist and idealist.

'I'm completely contradictory, very schizophrenic,' laughs Emiliana. 'I never know what I want. One minute I need my own space and isolation, then I crave company and want to party like an animal for two months. I'm very good at surprising people.'

Surprising people is exactly what Emiliana Torrini has been doing since her astonishing debut single, Dead Things, was released. A rare mix of passion and poignancy, it signaled the emergence of a bold new talent. Her follow-up singles, To Be Free, Baby Blue and Easy, from her remarkable debut album, Love In the Time of Science, have further emphasized her artistry.

'Music should be intimidating, scary and beautiful at the same time,' says Emiliana. 'It should be like falling down, on your bum, and not knowing if you should laugh or cry.'

With its unusual mix of the cerebral and visceral, the extraordinary and everyday, Love In The Time of Science, manages to do just that. It's blissful one moment, bereft the next, playfully combining cinematic melodrama with moments of whimsy, all filtered through Emiliana's own unique perspective.

'I am like a filter for everything I've seen and heard,' nods Emiliana in agreement. 'I like observing people, then making up stories about them. If I go to a party, or to a restaurant, I'll sit there all night watching everyone and inventing their life stories.'

'I've always been like that,' she smiles. 'When I was a child I used to sit for hours making up poems and stories. I still do. I think my childhood memories and these stories have a lot to do with my music.'

They also have a lot to do with Emiliana's growing popularity - already 60,000 converts cherish a copy of Love In The Time Of Science. Similarly, her live performances are always captivating and invariably sold-out affairs. In fact, on her recent European tour hundreds of fans had to be turned away, every night, from her French and German gigs.

Emiliana's endearing personality has evoked an equally positive response from the media. Already she's graced countless magazine covers and is a firm favourite of Dutch, French, German, Italian and Scandinavian radio, who've play-listed her singles.

She appears unfazed by the increasing attention and adoration. In fact, Emiliana's taken it all in her stride, as if she's a seasoned pro rather than a newcomer.

'I think it's because I'm from a country where we're encouraged to do anything we want. There's an attitude of let's do it,' so we do!' she explains. 'Perhaps it's because in Iceland there are so many opportunities. We have so much space, and so much freedom, that we think we can be more daring. We always think everything is so easy, even if it isn't.

'I love singing and really enjoy performing live,' adds Emiliana. 'If I could, that's all I'd do every night for the rest of my life!

'But it's weird because although I like being onstage, I'm a stupid blend of a performer and a shy person. I can get up onstage and really sing - give it everything - but at the same time I'm completely terrified.

That's precisely the reaction Emiliana had when she recently supported Sting, for four nights, at his sell-out concerts in London's famous Royal Albert Hall. It's hardly surprising though, because she was performing before 10,000 people - the largest audience she's ever played in front of.

'That was really scary, but also really exciting,' she grins. 'I've always dreamed of playing there - and suddenly I was! It was so amazing. But I also realised while I was there that I was only there supporting someone, which isn't enough for me. I won't be happy until I get to play venues like that by myself!

That's not arrogance, but Emiliana's belief in herself and her music convictions that made her leave the band she was a member of back in Iceland.

'I found being in a band too frustrating because I was always having to compromise,' she admits. 'I didn't like that because I don't want to do things for the wrong reasons, or because people think I should do something in a certain way.

'I just want to play the music I want to play and make it the way I want to make it because what I do is simply about making music, not being a superstar,' she explains. 'I've always felt that way.'

The result of her strong convictions can be heard to startling affect on Love In the Time of Science. It's one of the most beguiling debuts in recent memory and confirms Emiliana Torrini as a gifted songstress, rather than just another run-of-the mill, female vocalist. It's also an album that never fails to surprise and delight, as the brilliant new single, Unemployed In Summertime, shows set for release in early August.

Add a busy line-up of summer festivals, including performances in Germany (Southside, Hurricane and SWR), Belgium (Dour), France (Eurokeenes), Holland (Metropolis), Switzerland (Montreaux), and the UK (V2000) and Emiliana certainly won't be unemployed in summertime this year!

So, if the last year has been a good one for Emiliana Torrini, the next year looks like being even better for her. And although she isn't a household name, yet, with her captivating vocals, enchanting performances and another dazzling single set for release, this Icelandic minx soon will be.


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