A textbook example of a conversation, a peculiarly Faroese characteristic: talking about family, homeland and the meaning of life, which is what we did on that very day, and Høgni Reistrup certainly has picked an adequate place, the village of Funningur on Eysturoy. According to the Færeyinga Saga, the first settler in the Faroe Islands was a Norwegian Viking named Grímur Kamban, but: the unknown Færeyinga-Saga-author (or the overworked team of writers responsible) got mixed up back then, I have absolutely no idea why, wittingly or unwittingly confusing the issue. Because: there’s also talk of Irish monks being the first settlers in the windswept Faroe Islands, and the name Kamban indicates Celtic origin, according to what researchers say, therefore: what a mess. Anyway, local tradition has it that Grímur Kamban settled in Funningur, the village we are situated at the moment, and that’s pretty exciting to known while you’re driving these village streets, no matter whether or not Grímur has been the first settler who did arrive.
Høgni and I meet at something typical Faroese, a house that stays in the family, that gets passed down from generation to generation, his girlfriend’s grandfather has been the teacher in Funningur, Faroese, history and math, Høgni tells me, that’s the link, and the house is where everyone gathers together at Christmas time, carrying on the family custom. Another typical Faroese feature: a home with a splendid view. At the back: sloping meadows, a long, curvy road and mountains. Living room window to front: Framing the village and the fjord. Høgni Reistrup has lived abroad for many years, Aarhus, Copenhagen, Dublin, he holds a master’s degree in media studies, has i.a. worked as a communication consultant at Christiansborg Palace, advising politicians on the use of digital media, before he decided to return to his home country, now he works for the Tórshavnar Kommuna. Høgni has also set up the booking portal “Guide to Faroe Islands“ recently, “the largest collaboration in the travel industry in the Faroe Islands.“
“Being back in the Faroe Islands gives me the freedom to be able to do different things“, he says. A mechanic who is also a fisherman, carpenter and artist? Quite natural in the Faroes. When it comes to Høgni: singer, musician, writer, editor, reporter, scientist, advocate of Faroese independence and Faroese language enthusiast. “I really like the Faroese lifestyle“, he states. “People stop and talk to each other, also in the capital. You feel at home, even in the streets of Tórshavn. And a lot of things are just happening without being put into a tight schedule beforehand.“ Silence, both of us looking out of the living room’s panorama window. Next, Høgni saying: “Once people turn 70, they don’t look back and say: I wish I’d worked more hours. They say: I wish I’d spent more time with my kids.“
Just like any creative person, Høgni constantly takes care of his projects, including his music. “I have had rough sketches, and I have been working on them during the past few months, and I did record more sequences of sounds and song sketches. I have always put my mind to albums, not single releases. I want people to take time to listen to my music. I want them to sit down in the evening hours and listen to the whole album. It might be the old fashioned way, since everything is fast nowadays. But it’s what I like.“ Driving back home, I take my time. A villager passes by, his border collie bouncing around the truck bed of a pickup. A goose sounds out the situation. I check out the mountain road, but it’s too slippery to drive. Back to the main road. Once more, I drive past Funningur, thinking of Grímur Kamban, him coming around the corner. Pure imagination, though. Maybe it’s better that way. Think we both would be scared to death.