NES Skagaströnd Iceland Residency

What If is an exploration of hope and connection through music composition at NES Artist Residency in Skagaströnd, Iceland from March 6 to April 30, 2023.

My residency takes place in a small remote fishing village called Skagaströnd in northern Iceland facing Greenland that has relied on fishing as means of survival since Iceland was settled. Over the last two decades there has been a decline of their fishing stocks and NES international artist residency was founded in 2008 with the idea that the arts could help revitalize the local economy. The NES studios, located at Fjörubraut 8, are housed in what once was the main fish processing plant of Skagaströnd. This spring, 13 artists from all over the world have been accepted to be a part of the residency. I’m representing Canada amongst 13 international artists from multiple disciplines and have already connected with a painter from Sweden, and a poet from USA.

The world is a much darker place coming out of the pandemic, seeing the consequences of climate change, suffering in Afghanistan and Ukraine and divisiveness in politics resulting in distrust and disconnection.

I’m looking to explore the possibilities of hope, wonder, embodiment and connection through my project What If. Personally I want to connect with artists working in styles and genres that open my mind. My goal is to create new relationships with the potential to collaborate with another artist working in another medium. I also have connected with the music school and am going to share my Canadian multi-genre style of composing and performing with the local community through workshops and performances.

The goal of this project is to ask one “What if” question each week. The questions can be fun, serious, or silly, but the aim is to use them as prompts for creating a body of work. Over the course of the first month, I will work on creating various pieces of content in response to these questions. Then, in the final month of the residency, I will compile the best examples into a cohesive project or album, accompanied by design and video elements.

Examples are:
What if you could do one thing to make a difference, what would it be?
What if you woke up and realized you were the only person on earth?
What if you could magically change one thing about yourself?
What if we were only allowed to talk in rhymes?

My personal musical development goals are to experiment with different songwriting techniques and visual elements using software Ableton Live voice, violin, found sound from the landscape interplaying with synthesized soundscapes. I intend to challenge myself creatively by exploring new musical territory while developing my songwriting and performance skills in order to create a new collection of original songs that showcase my versatility as a musician.

I’d like to connect with my audience on a deeper level by exploring thought-provoking themes and questions and would like to share a unique and innovative perspective.

This project is relevant right now because of the need for connection in a local and global way to create bridges and share ideas with people from other countries, cultures and artistic practices. We’re shifting from the solitude of working alone during the pandemic and isolation while being part of a global online masses to finding real in person connections and collaborating.

NES is process-oriented residency that strives to cultivate an environment where artists can craft their experience as they wish; whether that may be through conceptual development, research, or intervention and experimentation, artists have the utmost creative freedom while in residence at NES.

They provide a safe space where all art forms, intellectual and creative pursuits, methods of artistic investigation, and aesthetic inquiry are accepted, nurtured, and celebrated.

My plan is to take the time to learn and be inspired by the work of the other artists in the residency, to see how the inspiration from sculpting and painting can influence my music, to potentially go beyond sharing and collaborate in a way I’ve not imagined before.

NES has an intimate relationship with the community of Skagaströnd and encourages and welcomes community engagement, and places emphasis on collaboration of all kinds. NES has facilitated me teaching at the music school once a week and an opportunity to integrate with the community.

This small international community in a physically isolated location will shape my exploration and musical compositions.

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