Artist Hörður Torfason is not only well known for his music. He´s also known for being the first gay man to come out to the public in a famous interview in 1975 which left the nation in a total shock and forced him to leave the country. Influenced by the international liberation movement. Hörður Torfason played an important role in the foundation of Samtökin ´78, The Lesbian and Gay Organisation of Iceland. After braking the silence Iceland was not the same. In a Gayice.is interview (2004) Hörður talks about the past, present and upcoming projects.
Gayice: Hi Hordur, how are you this morning?
HT: Hello, I am a bit confused and nervous as always on the last days of a project - but otherwise fine, thank you.
Gayice: Now tell me a little bit about your upcoming project...you're working on a new CD right?
HT: A little bit (laughs) it's a project I have been working on for the past 11 months, so what can I say? It's almost finished (laughs). No, really it's the second out of five CD's in a fairytale I am telling, based on my experience with life. The first one Eldssaga dealt with my issues in life as an artist. It's a part of my conversation that has been going on for the past thirty years with my nation about the variations in human life. That one was an ode to love and freedom. The new CD I am finishing these days is called 'Ælandssöngvar' (Songs from Æland ) and is my ode to the theatre. My audience know what I am talking about since I have been doing these kind of songs off and on since 1975. But listening to them on a CD or experience them in a concert are two different things. I am after all an actor.
Gayice: What can your audience expect to hear?
HT: An unusual CD with 12 different characters from the island 'Æ'. They are parodies on human nature. Based on the fact that where the sun shines there is a shadow. And please keep in mind the symbols of the theatre, the masks of happiness and sorrow, laughter and tears.
Gayice: Will this CD be in any way different from your earlier CDs?
HT: Not really as I see it. All my CD´s have been statements and this one certainly is. But I must add that working with Vilhjálmur Guðjónsson who is an arranger and a brilliant musician has lifted the quality of my music. He has really made a big difference for me in last 4 CD´s.
Gayice: How many CDs have you released?
HT: This is number 24
Gayice: When is the new CD being released?
HT: Sometime this autumn, I am working on it once I get to Iceland.
Gayice: Where do you get the inspiration for your music?
'Loving life is my inspiration'
HT: Loving life is my inspiration. I write a lyric and the song is just in the words and comes with the meaning of it. I guess that is what specialists define as folk music, so mine is modern folk music. It comes straight from the heart.
Gayice: Do you think being gay has influenced your work? Where are your roots?
HT: I am gay and so of course it has influenced my work. It´s really is the root of all my work although I haven't placed emphasis on it. Thirty years ago when I, as a known artist having on my repertoire LP´s, films, theatre and so on, outed myself and shocked a whole nation and had to go in exile for years, it became very clear to me that I didn't have to mention the word 'gay'. Ever since then my works have dealt with the complexity of human nature.
Gayice: You've been involved in the fighting for the rights of gays and lesbians in Iceland for a long time and the first one to come out in Iceland...what in your opinion has changed the most since the early days of the gay right movement in Iceland?
'People where afraid, they used masks to cover their faces in public'
HT: Ok, I was the first one to "come out" in Iceland and it took me more than three years to make a small group of people to understand that we needed an organization and I managed to put that together with hard work. People were really afraid in those days and for few more years nobody dared to show their face in public as a gay person except I. People used masks to cover their faces in public. Would anybody really care today if you are gay or not? I don't think so. Unless the fanatical religious people, but then again you never reason with those people. This tells you everything.
Gayice: Is it your role as an artist to engage and address the issues concerning the rights of gays and lesbian in our society...to you think you're obliged to do so?
HT: I have always dealt with the issue of human rights. Society means complexity and that includes the rights of gays and lesbians as everything else. My very existence as an artist is to deal with these matters.
Gayice: Now, you've been around for a long time...do you feel you and your music changed a lot during those years or is it still the same old Hordur doing his thing?
HT: I am older and I have changed in every way so has my music and my lyrics.
Gayice: What do your audience think?
HT: The people who listen to what I do tell me that I was good in the beginning but I am much better today. And I like to believe them!
Gayice: Those familiar to you and your music know you're a hard working artist doing numerous concert each year around Iceland...will this year be in any way different?
HT: Nope. I have been through months of bad illness which has kept me from performing. But that period is over now and I feel fresh and ready to start performing again in September.
I have always been a "One man Theatre"
Gayice: I think you've said that you're more of an actor than a musician...what do you mean by that?
HT: I am a professional actor who chose to go out of the Established Theatre and write my own play. I have since then been a "One man Theatre".
Gayice: Well, I'll let you go now. Anything you want to share with us in the end?
HT: As an artist who has to finance all his production I ask people to buy my production, not to steal it by copying it. By doing so you are killing the artist.
Gayice: Thank you.
HT: Thank you!
If you want to know more about Hordur and his work the best thing to do is to send him email -
© GayIce 2004