Norwegian artist and scholar Ánde Somby has a chat with Loïc Marszalek about his work and the relationships between his country and Europe.

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Author : Loïc Marszalek

Ánde Somby is a Sami artist. He comes from the Sápmi region – or the part of the world that colonizers called Lapland. Professor at the Faculty of Law at the University of Tromsø, he is specialized in Indigenous Rights Law. He is also an yoiker and aims to promote and defend the Sami culture. You may have seen him performing at TodaysArt, last September, invited by Norwegian Insomnia festival.

Hello Ánde. Does Sami people feel that the world hate them, like you mentioned in your song “Samihate”?

I dont think that the world hates us. On the contrary. The world loves us. The Sámi Hate yoik addresses the local hate against Sámis that appeared in 2011 in Northern Norway and in particular in Tromsø.

How does Sami culture is integrated in the Norwegian culture so far?

In some ways our culture is integrated in a very sad manner. Language death is a huge issue among us, as very many of our people do not speak our language any more. That is a result of a hostile policy towards our nation, our societies and our culture. I wish I could say that one of the nordic countries has been more friendly towards us as they grabbed our lands and waters, but both Norway, Sweden and Finland, not to mention Russia has been playing in the same league so to speak.

How does the success of a Sami artist like John Henrik Fjällgren is perceived by the community?

When the sky is dark, it is good to see stars as John Henrik Fjällgren appearing.

You also exported your music by playing at TodaysArt last September. When we know that, when you were a child, yoiking was not really allowed, is that a kind of achievement to yoik abroad?

It is a great achievement for me personally, and it is good for the yoik, that it still is so vibrant and alive.

You were born and live at the very North of Scandinavia, in the Sápmi. How do you feel connected to the world?

We are the world and the world is us. The small blue beautiful ball that we are situated on is a wonderful place to spend time on.

Do you feel European?

I am definitively European. And the yoik is also European. Imagine for Europe to have this lonely survivor of the Roman Empire and christianity rolling over and killing most of the traditional musical traditions, and then we have one tradition that survived. Yoik is the Stonehenge that is not made of stone but of tones. European tones.

How does the 2016 world events affected you?

2016 is a strange year. In my work I have been interested in propaganda theory for quite a while. For my capacity as a researcher, this year has been gold. It is amazing to see so much propaganda playing out. But as a member of our civilisation it has been sad and discouraging.

Which artist would you suggest to someone who never heard a yoik?

Inga Juuso. She’s the Janis Joplin of Yoik. Ravddas Ravdii is a high peak.

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