News & Dates
When will we be able to do live performances and join in live sessions again?
But when we can,
I will be ready, willing and able.
The events of the past year have left me with plenty of time to think about what a sustainable future live music scene could be like.
For my part, I don't want to 'go back to normal.' I want to go forward to new and better ways of doing things, that do not cost us the earth and wreck the planet in the process. We cannot carry on jetting around the place in the 'old normal' way. Living here in Iceland, thousands of kilometers from anywhere, with a national population the size of a small European city, that presents a special set of problems, but we have to find creative ways to find solutions.
For me that could mean smaller intimate scale local events, both indoors (house concerts anybody?), feasts, good old fashioned folk club scale events, and out doors garden concerts, camp fires, tailor made performances in special locations in the countryside, and so on. I have always really valued the sense of community and sharing that the best of the folk scene has offered. Our music works best at the scale and in the kinds of settings that it grew out of.
a new music streaming platform
Whatever we musicians may think about streaming, it seems pretty obvious to me that it is going to be the technology that most people will be using to access recorded music for the foreseeable future. The actual process has plenty going for it. It removes a lot of plastic from the environment and cuts out a load of shipping and warehousing costs. Mind you, those servers are using a lot of megawatts and they come with their own significant environmental impacts.
A well known and much discussed big problem with streaming services, is that the income they generate is very unfairly distributed. For the artists that make the actual music that they stream, the income they generate is very small indeed. Another problem is the way that their algorithms define people's listening choices.
My son Simon Metson in England is developing a new music streaming project. It is called Audiotarky and it aims to put fairness and privacy in front of algorithms, advertisers and shareholders, while keeping a close eye on its environmental impact.
With technical development now in place, Audiotarky is open for artists to sign up. This is not an exclusive deal, so you can have your music on as many other platforms as you like. If Spotify floats your boat, you are welcome to carry on collecting the crumbs that come your way.
Bára and I are putting our music on Audiotarky on the basis that, besides making our streaming fortunes Ha Ha! we want to help Simon test his ideas. We have nothing to lose, so why not?
The success or otherwise of Audiotarky will obviously depend on building up a great catalogue of diverse music and, along with that, an ever growing subscriber base.
You can check out Audiotarky at:
Solo art exhibition i Reykjavík
Alongside my work as a musician, I have always been involved in visual arts work. For many years I worked as a community artist and played an active role in the UK's community arts movement. Among a whole range of projects, I worked on large scale murals, both painted and mosaic, made photographic exhibitions developed and used portable photo-silkscreen equipment with a big variety of community groups.
Since moving to Iceland, I have been working on domestic scale paintings and drawings. In November 2020 I held my first painting exhibition in forty years at the Gallery Grásteinn in Reykjavík.
I am now hard at work preparing a new show for November 2021, when I will be holding an exhibition at the the Society of Artists' gallery in Reykjavík.
A new Funi album
Bára and I have started work on making a new album of Icelandic songs. We have been casting our net wide and collecting together songs and rímur extracts that are very little, if at all, known and Bára has also been writing new tunes for some of the texts. This process of discovering and then arranging hidden riches is one of the things that I love about working with traditional music, whether it's from England or Iceland.
We are adding a new dimension to this album project. As well as our usual song arrangements, with langspil, Íslensk fiðla, kantele and harmony vocals, we are working with our friend Buzby Birchall of Hidden Sounds to make special recordings in the Icelandic landscape. We have made many hours of recordings in locations connected with the songs, so the sounds of the earth, water and air that the songs first sprung from will be embedded throughout the album, like veins of minerals through rock.
On the third Tuesday of each month, Bára and I run an open singing session in downtown Reykjavík. The idea behind the session is to create a welcoming space and opportunity for people to come and sing and learn songs together. In particular, we have focused on the unique Icelandic, two voice harmony songs called tvísöngur.
The sessions are held in the former home of Benedikt Gröndal, a 19th century Icelandic, writer (including rímur), naturalist, artist and all round cultural activist.
Vaka Folk Festival
From 2015 - 18, along with Rúna Ingimundardóttir, I was a co-founder and the programme co-ordinator of the Vaka Folk Arts Festival, in Akureyri in the north of Iceland, with the aim of building a community and creating opportunities to sing, play, dance and listen to Icelandic traditional music, and folk music from further afield.
In 2019 Vaka was moved to Reykjavík, where Linus Orri Gunnarsson Cederborg and I gathered together an organising group, made up of people active in the emerging folk / roots music community in the area. We held a very enjoyable, small scale weekend event, with a focus on people coming together to share music and ideas for the future.
Iceland does not have an established 'folk scene' or network of players, promoters and venues along the lines found in many other European countries. Building those networks takes a lot of time and energy from a lot of people, and over the past few years there have been exciting signs of 'green shoots' emerging and things starting to happen here. I am committed to playing what part I can in this exciting process.
BBC Folk Awards nomination 2018
The track 'The life of a man / Greensleeves' on my 2017album Hadelin, was nominated as Best Traditional Track in the BBC Folk Awards.
You can listen to it right here.
PERFORMANCE DATES 2021
Concert at Kex Hostel,
July 12th - 18th
Kaustinen Folk Festival,
Thursday 21st - Sunday 24th October
Nordic Harp Meeting
Monday 1st - Sunday 28th November
Solo exhibition of paintings at
Booking now for 2021 and beyond
To enquire about booking either Chris Foster solo or in the duo Funi with Bára Grímsdóttir send us an email direct from the contacts page.
Who reaps the Profit?
Who pays the Price?
Filmed by Matt Quinn at my gig at Shakespeares, Sheffield,
17th September 2017.
Bára and I performing at Nordic Harp Meeting in Estonia 2017
The Nordic Harp Meeting is an extremely useful and inspiring annual meeting, known to its regular attendees as the Nerdic Harp Meeting. The meeting brings together skilled and expert performers, teachers and researchers, who are all involved in making music with a big variety of old stringed instruments, such as lyres, kantele, hummel, langspil, langeleik, jouhikko and of course more varieties of harp than you can shake a stick at.
Living in Iceland, we are very isolated from the range of skills and expertise that we are able to access at NHM. To be able to meet with all these people under one roof is a great privilege, and we try to go as often as possible. The meeting takes place in a different country each year. In 2017 it gave us our first opportunity to visit Estonia. In 2018 we met in Lund, Sweden. Sadly, the 2019 meeting in Gjøvik, Norway, clashed with a booking at the Baring-Gould Folk Festival in England. We really enjoyed taking part in the 2020 meeting, which was very successfully held on-line. We joined up with participants from Czech Republic in the south to the very north of Norway and from Estonia in the east to the USA in west.
Great though it was to see many good friends, Zoom is no substitute for meeting in person, so we have fingers toes and everything else firmly crossed in the hope of meeting in Albertslund, Denmark in October 2021.
The Cruel Mother as ballad dance. Connecting with our northern roots at Nordic Harp Meeting in Viljandi, Estonia. October 21st 2017
video by Katja Nyuppieva
Going global, flowing with the stream
My two vinyl albums for Topic Records (Layers -1977 and All Things in Common - 1979) have been on Spotify for some time, since Topic Records digitised their back catalogue. .
I have now added all my CD albums to multiple streaming platforms as well, so Traces - 1999, Jewels - 2004, Outsiders - 2008 and Hadelin - 2017 are all available, not just on Spotify, but also on iTunes, Amazon, Deezer, Youtube Sound Recording and a bunch of others worldwide that I've never heard of such as Akazoo, Claro Música, Kanjian, Zvooq and Shazam to name but a few.
The two albums that I have made under the Funi duo name with Bára Grímsdóttir (Funi - 2004 and Flúr - 2013) are also out there.
I doubt that the combined income from all this will run to a Mars bar, but you never know, somebody in South America or Russia might discover the delights of hearing Lord Bateman, The Seeds of Love or some traditional Icelandic songs.
Funi standing by some lava on a cold April day.
You can see the snow storm coming behind us.