Hildur Guonadottir; Joker, Photo: Armando Gallo
  • Interviews

HFPA in Conversation: Hildur Guðnadóttir Communicates Through Music

Hildur Guðnadóttir has never questioned her passion for music. The Icelandic musician and composer grew up in a family of musicians and doctors. “When my mother was pregnant with me she was pretty certain that I would become a cellist. At four I started in the Suzuki method. It is a pretty specific method of learning violin or cello because your parents come with you to the group class,” Guðnadóttir tells HFPA journalist Barbara De Oliveira Pinto.

Later she joined some choirs, string orchestras and took private lessons. “As I became a teenager I started playing in pop and rock bands. That is where I started to get an outlet for my curiosity with the music because I didn’t have any restriction and I had no one telling me what I couldn’t do or could do.”

Music became a second language to her. “It was in those years that I really started to understand that the classical path wasn’t really for me. Because for me music is just a way of expressing yourself, it is a way of communicating and a way that I have a much easier way with than words for example.”

She was a lead singer and also played bass, guitar, keyboards, and drums. “When I was growing up in Iceland we didn’t have any internet and it was very difficult to get out of Iceland, so music as a way to hang out with each other.”

When she was in her 20s she moved to Germany as an exchange student in the art academy and started her solo career as well as collaborating with other artists. Later she was asked to compose music for movies and TV shows.

“Personal connection is really important to me. When you have been playing with people for a long time you start to have almost this telepathic communication and it is such a wonderful way of communicating and that is something that I try to work within my compositions. It is like having a conversation with someone and keeping their ears open to learn something. So that’s what I try to do with my music.”

This year two of her scores – Chernobyl and Joker – have gotten more attention than her previous projects. “I try to just approach every single project with as much openness as I can. I think the more open I keep it the more open I can be to listening to how the story needs to be told. I try not to get stuck ever in any one thing, same as I don’t want to limit myself as being only a film composer because of this endless curiosity I have for so many other things.”

Listen to the podcast and hear why she moved to Canada as a kid; why she likes to live in Berlin; if she has worked with her parents; why she likes to collaborate with people she has known for a long time; how she started to compose movies; why composing the score for the TV limited series Chernobyl was a challenge; why it was important to listen to the surroundings of a nuclear power-plant; why it took a year and a half to compose the score for Joker and why she enjoyed it; how she finds themes to her music; how motherhood changed her creative process; how winning an Emmy affected her work; why she is not looking for a new movie to score at the moment; what is she doing next; why she has been listening to Justin Bieber lately; what art means to her, and what is her hobby.