SXSWORLD March Film + Interactive 2011


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Nive Nielsen Brings Indie Folk From the Top of the World by Linda Laban stands out. It is not just her fetching brand of indie pop-folk, which has attracted fans and collaborators in far fl ung and high places. Or the sweetly doleful manner in which Nive (pronounced Neevay) Nielsen delivers her often-twee, old timey blues-tinged songs, either. Rather, it is just highly unlikely that there are many SXSW performers who not only hail from Greenland, as Nielsen does, but who also base a (hopefully) international musical career out of the remote island, where even the benefi ts of the Internet are dogged by transient connections and high fees. "It is diffi cult. Just getting in and out of I t's safe to say that amongst the hundreds of unknown independent artists fl ocking to play SXSW this year, Nive Nielsen Greenland is $2,000. Downloading music means a big bill. It is diffi cult in that sense. But we says speaking from her home in Nuuk, Greenland's capital and largest city (pop. around 17,000). "But at the same time, we love to travel and go places." Just like any artist anywhere, Nielsen, who is a native Inuit, understands that getting her music heard comes down to hitting the proverbial road: "We go out touring for a really, really long stretch and play all over the place. We're pretty much the only ones from Greenland traveling so much. We get to go home for a few months and be here. It's been a nice adventure so far. Traveling and meeting people and doing good shows is what helps [promote] the music." Unknown to the public at large she might be, but it is no small accident that Nielsen's self-released debut Nive Sings!, features such high profi le artists as PJ Harvey collaborator John Parish, Howe Gelb of Giant Sand, Patrick Carney of Th e Black Keys and Th e Cardinals' Eric Matthews. Nielsen giggles at the mention of Gelb's name and admits that she love it here so much," Nielson " It is diffi cult. Just getting in and out of Greenland is $2,000. Downloading music means a big bill. It is diffi cult in that sense. But we love it here so much..." radio, Nielsen was asked to play the Greenlandic Independence Day (Greenland gained increased independence from its colonial Danish government in 2008) celebrations that year in front of some honored guests: the Danish Royal Family: "It was really funny, the Queen of Denmark and her husband and the crown prince, and all these minis- ters ... It was really nerve wracking." Eventually, an eight-piece band, Nive Nielsen and Th e Deer time" serendipity at work. Take Nielsen's fi rst real show in Nuuk in 2009. At that point, she was collaborating with only her boyfriend and songwriting partner, Jan de Vroede. But as a somewhat well- connected fi gure in Greenland who had worked in national TV and 54 SXSW ORLD / M ARCH F ILM- I A 201 1 wrote to Gelb a couple of years ago and sent him a demo. "I'm such a big fan!" she gushes, half-embarrassed. "I didn't get a response for a year, but at some point he saw it and listened to the music, and he was really struck. Th en we met when we were both playing a festival in Denmark. We had watermelon and talked and he said, 'Well, I have a friend who might want to work with you.' I was living in London at that point and John Parish called and said, 'Do you want to come over?' I couldn't believe it; I jumped on a train. He really liked the music and said he wanted to record with us. We were really lucky." Th ere does seem to be some "being in the right place at the right Nive Nielsen (left) and the Deer Children Children, evolved just in time to play SXSW 2010: "Last year, we jumped onstage barely rehearsing. We had only just put the band together and we didn't even have time to really rehearse. Now we've been playing together for a long time and traveled together several times. It's going to be less nerve wracking this year." Still, her last SXSW appearance was well received. Does Nielson hope to attract a label to put her record out in the U.S. or Europe? "We're really looking forward to playing. We're just going and we'll just see what happens. I don't think someone should just aim for something," she says cautiously. Whatever happens, she doesn't intend to leave her homeland. "It is very remote and quiet," Nielson. "But it's also really, really pretty with big mountains. We all live by the coast. Th ere's the Northern Lights in the winter. Lots of nature; it's very beautiful here." ■ Nive Nielsen and the Deer Children perform Wednesday, March 16 at St David's Bethell Hall (301 E 8th St.) and Thursday, March 17 at Lustre Pearl (97 Rainey St.). NATALIE WYNANTS

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