Composer and musician Yngvil Guttu has taught in Norway. She has written and recorded her own music. Now she is working to build a lasting community for independent musicians from all over Alaska.
In 2014, Guttu received a Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Fellowship to create a jazz composition, “Welcome (to the) Human Race,” the second time for her to receive one of the Foundation’s artist awards. Since then, she has been working on many projects around the globe.
She went on a jazz tour to the East Coast, and was the musical director and recording producer for the Lullaby Project of songwriting at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center. Her focus recently has been more on collaboration and education and less on writing music.
Guttu has just received her teaching degree in Norway and wrote three stories for a Norwegian language course. She is a guest instructor at the University of Alaska Anchorage and Alaska Jazz Workshop jazz camps. And she teaches language, music and social studies online. She planned and hosted Urban Conflux, a citywide art event in which 140 local musicians performed around Anchorage.
She has been collaborating on music projects with 2018 IAA recipients Dolores Catherino and Rick Zelinsky. She also has been working with Yup’ik elder and UAA language professor Marie Meade and Phillip Blanchett, one of the founders of the band Pamyua, to record and arrange Yup’ik songs.
This work is all a part of Yngvil’s effort to build a strong collaborative community of independent musicians from Alaska.
“Most of these people start out as individualist, one person who has a fire burning,” she said. She is trying to help artists get used to sharing ideas and working together.
Guttu is one of the founding members of Spenard JazzFest and Alaska Independent Musicians Initiative. Spenard JazzFest has evolved from an annual festival showcasing Alaska composers into a year-round program highlighting “Alaskan people creating art.”
The Alaska Independent Musicians Initiative helps musicians learn how to book shows, distribute music, and present themselves, all while bringing together a community and building a link between music, tourism and economic opportunity in Alaska. One of our grants, a Tier 1 for $20,750, is helping to make it happen.
Both of these programs are part of the Northern Culture Exchange, which she also started. Her goal is to cement a foundation for the Alaska music industry and make it easier for independent musicians to build successful professional careers.
“I like bringing people along. I feel more justified working towards my own cause bringing a dozen people along with me,” Guttu said.
Yngvil’s latest push to help build up the Alaska music industry will take place in Nashville, Tennessee, Aug. 23-27. Alaska Independent Musicians Initiative is sponsoring events at the CD Baby DIY Musician Conference. There, artists from the initiative will represent Alaska and host a panel on creating music communities. They also will play two all-night house-shaking concerts at the Omni Hotel and at Fond Object Records. Alaska Independent Musicians Initiative and CD Baby — one of the largest digital music distributors in the country — also are working together on a promotional campaign. That effort will include creating a Spotify playlist of independent artists from Alaska that has the potential to reach an audience of a quarter of a million listeners.
“DIY music is a myth, it’s really DIO, do it ourselves, or DIT, do it together,” she says.
Now Guttu along with other artists from Alaska are working together to create a more sound future for the Alaska music industry.
Photo at top: Violinist Lena Lukina performs with Yngvil Guttu at Friday’s fundraiser.
Note: Alaska musicians, here’s a chance to get on a widely circulated playlist. But you’ll need to act fast. As part of its sponsorship of this year’s CD Baby DIY Musician Conference, Alaska Independent Musicians Initiative is teaming up with the music distributor on a promotional campaign that will include an Alaska music Spotify playlist. You could reach an audience of a quarter million listeners. Email links to your tracks on Spotify to firstname.lastname@example.org by Tuesday.