Since the beginning, Sámi heritage has been a central part of Ánde Somby’s life. In the first years of his life, Somby grew up in a nomad family, as the youngest of four siblings, in the most northern parts of Norway where his father worked as reindeer herder. The family is a part of the Sámi people, a transnational minority living in “Sápmi”, an area of land stretching across the borders of northern Scandinavia, Finland, and throughout the Kola Peninsula of north-western Russia.
Yoik (also spelt joik or jojk) is the Sámi’s ancient and characteristic vocal art, with yoiks traditionally used to invoke a person, animal, place, or experience. You don’t yoik about something, you just “yoik it”. Somby’s characteristics as a yoiker is firstly that he is deeply rooted in tradition, the reindeer herder yoik tradition from the tundra and the yoik tradition from the villages of the eastern part of the North “Sámpi”. The latter has its emphasis on melodic yoiking and yoiks that can carry narratives.
In his music, Somby yoiks animals including salmon, grouse, bear, crow and mosquito, but his signature yoik is that of the wolf. The wolf yoik is a traditional yoik that Somby has developed with dramatic elements in an expressive performance. His many animal yoiks are inspired by the idea of transformation in the pre-Christian Sámi religion, when the noaidi (shaman) used yoiks to transform into an animal and back into a human.
Somby has been an active musician since 1976 and has performed for royalty, heads of state and at the funeral of Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren. In addition, beside his work as a musician, Somby is also a professor of law at the University of Tromsø, specializing in the rights of indigenous people and engaging in Sámi social and political issues.
In January 2016, Somby released the album Yoiking With The Winged Ones, recorded outdoors in Lofoten by the renowned British sound artist and field recorder, Chris Watson. The recordings took place in Kvalnes, mid-June 2014, in a moment while the Arctic winds were having a little rest.