Michael Nouwen Chats with Nico V. Isotalo of “Tethered to the Ether”


By Egotist / /

Minneapolis’ art scene has been stirred by the psychological arthouse horror film Tethered to the Ether, directed by M. Thomsen. The film, which has been awarded Best Experimental Feature Film at the Hallucinea Film Festival in Paris, is a testament to Thomsen’s intricate craftsmanship. Nico V. Isotalo stands out in her dual role as the Autoharp Valkyrie and the nightmare-villain Rabbit Girl, delivering a performance that is both haunting and mesmerizing. Her musical prowess is equally compelling, providing pieces of a hypnotic score that winds itself through the film’s dark web of surrealism. Isotalo’s onscreen performance and musical contributions have been pivotal in the film’s success, earning it accolades and a growing reputation on the international film festival circuit. Tethered to the Ether is a cinematic experience that lingers with the audience, much like the eerie reverberations of Isotalo’s autoharp.

The film tells two stories of a woman named Tulip. One takes place in the monotony of life after a suicide attempt and the other in her mind. Both are nightmares of their own kind, seen only through a glass darkly. Thomsen’s gothic maximalist touch is evident as he explores the interplay between dreams and reality, surveillance, and the human condition’s darker facets. Nico V. Isotalo, not only graces the screen but imbues the film with her ethereal music, elevating it to a strange fever dream that captivates and unnerves.

After the pre-screening on October 20, 2023, Michael Nouwen reached out to Nico with a few questions regarding her involvement.

Michael Nouwen: Nico, as both the autoharp-wielding Valkyrie and the enigmatic Rabbit Girl, how did you approach embodying these contrasting personas, and what was your process for bringing them to life on screen?

Nico V. Isotalo: Embodying the Valkyrie was like stepping into a shadow realm, where every movement and note played on the autoharp had to resonate with her enigmatic presence. The Rabbit Girl was a counterbalance, a beacon of ethereal melodies amidst the darkness. The film was not scripted, so I had to tune into Michael’s (Thomsen) psychotic frequency, which was a journey of its own.

Michael Nouwen: In your collaboration with director M. Thomsen, how did you balance your vision with his, and what was the dynamic like during the film’s production?

Nico V. Isotalo: Working with Michael was a dance of creative wills. He often wanted me to act in a more “wacky” way than I was comfortable, and I took on a more quiet, sultry approach to the scenes. We shared a common language of art, which allowed us to blend our visions, creating a film that was true to both of our artistic intents.

Michael Nouwen: The film navigates complex themes such as dreams versus reality and the human psyche. How did you interpret these themes through your performance and music?

Nico V. Isotalo: The film’s themes are a reflection of the human condition, fallen and hopeless, in a Godless world where nightmares, deception, and despair plague every moment. Through my music, I have always sought to explore the complex layers of reality, spirituality, and the psyche.

Tethered to the Ether is an edifice to Thomsen’s vision, a film that challenges the audience to decipher its intricate puzzle, leaving them tethered to its haunting reverie long after the credits roll. The film’s auditory experience is integral to its storytelling, with Isotalo’s music enhancing the overall impact of the film’s journey through its themes of trauma, obsession, and the supernatural. As the film embarks on its journey through film festivals, it carries with it the hopes and dreams of the Minneapolis art community, showcasing the city’s burgeoning talent and unique artistic voice on the world screen.

[Images and video provided by Michael Nouwen.]


  1. Jill Sherman April 10, 2024

    Wow! Amazing movie. For such a beautiful film, what a terrible representation of the movie and it’s production process…

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