Just back from some beautiful days in Umeå, in the North of the country. I was invited by the Swedish-Dutch balfolk band Nubia to guest on two tunes for their upcoming album ! My friend & colleague Henrike Wesp was also there, guesting on another tune. The Ballerina studio was a lovely place to record in, on the docks by the river.
Can't wait until November and the release of that album !
This morning I was at Eric Sahlström Institute for a little interview with Sveriges Radio.
Journalist Simon Linter wanted to know my and Magnus Holmström's point of view on the future of Swedish traditional music. Is it true that the interest for it is declining ?? Perhaps a bit within Sweden, as statistics seem to indicate, but it's balanced by an ever-growing crowd of passionate people abroad. We played some tunes for the musical background and Magnus gave some good insights about what tradition is in the end : always evolving !
You can find the interview (in English) here : the interview on Sveriges Radio.
Eric Sahlström Institute in Tobo is the world's center for the nyckelharpa.
This December was truly incredible ! The nyckelharpa, fiddle and I travelled all the way to Hungary for a bunch of concerts with singer-songwriter Csaba L. Bardócz.
The official purpose was to release a few tunes together, the unofficial one was to bring Scandinavian folk music to new audiences ! For that purpose, I brought with me Erik Orvehed on säckpipa (Swedish bagpipe) and various folk flutes.
The rhythm of that little tour was very intense, playing every day in different locations across Hungary and even twice one day, yet we still found time to indulge in sweet poppy seeds rolls, copious amounts of tea and unashamed bad puns. Some locations were truly incredible, like the Leskowsky Musical Instruments Museum in Kecskemét.
Once the concerts were complete, it was time to get into the studio in Hévíz, where we recorded two tunes, Csaba and I. We kept it simple, true to both our performing styles, so the nyckelharpa's resonance and Csaba's emotion-filled voice can be heard fully. We also decided to go for one song in English and one in Hungarian, to balance our internationality with the local and tiny.
These two tunes will be released on next Bandcamp Friday, the 3rd of February !
Running everywhere these days to prepare my first tour in what feels like ages. Looking so much forward to my dance workshops in the Netherlands (already sold out ! you Dutchies are crazy for Nordic dances) and to meeting again my colleague Sylvain of Svall Duo, to let the music flow to the entire West Switzerland !
Find all the details of this tour in the Agenda.
Theme of this year's celebration of Nyckelharpa : play repertoire from other instruments' typical repertoire !
So I recorded two reels from Scotland and Shetland islands :
... a Norwegian fiddle pols from Røros (which is said to be necessary to call a fiddler "good") :
... and a Turlough O'Carolan classic for the Irish harp :
The eyes of Europe and a lot of the world are turned to Ukraine while it suffers violent attacks. History is always more complex than we remember and this country is no exception. As a contribution to the awareness to Ukrainian culture, I decided to share a song coming from a very unique community in the country : the Ukrainian Swedes, a Swedish-speaking population first settled in Estonia, then displaced to southern Ukraine. They still exist to this day and have retained some of their language, traditions, and music.
This is a psalm about death and the hope of rebirth, in Swedish dialect, with Estonian harmonies, kept through centuries in Ukraine. For cultures should be about enriching each other, getting inspired, keeping your inner fire alive and making beauty out of it.
One in Sweden, one in France, we haven't been able to meet for a long time with Sylvain, my crazy guitarist of Svall Duo. We're getting bored ! We want some music action together, we want to make people dance, we want to put crazy riffs on traditional tunes and blue notes everywhere !
So we decided to release a little album, recorded live back in Belgium in 2019, during our best gig. An incredible evening with so much energy that my fiddle bow broke and I lost several nyckelharpa tangents on stage while playing (no damage, no worries). And one can feel that energy in the raw recording taken on the spot.
So it was "just" about picking the best tunes (no the one when the bow broke) and cutting the speeches and applauses in nice places. And balancing the whole sound again. And creating a cover image. And doing all the paperwork for copyrights and credits. And preparing all the promotion material. It's way less complicated to release a digital album than a physical one, but it's still very complex and long. But all this is soon coming to an end...