Interview with Kaat of L.E.A.F.

LEAF CD cover design
These days between Christmas and New Years Eve are usually a very quiet time. Short dark days, long cold nights, as if the world actually moves a bit slower. What could be a better time to relax, sit down and have a chat with a friend?

We had a lovely interview with our good friend Kati Ran of L.E.A.F. Sit down with a hot cup of tea or a nice mead and read all about their new album, about their plans for the new year and of course about the teaser, the track that we will be playing in our stream, starting the 1st of January!

And check out this exclusive preview of their new album cover! 🙂 ==>

Last week you revealed a hint of what is to come by releasing a small fragment (snippet) of your new single to your audience. What we heard certainly had that familiar L.E.A.F. sound, yet there were also innovative elements. Can you tell us more about how the single came to be?
The single will most likely surprise a lot of people. With this teaser we have set off into an exciting new direction that, to me, feels more authentic in what I would like to bring across with the music that we as L.E.A.F. make. The goal to this, in the broadest sense, is to revitalise the connection that can be formed between man and the other world. The lyrics to TERVEH are a Scandinavian rite sung in Karelian (Northern Finland). They are an anthropologically documented shamanistic rite, which purpose is to contact and negotiate with spirits of the neighbouring forests. These supernatural rites were usually performed by local Tietäjä’s, wise tribal women who dared to use life force or ‘Luonto’ for supernatural negotiations or offerings, in order to better live in conjunction with the, to them, spirited and sometimes threatening nature. The song was created with the assistance of a native speaker, as well as additional research among Finnish elders, for this this type of Finnish is very hard to understand, even for the people of Finland today, as the text is in a very old dialect from the most Northern area of the country. Another famous example of a similar old Finnish rite is the already well known ‘Auto Luonto’, sung by, amongst others, Tellu Turkka of Hedningarna and Omnia. The track was recorded by none other than Fieke van den Hurk (ORCHVS studio) and I produced it with Christoffer Juul (LAVA studio), a close friend and producer, known from the Danish bands Valravn and Euzen.

Is this track’s style representative of the upcoming album?
Yes and no. We labelled TERVEH as teaser, because the album will be a 50/50 mix in sound. On the one hand, tracks based on traditional folk melodies, wrapped in a mythical and warm L.E.A.F. blanket, very near-sounding, like how we already can be heard live. On the other hand it will contain tracks like TERVEH with extra sounds and effects that can only be produced in a studio, because when you have so many technical possibilities and you’re working with a producer like Christoffer Juul, it’s just very tempting to use these options and make the album exceed the level of “just playing” some folk tunes. It is however my intention and hope to get as close as possible to the sound of the album when we play live, which will present whole new podium challenges. We are in no hurry with the production, quality before quantity is my new motto.

How actually does a group of Dutch artists come to make Nordic Folk? What is/was your inspiration?
If you take a close look at the start of L.E.A.F. you’ll see that the first tracks we played already were Scandinavian songs, such as ‘Under Nymanen’, ‘Fjarilar’ and ‘Bundet’. L.E.A.F. has been Scandinavia-oriented from the start, especially because this feels very near to me. I feel a deep connection to the languages and areas there, something I do not experience with other parts of the world. However beautiful, I could never play a Bulgarian, Polish or African song, because it doesn’t feel close enough to me to really connect with it. And to me that’s a prerequisite to singing, if you are to portray something believable with your voice. This is something I have had to learn by experimentation over time. I have also been inspired by my travels through Norway, the immense nature and history there, and the knowledge I obtain there about old folk songs from my Viking friends. The reason we call it Nordic PaganFolk is merely to give it an identity within the known Pagan Folk scene.

Is there an underlying message that you wish to convey to your listeners?
Certainly. You can find meaning for yourself in the lyrics and in the way we convey the music. Sometimes naming something essential and tangible that resides between the lines doesn’t do it justice and can diminish the feeling, but in short it’s about the connection between man, nature and the other world. It’s also by singing of universal emotions that we hope to touch the hearts of our listeners.

Your music is driven by various uncommon and mysterious sounds. How do you come in contact with the instruments that produce these sounds?
This is because we are historical instrument fetishists, or at least I am. By meeting other historical music nerds you get new inspiration and you want to learn to play uncommon and old instruments more and more. It’s an obsession and a collecting mania. Avid musicians from my inner circle will recognise this. Look twice before you leap into this!

The EP that was released mid 2012 was mixed and co-produced by Fieke of ORCHVS studio. She also provided the artwork and the website. Who will have the honour of helping the upcoming album take shape?
For this album, provided that the crowd funding works out, we will work together with the LAVA studio. Christoffer Juul and I will be producing and mixing. The excellent studio recordings will be done by Fieke van den Hurk (ORCHVS) once again, as we wouldn’t want to work on this album without her energy and her amazing studio in the Netherlands. As for our album and PR artwork, there will be a mix between again Fieke and the newcomer and brilliant illustrator Charlotte Boer.

And when do you expect to present the result of this collective hard labour?
This is a very hard question to answer, because, when is something really completely done? Not until it’s actually finished. We have not set a deadline for it as we’re aiming for quality. We want to make an album that, in ten years’ time, we will still be able to look back upon with pride. That consumes a lot of time, also to let the recordings sink in, and to fine tune them and let them ripen along the way. But we hope to release it at the end of 2015. In the mean time we will keep our funders and fans up to date on our Facebook page and via our website, and we’ll release some thingies and snippets along the way, like the teaser now.

What does an average week for you look like? Do the members of L.E.A.F. go to the office every Monday, or did you manage to give life your own little twist?
This varies per band member of course. All our members have amazing talents that they use outside of L.E.A.F. for work, study, their own freelance businesses and things like that. Speaking for myself, I am quite a multitasker. I have a “regular” job as a pedagogue (teacher) in a nature based child day-care centre, where I try to teach teamwork and confidence by, amongst other ways, learning survival techniques. It is very much trial and error: falling and getting back on your feet, making fire and the like. I’m also a mother, so I have a household to run, and when I’m “off the clock” I work on L.E.A.F. and other wonderful musical projects daily. This encompasses everything from administration to collecting lyrics, from HTML coding to keeping up social media. And then sometimes other projects come my way, like acting and art photography, plus I also run a modest massage and coaching business (VANIR). If something grabs my interest I gladly take it up, and in the end we all have to survive financially as well. I have to restrain myself from doing too much, but there is this creative drive in me that just won’t stop. L.E.A.F. is one of the nicest ways to express myself and everything that lives inside me. I could never “just” have a job and do nothing else. I would be bored to death… Steve Sic’s (Omnia) motto used to be: Create or Die. I can really relate to that.

The snippet was framed with visuals by Rhaenys Redleaf. May we hope that this is a precursor to a first actual video by L.E.A.F.?
There are some rumours that I will all of a sudden hike into a snowy forest in Southern Germany with some genius film friends with RED cameras attached to flying drones to shoot some footage of pine forests on an actual mountain and perform some weird occult stuff… We will see.

There will undoubtedly be opportunities in 2015 to enjoy your music live. This last year we have seen Dutch bands such as Omnia, Rapalje and Cesair move more and more abroad. What are your aspirations concerning foreign soil?
With Folk Noir I have already had a lot of opportunity to perform abroad. I’m familiar with lots of foreign festivals, among other reasons because I’ve worked as a crew member and guest for bands such as Faun and Omnia for several years. This pays off, as I can approach festivals organizers directly and point out cool new Dutch projects. L.E.A.F. is already familiar enough to be very welcome at festivals in Germany, Belgium, the USA and multiple locations in Scandinavia. This is actually a rather funny and glaring contrast with the small festival scene in the Netherlands where newcomers to the folk scene are almost fighting for a spot and play for almost no money or terms. It’s remarkable that you often see the same bands booked, while there’s such a wide range of high-quality and diverse bands to choose from. I personally think that this is a shame. Then again, this surplus of bands also provides some very cool new initiatives because bands now organize their own concert nights where the listener gets treated to a very unique experience. How cool is that? Next year L.E.A.F. will be playing on some festivals in Germany and we’re already discussing some very cool German offers for 2016. But the focus for L.E.A.F. this year will mainly be on the album. You only do that once. There will always be time to perform live, and we’re simply putting that off until we’ve finished the album. That is truly our main priority now.

And then maybe there will come a day when you get to take the music back to its area of origin. Have you ever played your songs to the Northerners? And what was their response?
Yes, but that was only me at Viking markets in Norway. The reactions were positive and emotional. I’ve also had the chance of being a guest musician for Wardruna for their concerts in Norway this summer. We have a few beautiful offers for L.E.A.F. to play there, but the distance makes it a challenge to realise. Who knows, maybe one day…

And for all the people who are anxious to start the New Year well: how will the entire new track be made available?
The crowd-funding won’t start until later in 2015, as we were advised not to do this exactly on New Year’s Day, because it is a time when people are less active on social media and one is less likely to invest. That’s why the teaser will be released on our YouTube channel to enthuse people for the new album, but we won’t start the crowd-funding just yet. The track will be made available at a later stage through the crowd-funding.

LEAF bandphoto CAVES
Band info:
The Dutch Folkband L.E.A.F makes ‘Nordic Paganfolk’ using ancient texts and traditonal folksongs to enchant their audience. L.E.A.F plays on historical folk instruments, such as the Swedish Nyckelharpa, Celtic Harp, Hammered dulcimer, Acoustic guitar and irish bouzouki, powerful Fiddle, Kraviklyra, overtone flutes, shamanic drums and more.

L.E.A.F consists of:

Kati Ran (frontwoman, former member and co-founder of Folk Noir with Oliver S. Tyr of FAUN)
Vocals, Hammered Dulcimer, Nyckelharpa, Sami-drum, Frame drum, Irish Bodhrán, (overtone) flutes.

Nilla Flowerface
Vocals, Violin, overtone flute

Chloé Bakker
Celtic harp, Bodhrán, Hammered Dulcimer

Philip Xander (former member of OMNIA)
Acoustic Guitar, DADGAD guitar, Darabuka, Frame drum, additional vocals

Marijn Sies
Drums & Percussion, such as Cajon, Frame drum, Davul, Darbukka, additional vocals

Down the rabbit hole

2014-11-05 Down the rabbit hole
When Alice went through the rabbit hole she entered a world where everything felt strange. This last week has felt something like that for us too. But there is more. In this strange wonderland some things appeared to be exactly opposite of what Alice was used to in her normal life. And now, that has also happened to CeltCast! 😀

We are all used to radio stations interviewing bands and artists. However, the first ever interview that CeltCast is involved in is an interview that the lovely people at Bastaard had with us!

For Dutch speakers, you can find the original article and interview at
For English speakers, we have translated the article and interview for you here.

A bit more than a week ago the new online radio station CeltCast went live. On CeltCast you will mostly hear Celtic, Viking, Folk and Folk inspired music. The station was founded by Alex and Arjan, but already has a bandscout as well.
CeltCast originates from the Netherlands, but it has an international focus. Primarily on Europe, but because of the non-stop music it has gained attention from all over the world. You can listen to CeltCast through their official website, ShoutCast and recently through TuneIn. So most devices should be able to play CeltCast!
In order to better introduce you to CeltCast we had a written interview with its founders which you can read below. What do you think about the start of a new radio station? What kind of music would you like to hear on a station like CeltCast? Let us know in the responses!

What is the goal with which CeltCast was founded?
Alex: The station was founded out of a love for music. I really wanted to give something back for what the musicians gave us (my family) over the past years. The joy at the festivals, on the road or at home, the energy to pick up tasks that I thought I wouldn’t have the stamina for, the dancing with my girls in front of the stage, in the living room and even in public, the emotional touching experiences, the depth and the humour! But the greatest gift is the interest that my daughters have developed in making music themselves. They play Celtic Harp, Piano and Harmonium, but are already looking at playing Bodhran and Guitar.
Music is something magical. It can touch you, or move you. It is this magic that I would love to share with as many people as possible, and I would like to present a large stage for that to the bands and artists.
Arjan: For me there is of course also that love of music, that I have felt since a very young age, that is a driving force behind me wanting make a contribution to the scene. Music influences all aspects of my life and I am very thankful to the musicians that make that possible. But besides that I also like to address the feeling of community that I feel within the folkscene. I think, we think, that we can use our radio station to amplify and expand this community, so that more music can be made and shared, and ultimately so that more people can enjoy it. That is also the thought behind the addition of “Community Radio” to the stations name.

What is the target audience for CeltCast?
We don’t really want to think in target audiences. At the festivals you see people from all corners of society come together to enjoy themselves. The music in our playlist has something primal, something touching. Something that people don’t get to hear in the “mainstream media” any more, but that immediately grabs you when you open up to it.
Everyone is very welcome: musicians, producers, organisers and listeners. If they just sneak a peak we hope that something “clicks” and that they choose to stay.

Is CeltCast aimed at the whole world, or more at European listeners?
We chose English as our primary language, in order to be accessible for the largest possible audience. Since our home base is in Europe it is logical that most of our listeners are European, but to say that we specifically aim at that would be wrong. We don’t say “around the clock, across the globe” for nothing. At this moment the Netherlands is clearly in the lead when speaking of where the listeners are from, followed by Germany, the UK and the US, but to our delight we even seem to be reaching people in far away lands like Ecuador, Japan, India and Australia. In that last country our scout, Bob, is currently working to find bands that are as yet unknown to us here in Europe.

What kind of music and bands will we hear on CeltCast?
Celtic, Viking, Folk and Folk inspired music is how we describe it. The concept of Folk of course encompasses a wide range of music including Nordfolk, Balkan Folk, Breton Folk and sometimes certain “Gypsy” music. But we can’t ignore music like EUZEN either. We mostly select the music by feel and we discuss it a lot amongst each other. The thing that connects it all is positive energy and that acoustic sound.
We play various big names from the festival world such as Rapalje, FAUN, Omnia, Cesair, Sowulo, Trolska Polska, Virelai, AmmA, Shantalla and Harmony Glen, but we also play the lesser known bands from a forgotten past, from remote areas or bands that are working hard to make a name for themselves. It’s great to receive responses and questions, because we see that listeners hear of bands like EMIAN, Instinkt, Lunasa, Tevenn and Sylvain Barou for the first time through our station, or maybe get acquainted with the old Clannad (1973!) or Mark Knopfler solo.

Through which channels can people listen to CeltCast?
We are working hard to offer several options. At the moment people can listen using the player on the website, the RadioJar plug-in on Facebook, and the TuneIn and RadioTuna apps for tablets and smartphones.

Is it all non-stop music or are there/will there be specific programmes?
Currently we play non-stop music, even without jingles, but we’re working on that. 😉
We have thought about specific shows and programs based on the time of day, but as a global station there’s never really an “evening” or other fixed time. We also want to keep an eye out if the audience actually wants it. Right now we are actually getting a lot of compliments on playing “nice alternating music”, so we’re focussing on the basics for now.

If there is going to be scheduled programming, will they be non-stop programmes with a certain theme or will there be hosted programmes? (Live or recorded)
Both options are possible, though it would mean we would really have to take the time to set up proper preparations. Because of the nature of the station, everything will have to be broadcast in English. For the near future it is most likely that we will present additional material, such as recorded interviews or reports, separate from the stream on the website. But who knows what the future, or help from the scene, might bring…

Do you view other similar stations as competition?
No. We sincerely believe that there is room for multiple stations, each with their own characteristics. It’s good that listeners have a choice to tune in to what they need at that time. The more, the better, I would say, so that the artists have the largest stage possible. In the mean time we’ll see about growing on our own strengths.

In what way will CeltCast differentiate itself from other similar stations?
We chose to create a stream with 100% music. No commercial breaks, no chit chat. We are able to do that because we chose to pay the royalties ourselves to BUMA/STEMRA and SENA (the Dutch copyright organisations). In this way we’re not dependant on a provider that wants to profit from us. We also consider involvement to be a core value for us. We want a “for the scene and by the scene” radio station. We want to invite and encourage everyone, both the listeners and the artists, to think along with us.

Does CeltCast need money to exist?
Absolutely! But we invest this ourselves, so that we are registered as “non-commercial”. We never know what the future holds, but for now we gladly pay for this, so that we have the freedom to decide everything ourselves.

Can listeners support CeltCast?
Well, not financially, but if you want to support us we’d be very happy! You can share the station with your friends. Write a nice report on a concert, an album or a festival and we might be able to publish that. You might have the guts to go interview a band. Go crazy with creativity on our logo if you want. All forms of artistic contributions are appreciated! We’re also always open for tips about new music and all sorts of good ideas.
With the subtitle of the station being “Community Radio” we want to indicate that this station is something for, as well as by, the listeners. By working together with bands, listeners and organisers we can grow as a whole.

What kind of activities can we expect from CeltCast in the near future?
We are currently working on expanding “our” repertoire and we’re making time for interviews, reviews and reports, but all the while new and huge ideas are forming in the backs of our minds. Ideas that we will be executing with the help of the community. So stay tuned… 🙂


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