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.
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.
Vocals, Violin, overtone flute
Celtic harp, Bodhrán, Hammered Dulcimer
Philip Xander (former member of OMNIA)
Acoustic Guitar, DADGAD guitar, Darabuka, Frame drum, additional vocals
Drums & Percussion, such as Cajon, Frame drum, Davul, Darbukka, additional vocals