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  • Writer's pictureThe Sound Cafe

Finnish Folk Violinist Emilia Lajunen Has Set Her Sights High On Her New Solo Album

By Stevie Connor. Photo Credit: Maarit Kytöharju

Finnish folk violinist Emilia Lajunen has set her sights high on her solo album "Legacy of the Dead: Deep in the Dregs": She wants to resurrect an entire village full of passionate fiddlers from the archives! In doing so, she combines the ancient art of the Finnish fiddlers with her own distinctive playing. Further accents arise from the close cooperation with the electronic sound tinkerer Eero Grundström, with whom the musician has already been working for 20 years.

The two title songs are by two legendary Finnish fiddlers, Jalmari Siiriäinen and Juho Laitila, who have long since passed away.

"The legacy of the dead is the dregs of folk music that remain even when today's performers create something new. The dregs of folk music, the unique ways of playing, the stories and destinies that rest in the archives, all that is important to me," the musician says about the background of the album. "In the past, people lived slowly and wallowed in silent rapture. Their music reaches the here and now through centuries of forgotten narratives. Because of this great distance, we must give this music our imagination and, above all, our time," recommends Emilia Lajunen.

On her album, she combines the historical recording lifted from the archives with dance, movement and play to create completely new sounds.

The album tracks were created for Lajunen's stage projects. "It was a long, interesting and novel path," the musician looks back. And although the focus here is on tradition, the project turned out to be experimental and creative during the concerts at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. "My combination of dance, music, personal creativity and tradition is very similar to that of the old Finnish fiddlers," Emilia Lajunen looks back.

Finnish choreographer Marjo Kuusela, a central figure in contemporary dance, has also had a great influence on her projects, the musician points out.

"Of course, Eero's electronics and synthesizer sounds on the album seem very modern. But as you can hopefully hear, Eero always wants everything to sound very analogue and natural. All the beats and rhythms on the album come directly from his movements, not from machines! The way Eero creates new instruments and sounds, and the fact that there was a huge amount of colourful, messy cable clutter on stage, seemed very traditional and even rural to me," the musician explains.

Coincidentally, the Finnish Folk Music Association is celebrating a theme year in 2023 called "Arkistojen Äärellä" (In the Archives). "It fits! I have been working in the archives for many years, they are a natural source of creativity for me," Lajunen points out. From her point of view, folk music experts find it interesting that the music on her album moves between two different Finnish traditions: the archaic, minimalist "runo" singing from the Kalevala tradition, which comes mainly from eastern Finland. And the dance-affine, more international violin music "Pelimannimusiikki" of the 19th century, which comes mainly from western or central parts of Finland.

Emilia Lajunen is not only active as a solo musician, but has worked with many Finnish folk musicians. She has released an album as part of a duo with fiddler Suvi Oskala. She is also active with Eero Grundström as part of the duo Juuri & Juuri and with Ritva Nero.



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