For the Estonian singer and songwriter Siiri Sisask it is not the first collaboration with pianist and composer Kristjan Randalu. Her album "Teine Jälg" recorded with the Randalu band in 2006 already shows these two handwritings.
On her new CD, "Lingua Mea" on which she sings in Mongolian and Korean language as well as in her native Setu, Sisask offers something even more special: Almost mystical songs that have grown and emerged during the recent years. Sisask's lyrics reflect life and deal with it critically and profoundly. There is much to discover on this album, new and unfamiliar things alike.
Carina Prange talked to Siiri Sisask for Jazzdimensions
Carina: Your collaboration with Kristian Randalu isn't exactly new. You worked together already for the albums "Jälg" in 2002 and for "Teine jälg" in 2006. Is there a special chemistry between the two of you that makes it easy to work together?
Siiri: When we started in 2002, neither of us could not say what the future of our cooperation will bring. Now we have worked together for almost ten years and it is already pretty long musical history for both of us. Sure, we have changed during this time, as well as our music. But some attitudes haven't changedwe both appreciate the freedom of creativity.
We do not follow the usual musical trends. We run our own musical patterns, where everything is focused on the message that we want to tell and bring out. If you ask, what makes easy to work together, I think the role of freshness and power and soul in music is very important too. We are those lucky musicians, for whom each our concert happened to be different, so we are never tired to make music together. The special chemistry in our music, I could say, figuratively, is "we have the material for two cakes, but it turns out three".
Carina: How can we imagine that? Is it just a meeting between the composer and the arranger or is it different?
Siiri: The arranger always should get the point what the composer wants to say with his work. If there is an understanding and perception from both sides, it is also possible to long-term cooperate. We became good friends and a goodteamour band has grown well together with those nine years. We can be only happy about it and enjoy our cooperation.
Carina: On "Lingua mea" you sing in Korean, Mongolian, Seto and Estonian. Your mother tongue is Estonian and Seto also is a language spoken in Estonia. What about Mongolian and Koreanhow good do you speak these languages and how did you "conquer" these songs for yourself?
Siiri: I do not really speak Mongolian or Korean. But I stayed and studied in Mongolia with the Mongolian throat singers. This song on our CD is a Buryat and Buddhist Sanskrit prayer song, asking for world peace and happiness. This is something that I also wish for, therefore I keep singing this prayer-mantra.
The Korean song I learned in Germany, from Peter Schindler and his friend, a young Korean student. I've left this song in my repertoire, as well as in history Estonia had been for a long time behind the Iron curtain of Soviet Union, and therefore was a closed society. North-orean people's sufferings are to me deeply understandable.
I always sing this song with the wish, that North Korean people will become free of starving and living in fear. I hope this nation one day will be free as Estonia is now.
Carina: To learn to understand other languages or cultures, is that something abstract or is there a bridge found in emotions, pictures, colors?
Siiri: The more you know about other cultures and understand different languages, the more you realize, how similar are people in basic things. No matter of culture or continents. As the saying goes: "All roads lead to Rome!"
Carina: Folk music is strongly cultivated in Estonia in schools and nurseries and in many families, comparable to the position it has in Sweden or other Scandinavian countries. How intense is your relation to folk? Did you grow up with it or did you discover it at a later time?
Siiri: I discover it myself. I have my own "folkbeing" and I always did things my own way. I grow up on the countryside and had a lot of freedom to be on my own and to do what I liked to do. I was playing much alone in forest. Each time I loved to sing there and to hear the forest singing back to me. So kind of "wild folk" is in me from my childhood. This is like food for me. I cannot live without my own way, without my own folk.
Carina: Would it be appropriate to say you found your "Estonian soul" in this music?
Siiri: Yes, you can say that. But I would like to add that once the Estonian soul finds you and takes up in music, you realize that it is such a fresh wind of Nordic sounds that it will send chills down your spine.
Carina: Can you remember the moment when you realized that you had found your voice, your language, your expression? Or were you always sure about yourself?
Siiri: I sing as long as I can remember. And I knew always that I will be a singer. I don't know from where I got it, but I felt sure and right about it. As a child I never imagined that singing was for fun or for glory. It was just so natural thing for me to do and I kept singing and singing and singing. Until one day I became a singer. It happened almost too easyly. I am thankful and I feel responsibility.
Carina: Is there an atmosphere or surrounding that inspires you best for writing?
Siiri: When I make music or write, I need to be alone and I need silence.
Carina: I'd like to know a little more about the background or the origin of one of the songs"Kuu Lõhn". What story s behind it?
Siiri: "Kuu lõhn" I wrote after I had read a poem where the poet is sitting in his garden and badly wants to experience the scent of the Moon. He recognizes many odors, but cannot capture the scent of the Moon. Finally he will realize, that there "where the stench meets the aroma", there it starts with art.
I dreamed about it afterwards and I started to see in my mind very beautiful pictures, so I almost got the scent of the Moon! I saw a river in the summer night, where the trees in the moonlight were bending over this river, making shadows in clear, fresh water, and between the stones were laying sparkling pearls. This nice and powerful picture in his beauty, and others too, made me to make this song.
And once again I found, that in the searches are often found something else that was expected. You can find the most important idea of this song at the end: Trapped in the scent of the Moon, the fruits will ripen…
Carina: Do you have a ritual to prepare for singing, for example before you go on stage?
Siiri: Yes, I have. I have to be for a moment alone and make some yoga.
Carina: How much do you depend on the mood of the day and what can you do to get around that?
Siiri: I don't depend. I concentrate completely when I am singing.
Carina: Do you have something like a philosophy for life?
Siiri: Yes. Do those things to others that you wish for yourself.
CD: Siiri Sisask - "Lingua Mea" (Jazz 'n' Arts Records JNA 5211)
Siiri Sisask im Internet: www.siirisisask.com
Jazz 'n' Arts Records im Internet: www.jazznarts.de
Fotos: Pressefotos (Dank an www.kultur-i-d-landschaft.de)