In Norwegian eyes this year’s Womex is special. Not only because it is the first time a Norwegian act has been selected for a main program showcase, but also because this particular act has become so precious to so many back home.
|Listen to excerpts from Adjagas' debut album|
|Listen to and download Adjagas releases here|
The duo Adjagas bespeaks the mysteries of human experience in ways quiet and elusive – and yet infinitely powerful. Such is the nature of the joik, the Sámi chanting tradition to which Adjagas belongs. This tradition already has an enchanted international following, thanks to such Sámi performers as Mari Boine, but Adjagas are up to something different.
As Lawra Somby, the male part of the duo, explains, “Joik is a rich tradition, and the repertoire of traditional joik is almost inexhaustible. Still, we wanted to create new joiks, not just present traditional ones in a novel musical context. And I was actually surprised at how different the joiks we made turned out.”
He continues, saying, “It is important to stress that the joik itself, and certainly my version of it, is a matter of receiving an expression, and mediating the inner voice that a human experience has in itself. A strange fact is that sometimes the joik comes first, and then you realize to what feeling or experience the joik pertains afterwards. These things are hard to explain, but it is the way our music comes to life, and it was the way I conceived the material I contributed to our album.”
The album, Adjagas, was released in Norway last November. It received attention out of the ordinary and widespread acclaim. And this has been repeated regarding the duo’s live performances throughout 2006.
For the Womex gig and the European tour of which it is a part, Lawra and his partner Sara Marielle Gaup have developed a new line-up and a slightly altered sound with the inclusion of more computer-triggered elements.
“Still, our main concern is to keep it organic,” says Lawra. “We wanted to expand the sonics, but retain the utmost emphasis on the vocals, which is the essence of joik. This just furthers the approach we had on our record, which basically was to set forth thematically new joiks, joined by some original musical elements, but still remain true to the vocal essence of the tradition.”
Extending this approach, Adjagas has also chosen an artistic presentation and platform that sets the duo apart from the typical performers of their own and related traditions: They are consciously avoiding the “World music” category both in terms of how they define their music and in terms of how they market it.
Rather than appearing from the onset as World musicians, in Norway they have emerged as a notable name in popular music, as such. They are signed to independent labels both in Norway and internationally, where they have a European deal with the renowned German electronica label K7!.
However, that deal did not come about for strategic reasons at all. “The world consists of people,” Lawra says with sagacity, “and it just so happened that we bumped into this guy who was really ignited by our music. It was accidental, although we probably would have hoped for a similar approach anyway.”
The record will be released across Europe in January, followed by a limited number of exclusive performances.
When asked about the expectations towards the Womex concert, Lawra replies, “I don’t really have any, because I don’t know much about the event, but it is of course a great honour to be invited and we look forward to it tremendously. Not least since we get a few days off in sunny Spain…”