Camilla Granlien has been one of our foremost traditional singers for years, winning the annual Landskappleik (the national championship of traditional music) and standing forth a as a leading representative of the age-old folk music of Norway’s central Gudbrandsdal valley. Still, notwithstanding her proven abilities as a vocalist and conveyor, the record she released last winter was a bit of a sensation. Jarnnetter (Nights of Iron) by Camilla Granlien Band was greeted with unequivocal acclaim in almost every newspaper in the country.
|Listen to and download Camilla Granlien Band's 'Jarnnetter' here|
-I was very happy and surprised about the reviews, especially the fact that all the large national newspapers picked it up. I had felt all along that the project was special, and I was just so happy to see that others, almost everyone in fact, felt the same way.
Jarnnetter is a record based on poems by the two important early 20th century poets Olav Aukrust and Tor Jonsson, both from Lom in the Gudbrandsdal valley. The combination of the luminous and forceful poetry of these two and the traditional music of the same valley proved to be a brilliant concept. Critics called Jarnnetter a “genuine musical interpretation of some great poetry”
Camilla Granlien reveals that the idea of putting music to the poems of Aukrust and Jonsson was doubly motivated.
-First of all I think the poems are incredibly powerful pieces of writing. They are brilliant depictions that I cherish personally. But another aspect is the fact that both poets grew up with and enjoyed the traditional music of their native Lom, which is the same music that I’ve taken up and become a conveyor of. Some of the poems were perhaps directly inspired by traditional tunes. On Jarnnetter we wanted to re-establish some of that deep connection between the sentiments and images of the poems and those of the traditional music of the area.
According to the critics, this is indeed one of the things that sets the record apart: a genuine expressive relation and therefore a combined and deeper experience. But the record is not only a fine combination of two cultural expressions from the Gudbrandsdal Valley; it is also a manifestly novel interpretation with many crossover aspects and exciting, unexpected traits. Influences from many different sources and places can be heard, making the record a contemporary, rather than purely retrospective piece of music.
The progressive and adventurous spirit that so many traditional musicians display in Norway these days has given critics cause to call folk music the most exciting and innovative thing going on in Norwegian music as such.
-The vibe is certainly good, says Granlien, there is a lot going on in traditional music and there are many people with talent, vision and self-confidence. Traditional musicians have begun arranging and producing the music themselves, which is an important development. The attention lavished on Jarnnetter, makes me realize that a lot has been happening, for a good while, which has made folk music a matter of true interest in wider circles.
The tunes on Jarnnetter are mostly melodies by Granlien herself, arranged by multi- instrumentalist Anders Røise. The songs are new, but they belong to the specific tradition of the Gudbrandsdal valley.
-I’ve not really been too much into writing melodies before, Says Granlien. And it is still not something I sit down to do as a specialized process. It is more of an unconscious thing. However, my ideas emerge from the horizon of my studies and training in folk music, that’s why the music is new and traditional at the same time. I have been very fortunate in that I’ve been able to study with living sources, -actual people who have introduced me to their personal musical heritage, songs they’ve learned from their parents and grandparents. It is a very generous thing to do, and for me it has been a huge and special privilege. But I think that it is important to balance the very genuine and pure aspect of traditional music, with the desire to make new folk music and bring in new inspirations. That’s what we tried to do with Jarnnetter, and I think that’s what people like about it; that it is genuine but not backward-looking and static.
As one of Norway’s finest representatives of stev, a traditional vocal expression, Camilla Granlien has won the national championship (Landskappleiken) and she has performed at Folkelarm twice before.
-The last time I performed it was a solo set with tunes from the traditional repertoire that I have acquired in the Gudbrandsdal valley. This time it will be the full band and we will play the tunes from Jarnnetter. Later on this fall we will hopefully embark on a small tour since we all really feel like playing this material more, and bringing it to more people.
Asked about future plans and upcoming projects Granlien says that she wants to keep working with the same musicians and explore the lyrical and musical connections in Lom and the Gudbrandsdal valley further.
-There is so much material to work with, so much lovely poetry written by these two poets; I really want to continue in the vein from Jarnnetter. There are no specific plans regarding a record, but we will certainly work with new tunes this fall.
Camilla Granlien Band's MySpace site