Would you rather lose your vision or your hearing? As photographers, we might choose the latter without a second thought, especially while viewing the festival photos that photographer Mart Vares captured with the New Petzval 85 Lens. Still, who doesn’t love the pleasant mechanical shutter sound of an old SLR that makes us commit to analog photography? While following the Nordic delegation at this years Waves Central Europe, we caught up with the Estonian band, Würffel, whose songs leave us feeling equally delighted.
Interpreting light is the core of visual perception. As a medium that captures light, photography documents these interpretations and makes them accessible. It gives us the ability to share our visual perception, to review our perspective by communicating it to others.
In creative photography, we interfere with the process of mere documentation not only to depict a situation, but also to express ourselves through it. We see more than the beauty in what surrounds us and share our perspective.
Photographer Mart Vares lets us see the world of Estonian music through his eyes: the Baltic music scene brought cold Nordic vibes to Vienna and Bratislava at Waves 2015 and he captured them beautifully with the New Petzval 85 Lens.
The sounds of our daily life—sounds that we most likely wouldn’t even recognize—inspire musicians to rhythms, melodies and harmonies. Just like we experience sight, they hear more than the beauty in what surrounds us and they share it with their songs, expressing themselves through acoustic impulses.
Unfortunately, we cannot meld two views together. Photography is an art that we mostly do alone—at least in the stage of taking the actual photo. Music instead becomes more beautiful when we do it together. When sounds interact and merge, playfully enhancing each other, they start taking us deep into a song and let us leave the world behind. At Waves 2015, Würffel was one of those bands whose music captured us in such a way. With a bright, almost ethereal electro pop, they let us forget the weight of life and escape into the lightness of being.
Kaspar Kalluste, Tarvi Kull and Rosanna Lints are three musicians from Estonia who know how to perfectly merge their acoustic perception. Music has been in their veins since they were kids and while studying at Georg Otsa Music School in Tallinn, their paths crossed. Würffel was born.
We talked to them about Estonian music, about their work and about their new song, “Burdened Sky,” which has just been released.
You studied music at the same university and played together in different bands afterwards until you decided to start your own band. What connected you throughout this period?
Kaspar: Tarvi and I have been really good friends since we went to Georg Otsa Music School together at the age of 16. That was probably the main reason but of course we met each other through music. Six years ago we began to write music and starting our own band was just the next logical step.
Tarvi: Yes, it is friendship that keeps people together. Also we are into the same kind of music.
Do you remember the first song that you ever played together?
It must have been about 10 years ago in an ensemble class at the Music School, it was Hot Fudge by Robbie Williams.
Could you tell us more about your creative process of writing a song?
We would usually start by putting together some harmonies and rhythms so that there is some kind of groove and harmonic base but not too much production happening, yet. We then send our demo to Rosanna who writes a melody and then comes to our studio with her winning idea. Sometimes we add small things or take something out but that’s basically how it works. When we found the final melody, Rosanna writes the lyrics and eventually we start producing the song.
How do you find inspiration?
Kaspar: Inspiration is something that I don’t have to find. I start writing music and just do it, without judgement or rules. I don’t believe in not having inspiration, of course you can have moments in your life when you don’t have any ideas and you feel like being totally out of writing music but that happens most likely due to personal issues.
Where do you see yourself in the Estonian music scene? Do you have particular goals on an international level?
That’s hard to say because we are newcomers. However, most people in the Estonian music business know us from our previous projects so we are in a good starting position. When we release a new song it is rather simple to get featured or to get any kind of help because we know the right people. We are looking for ways how to make it into the international music scene. Some people from Germany were interested in working with us as well as good friends in Latvia and Lithuania. We’ll see where those connections lead us!
You played at Waves Central Europe—the theme for this year’s showcase was ‘East meets West’ with a focus was on the Baltic States. How did you experience the festival as an Estonian band?
Tarvi: The first day in Vienna was great. We had our last open air gig this year which was quite surprising but pure fun. The next day in Bratislava we got this real festival feeling. I think they were better organized in Bratislava with more venues and a bigger audience. We really enjoyed Waves Central Europe!
Kaspar: I didn’t experience much of the ‘East meets West’ topic but it was great that the festival had this focus. It gave us the opportunity to perform at the festival, otherwise it would have been harder to be chosen from all the great bands from all around the world.
The Estonian Independence from the Soviet Union followed the country’s ‘Singing Revolution’ in the late 1980s. Do you feel that your country still has a special connection to music nowadays?
Tarvi: The Singing Revolution was a natural way to express our feeling though music because we’ve had the Estonian Song Festival since 1869. It takes place every 4 years. Especially then we feel really connected.
Kaspar: Yes, the Singing Revolution was surely a good thing. Estonia as a post-soviet country has been working really hard for the music scene to reach the same level as for example in Sweden and Finland. Jazz music and education is the best approach to learn everything about harmony, rhythm etc. and it was forbidden in Soviet times. We still have a lot to catch up on but Estonian musicians do their best to get better every day.
Your songs are mostly written in a bright tonality. Ethereal synths caress Rosanna’s edgy but warm voice singing stories of youth. What drives you to create such light and positive music?
Rosanna: Creating a positive lightness around you does good to everybody, I feel we have to share that.
Kaspar: It is the dark and cold winter—something totally contrary—that drives us to write positive music. It might sound weird but somehow it works like that. We try to use our positive energy and good vibes to create music.
Tarvi: We just want to express ourselves that way!
Rosanna, at concerts and in your music video, you frame your singing with choreography. What is the connection between your music and contemporary dance?
Rosanna: I took dancing classes since I was 8 years old, it was around the same time when I started singing—the two have always gone hand in hand. I learned many different dancing styles from Ballroom Dance all the way to Show Dance and Hip Hop, but not exactly Contemporary. It seems to be a mix of different styles so maybe that is why you might call it Contemporary. But yeah, singing and dancing are in my blood.
You write your own songs. You have your own studio and do much of the production process yourself. You wear outfits designed especially for your band. Where does this holistic approach to making music come from?
Kaspar: We just enjoy doing that all together and we have really good friends who help us on our way. It is important for us to wear something special, something that connects us even more. Anna Viik is the designer of our clothes and Sohvi Viik takes care of the photos, the design and the videos.
Your new song, “Burdened Sky,” takes us right into the beautiful feeling of careless nights. When you are right in the moment and what matters is neither the past nor the future—the feeling of flying high, of ‘reaching the point beyond a beat’. What inspired you to write this song?
Rosanna: Everybody has good days and bad days. It’s part of our lives. Melodramatic songs and sad stories sometimes seem beautiful to us but it’s hard to like darkness in your own life, in the present. The people around me inspired me to the lyrics in Burdened Sky: people that I can share my emotions with and who I can walk with on my not always but sometimes burdened sky.
It’s a simple but strong song: two verses, a repetitive refrain, an instrumental part and a short ad lib at the end. Is the song not about telling us a story but much more about conveying a feeling?
Rosanna: Yes, the song is about thoughts about feelings. These feelings are not exactly captured but rather the continuous chance to experience them. It’s that kind of stuff that’s going in my mind when I am not doing anything.
Where will your path lead you next? Any projects that you are currently working on?
We are continuously writing new music and we will release either an EP or an LP soon. Also we are working on another music video and we plan to release it in the beginning of next year.