Kati Rán Interview

Written by on February 4, 2019

I read that you are a self taught musician. How difficult or easy is to play so many different instruments? Especially historical instruments?

Depending on your background in music it will be easier or more challenging to learn to play an instrument.  Considering I had no musical training before starting out to create music ten years ago, I would say that anyone with a genuine interest and motivation will be able to learn and play.  So, if you feel called to create music I would advise to just go for it and start. Everyone has to start from somewhere. Be open to ask questions or help other players and seek advice from builders of historical instruments and go from there.  
You have loads of stringed instruments like the nyckelharpa, the Kraviklyra etc. Which one do you like the most and you feel that accompanies better your voice?Why did you chose these particular instruments?
The instrument that i will choose  really depends on the song or mood I am trying to convey. When you play the bowed strings of the Swedish nyckelharpa it gives a melancholic and historical feeling. This instrument supports dramatic slow pieces, as well as rhythmical or even playful upbeat pieces, though I tend to play it more repetitive and when i am in a darker mood. The raisin waxed strings immediately transports my mind to a windy mountain peak when I am playing.  The Kraviklyra is perfect for accompanying vocals or stories and I am still learning to master it, as there as several ways in which you can play it. The skin drums are a perfect choice for trance-induction or performing a driving beat.
How hard or easy is to sing and play instrument at the same time?
I would say it is hard, but this is only because simultaneously singing and playing does not come natural to me, while others have it ασ α gift by birth, like my daughter. 
It is also a matter of training the brain and muscle-memory by repetition.
You compose songs. Where do you take ideas from? Is it from old nordic music?
I find a small inspiration in the form of a beautiful text or a humming melody that falls into mind, a haunting dream or by diving into Norse historical sources. From there I build and expand ideas onto that initial inspiration. I usually work at night. This is when I can dive in my own hyper-focus and I am not disturbed by many moving ‘energies’ that are around me during daytime. Some time after creating the album LYS, I wanted to create new music that is fitting to the internal processes I have lived, reflective of my innermost eye-sight, entwined with something which I can only describe as feeling ‘Greater than me’. Instead of following earlier treaded paths in songwriting, I am now working on a new album under the name RÁN that feels in many ways not like writing music in the traditional sense. I had to let go of any quick fixes, like ‘verse, chorus, verse’ set-ups. I take my time as well. Now I am telling a Story, rising from the subconscious to the conscious, from the deep sea coming to the surface. My new songs are thoughts, melodies and knowledge washed ashore for a careful finder to pick up. 
 You are from the Netherlands but you love, as I understand the music of the Nordic countries. How is that? Do you think your music soul is connected with the North?
I personally believe we are all woven together somehow. My life tread is connected to the North for sure.  I will always aim to ‘do right’ to Norse influences to the best of my ability, coming from the Netherlands. Learning to go deeper and inform myself more along the way.  Some lessons were hard, some came softly. But at least, I picked them up and sail my own course. I have reached a state where I feel comfortable with the material and feel accepted and seen.
 Light or darkness?
Duality. One cannot exist without the other.
Are you inspired from the Nordic landscapes?  In the video of your song SUURIN you have directed, we see a Nordic landscape I believe.
The nature is deeply impressive and demands respect. I feel hunger for more of it. 
In SUURIN, we portrayed the Nordic landscape, but we actually traveled to South Germany to film.
Could you explain to me about the lyrics of SUURIN? I understand it is in Finnish language. Do you speak finnish or any of the Scandinavian languages?
The text used in SUURIN is lended with courtesy from the SUOMALAINEN TIEDEAKATEMIA | Academia Scientarum Fennica, by their publication on Oral Folklore Studies by Anthropologist and Professor of Ethnology Laura Stark.  This Karelean dialect and orally transmitted wolf-rite I have put to music. The precise lyrics can be found online or in the booklet of the album LYS (2015).
What would you advice a young person about starting a historical instrument like the kravik lyra or the nyckelharpa? Is it better to have a teacher or to learn by themselves?  Is it hard to find teachers to teach these instruments? (I play the nyckelharpa myself and I have to travel to Sweden in order to receive some lessons.The bow is very difficult.)
I would advise to do some additional research in how it is played by others, both historically and in modern performing bands.  There are several courses available for Nyckelharpa technique, which will give some foundation, but I also believe you will greatly benefit by just trying it out yourself, to find your own way and style of playing.  
How was the experience to sing at Midgardsblot?
We have been honored by the invitation to come and play MIDGARDSBLOT with my music in 2016. It was really special to perform in Norway on such exquisite historical grounds. 
I have been there on their first edition, initially playing as a guest-musician with the lovely folks of Folket Bortafor Nordevinden.  In 2016 I gave my own concert and in 2017 I visited Midgardsblot to do a guest performance with Gaahl’s Wyrd and provide management of the Heilung debut show.  We loved playing there, meeting longstanding friends and new inspiring people. I believe the festival is relatively young, with a great philosophy and is quickly and thoroughly becoming more famous each year. 
You have sung for the movie Redbad with a soundtrack composed by Trevor Morris (Viking series composer). Tell me about this experience.
This had been a incredibly exiting development for me, when Trevor Morris reached out to talk about the music for this Vikings film project with a joint production coming from L.A. and the Netherlands.  I really enjoyed the whole experience and did learn a lot. It also means that I quickly had to upgrade my skill set when it comes to delivering home recordings for a movie soundtrack. I thrive on such challenges.  Mr. Trevor Morris is such a great and nice person. I am thankful to have worked on REDBAD with him. 
What is your favorite group or singer that inspires you?
One of the people that inspires me is my friend Kristian Espedal (Gaahl) and the way in which he works on several Art and Music projects. I admire the work and stage presence of Anna von Hauswolff, the work of my friends at HEILUNG and the established skaldic works of Einar Selvik | WARDRUNA.
Neo folk or traditional? Do you think neo folk could be a trap sometimes to understand the tradition or does it help young generation to come to tradition?
Neither. I prefer projects with a stroke of newfound individuality in any genre. I do admire skillful players as well.
Do you think there is a trend the last two years around neo folk, celtic, nordic, historical instruments and kulning? Why do you think people are more and more interested in this?Is it the fantasy movies or the historical series that use all the above?
I think, nowadays, people are searching more and more for their own roots. Established Norse music groups give a certain direction and inspiration to exactly that topic. People of any socio-economic class can connect to it on a deep level, even without understanding the lyrics; the general energy and imagery certainly seems to speak to a lot of people. It looks like a need arises to find ones own voice and craft, for example by performing Kulning in the woods on a video. It is seen as a ‘hot’ topic and for some, the hype is somewhat debatable. Period movies and series are just another extension of that rising interest.  When people find their own meaning and path within the material and do the research to aim for a individual and authentic expression, whilst keeping clear and far away of ultra-right intentions, then it is only a good thing.
Are you inspired by old Nordic religion?
As soon as it is called a ‘religion’ I am usually on my way out of the door. But, I do draw inspiration from the preserved imagery and the old Gods.
Do you have plans to do some concert in Greece?( We would love to have you here!)
As of yet there are none, but I would love to come over to Greece to perform, all in due time. 
At the moment I withhold any live concerts, but I will return to stages sometime. 

“Music can be considered one of the strongest ways to communicate with one another on a intimate and personal level. Music created from deep within can transmit pure feeling and universal emotions. Therefore, music is a reminder that we are part of nature; it may cause the listener to wake up and see the beauty of the dream called Life.” – Kati Rán

Music Biography 
Change is a force of nature. When paganfolk singer and multi-instrumentalist Kati Rán dissolved her band L.E.A.F. in 2015 to embark on a solo project RÁN, it was so that a new, more primal vision could emerge, unbound by conventional song structure and tuned to the vast dynamics where intuition and the elemental meet.

That vision is about to surface with the release of the track, Blodbylgje. Delving deeper into Nordic mythology and the perpetual currents that course through them, it’s an immersive, 15-minute séance, featuring guest vocals from world-renowned Gaahls Wyrd frontman Gaahl, that takes the metaphor-rich environs of the ocean as both its thematic and sonic guide. Restless yet meditative, finding its bearings in glacial yet ceaseless flow and flux, it’s bound to both the rhythms of the ancient Nordic Eddas, and the enigmatic essence of its spiritual guide, Blóðughadda – one of the nine, sea-personifying daughters of Ægir and Rán, said to represent the ‘bloody hair’ red crest of the waves.

Recorded at home and in the studios of Heilung’s Christoper Juul and former Enslaved keyboard player and vocalist Herbrand Larsen, Blodbylgje doesn’t seek to recreate ancient forms, it’s an act of regeneration. Kati’s velveteen, trance-borne reveries, incantations and stern, spoken word narration, merged with the abyssal undertow of Gaahl’s baritone chants, chart a new and expansive set of sonic co-ordinates. Awash in susurrating drones drawn from oceanic overtones, and the creak and distant crash of ropes and waves, Blodbylgje re-imagines the sea as mercurial and enriching, amniotic medium. A fever dream that unloosens the boundaries of consciousness, it retunes itself to both the unfamiliar beyond and earlier, residual states of awareness within.

A herald of a larger work to come, Blodbylgje is the embarking of a journey that has already ranged past all know marker points.
It begins here, as a whisper to reawaken the core.

“There was always a moment, sailing between the shore and island, when neither was in sight.” – Steve Erickson, ‘Tours Of The Black Clock’

Words by Jonathan Selzer

RÁN is a Dutch vocalist performing mostly in Nordic languages. In her work she utilizes a variety of historical folk instruments, such as the Swedish Nyckelharpa, Hammered Dulcimer, Norwegian Kraviklyra, (overtone & bone) flutes, Finnish Kantele, percussion instruments and skin-drums.

“From the start is has been my intention to make music that carries the power to reconnect people back to nature, to their history and to each other, while sounding fresh and pure as Nature itself.”



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