Photo by Serville Poblete
Friday, 22 October 2021 19:00
Estonian Life No. 42 2021 - Vincent Teetsov
If you haven't yet bought your tickets or bookmarked Estonian Music Week's YouTube channel
or Facebook page
for the concerts on Friday October 22nd and Saturday October 23rd, then you'll definitely want to do so now!
On Friday the 22nd — the first night of the festival — Estyr
will be sharing the stage of Toronto's Paradise Theatre with Kaili Kinnon, in addition to a live-streamed performance from Rita Ray in Tallinn, Estonia.
You may know Estyr from the alt-pop band Tiger Balme, featuring a quintet of vibraphone, harp, drums, bass, and guitar. Alternatively, you may be familiar with her performances as a solo artist, for which she has headlined with Kaili Kinnon in the past. Across these projects and Toronto's music scene, she has presented poignant musical vignettes through her singing and acoustic guitar playing.
Before her concert, read more about the story behind the songs:One of the themes you describe as being part of your music is the concept of liminality. You also mention Toronto's suburbs. What in particular about this city and liminal spaces are you seeking to capture with your songwriting?
My mother lived in Finland for over 20 years, and my dad grew up in Singapore for the same length of time. As their daughter, I always felt the presence of what they left behind. It felt as if we were always “in-between” the past and the future. To me, the suburbs represent this in-between space as well: an area that many folks don't have deep roots in; a place where they hope to build and experience a lasting sense of home.Listening to your 2019 single “Human Alchemy”, it seems that you have long been a proponent for a measured building-up of dynamics in a song. In music, would you agree with a statement like "quiet is the new loud"?
When I went to Finland and experienced Lutheran religious services, I felt how deeply my music is influenced by a Finnish sensibility of writing haunting melodies and honouring silence. Finns aren't afraid of using silence to make a statement. Perhaps I would say “quiet is the old loud” haha.At the same time, in songs like your recent single “High on a Feeling”, you contrast mid-tempo tranquility with a volatile final chorus. How does going against expectations play a role in your compositions?
For me, I arrange songs not to go against expectations but to be honest about the feeling I'm expressing. “High on a Feeling” is about love that floats into your life and creates a big chaotic disruption in the best way!In the past, you've spoken eloquently about your Finnish, Singaporean, and Chinese background. You've performed in Finland and speak Finnish. Do you find connecting to your family heritage to be a vital part of your career as an artist?
It's essential! As a multiracial person, it has taken me a long time to collect the threads of my heritage. Through my art, I'm able to knit these threads together and discover a way forward.What was the best part of playing shows in Finland?
Experiencing a Finnish crowd was so interesting! Whenever I make art, I'm aware of a Finland of the past: the Finland which raised my mom. It felt refreshing to give a Finnish audience the songs I had been writing, and it felt like a way to connect the present to the past.You previously performed with fellow Estonian Music Week artist Kaili Kinnon at the Drake Underground in early 2020. Have you known each other for a long time?
I met the one-in-a-million Kaili Kinnon in a gospel choir class at York University. We've been friends since as we share a deep love for songwriting and of course, European heritage.What are you most excited about in the lead-up to performing your songs at night one of Estonian Music Week on October 22nd?
The pandemic has changed me as an artist and I'm excited and proud to share what I've been working on with this community.
You can get tickets for all Estonian Music Concerts at estonianmusicweek.ca .
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Written by Vincent Teetsov