Eldbjørg Raknes is a Norwegian musician who has a unique approach to music and to performing. It was her first time here, performing for Estonian audience. She performed in KUMU Auditorium in Tallinn and in Viljandi together with the talented Swedish pianist Oscar Grönberg.
“I have never been here before. We went out and this location is very convenient, because we could walk in the Old Town. It is beautiful,” Raknes commented at the start of the interview.
Growing up with music
Raknes grew up in a farm in Western Norway, on the island of Otrøya. Her family and homeland roots somewhat influenced her way of life. A little girl coming from farmer’s family was very eager to play on piano and test different sounds. “I grew up with music in life. Music was part of our family – my grandmother was just sitting and playing songs for herself. I used to go to her house to play on the organ since I was very little,” explains Raknes. Later her parents bought a piano, because they saw her passion for music.
“It was very important because if my parents did not support me, then my life might have been gone to another direction.” A Polish musician came to Otrøya during the same time period, and later, at the age of 13, her teacher encouraged her to go to the city to study more music.
Raknes was accepted to the jazz department of Trondheim’s conservatory. She studied classical piano but also learned a lot about herself and other people around her. Her willingness to be open and try new things in life shaped her studies: “It was too narrow for me to express what I wanted to say through music. I wanted to search for another room for me in music.” She stresses that when you love music it is impossible not the make it, despite all the challenges of being a musician. “It is very competitive, and you have challenges from inside and from outside.”
On collaboration and upcoming plans
Raknes always enjoys cooperating with Swedish pianist Oscar Grönberg. He has a specific and stylish sense to the music. “Oscar is brilliant in a very open way. He has a lot of respect for the material and tradition but he is also very eager to go anywhere out of the material,” said Raknes.
Their collaboration is natural as she explains what happens during the rather improvised concert: “It is very intimate playing and breathing together. It is very free what happens on the concert; the performance forms are very open and we need to listen to each other and follow each other.” Their collaboration continues as Raknes has started a new band for her music where Oscar is a member.
She often performs for young audience as well and describes the experience as fantastic. “I take them really seriously as an audience. It is very challenging, because they are open for anything. It is not easy to play for children, but I like the energy that comes from them.”
She continues to explore the musical field and herself in it. Her future plans include releasing a new album with her band. The album comes out on March 8. The album will have only her own songs. She also plans to continue teaching: “I love teaching; it is a really great thing to be in touch with the young people all the time. You teach and also study from them. It is healthy and inspiring”
Winter Jazz 2016
February 27, 2016 in KUMU Auditorium
Eldbjørg Raknes – vocal
Oscar Grönberg – piano
See the photos from the concert here.