Kadri Voorand, the leader of the a cappella band called Estonian Voices, gave us an interview before the presentation of their new album at the Christmas Jazz on the 30th of November.
Pilarica Martin: Kadri, your background, despite your young age, is well known for many different projects. Can you tell us something about your background as a soloist?
Kadri Voorand: As a soloist? Well, my background contains many aspects of me being a musician in general, I have many groups. But I don’t think that I’m a different part of the band, not from any of the other members. I think that being a soloist is not an option in jazz or any kind of music where creative process takes place on the stage or new ideas develop on it.
PM: And your background as a musician?
KV: My background goes back to my childhood. My mom leaded a folk band, so I went to all the performances they had since I could walk, and I played whatever folk instrument I could play with and dance. This was a big part of me becoming a musician. But my education in music was the classical piano during high school, when I also played folk violin, mostly by ear, I only took a few lessons. I was also in a cappella group when I was at school, I started my own group called Sheikid.
PM: So you already had some experience in that kind of bands, did you want to try it again?
KV: Exactly, a cappella group was very natural for me because I’ve sung in Sheikid, we even won some competitions! In Estonian of course. But after finishing high school, our band didn’t last for long because everybody went to study different things and I was the only one who went to study music.
PM: So you were asked to lead the group, why? And how did you feel about it?
KV: Because Estonia was the capital of culture in 2011, and Jazzkaar is a part of whatever jazz event music in Estonia. So they just thought that it would be really good to start something new. And when I got this offer I didn’t hesitate for long because I already knew what I could do with a cappella group, as I was singing in my first band Sheikid. I can say that I felt excited.
PM: You said that the band was created for Estonia 2011, but your first performance was in the Christmas Jazz in 2010, how was that?
KV: We had the first presentation in that festival which was recorded and sent to Britt Quentin, who was coming to teach us. He got this material for analyzing, so when he came, he already knew very well each of our voices. That was the main reason of our soonest presentation in public. And Britt Quentin inspired us to continue, so we didn’t break up after this project for 2011. We really liked it and it was a lot of work. It would have been a pity just to let it go, so here we are.
PM: Now, four years have passed: what has changed? What are your expectations for the forthcoming concert?
KV: We have now more material and of course everything has gone better in quality. So I just hope that people don’t come to listen to us nothing but with open and warm mind, because we are really singing from our hearts and we hope that people get this message. And I also hope that the concert inspires each member of the group to continue the work.
PM: You already have an album, how and where was the recording process?
KV: We recorded here in Tallinn in Radio Studio and it was different from usual bands. But the mastering was in Sweden, as we met Peder Karlsson from The Real Group (a famous Swedish a cappella group). When I was searching the mixing sound engineer for our album, I was looking for the best so I asked Peder about it and he introduced me to two men who are recording, mixing and producing their own projects, but they did an exception with us and mastered the record.
PM: All of you come from different backgrounds, was it easy to lead the group? What were the difficulties you had at the beginning?
KV: Well, different backgrounds were more a strength than a weak point, the difficulty was, as I already mentioned, that everybody is really busy with many projects, we don’t have that much time so it wasn’t easy to find the perfect time for everyone.
PM: You are presenting your new album in Estonia until 10th of December, are you continuing with it next year?
KV: Yes, of course. That’s why we’ve been working so hard and are still working. There are some projects for summer in Estonia.
PM: You have already performed in Germany, Russia and Sweden, are you thinking about a tour abroad again? Which countries? Any new countries?
KV: Of course, that’s the dream to have those performances but there’s a long way to go. It’s a long process and a lot of work to spread our music and let people know about us and that’s not happening overnight, it takes time. But when the CD comes out, we have some ideas that I can’t say out loud now (laughs).
PM: What’s your opinion about the obstacles that the musicians have at the moment?
KV: Web music stores, but changes are coming, as far as big companies such as iTunes, Spotify, etc. are planning different kind of fees to make it easier, but the system is not clear yet. We will see how the music develops online. Anyway, it’s not a good timing for recording.
Moreover, Estonia is a small country so if you want to have more than 8 concerts you must have contacts abroad, and that’s really difficult. There are not so many managers for jazz bands who can connect us and spread our music as much as we would like to.
PM: Would you like to add something? Any clarifications, messages, feelings to say?
KV: I just hope that people are open-minded and open-hearted to music and new things. And for musicians: it’s hard, you have to practice and work a lot but keep going.
Estonian Voices, 30th of November 2014 at Kumu auditorium
Kadri Voorand – vokaal
Maria Väli – vokaal
Mirjam Dede – vokaal
Mikk Dede – vokaal
Arno Tamm – vokaal
Aare Külama – vokaal