Here we bring to you another interview from Sines Festival. This time it is the turn of the wonderful Sutari: Basia Songin, Kasia Kapela and Zosia Zembrzuska. Three young women who reinterpret traditional Polish songs with the Sutartine style, an ancestral Lithuanian tradition that is based on harmony and perfect connection between the voices of 2, 3 or 4 women. In addition to that, they also explore the musicality of kitchen instruments used in their daily lives. An irresistible and creative amalgam for the ears: let yourself be carried away by the harmony of Sutari!
WiM: How did you start to play together?
Basia: We first were good friends and used to work in the same theatre; after few years we just decided to keep on going and started to make music together.
Kasia: It was like a continuation to keep on meeting and trying new things.
Zosia: The theatre was working a lot with music, so it was a natural step for us.
And do you rehearse in the kitchen?
Kasia: Very often!
Zosia: Basia cooks really well, so we just help her and make some sounds while she is preparing the food.
How came this idea of using kitchen instruments?
Basia: At the beginning, it wasn’t a plan or an idea, one day we were in the kitchen and started to play rhythms with kitchen objects and such things. Using creativity and simply enjoying ourselves!
Zosia: But then we connected it with an image of a community of women, sitting together while working, talking about their husbands, lovers, gossiping. Then we found using the kitchen tools as a natural addition to our whole philosophy.
Kasia: It’s also our little contribution to breaking the stereotypes of how women should act. You might expect women using kitchen tools to cook, but we are making something different with them!
Do you change the lyrics of the traditional songs you sing?
Basia: We don’t change anything. We just try to put the old lyrics in our context and reinterpret them, then you can feel they are very contemporary poems.
Zosia: When we read the lyrics of a song we want to work on, at first we talk about what it does mean and what we find important and touching in it. Sometimes we understand various things, that’s why in some of our songs you can really hear three voices singing the same lyrics, but telling three different stories.
That’s because we may feel different emotions and interpret the meaning in different ways.
How it is being 3 women touring and making concerts? Would you say you felt treated differently for being “only” women?
Zosia: For me, regarding organisers or audience, I would say we have never felt any differences, although I never played in another group so I can’t compare with being in a mixed group. Anyway, I should remark that I feel very well treated every time.
Kasia: I would say sometimes I have experienced difficulties by technicians or people from the staff when giving orders about the sound and things like that. Like they see three young women doing their thing and they think: what do you know about it? However, we have quite a strong audience between women who support us, and also men with a non-macho approach. We have always felt solidarity and that’s very nice!
What’s the relation with Lithuania in your music?
Kasia: First, Basia has roots in Lithuania, and she passed us some of her traditions.
Basia: There are these songs, Sutartines, which are really special and ancient. People say that women singing surtatines were always singing together, a whole life, and when one of these women died the others would never sing together anymore. That’s because when you are singing with somebody for a long time, something very special happens with your voices, they come together and match perfectly, to this point that the listener cannot distinguish who is singing which line. Like one voice singing many voices and tones.
Kasia: This is also very special and attractive for us, being like one voice without having a main one.
Zosia: We are not singing the surtatines themselves, we sing traditional Polish songs, but we are really inspired by the form of this Lithuanian songs, by working together as a unity, by the voices who can be as much together as you can imagine.
How do you find these Polish songs? With the help of your grandmas?
Basia: Unfortunately no, sometimes you can hear a bit in the villages but we mainly got it from ethnographic archives. It’s difficult to find them because after second world war people were ashamed of Polish music. Polish tradition from the villages was used as a propaganda for the communism, so people connotated it negatively later.
But right now we are living a revival of the music traditions, since around 20 years people have been feeling proud again of the heritage which, in our point of view, can bring a lot to bring to our current times.
What is your next project?
Kasia: Well, in the next project that we are just starting to “cook” we want to open ourselves to other traditions and philosophies and find lyrics from different places.
Zosia: Yes, we want to work on important subjects that touch us and we could use them to share a message.
Kasia: I feel that we will experiment more, because we came from singing ancestral songs and we want to have the freedom of choosing whatever we feel we will enjoy.
Basia: It used to be like that, people from the village were singing about what is important for them, like how they perceive and see the world. So for the new album we are looking for this philosophical idea without getting constrained in our ancient society. Like for example we found a theory of Pythagoras (Harmoni Mundi), that to summarize you in a short sentence it tells how the planets are connected by harmony. We felt it truly touched us and are working on implementing it in our creations. Anyways you will see it in a near future!