BORN in Rakvere, a small town in the very north of Estonia, a handful of miles from the Baltic Sea, the experimental musician Maarja Nuut was first introduced to music by her mother, a choir conductor, which opened up a world which would become her métier.
Aged 7 she began taking violin lessons, studying at the Tallinn Music High School from the age of 12 and pursuing musical academia at three universities; Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, Viljandi Culture Academy and Royal College of Music in Stockholm.
Early on she developed an interest in folk music, in a country with a rich tradition of the same, and began to adopt the style of traditional village song, taking that canon and marrying it to contemporary electronica – with bewitching results, as you can hear herein on “Kutse tantsule / A Call For Dance”, the fragile, playful, beautiful first single to be taken from her August album, Hinged.
What may be a gentle, thumbed guitar, fractured and reassembled through a cloudy mirror of electronics, thrums with a skeletal beat, over which Maarja part-speaks, part-sings an impressionistic lullaby, all cries from the soul, mutters, sudden lofting into crystalline, beauty, a voice absolutely free. It’s joyous, devil-may-care, occasionally has an air of a French psych/yé-yé track completely through the looking glass, absolutely given free rein to be exactly the self it’s always wanted to be. It sings of an absolute musical freedom. It’s like a glass of elderflower cordial on a hot afternoon; it brings new life.
Maarja says she’s always been interested in storytelling and what the past can tell us about the future; for her, myths provide connection points to the modern world and societal upheaval.
“One’s existence hinges on past generations – we are what has come before,” she says.
“I gradually began to grasp this thought after inheriting my grandmother’s old farm. Five generations’ worth of personal possessions; land that had sustained my forebears. Clearing the impenetrable brush, and sorting through buildings bursting with artifacts, felt like a long ritual filled with layers, layers, and more layers.
“In between this physical, emotional work, I spent time in my seaside studio randomly wiring modulars, experimenting with my voice, and strumming old Vermona organ, just as a spontaneous reflection of my thoughts or, at times, as an imaginary reunion of relatives.
“Those sessions eventually became Hinged, a record deserving of its very specific bilingual title – in Estonian, it means departed spirits and soul; in English, a link that holds things together.
“These songs are a thread between the two meanings, and a summation of a year spent exploring my family history and my place in it,” she says.
And this first single? For all its musical multivalency, it’s actually quite an open and honest invitation, she reveals.
“‘Kutse tantsule / A Call For Dance’ is as simple as that – a kind invitation to join me for a little dance wherever you are, stuck in your flat, bog-walking or dreaming of a tropical sea breeze. Nature is flourishing, and so should we!”
Maarja Nuut’s Hinged will be released digitally, on limited edition cassette and on vinyl on August 20th and may be pre-ordered from Bandcamp, here.