Louisa Lyne is an intriguing and exciting musician who has tackled a rich collection of Jewish folk songs on her album Debyut with her group Die Yiddish Kapelye. I met Louisa at WOMEX this year while touring the expo and she introduced me to her unique and wonderful music. A few weeks later and after an exchange of emails I have managed to uncover the stories behind Debyut and how the album was created.
By: Sam Murray
SR: I wondered if you could start by telling me what is your musical background?
Louisa: I’ve been surrounded with music all my life and it’s always been unthinkable for me to work with something else! My father, Peter Lyne, (www.phlyne.com) is a composer who moved to Sweden from England in order to study modern music. My mother is Swedish and works as a recorder and guitar teacher. My training is in musical theatre, where I got my degree from The Ballet Academy in Gothenburg and from Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London.
What inspires you as a musician to perform?
A lot of things inspire me to be honest. I’m very attracted to nature and scenery and love odd things like walking in heavy snow or rainfall. That really gets my imagination going and frees my mind. Also existential matters fascinate (and frighten) me. And to perform? Well, nothing inspires me more than the magic of the theatre. And people. Talented, creative people to work with both on and off stage.
How did you collect the material that you perform?
I collect music through books, people and my imagination. I wish I could say that the songs behind DEBYUT where carefully thought out through lots of hard work, but that wasn’t the case… When I was asked to record a CD, I didn’t know what to expect nor did I see the impact it would have to my career and life. I simply took songs I had worked on for a while and liked our arrangements of! Luckily I had people around me who knew all about the industry and could lead me in the right direction.
What is your connection with the music you perform?
As I’m Swedish and not been brought up with either Jewish culture or Yiddish, I found the passion for the language and music later in life. But when I came across it- it was love at first sight! There is something in me that connects with this language and it’s musical treasure. My feelings for these songs have grown so powerful that I don’t think I could live without them. I believe my non-Jewish upbringing has helped me found my own way of performing these songs and in some ways I’ve worked as an ambassador, introducing this music to people in Sweden.
How did you decide which musicians to work with?
Three of my musicians where given choices- my accordionist, since we planned this band together. My guitarist/pianist, since that’s my brother. And my double bass player, since we’re from the same small northern town and we’d played together for several years.
The violinist was also an easy choice. She is one of the kindest, most talented and modest persons I ever met! The hardest for us to find was a cellist who not only knew classical music, but also improvisation and could work without sheet music! After trying out a few different musicians, we finally found the perfect match!
What stories do your songs tell?
I try to stick to poetry I like. It can be a range of lullabies, ghetto lids, love songs, theater songs or just imaginary themes. I avoid songs with a strictly religious message, since I’m not a religious person and don’t believe I can do them justice.
There is a rich history of Judaism in Europe, what do you feel your music can contribute to this?
I’m going to connect my answer to a previous question. My own Swedish background has really helped me bring this music out to this country in an unpretentious and un-political way. In my band we represent several cultural backgrounds and we believe good music is for everyone! I think I’ve made many many people (who normally never would listen to Yiddish songs) listen and like it!
Is music a universal language?
Yes! No doubt in my mind.
What music are you enjoying at the moment?
Right now I’m enjoying, Björk- Homogenic – live, Karima Nayt – Quoi d´ature? and Bruce Springsteen- Nebraska.
What is the future for Louisa Lyne?
I’m looking forward to a creative and productive 2014! Not only are we getting more bookings than ever, with requests from various parts of Europe, but we’re also recording our next album. I’m very excited about our new material and the direction our music is taking. If you liked DEBYUT, you will love the one to come!