Serbian violinist and vocalist Tijana Stanković and Slovenian violinist and vocalist Ana Kravanja had formed their duo and started to make music together last year. As a duo they, through improvisation, combine not only their own idiosyncratic string and vocal expressions, but also strong interplay between contemporary sounds and traditions. Ana Kravanja is known as a tireless improviser who is active on local and international scenes (she plays with Samo Kutin, Susanna Gartmayer, Marko Karlovčec etc.), and as a member of groups Širom, Najoua and Olfamoštvo. Tijana Stanković is violinist and vocalist, present on the international improv scene, she plays in duo with Miroslav Tóth, in large ensembles such as Hyperion Ensemble and Mezei Szilárd’s Túl a Tiszán Innen, and in groups Argo, vocal group Rođenice and as a solo performer. After last year’s artistic residencies, concerts and studio recording session, they present their first album ‘trkam kličem odganjam / kucam dozivam teram’, which will be released on 6 April, on the same day, when the duo is performing at concert series Keltika in Cerkno. After that they will perform two concerts in Wien. We talked to them about their collaboration and their debut album.
Luka T. Zagoričnik: It seems like that the two of you are soundwise and creatively very close, although you went throught different paths and two very personal sound expressions. You both use violin and voice as your primary instrumensts, and at the same time you are both interested in different musical traditions from around the world, in folk music, that you two mix with more contemporary styles. Where do you see similarities and where do you see differences between you two, that are then tightly knitted in your music?
Ana Kravanja: “I can see closeness in our common interest in similar music. We both play the same instrument, we are both singing, and we are interested in folk music and free improvised music, and we used these different musical approaches and their merging together even before our collaboration. We are different in terms of our musical expression and, of course, because of the different environments and traditions – in music and in general.”
Tijana Stanković: “It is very difficult to be excluded from the life situation and comparatively observe the project in which we are intensely present. We’re both women of the same generation, and thus share a universal female experience, derived from the mental and physical understanding of the world. Music is created in the heart and the mind, and also from the muscles, because the quality of the tone is conditioned by the physical power, with the dynamics of the movement of the body, while the voice depends on the vocal apparatus. We also share a relationship to exploration and search for new ways of sound research which sometimes requires courage and descent into the unknown. The duet calls for a sharing of everything in two – the presence of the ego, self-censorship, the giving of space and surpression of expression. We differ in our sensibility and the cultural – and musical – background which gives us enough material to enrich the final creation.”
Luka T. Zagoričnik: The main sounds of your music are violins, embedded in a wide variety of playing techniques and styles, and they are joined by voices that sometimes complement the sound of strings, sometimes working in parallel. What is the relationship between the voice and the sound of violins in your music?
Ana Kravanja: “We combine the voice with the instruments in as many different ways as possible. The voice is very personal and quickly takes on the lead role. But since the voice can also be very similar to the sound of a violin, it can blend with it. Sometimes vocals are like sound, sometimes as a melody; in any case, we change it’s role in the compositional structure, sometimes it is in the background, and sometimes it plays the main role, and lies on the surface. Combining voice and instrumentation is demanding, it’s a kind of juggling. You have to concentrate in two areas simultaneously, in the body for voice and outside on the instrument. Because we are two performers, these roles between voices and violins are constantly changing and producing interesting layers in the music.”
Tijana Stanković: “Voice does not have a leading, solo function, but often represents an addition to the overall sound image.”
Luka T. Zagoričnik: In your music, you travel through a number of sound fields, from the embodiments of textures, deconstruction of rhythm, different timbres, to experiments with voices and singing, somewhere between tones, noise and melody. It sounds like your music is torn between the radical contemporary sound and something much older, raw, folkish. What is the relationship between the influence of folk traditions and the influence of contemporary music in your music?
Ana Kravanja: “We have been both long involved in free improvised music and in folk music, Tijana in Serbian traditional music, and I’m more in various traditional musics, but more in my own way. I personally do not want to separate these two music worlds, which I did before some years ago. I want to express the music that is inside of me. In our duo I like the freedom to dismantle arranged structures or melodies, and the emergence of tones or melodies from noise or chaoting sound masses.”
Tijana Stanković: “Both conditionally given extremes are found in the same place. We could say that we are looking in a collective unconscious and in conscious creation, whether it is collective or not.”
Luka T. Zagoričnik: Record ‘trkam kličem odganjam / kucam dozivam teram’ will be self-released. When it will be offically released, where can we get it and how was the album recorded?
Ana Kravanja: “We started the recording in October 2018, when we organized our own residences in Lesno Brdo and Budapest. Later, we recorded some improvisations at Studio Klopotec in Posavec. We recorded in different environments, at home and at concerts. Various recordings have been created and their selection is presented on the new album. It will be released at the presentation concert at Bar Gabriel in Cerkno, on Saturday, 6 April. There will be two more concerts in Vienna on 15 April at Celeste and on 16 April at Rhiz.”
Watch the short trailer of the album:
Photo by Iztok Zupan