Christmas trad and a debut album from Woodlands
December 23, 2020
Right in time for Christmas, this super newcomer to the trad music scene has landed on the Camac AR desk. Stockholm-based duo Woodlands – violinist Kristina Leesik, and harpist Justyna Krzyżanowska – have just released their debut album. It’s a fresh and beautiful mix: elements of jazz and pop add to its wide emotional and musical range, as does its blend of traditional arrangements and original compositions. “Traditional music lets you do your own thing, and I really love that freedom”, says Justyna. “I started playing it after hearing Breton music recordings – there aren’t so many Breton trad concerts in Sweden! I loved how the melodies were constructed, and the potential to improvise within it.”
Woodlands met at the The Royal College of Music, Stockholm, where Justyna was studying classical harp and Kristina, traditional fiddle. Meeting one day by chance over a sandwich, it turned out they had both applied to study traditional music at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. They ended up sharing a flat in Glasgow, playing music together, and then writing it together. “Coming from a classical background, the traditional music masters was a steep learning curve”, Justyna remembers. “Suddenly I was told to make my own arrangements, something classical musicians are not used to. But I got over the fear of deciding my own chords! It’s definitely had an impact on all my music-making, including classical. I feel freer, I enjoy performing and I feel close to more ways of expression.”
Woodlands also regularly collaborates with other colleagues – such as in this lovely series of Christmas videos, with guest artists Sandra Berggren (fiddle, vocals) and Anton Larsson, guitar. We particularly love “Soul Cake”, but we recommend you watch them all! Here’s also one currently unpublished elsewhere: the English carol “I saw three ships”, going into Polska efter Schedin, a Swedish Christmas song.
“I’m also inspired by how each tune carries a story”, Justyna reflects. “Each piece of trad carries a whole culture with it. When you put your own stamp on the music, you find your place within it.”
The album “Woodlands” is now out on Bandcamp, and coming soon to the Camac e-store!