*14th World Traditional Album Nominee
14th Annual World Traditional Song Nominee
13th Annual Eclectic Song Nominee
13th Annual New Age Song Nominee
12th Annual World Traditional Album Vox Pop Winner
12th Annual World Traditional Song Nominee
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Record Label: Sunflower Records
Home Base: Toronto
Genre: world music
Categories Entered: Traditional World – album; song
Work Submitted: Lullabies from Exile – Traditional World – album; “Perfume Road” – Traditional World – Song
Artists Featured: Lullabies from Exile: Lenka Lichtenberg & Yair Dalal; “Perfume Road”: Lenka Lichtenberg & Fray, feat. Yair Dalal
Label: Lullabies from Exile: Magda. “Perfume Road”: Sunflower Records
Who are your influences?: Lhasa; Loreena Mckennit; Iva Bittova; Kate Bush
Describe your nominated work: Lullabies from Exile: this album features songs that are a blend of Iraqi and Yiddish, as well Czech and Slovak traditional music. We were looking for a “connective issue,” a common ground of sorts, to bring these cultures together. Sometimes, we found it in the rhythm, but mostly in the spirit and themes of the songs. In intertwining such distant cultures we found some beautiful pathways towards the understanding of the human condition, especially when it comes to a mother’s love for her child. We were also hoping to create new pieces with these works, pieces that would be understood as new musical entities. I do hope that listeners will agree with us that the songs fit naturally together, as if they were meant to be sung that way! The album also features a song I wrote for it, Sleep, baby, Sleep, which tells a special little story, and Yair’s beautiful composition Sigala.
Song nominated for World Traditional Song – “Perfume Road”: This song is an adaptation of Yair Dalal’s song “Perfume Road”. I wrote the words for it in Yiddish, created this arrangement, and recorded it with my band Fray. It is a song of longing for a loved one who has gone to a distant land, and all there is left is waiting, waiting….. I believe the way we perform it captures the fragile state of mind of the person who clings to the last grain of hope to see her lover again, but that hope is fading every day… there she is, in the desert, imagining him coming back…there is melancholy, dreamy sadness… and that tiny bit of hope. Yair plays oud here, providing the sound of the desert, but it is his violin that will nearly break your heart.
Did you use any unusual effects or instruments in this recording?: Lullabies from Exile: oud, tabla, various gongs and percussion; also used viola da gamba – I simply love that sound! – on 3 tracks. One track features only my voice and viola da gamba, which I think is quite unique. We also have the Turkish clarinet, accordion, mandolin… not that unusual perhaps.
Were there any happy accidents while in the studio, or did everything go as planned?: Lullabies from Exile took a long time to record. Ultimately, it took 3 continents and almost 3 years to get it done! That was a lot longer than I anticipated. And a long distance collaboration is not always easy… trying to explain sounds and rhythms in emails… it was mastered 3 or 4 times because Yair’s ears are, I believe, better than mine – and/or he has much better headphones! J . I was working on the sound editing and mixing in Toronto, and believed it was completely finished, but then he always heard something I missed, a little noise at the end of the track for example…like, somebody dropped something or touched a string, or got up from a squeaky chair after the song finished- but it was on the track…which I missed! – and I had to get it mastered again.
Why did you choose to submit this work to The IMAs?: I think it is a beautiful project with a unique sound and I hope many people will discover it for themselves and love it 🙂
What’s your definition of success and how will you know when you’ve achieved it?: For me as a songwriter, success is when other people want to cover a song I wrote (which has finally happened last year)… For me as a composer, sitting in a theatre and listening to music I wrote for the play… For me as a performer/singer, listening to a live recording of a concert I did, and liking what I hear. (I am terribly critical of myself so that is usually NOT the case! But I am hoping that one day, I will give a really excellent performance, listen to it later, and say, hmmm that was pretty good…I really hope that happens…that will be my definition of success- I am finally really good at what I do. In terms of music industry, and external achievement – I was a child star, so I started at the top and it went downhill from there J …well, kidding, but only a bit. But in the last 3 or 4 years I really love the music that I have been able to put out, and feel I have achieved more than I had imagined possible just some few short years ago. 4 albums in 5 years and I love them all. Also got some nice awards… I’ve been very lucky.
How will you leverage your IMA honors to achieve your career goals?: I will post the logos/stickers wherever I can! … and embed mentions of IMA into my bio, website, etc. I have already done that..
What is your guilty pleasure on the road? Any close calls or mishaps while on tour?: I run. So I go jogging in places and cities where women don’t usually. Or anybody, for that matter. It is not very smart, but I need to move…also, as a vegetarian (and mostly vegan), it is sometimes very hard to find any protein. Try to buy tofu in Portugal or Spain. But it’s getting better everywhere, with more options available.
Are there any songs you wish you wrote and why?: “Imagine” by John Lennon. I am imagining the world he speaks of, and loving the idea.
What artists are you listening to that would surprise your fans?: I like great guitar masters: Jeff Beck is tops for me. I also love classical music like Chopin, Stravinsky, though my all-time favourite is J.S. Bach. I am really a Baroque person 🙂
How do you discover new music? Do you buy music or are you content with streaming?: I know so many musicians. So usually I just try and keep up with what everybody else is doing. When I hear about something interesting, I look it up on YouTube, and if it is something new that I like, I buy it on iTunes. I don’t download anything for free.
How will musicians make a living if fans continue to expect music to be free?: Only through gigs. Touring and merch? It’s pretty limited these days, especially if you are in a non-mainstream genre like me. Licensing… None of it really adds up enough, so I do hope that new models of revenue will solidify before all musicians are forced to get a day job.
What don’t fans/audiences understand about the music industry today?: Exactly what I just wrote…
Are digital singles/EPs vs. full albums the future?: Considering again the above, and the fact that even if you get on a label, it is no guarantee that they will actually pay for the recording (I just saw that happen to me), it is a pretty expensive proposition to record a full album – and remain the perfectionist that I am. I can see the attraction of releasing singles only, though I love albums, with all the artwork, lyrics, like little books and pieces of art to cherish. My next album is, ehmmm.. an EP (September 2015), but that will be followed shortly by a full-length album (of Czech songs…) I do hope people will still make albums, but I have no recipe for how to finance this other than through grants and maybe an unexpected inheritance from a distant Auntie Emma J.. .That being said, I will probably release a single this year only on YouTube. It will have a fun music video, but there is no album this can fit with, so we’ll see how that works.
Finish this sentence: The music industry is…very limited, only interested in mainstream music. I feel like I should create my own music industry to be heard, but that is so time-consuming that I’d have no time at all for music itself. Luckily, I have found good management help lately and they navigate these shark-infested waters and closed doors much better than I ever could.
What do you have in the works for the upcoming year?: Remix EP- songs from my album Embrace- a collaboration with Andrew McPherson, Eccodek. And, album of 12 Czech songs, co-produced with Tomas Reindl.
YOUTUBE Channel: www.youtube.com/user/lenkalichtenbergfray
MOBILE APP (free): www.volu.me/lenkalichtenberg