I am an Estonian accordionist, born and raised in the forests in the Southern part of Estonia: Võrumaa, in the most beautiful village in Estonia called Rõuge. All the tourist pronounce it like rouge (read in French). Well, to be really honest, it's super cute, BUT this little wave on the letter 'o' makes a big difference in Estonian. Check out more here. Wait-wait-wait, I'm getting off track! So, my bio:
I've always been captivated by traditional music. Growing up in a culturally rich place, taking part of folk festivals from a different angle than expected - my father has been selling the handicraft he's been making and me & my sister were always following him when he was selling his stuff at fairs, closely connected to folk festivals (at least in Estonia) - all of that has a great deal in me becoming who I am today.
... But, I started off with classical music at the age of 9 at Võru music school. My teacher, Siiri Kahar encouraged me to play jazz music. The repertoire that she chose for me was definitely not as classical as it could have been. I loved all of it! Especially newly composed tunes by Henn Rebane. He is an Estonian accordionist, composing mainly for the accordion.
As there is no high school in this amazing little village called Rõuge, I decided to move to Tartu, where I started studying at Hugo Treffner Gymnasium & Tartu Heino Eller Music School, classical music. I was so fascinated by getting to know everything about EVERYTHING! Treffner was amazing - loved the teachers there! So inspiring!
How I got into jazz & did you know that I studied the vibraphone? Curious? Keep on reading!
After receiving my high school diploma, my studies at Heino Eller Music School were not done. During my second year, I decided to switch from classical music to jazz music. I talked to the head of the department and asked - would it be possible to study jazz as an accordion player? Well, get one more person on board and we will make it happen, he said! So I did! I got lessons with Jaak Lutsoja and other amazing musicians, including Lembit Saarsalu. That was the time when I started to compose and find my real self. During those 4 years, I was playing together with many different groups and being part of many projects. I wanted to learn a second instrument, so I got into vibraphone! I love it! I miss playing it!
Education in folk
Anyway, after graduating from Tartu Heino Eller Music School I continued at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, where I started off with jazz music. Whilst studying jazz I took lessons from Tuulikki Bartosik who inspired me, a lot! In 2015 I had the possibility to take part in the NordTrad conference which took place in Denmark. That changed my life. Seeing a living tradition at it's best in Sønderho..! I was amazed! I decided that folk music is something I want to dig into. And oh, Rim played a concert there as well. That is when I found out about the Nordic Master in Folk Music programme.
So, anyway, I ended up where I always belonged - in folk music! Got my Bachelor's from the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, folk music being my main subject and continued at the Sibelius Academy in Finland.
Where am I now?
In the autumn of 2019 I started my Master's studies at the Nordic Master in Folk Music programme. During the first semester we were studying at the Royal Academy in Stockholm (KMH), where I had the honour of having main instrument lessons with the most amazing teacher ever: Leif Ottosson. Second semester has brought me to Denmark, where my accordion teacher is with the sweetest & most positive teacher I've ever had: Mette Kathrine Jensen Stærk. Well, there's actually a lot more to tell, but I will try to wrap it up for now. Just hit me up if you have any questions, will you? Aaah yes, the most important thing:
In the summer of 2017 my debut album Pühendus (‘Dedication’) with twelve compositions written and performed by me was released. The same year I was nominated at the Estonian Ethno Music Awards in two categories: for best new folk artist and best debut album.
I am super excited to let you know that my second album will be released on 25th of May! Read more here.
Who do I love?
My biggest influences & inspirations are: Bon Iver, Tigran Hamasyan, Frigg, Basco, Dreamers' Circus, Timo Alakotila, Maria Kalaniemi.