Krilja

Krilja is a trio based in Gothenburg, Sweden, who play traditional Roma/Gypsy songs from Russia and Eastern Europe. The music is of uncertain date but in many cases from the 19th century and onwards and shifts between lyrical melancholy and fiery intensity. The lyrics of the songs are in Romanes and Russian, and tell of sorrow, pain, poverty and suffering, but also love and passion.
 
The arrangements have been improvised by the musicians, often influenced by styles such as flamenco, but they remain true to the traditional idiom.

The name ”Krilja” means ”wings” in some dialects of Romanes as well as in Russian.


History

Krilja was founded in the autumn of 2010. Marita Johansson (vocals) and Jonas Liljeström (fiddle) were the original members, and the flamenco guitarist Emil Pernblad joined the group shortly thereafter. Since then we've performed in various venues, mainly on the West Coast of Sweden and in and around Stockholm - from cafés and culture centers to arts museums, churches and folk music festivals. We've also toured abroad; in Scotland in the spring of 2013 and in Iceland in the summer of 2017.

We seek to bring forth an aspect of the Romany music tradition which is less well known than the Balkan/South-East European tradition which is represented by artists such as Taraf de Haïdouks and Goran Bregovic, and we do it in our own way. We don't try to imitate anyone else; we define our own sound, very much influenced by the various genres and traditions that the individual band members are fluent in outside of the Romany musical idiom.

The members

Vocalist Marita Johansson - the group's initiator - is a driving force for Romany culture who has spent 25 years collecting almost forgotten traditional Romany songs and adding them to her repertoire. As a part of this process she has also learned several dialects of Romanes as well as Russian. Marita is versed in many other folk music styles, and sings songs from the Sephardic Jewish tradition, Central Asian Tatar songs as well as early music from the Medieval and Renaissance eras and much more besides.

When quite young, guitarist Emil Pernblad became fascinated with flamenco, and from the 1990s and onwards he periodically lived in Spain to study the music tradition. Today he is known as one of Scandinavia's foremost flamenco guitarists and he performs frequently in various constellations. Emil has composed music for theatre and television, and he also works as a guitar teacher.

Jonas Liljeström (fiddle and percussion) started playing the fiddle on a professional level in 1990. He is proficient in many different musical styles, including Nordic, British and Irish folk music, jazz, blues, bluegrass, klezmer and various kinds of East European folk music. He also works as a fiddle tutor and is an ethnomusicologist, educated at Gothenburg University, Sweden.

OBS: Combined lecture and concert on Romani folk music

In addition to the usual concert format, Krilja has developed a combined lecture and concert with Romani music history as its theme. The lecture starts with an outline of Romani history, and then describes the characteristics of the Romani music traditions and the role of music in Romani culture. It then focuses on Romani music history in Russia up to modern times. The program is divided in two parts; first a lecture (with music examples performed by Krilja), followed by a concert section. The total length is approximately an hour.

Reviews for Krilja´s debut album:

“Splendid variety…full of intense passion and grand gestures, as befits this kind of music.”
(Norran, 10th September 2015)

“Krilja show great maturity in their interpretations which I feel springs from a thorough knowledge of the Russian-Romani musical tradition.” (Rolf Nilsén, Lira Music Magazine 2015)

Video clips from some of Krilja's concerts can be seen here.

Music examples are here.

A gallery is here.

Krilja's debut album, released in 2015 is available on Spotify, iTunes Store and Youtube Music. A physical CD can be ordered at Bengans.

Press photos can be downloaded below.