Estonian music


Bedless Bones: “I belong to the future; I hail from the past”

I came across Bedless Bones playing a lively bar as part of Tallinn Music Week. Frontwoman Kadri Sammel was the star of the show, a boisterous guitar-stumming meastro who owned the stage as she blasted a mix of metal and dance influences into the ether. “Like a techno Evanescence,” I thought at the time, though in hindsight her music is less vocally led, more dancefloor suitable, and more of a memorable affront than that description might suggest.

Sammel kindly agreed to tell me about it, in my first ever interview with an Estonian act, after the show. My general sense is her music, peformed in English, has huge potential when it comes to make a broad impact across Europe, and that it might just edge into a kind of genre world all of its own. Oddly, one of her key influences is Enya…

First of all, your style is quite unique and not something you’d find in Ireland. How did you arrive at it? Are there any key inspirations?

Counterculture in general is an inspiration, more specifically early darkwave and industrial music. Also post-punk. Nick Cave, Dead Can Dance, Frank Tovey, Einstürzende Neubauten have all influenced me. I’d say Enya is one of my earliest favorites. I had never felt transcended by music before hearing The Celts, I used to religiously listen to it on my newly bought CD player lying in bed and dreaming. Fever Ray’s debut album was also a huge igniting force, it sparked the idea to make music too, as before that I had only sung in choirs and briefly played some instruments, like the Estonian zither and classic guitar. I don’t know if any of this is traceable in my music. Enya and a chainsaw.

How would you describe that style?

It’s electronic, atmospheric, raw, free. It’s usually categorized as darkwave, but post-darkwave is more fitting. I belong to the future; I hail from the past.

What are the dominant themes in your music?

Nature, longing, (imagined) myths, alienation, introspection. There’s also a dash of hedonism, and battling self-destructive urges.

What made you decide to perform in English in your music?

That’s a good question, because I don’t remember ever making that decision. It happened naturally, because the music I listened to and was inspired by was in English, and that was where I felt my own creations belonged. There is a lot of beautiful music in Estonian, and it would probably be easier to write in my native language. I have thought about writing songs in Estonian, I might start a side project at one point if the idea doesn’t die away. But I don’t think Bedless Bones in its current form would work if the lyrics were fully in Estonian. I have one song in Estonian though, it’s called ‘Armastus on seadus’ (Love is the law).

What is the background to the band and your formation?

After I began experimenting with composing electronic music and producing, my partner Anders invited me to play synth and do backing vocals in his band Forgotten Sunrise, which is currently active, too. Simultaneously, I was making music that I always knew was a separate, solo work, and so I named it Bedless Bones and released the first singles. I played the first two shows alone and then Anders joined on drums. I write, record and produce alone.