Sofie Livebrant

Sofie Livebrant’s Lighthouse Stories.

Swedish “songcatcher” Sofie Livebrant releases her new album Lighthouse Stories and embark on a tour of the UK, Sweden, Denmark and Norway. A tour that will also become a documentary film.

Sofie Livebrant’s forth album Lighthouse Stories will be released June 10th 2015. It is a collection of songs where Livebrant has set music to text fragments from Jeanette Winterson's novel Lighthousekeeping. Livebrant calls herself a “songcatcher”- a person who finds songs in the words of others – she is well known as a composer of some of the Swedish singer Sofia Karlsson's most beloved Dan Andersson songs and for her setting of music to the words of poets Karin Boye and Emily Dickinson.

Concurring with the release of Lighthouse Stories, Sofie Livebrant will embark on a tour of actual lighthouses in the UK, Sweden, Denmark and Norway. On each location she has invited a lighthouse keeper to tell the stories of the site. A film crew led by filmmaker Peter Wirén also accompanies her on the tour to film this unique venture. The result will be a music film documentary to be released in the Spring of 2016.

Winterson’s Lighthousekeeping with its story of the orphan girl Silver who is raised by the blind lighthousekeeper Pew at the Cape Wrath lighthouse in Scotland is one of those works that open up into an endless shimmering space of stories, symbols and other books. Everything seems linked. Jekyll and Hyde, Tristan and Isolde, Treasure Island’s shabby existences and the unhappy polar explorer Robert Scott.

- When time and space are mixed, when you forget your name and where you are, then art has succeeded in what it was meant to do, says Sofie Livebrant. ‘I love when stories are linked to a fabric and the boundaries become blurred. I see myself in the different personalities of the book. I am them in some ways.’

Captivated by this, she has now taken on the task of turning the novel's prose into songs, without any rhyme or meter, much less any division into verses and choruses, something that has proven to work amazingly well, even though she is meticulously faithful to the original text.

- The text has an innate rhythm which I have tried to follow as best I can and Jeanette Winterson is often close to poetry in her sentences. Musically, I have at times forced myself into something akin to the blues storytelling tradition, often with no chord changes, where the words can flow like the waves of a harmonious monotonous sea. Thus, a traditional musical form with verse and chorus often has had to stand aside but sometimes it has actually worked to use the more traditional song structure with verse and chorus. Almost, anyhow... ’

The musicians who has put their stamp on Livebrant´s musical settings of Winterson’s words are the Danish accordionist and pianist Nikolaj Busk, known by the Scandinavian folk music audience from bands like Dreamer's Circus and Trio Mio. The Scottish singer, fiddler and guitarist Hal Parfitt-Murray, well known from Basco and other bands, is also a vital part of the Danish folk scene. Among the musicians are also guitarist and Tonbruket founding member Johan Lindström, who has worked with, among others, Elvis Costello and Anna Ternheim. who also serves as producer along with Livebrant and Göran Petersson - the latter with a series of successful productions on the Swedish folk-jazz scene on his CV. Sofia Karlsson, Ale Möller, Jeanette Lindström, Lena Willemark, Steve Dobrogosz and Anna Christoffersson, Oddjob and Daniel Karlsson are some of the people Göran has worked with. The final piece in this puzzle was added when outstanding Swedish free bass accordionist Lisa Eriksson-Långbacka joined the recording project in its final hours.

The music on Lighthouse Stories is not easily pinpointed but could be described as a singer-songwriter-hybrid with a touch of the blues that is mixed with elements of Scandinavian and Scottish folk music set in the midst of a thoroughly modern soundscape.

But Lighthouse Stories is not just about the music and the making of a new album and going out on tour. During her work, Sophie Livebrant has engaged a long series of creative people in different ways to discuss the great basic question: What is the role of storytelling in our lives? If we shape a story about ourselves, can it also become a shining LIGHT for which to navigate in life? Producers, musicians, filmmakers, journalists, writers and many others have been drawn into lenghty conversations that will continue in the meeting with the concert audiences.

- The narration is a way to navigate our lives, Jeanette Winterson writes. Initially, I was drawn to the myths, fairytales and their intertwining with Silver's life, but my interest soon switched to the deeper question of narrative weight. How the story is told rather than how it looks. Fairy tales, Facebook posts, a simple anecdote ... The concerts we do will be characterized by it. I have invited the old lighthouse keepers and others who can tell the local stories of the places where we play in the Summer. ’

LIGHTHOUSE STORIES TOUR 2015

12/6 Odense, DK
13/6 Svendborg Festival, DK
2/7 Peace & Love, Borlänge, SWE
12/7 Ljungskile Church, SWE
13/7 Åstol/Pater Noster Lighthouse, SWE
14/7 Kullen lighthouse, UK
16/7 Kinnaird Head Lighthouse, UK
18/7 Cromarty Lighthouse, UK
20/7 Souter Lighthouse, UK
22/7 Hurst Castle, UK
24/7 Marstein Lighthouse, NO
26/7 Lindesnes Lighthouse, NO
14/8 Gothenburg Culture Festival, SWE
15/8 Skottvång Mine, SWE
16/8 Stevns lighthouse, DK
19/9 Lund Culture Night, City Theatre, SWE
4/12 Stallet, SWE

Sofie Livebrant presented herself and her musical language to the general public in 2005 when she set music to a number of Dan Andersson poems on Sofia Karlsson’s Svarta ballader (Black Ballads), a Platinum selling album of the legendary poet’s work and a milestone in contemporary Swedish music history that paved the way for Sofia Karlsson to a position as the people’s own folk singer. Svarta ballader can also be seen as a defining moment for Livebrant in establishing herself as a “songcatcher”, as someone who finds songs in other people's words. She has since been praised and critically acclaimed for her two albums with musical settings of poems by Emily Dickinson and Karin Boye. Together with this, her latest project, the three albums take the form of a natural trilogy based on the texts of three female literary geniuses from different eras.

Now the songs that are rooted in Winterson’s story will be performed in front of audiences at some of the most inaccessible concert venues imaginable, a number of lighthouses in the British Isles, Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Impractical, perhaps, but Sofie Livebrant imagines that something will happen with the songs, and with the listeners, when they are performed at such significantly exposed locations. Not infrequently there’s an abyss and the roaring sea only a few meters away from the stage. The boundary between life and death is narrow and clear. Life pushed to the very limit. Hence, Livebrant also wants the stories of the songs to be felt - without clarifications and with the danger lurking nearby.

- To play these songs and stories literally at an edge is a stunning natural setting that might create new opportunities. Not just to be another entertaining music setting that would keep us away from life's great depth. ’

 

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