Estonian duo Maarja Nuut & Ruum operate in a musical interzone; connecting the deep-rooted, intuitive worldview of days past with the hyper-mediated realities and seemingly limitless technological possibilities of the present and future.
Maarja Nuut is a singer and violinist: and an utterly compelling, often hypnotic performer. Her unique sound and vision, one that readily crosses genre borders, can be seen as an agent of change in the wider folk, world music and related classical scenes. Born in Rakvere, a small town in northern Estonia, Maarja has studied classical and folk music extensively, including violin and Hindustani music under the tutelage of Dutch-born, Delhi-based cellist Saskia Rao de Haas. Perhaps her most formative musical moment came when she discovered the archival recordings of pre-Soviet Estonian village music. "When I put on these recordings I was literally shocked. It was something I had never heard before, but it sounded very natural to me. I was captivated". This "village style" - and her constant experiments with live looping - lies at the heart of Maarja Nuut's music; an almost modal sound with small, repeating patterns that allow for variations where different accents on motifs allow the player to express their individual style. Maarja's debut as a solo artist came in 2013, with the self-released (and aptly named) 'Soolo' (Solo). In 2016, now a veteran of the world folk circuit (with acclaimed performances at Womex and Womad) and with the Artists Prize at Tallinn Music Week festival under her belt, Maarja self-released a second album, 'Une Meeles' (In the Hold of a Dream). The record was released to widespread critical acclaim and won a slew of awards along the way. Since then Maarja has toured as a solo performer throughout Europe and North America.
Born in Tartu, Estonia, Hendrik Kaljujarv (aka Ruum) started making electronic music at the age of 15. Although drawn to analogue instruments (including old Soviet synths), he also utilises digital synths and environmental recordings, as both inspiration and source material. Kaljujarv has no academic training. Rather, his expertise in creating soundscapes was forged in Tallinn's avant-garde theatre NO99; where he worked as a sound engineer and designer. Besides his own solo performances and sound installations, Hendrik has written music for more than thirty theatre shows in the past decade. Intuitive and Kaljujarv is often driven by abstract notions rather than set musical goals. "This [creative] process is not so much focused on the result, it's more focused on finding something really valuable." He has worked in numerous musical collaborations, perhaps the most noteworthy being the brilliantly haunting, decadent border-zone psychedelia of Cubus Larvik, with whom he released three albums between 2012 and 2018.