Industry Talk: Sarah-Jane Summers

For the past 10 years, fiddle and guitar duo, Sarah-Jane Summers & Juhani Silvola, have created music and played together. Now they are part of Global Music Match, hoping to connect with other musicians and find alternative avenues for reaching out internationally.

Skrevet av Rebeca 28.09.2020

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“Tell us about yourself, who are you and how did you come together as a band?”

We are Sarah-Jane Summers & Juhani Silvola, a fiddle and guitar duo. Originally from Scotland and Finland respectively, we live in Norway. Juhani has lived in Norway for almost 25 years and is a Norwegian citizen, and I moved 10 years ago. We met in the ‘Dancing for Dummies’ class at Haukeliseterfestivalen in 2008, a wonderful folk festival up in the mountains of Norway that sadly doesn’t exist any more. A few years later, we got married.

From the North of Scotland, Sarah-Jane was brought up steeped in the deeply traditional old Highland style of Scottish fiddle playing. She also has a masters degree in Norwegian traditional music and free improvisation from The Norwegian Academy Of Music, and has released two well-received albums of experimental solo improvisations. Juhani studied jazz guitar, has a masters degree in electroacoustic composition, and is also a sought-after record producer.

Music is an important form of self-expression for both of us and it is therefore only natural that it is an important part of how we communicate with each other. We have played together for 10 years, and will release our third album in 2021. Our two previous albums have received international acclaim including Top of the World status from Songlines for both albums.

“Can you tell us a bit about your music, how would you describe it?”

Our music is filled with energy, passion and a huge love of sound. The ‘story’ of a good tune is important to us, but we also utilise more ‘abstract’ experiments with sound itself to tap into emotions not easily accessed by conventional melodies.

Much of our music is highly rhythmic, lively and fast, and we balance this with slow, expressive and at times quite dark tunes.

We improvise a lot in our music, and both of us have backgrounds in experimental and avant-garde music. All of this combines to create acoustic music that sits deeply within traditional music, yet pulls in a huge variety of forms of expression.

“What inspires you when creating music?”

Sarah-Jane: The quest for deeply honest self-expression. Colour, photography and texture.

Juhani: Music to me is a way to experience the world, a way to live in the world. I believe sound can carry a lot of meaning and truth in it without referring to anything outside itself. I am rarely inspired by things outside music (as in: I rarely make music about anything, music is something, not about something). For me, inspiration comes from sounds or sonic events that I feel possess the meaning that I’m looking for, so I’m constantly searching for, and inspired by, meaningful sounds.

“You are selected as one of the participants of Global Music Match, tell us a bit about the program?”

Global Music Match is an inspired response to the covid-19 situation. Musicians have by and large lost the ability to do what they do: travel and play concerts. This program seeks to create new connections and raise the profiles of the involved artists through the channels that are available in today’s situation, which essentially means social media and the internet.

“What do you hope to achieve during the 6 weeks of the program?”

To connect with other musicians. This is something that happens naturally at festivals and at concerts. It is an important source of inspiration and cross-cultural communication. New projects arise, new ideas form.

We also hope to increase our social media presence and the reach of our music on the internet. And to up our social media skills, which definitely have room for improvement!

“The program has an export focus, what are your ambitions/plans as a band internationally?”

We hope that our music can be heard far and wide. We have always had an international outlook, especially towards Germany, the UK and the other Nordic countries, and wish to further expand our international reach. Due to corona-19, extensive travel is obviously not a viable option, so hopefully Global Music Match will help us find alternative avenues for reaching out internationally.

“What is the best advice you have ever received?”

Sarah-Jane: Do as you would be done by.

Juhani: Don’t believe the hype