Special Norwegian voices in the UK and Tijuana, Mexico

A vocal ensemble out of the ordinary, RØYST is currently undertaking a number of exciting concerts in the UK. In the fall the four Norwegian women that make up RØYST (which is (old) Norwegian for voice ) leave for Mexico and a special musical project to take place in Tijuana where a local centre for the poor and deprived have invited RØYST to perform and host musical workshops. The notion is that RØYST will inspire in a novel way by the enchantment of their music itself but also by representing a culture truly different to that of Tijuana.

Røyst, 2005

“Four unique voices create moments of magic presenting original and improvised music spanning the landscape from jazz to world music and Norwegian traditional tunes.” -Thus reads the presentation of this ensemble, which was founded by four Norwegian students in Leeds in 2002. Kari N. Bleivik, Cecilie Giskemo, Therese Ulvan and Maria Jardardottir met when they were studying jazz at the Leeds College of Music. Together they created an a capella sound and repertoire that never seizes to surprise and delight its audiences. The key feature is the persistent originality of the songs –most of which are composed and arranged by the girls themselves- and the willingness to improvise and let the music self-explore. Their sound and songs have been described as enchanting explorations of the potential of four distinct voices interweaving in a colourful brocade of depth and beauty as well as humour and surprise.

Their repertoire takes elements from diverse influences: Passion and temperament from Norwegian traditional music, multifunctional vocal techniques as found in modern and traditional vocal jazz, improvisational techniques taken from jazz, folk music and free improvisation, ethnic vocal expressions from all over the world and sonic references from western art music.

Their album debut came in 2005 with “Nordic initiative”, which was very well received and hailed for the originality RØYST infused into the four-voice a-capella format. Ascending status in jazz circles and successful tours in the US, Britain and Norway ensued. A concert review, also from 2005, in the Norwegian newspaper “Tidens Krav” reads:

“They are in their mid twenties, they are beautiful and humorous and by all means – inventive. The ensemble Røyst turned out to provide us with an experience we never had had similar to before. They were truly special in their own style, with originally composed music infused by both Norwegian folk tunes and singing styles from various countries, jazz, improvisations and exciting harmonies. They are brave and daring both in their arranging and their choice of repertoire.”

In late October RØYST leave for an idealistic project in Tijuana where they will perform and host workshops at a local centre for poor and deprived. The guiding idea, conceived by Aidé Salcido, is that the uniqueness of RØYST’s expression and the presentation of a completely different culture will inspire hope and interest in music to the users of the centre.

In connection with the project in Tijuana Røyst will also be performing other places in Mexico as well as in California. But currently the focus is on the ongoing tour of the UK which commenced on May 31st.

Tonight (June 6th), at The Wardrobe in Leeds, they will premiere “an original collaboration project they have initiated with the English saxophonist and composer Iain Ballamy and a LIMA (Leeds Improvised Music Association) saxophone quartet consisting of Tom Leaper (alto saxophone), Petter Frost Fadnes (alto saxophone), Chrisophe de Bezenac (tenor saxophone) and Simon Kaylor (baritone saxophone).
This collaboration project will be premiered as part of a triple bill concert evening where Iain Ballamy firstly will do a set in duo with the Norwegian drummer and percussionist Thomas Strønen. This will be a truly unique duo performance by the two core members of “Food”. Secondly Røyst will do a set in their usual quartet format and lastly a set with the collaboration project will culminate the evening.

This triple bill will be repeated tomorrow at The Yardbird in Birmingham. Then Røyst will go on to do three more concerts in England: June 16th, Helmsley Arts centre in York, June 29th Art Depot, London, and finally at the Voicebox in Derby on June 30th.

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