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bedlessbones byTaaviLuhamaaInterview with

Kadri Sammel (vocals) from Bedless Bones

“The perfect balance of an untethered imagination and impeccable professional artistic skill is a divine thing for sure. For me art as a human creation is one of the reasons, I love humanity. I also hate it, but that’s another story.” - Kadri Sammel is one of the most intriguing and inspiring artists I’ve had a chance to see live. Versatile and authentic, she makes her own way in the world of sonic imagery and performative representation. Stunning, mesmerizing sounds, lively, hypnotic concerts, and loads of talent. About live shows, the purpose of art, and music inspirations.

Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: You played quite a few shows this year, smaller events like in Berlin, Vienna, Warsaw, or Stockholm, but you also did festival events like Wave Gotik Treffen, Castle Party, or the most recent Cold Hearted Festival in Dresden. Do you like performing live? Do you have any preference between big or small audiences?
Kadri: Yes, it’s been an interesting year, and I’ve managed to perform in many new places with BEDLESS BONES. My relationship with performing is quite tumultuous, because whereas I like to transform into something I wouldn’t necessarily have the opportunity to transform into in my regular life or when recording music, it’s also very demanding and draining. Not even those minutes on stage, but the whole process, including travelling, technical preparation, soundchecks etc. I usually experience very strong emotions of love and hate somewhere along the way, and sometimes at the same time. But playing live is important and I will keep doing it. Anders (BEDLESS BONES’ drummer) has a more positive perspective, he is always eager and happy to perform, and has an amazing ability to push through exhaustion. Regarding big and small audiences - of course more people is better in terms of energy exchange; it usually feels more igniting. But on smaller stages and in more intimate settings I can play my slower, quieter songs, and I appreciate those opportunities too. So, I just take it as it is.

RoD: I must say I absolutely love your live shows - it’s an extremely hypnotizing, mesmerizing experience, a bit like a ritual a bit like a purifying, energizing session. I’m wondering to what extent you’re being a photographer and videographer influences the way you prepare and perform live shows. Is the visual aspect important to you?
Kadri: Thank you so much! I appreciate that the ritualistic element has come through. The performances definitely feel like an evocation for me too. I honestly haven’t drawn a parallel between my visual arts background and preparing for live performances, with the exception of considering using visuals for my live shows (which I haven’t done so far). We do like the stage quite dark and with lots of fog, so that creates that somewhat theatrical or mystic feeling. I like to wear robes or long dresses as well, I’ve tried to shift towards more comfortable options, but it turns out I kind of prefer it when it’s more difficult to move and I have a lot of fabric or hair dangling from me and moving along with the movements of my body. Thinking about the visuals, maybe what I have in mind is reminiscent of Kenneth Anger’s Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome or Invocation of My Demon Brother. Sure, visuals are important; everything is important.

bedlesbones2022 byKarolinaKratochwil15

RoD: Tell me more about ‘Bending The Iron Bough’. It is your most recent (though not exactly new - it was out in November 2021) album. In what way - in your view - does it differ from e.g. ‘After Malaise’ or even earlier ‘Sublime Malaise’?
Kadri: ‘Bending The Iron Bough’ exceeds ‘Sublime Malaise’ in terms of conscious intent and unity. With the debut album, I just kind of threw all the ingredients in a pot and overlooked what came out; there are songs there that I put on there for the mere reason that I thought the album could use a song like that maybe. With ‘Bending The Iron Bough’, it all stemmed from an idea, like a tree, both figuratively and quite directly, too. It was deeply personal and rooted in my feelings at the time, and the songs are the branches of the tree. The atmosphere is slightly more dispersed, blurred, more chaotic, but not always intense, and less straightforward. I moved away from Tallinn for the first time in my life while writing this album, and a lot of the album breathes that cold air of winter in a sparsely populated borough. After Malaise is a remix album with two original songs, so a lot of the album’s sound is borrowed from the wonderful remixers and their preferences and vision.

RoD: BEDLESS BONES for me is the combination of energetic and dreamy, hypnotizing and invigorating. On the one hand, it gives me space to pacify my senses and on the other makes my blood run faster. What do you think is the purpose of music, art in general?
Kadri: For some reason I often feel drawn to opposite concepts or things: the natural and the industrial, the brutal and the dreamy, dark and light. Maybe it’s because of how my own energy flows: I feel strong bursts of energy, motivation and will to act, and then it’s replaced with melancholia, spleen and a wish to be alone. I guess it’s human to go through these conflicting phases, and do that constantly. Art is communicating with our senses, showing us things and telling us stories, and what we take from it is really up to us. The purpose of it? There might not be one, according to some, but it’s just there to exist, to remind us of the beauty and horror, and all the wondrous paths a human mind can wander onto. The perfect balance of an untethered imagination and impeccable professional artistic skill is a divine thing for sure. For me, art as a human creation is one of the reasons I love humanity. I also hate it, but that’s another story.

bedlesbones2022 byKarolinaKratochwil18

RoD: In one of your that I particularly like (‘Realign and Reign’), you state: “Buy your way into the game / You are your currency / Don’t be right / Don’t be sure / Touch the unknown”. It’s like a strong call for confidence and individuality. What is the song about? What is the general message you want to pass through via the lyrics you write?
Kadri: This song is about making art. I was leafing through a Taschen coffee table book about women artists in the 20th and 21st century, and the reflection about their ideas, emotions and ways of expression and self-representation led me to write the lyrics to ‘Realign and Reign’. I also kind of wrote it for myself as a reminder to stay on the right track, in the right mindset. I usually put it in the beginning of my live shows to invoke that feeling.

RoD: Which direction you, as an artist are heading with your music?
Kadri: Deeper into the human mind, deeper into myself. Penetrating more vigorously, hopefully with an ever-evolving toolbox of methods and skills to do so. In musical terms - I don’t know. Weird till the end, I assume. Fuck the trends.

RoD: To what extent is the music of Nick Cave important or inspirational for you? You released the cover of ‘Jack the Ripper’ back in 2019. Why this particular song?
Kadri: Nick Cave’s music has followed me since my early teens; I enjoy his storytelling, his way of lyricism really pairs well with my imagination. I really like THE BIRTHDAY PARTY and GRINDERMAN too. I got an idea of changing the lyrics of ‘Jack the Ripper’ a bit, and also the mood, so I quickly recorded it and that was pretty much it. I still sing it live and change the lyrics every time - so you never know who rules whose house with an iron fist this time.

bedlesbones2022 byKarolinaKratochwil34

RoD: Are there any other artists who inspire you? What actually gives you the drive the make new music?
Kadri: Of course, everything can be that driving force - a book, a movie, a sentence someone said on the train… I try to go and see bands live as much as I can, this is very important. Me and Anders recently went to Cold Meat Industry’s 35th anniversary festival in Stockholm, which was like a warm family reunion with some of the darkest and most disturbing music in the world. A total spiritual cleanse, especially RAISON D'ÊTRE and SEPHIROTH. I also listen to music with female voices a lot, I feel it raises my frequency - if I can use a slightly esoteric term. I’m super glad I got to hear Emma Ruth Rundle and Marissa Nadler live last month, I love them both so much.

RoD: To what extent do the videos you make represent the aesthetics you create as BEDLESS BONES? Is there anything like your own artistic style that you could define?
Kadri: I think I’m still very much searching, but not as in searching *for* something, like my own style or aesthetic; but it’s more of a lifelong search without a clear goal. However, you can clearly define some impressionist tendencies in my way of using overlapping images; and a dash of surrealism. But the music leads the way to that decision of what kind of visuals are paired with it, so I’m not confined to anything. The concept matters.

RoD: Looks like you finished your concert year in Dresden, what are your plans for the upcoming months? Can we expect a new release from your end?
Kadri: Yes, new music is coming soon. And more.

RoD: Thank you very much for your time!
Kadri: Thank you for the thoughtful and witty questions, I had a good time answering them.
Love, Kadri

All Pictures by Karolina Kratochwil except Intro promo picture by Taavi Luhamaa
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