TRADFEST: Interviews with Alicia Eidelweiss and Fredy Clue

Tradfest is returning to Edinburgh
The Mumble had a wee blether with a couple
Of this year’s performers

Hello guys, can you tell us where are you from & where are you living today?
AE: Hi! I’m from Austria (though I also have British roots), and currently I’m living in Vienna.
FC: Born in Dalecarlia Sweden, raised north of Stockholm and living on the windiest, rainiest, most magnificent side of the country, the West coast, in Gothenburg!

When did your love of music first begin?
AE: I can’t remember the exact moment, but I guess we always sang a lot at home, like Christmas carols and stuff like that. My first instrument was the recorder at 6 and I really loved playing flute and recorder duets with my sister. And from then on it just evolved over the years. Looking back I must give my parents credit for singing so much with us and supporting our talents.

What are your first musical memories?
FC: I was on stage with my little brother, we were dressed as fleas… and had no clue really of what we where doing but we knew this song and our Dad said, “you are going to rise up from below the stage, then sing the song”. And so we did! It turns out we were supposed to be circus animals, two fleas drilled to play music.
It was super much fun!

Who has been your greatest musical influence over the years?
AE: That’s a difficult one. I’d say Daniel Johnston, ‘cos he makes me cry and laugh and he never pretended to be anything but himself. There’s been many influences, but he always sticks out in the end.

So… desert island, solar power’d CD player, 3 albums – what are they?
AE: Phew… Perhaps Jewel Kilcher’s “Pieces Of You“, Daniel Johnston’s “Welcome to my World“ and Devendra Banhart’s “Niño Rojo“.
FC: Frozen 2 (original soundtrack), especially Show yourself… ❤️ made me strong – ‘Pollnow, Adventures of,’ The album that helped me through my coming out summer. Especially “A Rose”
Johan Hedin, Låtar – Swedish Folk Tunes. The best nyckelharpa player in Sweden and with CHURCH ORGAN, oh my!

Alicia, you kind of grew up as a musician busking around Europe – how formative was the experience?
AE: It was perhaps the most important decision I’ve made in my life so far. If I hadn’t gone travelling, hitchhiking, busking and been homeless, I don’t know who I’d be today or what I’d be doing with my life. I think the courage I had to come up with in many situations shaped my personality a lot. I was mostly travelling alone and that was also really important to figure out a lot of things. I went through a lot of darkness and beauty in a quite short period of time (2 years) and it somehow felt like a crash course in being alive. Especially after feeling like a prisoner in school for so long, it was my way of breaking free and realising that life can actually be fun and meaningful. During that time I realised that it was my destiny to be a musician, I had other ideas before.

Can you tell us about Swedish folk music & the scene today?
FC: Red cabins, fir trees, a cold/warm/rainy summer and people gathering in Bingsjö, gloves, folk costumes, the three beat dance polska and a lot of jamming, all night long. This is one place where the Swedish folk scene really comes together. But there is so much more than just the parties and festivals. The stories told in ballads, the herding calls over the mountains, the nyckelharpa tunes created by the famous Eric Sahlström.

The scene we have today lives up to 110 in the summer during the big festivals and traditional stämmor. And all year-round we have all our wonderful organisations that so passionately put on concerts and dance evenings. Dance and tune workshops etc. Folkmusikens Hus, Stallet, Malmö Folk, Folkmusikkaféet, Urkult to name a few. It’s really growing and you can clearly see the young people coming back in to the scene again after the biggest folk revival of the seventies. I’m one of the passionate driving forces of youth groups and projects.

What’s the music scene like in Vienna today?
AE: I’m not incredibly involved, but there are some musicians I connect with. Actually my band are some of my favourite musicians in Vienna, so I feel really grateful that they’re playing with me. The music scene is thriving and diverse, but I would appreciate more crazy and colourful people to be completely honest. Sometimes I feel a bit lonely with what I’m doing.

Fredy, what’s this Nyckelharpa all about?
FC: Long or short story haha?
It goes back all the way to the 11th century. Paintings on church walls, angelic like nyckelharpas tell us that the instrument must have started here. Then we had 800 years of development with a wide range of looks. Small, cute, angry, bigger, cooler, and then this guy Eric Sahlström was tired of just playing in C and F so he decided to make a chromatic harp in the 1930s so he could play with all the cool fiddle players.. and then came me. (and a thousand more amazing people)

I found the instrument when I was on the famous youth course Ethno Sweden. It dawned on me that I might had found the one.. I was too tall for the violin… and Nyckelharpa made my love for string instruments AND guitar come together in one. It was also a way for me to cope with the inflammation i struggle with in my arms during high school.Basically it saved my music career!

Where do your songs come from & how do you shepherd them into existence?
AE: Each song has a very different way of coming into existence. Some come from a very deep emotional place and out of necessity, others come out of playfulness and others have a long journey before they see the light of day. Some of those that take a while feel like they are just waiting for me to be ready or to find some missing link. But all of them come from my personal desire to be unashamed and as unfiltered as possible. They are like my babies and I do my best to let them be themselves and to not interfere too much. And I do believe there are other forces involved when I write songs, I’m not doing it completely on my own. So the true place where they come from can’t be named, just felt, and the feeling to me is like a bottomless well.
FC: My coming EP Vill du leka? (Do you wanna play?) stems from the depths of stress and depression, a gray slow mind that wanted to find its way back to play and joy. On the way I found freedom! Texts about the journey has been written on the bus to school, in the night when I couldn’t sleep, and when creativity would suddenly strike in a session at work. Text to me comes very easily, the hard thing is to sit down and polish them into something good!

It’s a mixture of happy coincidence, and mostly hard work and will to express my feelings, paint with happy colours onto the world.
Some songs I created music to in three minutes (Det ringer en klocka), Some songs improvised on the fly (Do you wanna play, Att Blomma) And some songs I deliberately forced myself to sit down and carve out the time to make come together (Jag vill veta nåt om vägen)

Fredy, there’s more to you than just your music – who is the real Fredy Clue?
FC: Fredy Clue is the room and freedom within Samuel Lundh that could grow to be the person they are now. Fredy Samuel Lundh became my new name, the personal name of which I am playing lead roles in a lot of projects apart from Fredy Clue. I’m head of the board of Gothenburg’s leading folk scene Folkmusikkaféet, I started the organisation Folk Youth VG to help young people engage with the scene and help it grow.
And then my love, Bäckadräkten, sweden’s first non binary folk costume. A project of mine that evolved alongside my own non binary identity. I had the idea for the costume way back in 2018, and as the years passed I focused all my energy on it coming true. And when I finally started working with it, I also started listening inwards. Suddenly mx Enby knocked so hard that I fell down crying in part fear part happiness. The inner me had spoken through ideas. Shown itself as Clues. I wanted more than just to have a folk costume, I wanted my identity to have a place in the folk culture and norms of the society…

You will both be playing at this year’s Tradfest in Edinburgh, can you tell us about your gigs?
AE: I’m coming with my band and I’m very much looking forward to it! It’s gonna be me singing and playing my different instruments (accordion, guitar, ukulele) and my band: a cellist and a violinist. We’ll be playing songs from the last album and some new songs.
FC: It will be a solo performance created only for the festival. A debut showing my true self through my EP and the swedish traditional folk music. A queer journey into the sound of nyckelharpa, beats, tracks and voice. And a lot of Swedish! I will do my very best to guide audiences through this Scandinavian madness❤️

What else will you be up to in the Scottish capital?
AE: I don’t really know! I visited Edinburgh for the first time last year and did the sightseeing stuff already. I think I might enjoy just sitting in little cafes, walking around town and visiting the churches. And I might go to the Harry Potter shop again and spend 30 minutes wondering if I should buy Voldemort’s wand again.
FC: I will teach a workshop 1st May 2pm on the EDINBURGH YOUTH GAITHERIN.
The day of my concert is on the 2nd,
And on the 3rd May at 6pm I will host a talk about folk costume and how to work with queer questions through the folk community together with BIT collective and Bogha-Frois
And then I would love to see ALL THE HILLS AND THE OCEAN, I love to sail! That would be a dream…

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell your show in the streets of Edinburgh…
FC: I would swirl 360 degrees in a dance with my coulettes and nyckelharpa, sing with the Scandinavian sound. And then in words: “Nyckelharpa Pop – the new age of modern folk music dressed in a world of queer emotions. Fredy Clue Traverse Theathre 2nd May 6:30, Welcome❤️” And then I would smile and give whoever needed a hug, a hug!

Finally, what does the rest of 2023 have in store for you both in life & in your music?
AE: I have a lot planned for this year. This week I’m playing an outsider hyena with an accordion in a
children’s play here in Vienna. Then I’ll be playing in an Austrian movie that we’re shooting in autumn. And most importantly I’m recording new music and releasing some new stuff very soon! The coming weeks I’ll be touring in UK and in May and June I’ll also be playing in Albania, Hong Kong and Berlin which I’m very excited about!
FC: Well my life is what I do and what I do is working with people through folk culture, whilst meditating, and trying to put everything in the fun section.
When you are as crazy as I am you suddenly end up with everything happening the same year!
My highlights are:
May – Sewing pattern for Bäckadräkten being released in May
June 2nd – EP release Vill du leka? with release tour in Sweden.
(June 6th – playing on the national day in Strängnäs for the King! and many others… fun!)
July – My dear friend Hampus Grönberg’s Swedish folk music Broadway Celtic Musical is premiering around the mine of Falun!
August – The Glade! A mystic bass massaging deep spiritual forest adventure awaits the one who dares looking inward and connect deeply with nature.
Fall – Sewing Courses “make your own folk costume” together with Bäckadräkten will be held.


Alicia Eidelweiss

Fredy Clue

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