Publicerat 10 juli, 2013
Sofia Jannok – Caught by Umeå’s creative force
Sofia Jannok, singer, musician, social critic and a bit of a nomad recently made Umeå her permanent home.
“Here are many creators who form a huge, creative force together. You get an intimate cultural collective that no other city can offer.”
This fall, she is touring in Europe with Umeå2014 and Caught by Umeå.
Sofia Jannok grew up in Gällivare, where she also went to the Sami school.
“All were part of the choir just as everyone was playing football at recess. There was nothing strange about singing and yoiking – everyone did it,“ she says.
At the age of 11 Sofia Jannok entered the stage herself for the first time, together with a friend. It was during the annual meeting of the Swedish Sami National Association. When she sang cover yoiks for kids at the Museum of Ethnography in Stockholm, she was discovered by TV3 and ended up in the talent show final.
“Since then things have kept on happening. I have not asked for a gig in my life,” says Sofia Jannok who now is composing songs where the contemporary pop, with nerve and ancient power, is mixed with mostly North Sami lyrics. Real life, mainly her own, is the primary foundation.
Since 2005 she has been working with music full time and has released three studio albums. Number two, By the Embers, 2009, went gold and was nominated for a Grammy Award the following year. In 2010 she also got her breakthrough on a national level when singing Waterloo in Sami during an intermission in the Melodifestivalen – the national televised competition for determining who will represent Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest. What followed were 100’s of tours in the U.S., China and Europe. She also received awards and lots of media attention.
Her latest album, Àphi – Wide as Oceans came in May 2013 with a dynamic and atmospheric sound. The focus is on the indigenous struggle for acceptance and equal rights.
“Unfortunately, many lack understanding of the Sami culture, but you cannot argue with people who are narrow-minded. Instead, I make music and talk between songs during my concerts, making sure everyone understands the message. As I am the only one with a microphone, I can make my own voice heard. It’s my way of trying to make a difference.”
When asked which the most pressing political issues are right now, she answers without hesitation:
“Land and Water. The continuation of mining projects in traditional Sami land are decisions that affect the soil for hundreds of years and concern everyone. They want to sell the beautiful and wild and in the next breath they do everything to destroy it. If this continues at the same pace, we will just have empty craters to weave into a nice context.
Sofia Jannok do not want to be called a Sami artist but instead an artist who also is a Sami.
“I get very happy when people ask me about the music without caring about if I’m Sami. I want to see a world where everyone has the same self-obvious place no matter if you are of indigenous origin, an immigrant, girl or boy. But yes, if someone become curious about the Sami culture through my songs, and find out more by themselves, I see it as a bonus.
She looks forward to the Umeå2014 tour Caught by Umeå that travel through several cities in Europe to spark curiosity and interest in Umeå2014.
“I will introduce my new material accompanied by visual projections. Pictures of what I’m inspired by, such as nature, people and memories and hope for a fruitful meeting. I’m happy to share my world with people in Europe. Music has no borders, through it we can reach out to each other,” says Sofia Jannok.
She is very pleased to become a permanent resident In Umeå, or a Umebo as the locals say.
“Before, I have been a bit like a nomad, living in Gällivare, Gothenburg, Kiruna, Piteå, Luleå, Stockholm (all Swedish cities) and in Malaga in Spain. Umeå is very alive. There is a creative, unique flow here and at the same time it’s calm and close to nature. To ski on ice outside Kont is pure magic! Also, it is only a 5 hour drive by car to Seidegava in Norrbotten where I have my family.”
What are your thoughts about Umeå2014?
“The Capital of Culture year is based on the eight Sami seasons, which is really cool! I’m very positive to the initiative and really hope that the arrangement can have a penetrating effect for many years to come. It is a perfect platform for saying what you want.”
What’s coming up next for you?
“I’m working on various small projects. Among other things I will be performing at the Stockholm Music & Arts Festival, being held at 2-4 August, as well as participating in the show Allsång på Skansen at 6 August.”
Photo: Elin Berge