26.11, 20.30, The Music Village
Brussels Vocal Project
Who is… Anu Junnonen?
Finnish singer Anu Junnonen comes to live in Brussels because she wants to take classes with David Linx. Fifteen years later, she is fully established, speaks fluent French and Dutch and sings in different groups.
It is alongside Tuur Florizoone, Yannick and Yves Peeters and Dree Peremans that she records her debut CD ‘The Luckless Lands of the North’ for the Belgian label Home Records as aNoo: a playful mix of jazz, folk and pop with sober Finnish influences, somewhere between Hanne Hukkelberg, Iva Bittova and Laurie Anderson.
The sequel ‘Sinipiika’ (Prova Records) is released in 2011 and the producer is none other than Werner Pensaert (K’s Choice, Hooverphonic), which led to a repertoire with even more pop overtones.
With Elena Dunkelman, Sophie Tassignon and Aurélie Lierman, she forms – be it for a short time – ‘The Screaming Bitches’.
She also accompanies Quark and Northface and is a guest singer on Fabrizio Cassol’s CD (Aka Moon) ‘Strange Fruit’ (Blue Note).
The Brussels Vocal Project is one of the most recent vocal ensembles where she is a member of. Six voices (two altos, bass, baritone, tenor and soprano) which perform songs a cappella, midway between jazz and avant-garde, miles away from all doo-wop clichés, barbershop tradition, beatbox hypes and scatting mannerisms. For its first CD ‘The Art of Love’ (AZ Productions), renowned composers the likes of Fabrizio Cassol, Pirly Zurstrassen, Pierre Vaiana, Nathalie Loriers and Fabian Fiorini take part in the project for as long as they provide original material.
The ensemble is currently working on a new project (‘Modern Tales’) with American drummer John Hollenbeck which in turn is writing a specific repertoire for vocal ensemble and drums.
On her CD ‘Skeletons’ (2014), released under her own name, Anu then again resolutely goes for electro-pop.
In addition, she also hits the stage with the brand-new vocal ensemble Voxtra which produces folk songs straight from Albania, Belgium, Finland, Madagascar and Sardinia. The debut album will be released early 2016.
... your favourite spot in Brussels?
For me, it is Parc Duden in Forest. Because it is somewhat hidden, it is never crowded. It is a lovely place to let go and unwind. I regularly need to get out and be surrounded by green space, because I work a lot from home. The fact that I grew up in the middle of nature has obviously something to do with it.
With my latest project ‘Skeletons’, I toured in China for two weeks. We travelled thousands of miles, from Hong Kong to Beijing. Everything was perfectly organised down to the smallest detail. It worked out fine but for me, it was extremely exhausting. We travelled from one major city to the other without a break in some greenery in between, and that’s what I missed. Like the terrace of the little Spanish café just around the corner from the swimming pool Victor Boin in Saint-Gilles. The place is relatively unknown and hence, very nice and quiet. Furthermore, they serve exquisite tapas.
… the last CD or album you bought for yourself?
‘Wolke’ by Anja Kowalski. She is a good friend of mine but also, and above all, someone who I admire for her lyrics and her vocal timbre. With her music, she creates a really personal world, far from mainstream pop or jazz. I also find her duo with guitar player Benjamin Sauzereau very powerful.
… your fondest memory of a recent concert?
It is also a concert by a friend of mine whose career I have been following for many years now: pianist Eve Beuvens. The release concert for her latest CD ‘Heptatomic’ in Flagey was simply fabulous: fascinating, full of contrasts and with exceptional musicians at her side.
I would also like to pick Sophie Hunger’s concert during the latest edition of Nuits Botanique.
The fact that I only mention women is pure coincidence. I have never felt as if I had to assert myself as a woman in a predominantly male musical world.
… your favourite quote of the moment?
I am not really the kind of person who keeps track or makes notes of such things. However, recently, I came across a quote which I can agree to: “Alone you can do so little, together we can do so much”. No need for any philosophical explanation, it says what it means.