WITH PINKNRUBY (italian version)
by Giancarlo Bolther
you like to introduce us the band with your history?
We are Pinknruby, a London based duo - Mihaela Repina from
Slovenia and Paul Bradbury from Britain. Pinknruby began in 1998 and
at that time, we were writing mostly drumnbass and garage –
always with a strong female vocal line. By 2001 we had an album of
music that we sent out to various record labels; some of them liked
the music, but no one wanted to release anything. And so we decided
to go back to our roots, which were much more folky and guitar based.
This is how The Vast Astonishment came to be. We signed to French
fairyworld label, Prikosnovenie, last year and we released our debut
album, The Vast Astonishment with them last October. This year we
are performing at several festivals in England, hopefully including
Glastonbury and we are performing in Rennes, France, this summer.
In the future, we are very much hoping to tour in Europe.
Can you tell us about the songs and the making of the new
Some of the songs are personal mantras about taking responsibility
for one’s own life, reclaiming one’s own power and choosing
to be happy in the now. There are miniature fairytales, incantations
to the beauty of the world and philosophical reflections on the self.
We started writing in no particular language: Adio Te, Ama and Zacetek
have no real words, just word sounds. There is a freedom in expressing
yourself without a language. But, Mihaela also felt the need to acknowledge
her roots by writing in Slovene. Sometimes, Mihaela would write the
lyrics on her own, on some songs like Celebrate we wrote together
in Slovene and for Stone, Paul wrote the lyrics in English, which
Mihaela then translated.
Ama is a song that expresses love. It is a warm a peaceful opening
to the album.
Stone is a fairytale in which the Dance Lord comes to a still earth
to create movement. All the inhabitants of the earth start to dance
except one stone that remains motionless. When the creatures ask the
Dance Lord why the stone does not dance, the Dance Lord replies that
it is to remind everyone that perfect stillness is also holy. It is
a song about the importance of contemplation as well as action.
Adio Te is our song of the mermaid.
Vast is an incantation to the Sun, Moon and Stars.
Morje means “The Sea”. It talks about that moment when
you first return to the sea: when it becomes your horizon. The reflection
of the sun hits your eyes and your nose is filled with the smell of
longing and possibilities. So Morje is an ode to the sea.
Return is a positive mantra about reclaiming your own heart.
Sanje means “Dreams” and talks about reconciling the world
of dreams with the waking world. The conclusion we reach in the song
is that only this moment counts.
Celebrate is about pursuing one’s own truths and one’s
own uniqueness. The final question, “can you celebrate for no
reason” is really at the heart of the whole album.
Aya is our ode to Ayahuasca and the Amazon. We recorded the crickets
in Brazil while at Ayahuasca ceremonies.
Angel is an ancient Slovene prayer to the guardian angel that is in
each of us.
Zacetek means “the beginning” – ironically, considering
that it is the last song on the album and the last one that we wrote.
This is the only time the piano appears on the album and this gives
it a very different flavour. We bought the piano a few days before
the recording at a second hand shop. It is 98 years old with the original
strings and we loved it’s ancient quality.
The lyrics of the songs are reproduced in English on the beautiful
cover that Prikosnovenie’s Sabine designed.
There is a concept behind the album?
We wanted to write joyful and healing music. We wanted to do something
celebratary, that would inspire people to think of the beauty of life.
In our lyrics, we wanted to write about the things that are special
to us and ask questions about life that we are asking ourselves: the
album is the product of the journey that we were each on at the time.
How do you manage the compositive process?
The whole album was written in our bedroom on very basic equipment:
an acoustic guitar, a microphone, a computer and a mixer.
The basic songs were generally quite quick to write. We usually had
the basic idea for a song worked out in a couple of days. Often a
song will come into your head almost complete and you have no idea
where it came from or how it came to be – it is just there.
Arranging the music was the fun part. The arrangements are quite orchestral
in that we take a basic theme and then modify it as the song progresses.
Our favourite modification was to run a melody line backwards. Many
of the vocal harmonies are reversed versions of the original melodies
and most of the guitar solos run backwards, making a sound that is
often hardly recognisable as a guitar. In Stone, a whole choir runs
backwards at one point. We were delighted with the beauty of the melodies
that came out when parts were reversed. They are melodies that we
never would have thought of and yet we are totally responsible for
creating. It is a strange paradox and the source of much of the ethereal
feel of the album.
We enjoyed experimenting with different recording techniques. In Morje,
we sliced off a piece of the main vocal and looped it around to form
the chorus. In Aya, we recorded drops of water falling into a bucket
and turned that into a rhythmic rainfall. In Return, we jammed a sock
under the strings of the guitar to dampen the sound.
The hardest part of the album was the production. Because our equipment
is very simple, we had to spend a long time getting the sounds up
to the necessary standard. The album took a year to complete –
although we were both doing “normal” jobs at the time,
to pay the bills (and still are!). Frederic, at Prikosnovenie, did
a final stereo remastering and that really put an extra professionality
into our sound. He did a great job.
What kind of music you are shooting for?
We simply want to write songs that we like. If you have too
much of a preconceived idea of where you want to go, then that can
restrict the spontaneous creative force. At the moment we are writing
songs that are similar in style to The Vast Astonishment but will
hopefully be a progression from it. We want to introduce more instruments
and experiment with choirs more in the future, but who knows what
will come out?
There is a meaning behind the name Pinknruby?
We both have obsessions with pink things and rubies. Who
knows why? The band was originally called “Pink Beauty and Red
Ruby”. One of our friends got the name wrong and thought we
were called Pinknruby. That seemed a much better name so we stuck
In the album I felt the fusion of your different origins,
can you tell us more about?
Paul: I was brought up 25 miles from London. My father played
a lot of rocknroll music from the late fifties and early sixties,
which I still love although I don’t listen to it much these
days. He also taught me to play the guitar and I loved it immediately.
I spent a lot of time when I was young, sitting with a friend, playing
the guitar and making up songs. Later on, I played bass in a blues
band and acoustic guitar in a folk band. When I was at college I moved
into a house that had an old piano and started teaching myself. When
Mihaela and I met, in 1997, we were both going to a lot of clubs and
it was then that I started writing dance music. More recently, I have
been writing music for television which is great because you get to
write in a lot of different styles.
Mihaela: I was born in Switzerland and moved to Slovenia when I was
eleven. Slovenia is at the crossroads of Italian, German and Slavic
cultures and I’ve been musically influenced by all three. The
first instrument I learnt to play was the piano, but I soon got more
interested in singing and playing the guitar. My father used to play
the guitar and I think this inspired me. I sang in choirs and in a
couple of bands including Grinning Ghouls Against Juju. I only began
composing when we started Pinknruby.
You create an album of beauty, did you look for an aesthetic
result or for a spiritual one?
We were looking for both. If the music is aesthetically pleasing
then there is always going to be a spiritual aspect – that is
the nature of music. However we are both interested in spiritual healing
– we are both training as healers at the College of Psychic
Studies in London – and were therefore conscious of writing
music with a spiritual aspect.
Friends of ours are using The Vast Astonishment in healing ceremonies
in USA and Brazil. We think the healing power of music is vast and
vastly underestimated in the modern world.
Do you have a philosophy? Your vision of the world is...
All things are one; we are all united by love. We just have
to realise this connection to make it manifest in the world. Happiness
is a choice we make.
During our lives, we are discovering our many different faces. We
need to integrate them. We have to accept all sides of our nature;
to love our light as well as our darkness. This is the biggest challenge
we face – to love ourselves as we are.
We are very interested in permaculture, gardening by the moon and
working with nature spirits. We grow some of our own food and medicinal
herbs. Our garden was an inspiration to us while we were writing The
This year we will be playing concerts with the “Small World
Solar Stage”. All the electricity that powers the stage is produced
through solar energy. We are very happy to be promoting this sort
of ecology through our music.
What kind of response are you experiencing from the audience
to your music?
We have been really pleased and surprised at the response
to our music, it seems to appeal to a wide audience. After live gigs,
there are usually a few people who come up to us afterwards who have
really been moved by it. One person remarked that we sounded like
the music he expected to hear on his way to heaven!
People like to play the album just to make them happy; a couple of
friends like listening to it in the bath as it relaxes them and one
person we found on the internet sings Morje in the shower.
How have you get in touch with the label Prikosnovenie?
We put some music on a website called Vitaminic. The site
is huge and we were very surprised when someone called Didier Becu
contacted us and asked us if we would send him The Vast Astonishment
to review in his webzine, The Original Sin. We sent him the cd and
received a wonderful review, comparing us to several Dark Wave bands,
including “Les Secrets de Morphee” who were on the Prikosnovenie
label. That’s how we heard of Prikosnovenie; we sent off a demo
to them and they liked it. We are very pleased to have found Prikosnovenie.
Frederic, Sabine and Arno seem to be such warm people – not
at all what we expected the record industry to be like! Frederic’s
mastering and Sabine’s artwork have really helped us to create
a beautiful album.
Mihaela has recently recorded a track with Frederic for his new Lys
album, which is coming out soon.
Which artists have inspired you most?
Paul: I fell in love with the Cocteau Twins as soon as I
heard them; until then, I didn’t know records like that were
made. I was also influenced by the more experimental work of the Beatles,
such as the White Album. Shelleyan Orphan, The Cardigans, Portishead
- these all influenced me on The Vast Astonishment, as well as some
classical composers, like Satie, Debussy and Holst. I think at the
end of the day, though, I am inspired by all the music I listen to
– even the stuff I don’t like.
Mihaela: I’m inspired by a whole range of different music around
the globe. Some people that particularly inspired me are Iva Bittova
with her bewitching voice, Trinovox with their beautiful sense of
harmonie, Le Mystere Des Voix Bulgares, Kate Bush, the sunny music
of Brazil, particularly samba and bossa nova, and the freedom in the
singing of the Aka Pygmies. I like a strong and beautiful melody.
What is the greatest challenge for your future?
To embrace our fullest potential and to keep a sense of humour.
Reviews (only in italian): The Vast Ashtosnishment;