Eerie Sounds Interview : Jeanne Lefebvre – Rajna



Interview by NocturnalConcerto

Are you ready to join the world of Rajna? They will brought yuo to unknows and mystical worlds, made of new feelings. I’m really proud to unveiled one of the interviews (I hope a long series!) where I’ll present new particular acts of the ambient scene. Franch Ambient duo Rajna are publishing albums since 1998 and their peculiarity is playing and collecting instruments for all the parts of the world. But let’s give the word to Jeanne, the singer of the duo.

First of all welcome Jeanne, how are you and thanks for accept my interview! For all the people out there that loves ambient/ethereal music can you summarize Rajna‘s history band?

Rajna was born in 1998, after an encounter with another musician playing the yang T’chin called Gérard Chambellant. Our passion for music and for collecting various ethnic instruments was a common point and this was the beginning of our history. We began the project in 1998 and our first album, “Ishati”, was released on the label Prikosnovenie. Then, we changed label and worked with Holy Records. Our second album, “Yahili” and third album “The Heady Wine of Praise” were made also with Gérard Chambellant. They were mostly based on Indian and Tibetan music. We released “The Door of Serenity”, a very appreciated album among our fans. And then, we released “Hidden Temple”, after a journey we had made in Egypt. Then, we released “Black Tears” :an anthology dedicated to our first 4 albums + unreleased tracks. Our our royalties went for building a school in Tibet. Then, we released “Otherwise” which was rather different from all we had ever done before. It was essentially based on guitars and the mood was more occidental. Then,we released “Duality”, a transition album between “Otherwise” and the ancient albums of Rajna. Then, we released “Offering”: it was our last album on Equilibrium Music. It is our most acclaimed album and includes very strong and emotive songs. 

Well, after this introduction we can start to ask you some questions about “Offering”, your latest album out on Equilibrium Music. How’s born and when you written the first lyric for this album?

The only tracks with texts are “Neverland” and “Quiet Hour”.The second text has been written by C.J. Dennis and arranged by Aret Madilian from Deleyaman. For the other tracks, I do not sing “real” words, just an imaginative language, as does Lisa Gerrard from Dead Can Dance

If we compare “Duality” to “Offering” what are the main differences that come into your mind? 

“Duality” was much more inde-pop with an electronic touch but with “Offering” we have abandonned electronics to give place to much more organic, acoustic instruments. Concerning the voice, there were moree texts and “real” lyrics on “Duality” that on “Offering”

The previous album was published by Holy Records, why you have changed label? 

We wanted a new start and after so many albums on Holy Records, we needed to see something new. “Offering” is like a renewal.

Rajna is well-known for use Ethic instruments in their albums, doing some research I’ve found that particularly you use two instruments called Santoor and Yang T’chin, can you give some infos or curiosity about these instruments and what is the emotion that Fabrice feel when he plays them? 

Fabrice plays the santour and the Yang T’Chin from the beginning of Rajna. We bought our santour in Istambul and it comes from Iran. It’s a very nice instrument made of 95 strings. We bought our Yang’T’Chin in China. The sound is different from the santour. We also have an Indian santour and another one that  comes from Switzeland. They all sound different. Fabrice loves playing the Iranian santour for its particular sound. 

Listening to the album, I notice an important fact: you sing something that is close to a vocalize. Are lyrics written in an unknown language or are totally invented by you? In the ambient scene we aren’t aware of this since someone called Lisa Gerrard use this “method” in the Dead Can Dance albums..

As I told you in a previous question,I do not use a real language. It’s something as Lisa does: it’s the same method Lisa uses. You are totally right!

We already know that your primary influences are Dead Can Dance and [quoting from Equilibrium Press Release] “the mysteries of the Orient and a true passion for travelling and collecting instruments from all parts of the World”. Now I ask you what is the Middle East mystery that fascinates you and your favourite Ethnic instrument? 

Our favourite Ethnic instrument is definitely the Santour, especially the Iranian one. We are fascinated by the culture and music of these Middle Eastern countries. We travelled a lot in thses countries and brought back many Ethnic instruments from these countries, especially when we were in Istanbul which is a fantastic and incredible city, full of mysteries and history.

Who’s Cléomene that you sing on the song “The Dance of Cléomene”? And what are the meaning of this titles : “Eleusis”, “Illa Saldé”, “Epidauros”?

Some of the titles are pure invention. They sound nice to me and I like the sound that they have and they make me travel when I think of them. Cléomene was the king of Sparta, Eleusis was an antique Greek city, Epidauros was an antique theater in Greece, Illa Saldé is pure invention.

If I’m not wrong Rajna‘s music was featured into a French TV documentary called “A la recherche du tombeau de Jésus”, what was talking about this documentary and how happened that the TV used your music?

Yes, you are right. One of our fans has contacted us and told us that he had heard a few minutes from “Hidden Temple” into the French documentary “A la recherche du tombeau de Jésus”. So we contacted the TV broadcast and they told us it was right. They had decided to use a few minutes of our music because one of the person working for this programm knew us already and loved our work, so we have been chosen for this documentary. It was very good for us !!

Now talking about live gigs, in your idea what would be the ideal place for playing a Rajna gig? And you have any gigs going on? 

The best place for a Rajna gig is in a church.The sound and the atmosphere that comes from the place is perfect for us. We have played lastly in Nijmegen church, in Holland in May 2010. We have no live shows in preparation for the moment. 

So now I ask you this question, mainly my webzine promote metal bands, so really distant from your music genre but in some ways close in matter of ideas. If you should advice 5 ambient album to a beginner, in your opinion what they are?

My top 5 would be :

  • Alio Die – “Aura Seminalis” – The best minimal music
  • David Sylvian – “Camphor” – Rather experimental album
  • TUU – “All our ancestors” – Very good ethnic ambient music
  • Brian Eno & Peter Schwaum – “Drawn from life” – Very good ambient trip hop music
  • Stephan Micus – “To the evening child” – Very good peaceful music with an ethnic touch 

Well, Jeanne thatnks so really much for replying at my questions hope you like them!  

I hope you’ll enjoy my interview. Thank you for promoting our music. All the best, Jeanne



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