Sunday, November 6, 2011

Introducing: Mari Pokinen

If you flew to Estonia this summer on Estonian Air, you would have seen their elegant inflight magazine, (pardaajakiri) “In Time”. This quarterly publication highlights Estonian people, their culture and cuisine along with exotic destinations; the stories alternate between English and Estonian. If you are learning Estonian or are related to one, “In Time” is a great resource.

For the fall issue, "Picturesque South Estonia", columnist Triin Tammert interviewed Mari Pokinen from Tartu, a 23-year-old singer, songwriter and actress, and a recent graduate of the Viljandi Culture Academy (at the University of Tartu). Her debut album “22”, released in 2010, was an overnight success and has remained in the Estonian Top 10 all year.

Her songs are simple, captivating and timeless. Having Estonian Air use her hit single "Sõpradele" as a theme song for their commercial “Olulised hetked” (Important Moments) certainly helped a lot!

Does she have mixed feelings about releasing her song to a commercial? Yes. Raadio-2 recently asked her that question on „Siin me oleme“ (Here we are), a talkshow airing weekdays around noon :
“See pole lennureisi lugu. Ühel ilusal soojal päeval kirjutasin selle oma sõpradele," lisas Pokinen, kes ei aimanud, et tema loodud kaunis laul hakkab reklaamis oma elu elama". Read the interview here.

The song was written on a beautiful warm day and dedicated to her friends, which is why it is so honest, powerful and heartfelt. And now it has a life of its own, which must feel strange to her, since her goal was to become an actress, not a singer, although singing and writing music were always a part of her life. „Ma ei ole julgenud ennast määratleda lauljana ega valida muuikat elukutseks, leivateenimiseks.“ 
"No näed":

How does she write songs? What is her inspiration? Simple things:  life in Estonia (wonderful!), friends, song – being in the moment.
Read for inspiration: see how simply the expresses her feelings about the essence of time and space in words!

"Mäletan, kui Luha tänavale kodu ehitasime, istusin oma uues tühjas kajavas toas ja kuulasin ballaadi, mis kostus üle ehitusteipide, avamata kastide, parkettpõranda liistude teise maja otsa. Ja mina vaatasin lage ja seinu ja põrandat ja kujutlesin, missugune kord olema saab nende lugu. Kui soojaks ja targaks nad saavad. Paigutasin mõttes asju kohtadele. Uurisin kõiki nurki. Ja ballaad oli vabaduseks. Kuulutas uut algust".

"I remember when we were building our home on Luha street and I was sitting in my empty new room, listening to a ballad that floated over boards, planks, unopened cartons; from one end of the house to the other. As I sat there, I imagined the life these items would have, what would be their story. How warm and smart they would become. And as I looked at all the nooks and crannies, I created a room. And the song in the air was about freedom, announcing new beginnings."

New Beginnings in Tallinn
This past summer Mari was a witch -  a hundred year old endearing, teenage witch, the kind you would want to meet! And this Christmas on ETV, you probably will – she plays the part of Nõianeiu Nöbinina, in the ten-part television series based on the book by Kristiina Kass. Like many of Kass's previous children’s stories, it is funny, sweet and easy to read – and soon out of print!

And now for something completely different....
How about a rock and roll cabaret based on "The Brothers Karamazov" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky?  How wild is that? Very!  The „12 Karamazovs”, directed by Kristjan Smeds, is currently playing at the Von Krahl Theatre on Rataskaevu Street in Tallinn until Novemeber 24. The cast: new professional actors, including Mari Pokinen, from the Viljandi Culture Academy.

"The „12 Karamazovs” is not a classical play but a state of mind, which the whole crew has initiated. It is a statement of both modern Russia and postmodern Estonia; full of punk attitude, odd Slavic traditions, switched male and female roles and numerous surprises on the way”. Length: 4 hours, 15 minutes. Exciting, yes -  but not for the faint of heart! 

The Von Krahl is an experimental theatre, an ultra cool nightclub and restaurant - AND an academy all in one! The small theatre, led by Peeter Jalakas of the VAT Theatre, opened in 1992 and focuses on alternative modes of performance. (Estonian Theatre, Jaak Rähesoo). Sigismund Von Krahl was an Australian philosopher of Baltic German origin, whose his ideas have inspired the theatre group named for him. Interested?  Read the complete history in the article by Katrin Ruus here

And how does Mari Pokinen feel about Tartu and Tallinn?
"Käisin kodus. Tartus liigub aeg võrratute pisikeste sammudega. Tallinna aeg on jämedam ja jookseb rahust ja ilust tihti üle. Nii tundsin vajadust pealinnast eemale saada. Ja tegigi kodu mind jälle mõnusamaks. Sügis on Tartus samuti hoopis tundlikum. Sügis annab ennast seal päriselt kätte ja kõik sealne annab ennast sügise kätte." 

"I went home. Time in Tartu moves at a much slower pace. Tallinn’s time moves forward quickly and often tramples over beauty. I felt a need to escape from the capital. And I was comfortable again at home. Fall is more sensitive in Tartu and lends itself to people and they are able to relate to it more there."

Although penned in October 2010, before the release of her debut album "22", I bet she still fells the same way - Tartu or Tallinn?

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