Songwriting summer

“We speak shade to shade, and “never” is our name…”

If we’ve been silent, it’s because we’ve been writing new songs, smoking plenty of cigarettes, reading, reading and rereading and enjoying the morning light that only insomnia can grant to the night owls that we are.

Always in our hearts, Sweethearts!

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Film Noir at Pastis, once more with feeling!

Today is our last Film Noir evening at Ravintola Pastis, and what a time we’ve had there this year! This has been a wonderful experience which has included all of our favourite things in life – great music, fabulous food and fantastic people. Once more, with so many feelings! See it on Facebook.

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Advent calendar, week 3

For more Advent calendar treats, see week 1 and week 2!

December 24th

Here’s a little teaser, of sorts. Merry Christmas, Sweethearts!

Blogiin Noir

© Café de Abejas 2015

December 21st

It’s cocktail time! Or rather, it’s a time to make a few more delicious syrups, and see what to mix them with.

The red hibiscus is the national plant of Jamaica, and Agua de Jamaica, sometimes referred to as Hibiscus Tea, is a traditional Christmas drink. Agua de Jamaica mixes together hibiscus, ginger and possibly rum, but we’ll make a syrup without the ginger this time.

We’ll also make allspice syrup, a surprisingly Christmasy syrup that can be used, among other things, in Holiday season grogs and toddies.

The hibiscus syrup has a beautiful bright red color, and a slightly berrylike, tangy taste, reminiscent of cranberries or cassis. The allspice syrup is like condensed Christmas with notes of cinnamon and cloves, and works well in either hot or cold drinks.

Along with the recipes, then.

For the hibiscus syrup, you’ll need:

5 dl water
2 dl of white sugar
1 dl of brown sugar
1 dl of dried hibiscus flowers
1 tbsp of crushed juniper berries
The peel of one whole lemon, in strips, without the pith!

For the allspice syrup, you’ll need:

5dl of water
2dl white sugar
1dl of brown sugar
3 tbsp of crushed allspice berries
2-3 tbsp of crushed bay leaves

The actual preparation method is same for the two. In a sauce pan, bring the sugar and water to boil, and let boil for a minute or two. When the sugar is completely dissolved, turn the heat down, add the other ingredients, and let simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat, cover the pan and let steep for 20 minutes.

With the hibiscus you want to be careful, it tends to become quite bitter when boiled, so let the sugar-water mixture cool down a bit before adding the hibiscus, lemon and juniper. You might also want to let the allspice steep longer than the 20 minutes, to taste.

Once the syrups have cooled, run them through a fine sieve and store in your choice container – I use bottles, since pouring syrups out of jars is a pain. Both yield about 3-4 dl of syrup, depending on how long you let the sugar-water mixture boil before removing from heat.

Here’s a few ideas for cold cocktails made using these syrups:

15 ml hibiscus syrup
15 ml red grapefruit juice
15 ml Pisco
35 ml Lillet Blanc

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass. Beautiful, bright and just sligthly sour delicacy to work up appetite for those Holiday goodies!

15 ml allspice syrup
15 ml dry gin
50 ml Dubonnet

Rolling or tossing this one is a good idea. Strain in to a chilled coupé glass. An amalgam of the classic Dubonnet Cocktail and our very own Pear’n’Pepper Zaza.

Enjoy!

December 20th

Decadence. You know we’re dedicated to it – after all, that’s what it says on our tote bags, and it simply would not do to deny the testimony of a tote bag. Decadence – excuse me, I do believe I need a glass of Amontillado to write about this subject. Now, where were we? – That’s quite all right, dear, just leave the cask. Thank you.

Handle with care. This is strong stuff.

Ah yes, we have put together this absolutely delightful little Pinterest board that’s quite simply bursting with decadence. None of our more deplorable habits this time, nothing too personal – no, this time it’s about the real bad boys, the Decadent Movement (I love letting Wikipedia do my work) and the happy tormented souls associated with their circle.

I have to warn you though – every time I open this Pinterest board, I immediately reach for an Opium pipe and a drink too strong for mortals to handle. Paintings, illustrations, quotes, poets, Muses, skeletons, erotica, Surrealism, Aestheticism, Mysticism, Expressionism, Death and Beauty, this board has it all. Go see it and despair. Merry Christmas.

– Laura

December 19th

On December 19th 1915, exactly 100 years ago, Édith Giovanna Gassion, better known as Édith Piaf, was born!

Bon Anniversaire, La Môme!

 

December 17th

We made tote bags. Laura made a pattern based on a few of our favourite bags, and wasted away half a kilometer of thread on her Husqvarna Viking 3600. Saara then initiated us to the esoteric art of screen printing. We also had some wine.

 

December 16th

We love comics. From silly manga to Moebius, Batman to Blacksad, Neil Gaiman to Alan Moore, Don Rosa to Art Spiegelman, most everything goes. The wonderful thing about comics is that the medium works as well on paper as on the dispalys of various handheld devices. Webcomics have been around almost as long as the web, and we’ve followed some webcomics for more than 10 years. Here’s a handful that we really, really like and hope that you’ll enjoy reading, too.

The newest acquintance of ours, Wondermark, treats first world problems and every day obstacles as the absurd, silly and often meaningless constructs that they are. All in Victorian woodcuts.

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Dresden Codak‘s Caveman Science Fiction is probably the single most hilarious comic strip we’ve ever read. His other stuff is equally good.

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Atomic Robo is an action packed comic starring Atomic Robo, a sentient robot built by Nicola Tesla in the 1920s, a reluctant superhero in the vein of Hellboy, investigating strange occurences around the world and fighting everything from Pyramids turned war machines to sea monsters to aliens. A lot of webcomics become popular and are either collected as print editions at certain intervals, or transition to print media altogether. Atomic Robo went the other way, and was first published as a regular comic, and starting from January 2015 became readable as a webcomic in it’s entirety. That’s more than 1000 pages made available to read for free. Kudos for that.

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Zen Pencils is a wonderful collection of  ‘cartoon quotes from inspirational folks’ by Gavin Aung Than, a former graphic designer who quit his corporate job to pursue his dream – drawing cartoons. There’s really no way to explain the absolute beauty of Gavin’s work, so take a look yourself.

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Christopher Baldwin‘s Spacetrawlers is a story about an intergalactic activist group that abducts – or rather kidnaps – a handful of humans to act as pawns in a game of initergalactic politics. The story is heavily influenced by The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and the TV-series Red Dwarf, but is somewhat less flippant and suprisingly dark at times.

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And then there’s Oglaf. It is definetly NSFW, and if you find yourself easily offended by explicit images, skip this one. Oglaf’s humor is hard to resist, though, and the absurd adventures of Kronar, The Son of Man or the antics of the Dwarven smiths are internet memes in their own right. So prepare to blush and giggle like a six-year old and step boldly in to the mystical fantasy universe of Oglaf.

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December 15th

We thought we’d start this week by sharing with you music made by friends.

First off, here’s a song called Dirty Diamond by Phenomenal Creature. They’re a wonderful band, and this is one of our favourite tracks from them. Incidentally our Saara plays in Phenomenal Creature too, and Ilari is a founding member.

 

Then there’s Käsityökerho. It’s an extension of Mäkelä & Markus, a guitar/banjo duo Joona Mäkelä and Markus Leminen who make absolutely wonderful Finnish rock songs, and whom we absolutely adore. Käsityökerho has recently published the first track from their upcoming album, and it sounds just amazing!

 

We have had the pleasure of knowing Helena Haaparanta for a long while. She’s a good friend, an exceptional singer, a wonderful teacher and a true professional. She’s also in to playing a 15-string kantele, as you can see from this video by Helo, a duo formed by Helena together with the violinist-singer Lotta Ahlbeck.

 

Pit is a trio formed in Helsinki in 2014. Which is funny, because we could have sworn they were a band from 1990s Seattle. Pit’s grunge is dirty, crunchy, harmonic and catchy, just like the stuff we grew up to in the 90s. And so are the players – and they’re some of the best people to hang out with, too!

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Advent calendar, week 2

For more Advent calendar treats, see week 1!

December 13th

This week’s recipe is not a cocktail recipe per se, but a recipe for a home made syrup you can use for cocktails. Making a home made syrup for cocktail use is quite simple, and can enhance the appeal of even the simplest party punch. The recipe we’re giving away today is one that has a very wintery flavor and goes well with either hot or cold drinks. So here we go, a honey-cardamom syrup for Christmasy cocktails.

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4 cups water
2 cups honey
20-30 green cardamom pods
10 juniper berries
2 tbsp brown sugar

Bring the water to a boil in a sauce pan and add the cardamom and juniper berries, crushed. Let the flavors infuse for about five minutes. Bring the heat down, add the honey and sugar, and let simmer until you have about 2/3 of the liquid left. Strain through a tea sieve to your chosen container. Let the syrup cool and enjoy!

If you’re making cold drinks, try this syrup with recipes that usually call for honey syrup, such as Bee’s Knees or Gold Rush. Here we did a variation on Gold Rush, adding italian amaro and just a little creme de cassis to the original bourbon, lime and honey.

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For a hot toddy, try combining a strong, brown spirit with a fortified wine or dessert wine. If you’re using a dry sherry, try to pair it with a sweeter rum or Metaxa. If you have some vermouth lying around, spike it up with cognac. We used Sauternes wine and grappa, since both share the taste of raisin and make a beautiful pair. A dash of bitters can go a long way, chamomile and of course cardamom work well!


December 12th

Last year we did a show called Kammerkabarett. For that show we made a handful of video projections, which we haven’t had a chance of using on gigs since. There’s one that we’d especially like share with you, Sweethearts! It’s our humble homage to both Méliès and Devant, a vision of the great Mascot Moth illusion. Complete with a short “making of” intro, s’il vous plaît!

 

December 11th

We have a very special Christmas playlist, which we keep adding songs to every year. It consists of many French chants de Noël, Spanish villancicos, and other Christmasy stuff, like Bela Fleck‘s banjo version of The Twelve days of Christmas – in 12 different keys and with 12 different time signatures. And of course, no playlist is complete wihtout a Tom Waits song! So take a listen, Sweethearts, and Merry Christmas!

 

December 10th

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Here’s a little Christmas e-card we made for you, Sweethearts! And we even made a version with sound, too! Remember your loved ones, send them a card!

 

December 9th

 

Often our live shows are accompanied by our muse, Noora Palotie. She’s a wonderful, warm hearted person, and an amazing performer. She’s done everything from burlesque to theatre to aerial acrobatics with us on stage, and everything she does, she does with uncommon conviction and grace.
Here’s a clip we found from the ‘Is This Casablanca?’ record release party. The inspiration to this particular coreography came from watching the dance scenes in Gilda in slow motion. Noora absolutely kills this one, complete with the single-glove striptease!

December 8th

Laura has been an avid audiobook listener for some time, and for the start of a new Advent week would like to share a few favourites from the Librivox catalogue! Librivox.org is a wonderful project full of free audiobooks, all in the public domain and read by volunteers from around the world.  These make an entertaining listen for those sleepless nights, slow hours at the gym or tedious moments on the train.

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Jane Austen: Emma
(read by Elizabeth Klett)

A recent article on the Guardian tells us how this novel changed the face of fiction. Pay heed, and hear it out! I have to say I never really got into Jane Austen until I heard her novels narrated by Elizabeth Klett, and Emma is my absolute favourite with its ironic portrayal of the name character. Klett’s reading subtly highlights the humour and brings out all the nuances of Austen’s mature masterpiece.

Red_House_Mystery_1006A. A. Milne: The Red House Mystery
(read by Kristin Hughes)

The author of Winnie-the-Pooh was full of surprises: Milne was a noted playwright and short story writer before the huge success of Pooh overshadowed all his previous work. In 1922 he wrote one of the most impressive “locked room”-mysteries of the Golden Age of detective fiction. Enjoy the cleverness and the deductive beauty of The Red House Mystery in this delightful reading by Kristin Hughes.

Jungle_Book_1003Rudyard Kipling: The Jungle Book
(read by Meredith Hughes)

If you’ve never read The Jungle Book, you’re in for a surprise: The Kipling original is nothing like the jazzy Disney movie, but presents a haunting and often sad set of stories and songs that just might take you back to your real childhood, instead of the imaginary one. It’s a good place to visit though, especially when narrated by the lovely childlike voice of Meredith Hughes.

Human_Machine_1210Arnold Bennett: The Human Machine
(read by Ruth Golding)

Ruth Golding has a wonderfully soothing voice, and I’ve greatly enjoyed both her version of Wuthering Heights and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. This essay of Arnold Bennett sounds like tremendous fun: “I am simply bent on calling your attention to a fact which has perhaps wholly or partially escaped you — namely, that you are the most fascinating bit of machinery that ever was.” Sold!

 

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Advent calendar, week 1

December 7th

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To conclude the first week of the advent calendar, here’s a recipe to a drink that was thrown together for our Independence Day after party No. 1 (Yes, we had another afterparty much, much later on!). It’s customary in Finland to gather around with friends and tune in on the Presidential Independence Day Ball, or Linnanjuhlat, as it is known in Finnish. It is a party that collects together a respectable amount of people, from popular entertainers, distinguished academics and athletes to politicians, military figures and WWII veterans. We had a friend over, who was looking forward to spending the Independence Day with his parents, only to find out two days before that his parents were actually attending the Presidential Ball. So, after our gig at the HKTY, we sat down to watch the Ball on TV, and we whipped up this surprisingly Mediterranean drink. Let’s call it

♦The Afterparty No. 1♦

1 tbsp of rowanberry jam
Juice of ½ lemon
25 ml of Larios 12 Botanicals Gin
10 ml of Grand Marnier
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
2 dashes of grapefruit bitters
A twig of rosemary

Shake all ingredients well, and strain in to a cocktail glass. Garnish with a twig of Rosemary. Double straining is recommended, but this is an afterparty drink, after all.

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Made as such, the rowanberry jam makes the drink’s consistency lusciously thick. The Larios 12 has in it, apart from all the other spices, lime, orange, orange blossom, lemon, tangerine, mandarin, clementine and grapefruit. Together with Grand Marnier and grapefruit bitters, this drink has in it almost everything from the citrus family. The rosemary highlights the bright notes of the citrusy flavours, and Grand Marnier brings out the more mellow tangerines, clementines and mandarins.

Consider substituting the gin, since even without the Larios 12 the recipe still has a good amount of citruses in it. For the true Finnish Independence Day feel use Napue Gin, by the very Finnish Kyrö Distillery Company.

December 6th

It’s Finnish Independence Day! We played some music at the party at Helsingin Käsityö- ja Teollisuusyhdistys, and had a lovely time! Here’s just a quick video to say hi!

 

December 5th

More Film Noir inspiration, this time it’s all about hair! For the classic 1940’s look, nothing is more essential: Sure, the defined eyebrows and a popping red lipstick go a long way towards vintage glamour, but without the hairdos and the talented hairdressers behind them, Rita Hayworth’s first scene in Gilda would have a lot less of the nonchalant charm that so defines the character. Besides, what would happen to Lauren Bacall’s “The Look” without that wavy hair under which to glare?

This is why, for the 5th of November, we have put together a Pinterest board full of Noir hair inspiration for all lengths and styles! There are even a few vintage tutorials you can try for one of the parties of the festive season: There is nothing better than a wavy hairdo to help you channel the great icons of our century!

I have sported big waves à la Hayworth before, for example on our album cover, but for the intimate evenings I like a more demure, Bacallesque style. Before our Film Noir gigs in Pastis, I always go to TS-Salonki for my hairdo in the morning. We use heated rollers instead of pincurls, as my hair is super thick and I have to make it to the soundcheck in the afternoon. When the hair is set, I just wrap my hair in a silk scarf which I only take off just before the concert. Here are some selfies from different evenings of the fall (also check out Saara’s new haircolor and cut!):

December 4th

And here’s our shot at Why Don’t You Do Right, Jessica Rabbit style. This is the first rehearsal take with the whole band, from way back in September. Saara actually downtunes the C string on the cello, to get some of that upright bass feel to the song.


December 3rd

Hoagy, Bogey and Bacall. Film Noir. Jazz.

 

For the past four months we’ve been doing a Film Noir themed Show & Dinner set at Restaurant Pastis in Helsinki, and we’ve listened to a lot of songs from a lot of movies. So behind the third door of our Advent Calendar lies a playlist of some our favourite Film Noir songs.

A few interesting notes. In the “Rita Hayworth” songs Amado Mio, Put The Blame On Mame and Please, Don’t Kiss Me, the singing voice is actually that of Anita Ellis, an American singer and actress. The people at Columbia Pictures needed to turn Rita Hayworth in to an icon, and while her husky, deep voice was perfect for acting, her singing was always overdubbed. In fact, the only song Rita ever sang for herself on screen was the solo guitar version of ‘Mame‘ in Gilda. All three songs were also written by Dorothy Fisher, one of the very few female songwriters of Golden Age Hollywood.

Hoagy Carmichael is known to many as a prominent songwriter and a marvelous performer. In the later 1930s he was even hired by Paramount Pictures for a whopping 1000$ a week. He also played Sam in the TV production of Casablanca in the 1950s. Did you know, that Ian Fleming has said James Bond would look like Hoagy Carmichael, only with a scar over his face?

David Raksin‘s instrumental song Laura, from the movie Laura (1944), became so popular that Johnny Mercer was asked to write lyrics to it, and 5 different recorded versions emerged in 1945 alone. It has since become a standard with more than 400 known recordings, by Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Julie London among others. The song is also heavily referenced to in the movie – the score is almost completely comprised of the theme, the song plays on a phonograph, a band plays the song in a restaurant scene, it is heard as background music in a party, and the song is even on in the radio – at which point Vincent Price‘s character tells us it’s “one of Laura’s favourites.”

The song Why Don’t You Do Right was originally written in 1936 by Joseph McCoy for Harlem Hamfats, and was called The Weed Smoker’s Dream. Lil Green made a recording of the song with new lyrics and a refined melody. Peggy Lee, a big fan of Ms. Green’s work, made the revised version of the song famous after Benny Goodman heard her listening to it on a record over and over again, and offered to arrange it for her to sing. Hugh Laurie recorded a version of the original Weed Smoker’s Dream with Gaby Moreno on vocals in 2013.

 

December 2nd

On the Second day of Christmas my true love sent to me two turtle doves gold bugs.

The Kissel Speedster, commonly known as Goldbug, was produced from 1919 through 1927, and during that time it was a very popular car among the celebrities. Jack Dempsey drove one, Douglas Fairbanks drove one, Greta Garbo drove one, Mary Pickford drove one. Even Amelia Earhart drove one. It was also featured in quite a few movies, and our favourite scene is in the short film Jonah Jones (1924). Apart from the car, we adore Dorothy Seastrom in the role of Margaret Morgan.

The below rendition of the Gold Bug is Jere’s handiwork, designed for an animated music video. We’ll tell you more about that in the future.

 

 

December 1st

So, Jere & Laura went to this wedding this summer. In the capacity of the Best Man, Jere also designed the cocktails for the reception, and so many Last Words were had at this particular party! The newlywed couple surprised us all by getting the absolutely amazing Atelieri O. Haapala to make sure the Steampunk themed event was properly documented for generations to come!

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Film Noir & French Cuisine!

Fabulous news for the Fall, Sweethearts!

Imagine an evening at your favourite French bistro, sitting down with an old friend, sipping champagne and pastis. Imagine your favourite band playing in the corner. Imagine closing your eyes, and opening them again at Café Americain, next to Hoagy, Bogey and Bacall. We did, and this is what happened:

We are happy to announce ‘Pastis goes Film Noir avec Café de Abejas’, a series of Show & Dinner evenings at Ravintola Pastis, Helsinki! With a special dinner menu by the chef, and two sets of golden era Hollywood music by yours truly, these are promising to be the wonderfullest tiny shows we’ve done so far! Of course the songs will be arranged for our peculiar tastes, and of course there will be some of our own Casablanca thrown into the mix as well.

The evenings are going to be very intimate, with only 30-odd seats reserved for each evening. The tickets are on sale as of this morning, and they are selling FAST! So Sweethearts, tout de suite, get your seats here: http://www.tiketti.fi/Pastis-goes-Film-Noir-avec-Cafe…/34126

Have a wonderful week, and see you at a gig, darling dolls!

Laura & Jere

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Lyrics and a New Video!

A lot of you Sweethearts have been asking us if we could put our lyrics up online. So, there is now a page titled lyrics under the music tab of these pages! The videos have also been moved under the same tab – and we just added a live video of “Waiting for the Roses” to the videos page! Enjoy!

Here’s a link to the lyrics!

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