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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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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.

spacetrawler link image

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

oglaf link image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

IrmaVepOikeaGif

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.

Emma_3

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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New album, Lost in Music, Spotify & Deezer!

Sweethearts! It’s Sextili, or Fructidor, or August if you wish, the month of the Poppy, the birthmonth of Leo (Laura) and Virgo (Jere). It marks the transition from summer to fall, and is a common month for harvest. During the summer we’ve sown some, and now it’s time to reap!

The three big news items:

1. We’ve started pre-production for our next album! It’s going to be wonderful! We’ll keep you posted on the twists and turns of this epic saga.

2. We’re playing at the Lost in Music festival, the biggest annual showcase festival in Finland, this October in Tampere. If you missed Kammerkabarett, or the various duo gigs we played during the summer, come and see us at Lost in Music to hear some of the new songs. You can find our producer Martiina Laaksonen and the band at Lost in Music and Musiikki & Media.

We are looking for partners to work with in Europe, and most specifically a booking agency and/or distributor for Germany. We love playing in Germany, her people have always treated us kindly, the audiences have been wonderful and their feedback enthusiastic. Dear German sweethearts, we want to come to you! It’s just that we are concentrating on the new album, so we simply don’t have the time and the energy to book the gigs ourselves.

3. Last but not least: You can now download ‘Mascot Moth’ from iTunes or Google Play Store, or you can stream the entire album through Spotify or Deezer. Deezer also hosts a playlist for the artists performing at Lost in Music. There are many interesting Finnish bands there, so give it a listen!

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Playing at Korjaamo, Helsinki, this June at Töölön juhlaviikko. Picture by Pepita Kautto.

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YLE performance

It’s here! The Finnish National Broadcasting company’s Omatuntoklubi documentary features a live take on La Beauté, along with some extremely beautiful material shot in the studio. The song starts at 1:05, and there’s some merry babbling at the end by a songbird who’s just come off the stage. Easy, the spoken word is not.

– Laura

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YLE Teema Television Performance

YLE (the national Finnish Broadcasting Company) is featuring us in their “Hetkiä kaupungissa” TV series on the cultural channel Teema. Remember these guys? We finally get to see their handiwork! The program airs on Monday, September 30th, 9.30 pm, and you can watch it afterwards on Yle Areena (not sure if that works outside of Finland, though). The series starts tonight, and shows the diversity of music and performance culture in Helsinki. Our performance was shot live at Omatuntoklubi in May.

See the program and read more about it on YLE’s web page!

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Hello Berlin!

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We are on our way, excited to play two very different kinds of concerts in the German capital. Our faces already decorate the Amphitheater-Mobile, and soon we’ll appear in flesh! See you tonight at Pech & Schwefel and tomorrow at the Amphitheater im Monbijoupark!

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August 18, 2013 · 10:46 am