Voice of nature – Mick Pedaja

The pure, open music of Estonian singer Mick Pedaja speaks of an artist with a deep connection to the environment

A fishing trip with a friend when he was 15 first opened Mick Pedaja’s eyes to the wonders of nature. ‘We talked for five hours, gazing up at the clouds, and I suddenly realised I’d always been blind to the beauty of my surroundings,’ he says. After this epiphany, he started going hiking and camping in the forest, and this remains a weekly activity, even in winter.

Having studied guitar at music school and started songwriting in his teens, it was inevitable that nature would find its way into his music. Sometimes this influence is overt, such as the birdsong that opens his 2014 single ‘Ärgake’ (Wakening). ‘I like making field recordings,’ Mick explains, ‘and I sometimes use sounds from nature and from cities in my music, because these sounds inspire feelings in all of us.’ But nature also comes into his music subconsciously, he says, and it can be heard in the organic feel of his songs, and the purity, warmth and openness of his sound.

Amid a vibrant Estonian pop scene, where the likes of post-Soviet rapper Tommy Cash, electronic indie-pop artist NOËP and art-pop band Ewert and The Two Dragons have gained international recognition, Mick has been making his own waves, winning a prestigious national award for his first album Hingake/Breathe, and setting up several side-projects to continue his musical experimentation. From performing solo and with his band, he now also collaborates closely with his singer-songwriter wife Angeelia, and is playing with orchestras. ‘I used to dream some years ago what it would be like to perform with an orchestra,’ Mick says. ‘Now with Kristjan Järvi, I’ve had the opportunity to do just that.’ Mick first worked with Kristjan two years ago in Estonia and in Moscow, and says: ‘I was impressed by his empathy, his charisma, and the way he works – always friendly, always professional. I learn from him, every time we work together, about new ideas for presenting and producing concerts.’

For his ‘Nordic Pulse’ collaboration with the Baltic Sea Philharmonic, Mick will be performing a selection of songs in Estonian and English from Hingake/Breathe and also his latest album Avaimus. Nature is once again a powerful theme on this new recording, which includes songs with such titles as ‘Heat and Leaf’, ‘Tundra’ and ‘Cold and Bright’, as well as a trio of instrumentals that layer string quartet and electronics and form a three-part ‘Forest Hymn’. ‘Performing my music with orchestra is such a special experience,’ says Mick. ‘It’s like you have all of nature, all your ancestors, with you, supporting you.’

Biography

Mick Pedaja is a musician and composer from Rapla, Estonia. Known for his atmospheric electro-acoustic palette, chilled rhythms and floating vocals, Mick says his mission is to bring warmth and peace to his listeners. He launched his solo career in 2014 with his debut EP Ärgake. His first full-length album Hingake/Breathe was released in 2016 and won best indie/alternative album award at the Estonian Music Awards 2017.

On 24 February 2017 Mick took part in a concert to celebrate the 99th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia, at which he performed his song ‘Ärgake’ as well as ‘Kuulake kõik’ by Sven Grünberg. Also in the spring of 2017 Mick began an experimental electronic side project called SUMRA, resulting in the album Laniakea. Mick’s latest album Avaimus, released in December 2018, is inspired by the forests and natural surroundings he feels close to, and, like Hingake/Breathe, contains a mix of songs in Estonian and English.

Kristjan Järvi is among the diverse composers, performers and producers that Mick has worked with so far in his career. Mick also collaborates closely with his wife Angeelia, who is like him a singer and composer.