More Music from the UK

On the fourth chord of I Sign I broke out in goosebumps. I don’t mean a couple sprang up along my arms, I mean shivering skin, all over my body. And that was before  Zara Kershaw started singing, her voice all breathy and bluesy.

I Sign is definitely part blues, but it’s a lot more. I Sign is pop, it’s alternative, and there’s something about it that makes me think of Broadway at it’s best.

Maybe that’s singer songwriter Zara Kershaw’s musical training showing, or maybe the lush piano and string parts that come in around minute two are responsible for the big sound that says, concert hall.

Then the music starts to swing, to skip towards a section that serves as a bridge but also as the triumphant sounding climax of what is essentially a love story. Although I confess, I can’t figure out if this love is beginning or ending, I absolutely love the concept, “I Sign”, whether to begin, or end, a relationship portrayed in a three-minute song. Brilliant.

Zara Kershaw describes her songs as having “contrapuntal streams of enriched vocal harmony” and towards the end of I Sign I found myself choosing my favorite vocal line and singing along. After a while I created my own harmony and layered it on top.

When the song ended at just over three and a half minutes, I was surprised. It didn’t feel long enough. I wished for a second chorus before the swinging section, or repeated choruses at the end. But really, there’s no problem with I Sign, you must simply play it over and over.

Zara Kershaw is from the UK and I thought I might have heard the influences of Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel in her music, as well as a bit of raw energy that I consider more . . . American. That bit of edgy blues made me think of Melissa Etheridge, but just for a second. Singer songwriter Zara Kershaw is her own artist. If we’re lucky she’ll come over and play a few shows. If she does, you’ll hear about it on Sirenstories. Stay tuned.

The Visual Music of Kamil Vojnar

Sirenstories usually features music, but after I came across several pieces online by visual artist Kamil Vojnar, I really wanted to write about his gorgeous work. I say wanted to because I did want to, and I tried, but I’m so enamored by his images, I’m  finger-tied. It seems I care too much.

This is the first piece by Kamil Vojnar that I fell in love with. In. Love.

I was searching for an image to represent Sirenstories, not this blog, but the YA trilogy of the same name that I’m writing. This spring I’ll be working with an editor who will help me shape and polish the first book, and someone suggested I use kickstarter to fund the work. But I needed an image to attract people to my project.

When I found Kamil’s Siren standing above the beach, I gasped in recognition. He is one of the characters from my trilogy.

But I don’t think  that would please Kamil Vojnar. Even if I created the most memorable character in literary history, even if I made him heroic, and brilliant, clever, and magical, Kamil would not be happy because that would mean the pinning down of one of his images, something that is not meant to be. The essence of Vojnar’s work is light and movement.

I’ve rewritten this post a dozen times, and I’ve cut nearly all that I thought I wanted to say. I’ve spent hours online pouring over  websites that feature Vojnar’s stunning pieces as well as information about him and his exhibits, but I couldn’t find the words I needed. They all sound stiff compared to his ethereal images. Music would describe his work best I think, or a poem might be able to, if it were read by someone with a complicated, beautiful voice, and it was endless.

Kamil and I have exchanged a series of emails, and he was kind enough to allow me to use the above image for my project, but now that I’ve learned so much about him, that almost seems wrong. It is all too easy to commercialize Kamil’s work, because it is instantly enjoyable, but that doesn’t mean that his art is easy. His work has darkness in its depths, and its light creates haunting shadows. Kamil Vojnar is a fine artist, and although his work has a fleeting quality—or perhaps that quality belongs to the moments portrayed—it is not meant for fleeting purposes. His pieces are full of unanswered questions, restlessness hidden inside stillness, and sorrow that will not be resolved. We’ve all heard music that makes us ache. There is something here we cannot obtain, something unknowable, perhaps unthinkable, possibly unbearable.

Obviously Kamil can’t upload his pieces to the Sirenstories Soundcloud, but he knew that I would be writing this post, or trying to. I think he will appreciate my frustration in trying to find the right words.

Kamil Vojnar‘s website is a beautiful, evocative place to visit. No matter what kind of artist you are, you will find inspiration there starting with an ephemeral series of images that seem to melt into one another. Each image vanishes into the next and there is no ‘button’ on his site to click back to this series of pictures. I think that perfectly represents the art of Kamil Vojnar. Each piece is a moment from a dream, captured but not contained. Each image murmurs, possibility . . . and the viewer wonders, what has just happened? What will happen next?

Please click on the image above to give yourself the gift of a journey into Kamil Vojnar‘s sensual and sorrowful world.

Tanguy Dairaine used Kamil’s images to create this video for French pop star Patricia Kaas, which she used on her 2009 tour. The video was projected on a giant screen behind her while she sang her intimate song, Une Derniere Fois.