A few years ago, I got the idea for writing a bilingual duet. The idea first popped up in my head when listening to Norwegian band Skumring and the voice of Cecilie Langlie in particular. Her beautiful vocal work is one of the reasons why their debut album ‘De Glemte Tider’ is so deeply affecting. Other male/female duets gave me inspiration, like Bjørn Eidsvåg & Lisa Nilsson’s song Mysteriet Deg, which has Norwegian and Swedish lyrics. Another example is Kent with FF, which is sung in Swedish and French.
In the case of Akelei, the duet would have to be in Dutch and Norwegian. Moreover, I wanted to construct lines that could be sung together, having words with same meanings and sounds in both languages. I asked Cecilie if she would like to participate in this project and luckily she agreed to record vocals for a song that had yet to be written! There were some suitable parts and ideas in my head at the time but it took me about 2 years to finish the final composition of music and lyrics. Other versions were written, demoed and trashed. The version that made it in the end is actually the third or fourth version, I’m not really sure about that number.
Although Dutch and Norwegian have many similarities, actually constructing sentences that would fit together and also made sense proved to be a real challenge. Grammar got in the way most of the time and there were also oddities such as Dutch ‘jij’ (meaning ‘you’) sounding exactly like Norwegian ‘jeg’ (meaning ‘I’) that were best avoided. I learned Norwegian while living in Oslo 8 years ago, so I got off to a good start, but still needed Cecilie’s assistance in checking for mistakes. The whole thing had to sound as natural as possible, rather like streams of thought than the weighing of every word and syllable. I think I have succeeded in that the words flow together naturally and do not sound forced.
The lyrics deal with the experience of isolation due to an incapability of communicating with others. Initial silence between strangers can have a paralysing effect on their relationship when neither party has the guts or the wits to break that silence. This theme fits so well because the 2 singers stick to their own languages, their own worlds, and thereby stay ‘out of reach’ for each other. Even when their thoughts and feelings converge time and again, and even follow parallel lines, they may never know. And from all this thinking and worrying a melody arises and unites them in a duet…
So that’s the story for this song, which was a long time in the making. Now that the recordings are behind us, and to see that the ideas actually work, well… it’s very rewarding. Plus this is probably the first nedernorsk doomduet ever, so it even has the feel of a novelty 😉 Can’t wait for you to hear it.