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Daria Kulesh: ‘I started singing in an Irish pub with a Celtic-inspired folk-rock band’ in Moscow …

 

Having heard the wonderful voice of Daria Kulesh and seen her excellent children’s activity workshop at the Folk Weekend in Oxford, we finally caught up with her for chat. Here she tells us about her career so far and the inspiration for her new album Long Lost Home.

 

SF: Tell us a little about your background and when you learnt to sing?

DK: I was born and grew up in Moscow (Russia). With no formal musical training, I started singing in an Irish pub with a Celtic-inspired folk-rock band. That’s when I began writing song lyrics, too, having already had my poetry published in several literary magazines. I moved to England in 2007 as a travel writer, took a couple of years settling down, took up guitar, started writing songs in English and eventually felt brave enough to try some floor spots at folk clubs … You probably know the rest!

SF: Your latest album, ‘Long Lost Home’, is a very personal album to you. What inspired you to write the songs?

Daria1

Daria Kulseh

DK: My main inspiration was my beloved late grandmother, Fatima Akhrieva, referenced to as Fata Morgana on my debut solo record Eternal Child. I thrived on her stories and old family photographs. The fascinating, otherworldly land that she came from – Ingushetia in the south of Russia, in the Caucasus Mountains – was part of her mystery, her beauty, her heartbreak. As keenly observed by Dai Jeffries (Folking.com), this album is personal in a historical sense, not an autobiographical sense as Eternal Child was. In these songs, the personal stories of my grandmother and her family are intertwined with big history.

SF: What made you take ‘The Moon and the Pilot’ as the track to be made into a single?

DK: In November 2015, I performed ‘The Moon and the Pilot’ live on BBC World Service. It prompted hundreds of people, including grandmother’s estranged relatives, to contact me and express their gratitude for the song and for speaking out about the events of February 1944, when the Ingush and the Chechens were brutally deported from their homes on the orders of dictator Joseph Stalin. Following such a breathtaking response, I felt it was my duty to release ‘The Moon and the Pilot’ as a single, with an accompanying video, on 23 February 2016 – the anniversary of the deportation. The reaction to the single and video was equally mind-blowing, and in August last year I was invited to visit Ingushetia, my grandmother’s long lost home, for the first time. It was an eye-opening and life-changing experience.

SF: You always take great care in the beautiful presentation and packaging of your albums. Have you had any artistic training?

DK: No formal training here either (my degree is in Media Studies), but I have always been into drawing, painting and crafting. I showed artistic promise long before there was any evidence of musical talent and had my first art exhibition aged 5. My illustrations were published in children’s magazines since I was 7.

SF: After you’ve finished promoting and touring this album what is next for Daria?

DK: I hope to keep sharing this album, the songs and the stories for years to come and have got an exciting gig schedule booked for 2017. I might take a little break from writing and recording new solo material – simply to recharge my creative batteries, but other projects that I’m involved in will benefit. KARA – with the exciting new line-up including Pete Morton – has already been churning out new songs with hopes of a new album in 2018. Is that too long to wait? Fear not: as soon as in April this year, there will be a debut album from The Company of Players. Recording it in Cornwall in early January (no rest for the wicked!) was lots of fun. Finally, ideas for my next solo project – I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t have any – include a concept album focusing on the exquisite poetry of Ali Khashagulgov from Ingushetia which deserves to be interpreted in English and discovered worldwide.

Graham Hobbs

FEATUTRE HEADING: blah blah balh

 

Feature Intro:After having won the Musician of the Year award at this year’s Folk Awards and playing with almost everyone from Jon Boden and Eliza Carthy to Hannah Ja

 

Feature Interviewer SF: Question

Feature Interviwee BH: answer

 

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