LAND OF EDEN – by Lucie Hendry

Land of Eden – Debut Album Released 16th June 2023

📷 by Justyna Krzyżanowska

For years I have dreamed about recording a solo album but never could I have told you that it would turn out like it has! Land of Eden is the fulfilment of past visions and dreams, and the beginning of new ones.

At the end of 2020, I was fortunate to get an opportunity to move to Denmark. At the time I was ready for some new inspiration in my music work and I moved feeling hopeful of new beginnings and opportunities to come. Although the move wasn’t intended as permanent in any way and I still plan to return to Glasgow at some point, I didn’t set myself any dates for moving back home. So here I am 2.5 years later, sitting in Copenhagen writing this while enjoying the festivities of the Copenhagen Jazz Festival.

I moved to Esbjerg on the west coast of Denmark and quickly got connected with the community from the Danish National Academy of Music which is the equivalent to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow. There I attended weekly concerts absorbing so much new and inspiring music, primary jazz, jazz fusion, jazz rock, indie and electronic. Being my first time moving to another country and quickly learning that I had to start from scratch (realised after rejoicing over a solo return trip to the food store) in creating a life, friends and community, I had to create some kind of daily/weekly structure. I realised that I needed a long term project to help focus me through the initial stages of moving and settling so I made a goal to create and score a tune each month for harp, record and video a performance of the tune to share on Youtube, sell the music from my website, and in doing so, build up my social media audience. I decided this would be a year long project which I named Hygge Tunes. ‘Hygge’ is a Danish word that has connotations of feeling cosy, enjoying good times with friends and family. I went onto create a music book for harp with all 12 tunes and this is available in digital & physical format from my website.

Without realising, the Hygge Tunes series was the start of my album as it generated a lot of material that I went on to record later. After a successful project which exceeded my expectations in terms of the outcome and response, the idea was suggested about recording my own album. I went on to receive some funding which kickstarted the whole album planning process at the beginning of 2022. This was just the project I needed at the time and it really felt like ‘Phase 2’ of my Hygge Tunes series. At that time I had already started working a bit with two inspiring jazz musicians: Christoffer Skovhus (drums) and Dennis Iversen (electric guitar). My folk world had previously never joined forces with the jazz world and I was really excited and curious at the potential of working with these two musicians.

I had an idea in my head as to the sound of the three instruments and when we first took my music to the practice room to figure out everyone’s role within the music, it quickly became evident the ‘sound’ that we should create. I never wanted to score Dennis and Christoffer’s parts exactly, but rather I wanted to give them space to respond to the music and make choices as to what they felt would be most appropriate. Of course we worked together, fine-tuning the arrangements but I really wanted to feature solos and improvisational elements so we created space for this. I am so happy with how the music turned out and I feel that the process definitely unlocked a whole other musical world for me and the harp; a space that I’ve been wanting to access musically but not knowing how to previously.

I have definitely questioned the ‘genre’ of the music that we have created throughout the process but I think in doing so, it has instilled in me a greater sense of my musical identity, and made me realise without doubt that I am firmly rooted in Scottish traditional music, which will always be a part of me. The result of the album is original Scottish music, intertwined with Danish jazz and electronic effects. Broadly speaking: neo-folk. I have always been inspired by the artists who fuse and defy their genres, particularly Afro Celt Sound System, the late Martyn Bennett and Kate Bush. Genre fusion music has always fascinated me and fuelled my drive to unlock new possibilities in music. It has also triggered the desire to explore new ways with the lever harp and to widen perceptions of harp music in general.

The album is not solely about the music but also shares an important theme for me. It has given me a voice to express my environmental concerns. As we are all experiencing the realities and threat of a changing environment and world, I wanted to acknowledge this through my music while envisioning a renewed future and environment or a ‘Land of Eden’. The sleeve notes in the CD share more of my thoughts on this.

We have toured the album this summer with performances at festivals Godtfolk Festival, Copenhagen Jazz Festival and Aarhus Festival. We will be touring the album around Scotland between the 14th – 28th October, as the Lucie Hendry Trio. Check out my website and socials for gig dates and I hope to see you at one of our concerts!

📷 by Philip Skovgaard – Land of Eden album cover