Elysian Fields is Australia’s first and only electric viola da gamba ensemble. Founded by leading early musician and viola da gambist, Jenny Eriksson, and highly regarded jazz musicians, Matt Keegan and Matt McMahon, the group charts new sonic territory at the intersection of jazz, world music and classical chamber music. Its truly unique instrumentation – voice/violin, saxophones, electric viola da gamba, piano, bass guitar and drums – and the fact that several members are skilled composers – has left critics and audiences reaching for superlatives. In 2019 the Sydney Morning Herald wrote of Elysian Fields: “this time-bending, mind-bending project makes music that sounds modern and hundreds of years old simultaneously.”
The group has a special affinity to Scandinavia including through Jenny Eriksson’s Swedish grandfather. Singer Susie Bishop speaks Swedish and Matt Keegan studied in Sweden. The recording will consist of original commissions by group members as well as several folk song arrangements.
As artists we MUST be prepared to do new things, even if it means leaving behind the safe and well trodden paths on which we know where to step. I am a classically trained early musician specialising in the French baroque. Several years ago I knew I had to expand my horizons which is why I bought and taught myself, the electric viola da gamba. I also wanted to create an artistic mileau which would attract and nurture improvising musicians like Matt McMahon, Dave Goodman and Matt Keegan, one where they could also explore new territory and try new ideas.
Connecting back to the musical aesthetic of Sweden, where I still have relatives, is also important to me. I have done this previously through my acoustic ensemble, The Marais Project. I am very attracted to the sound and sound production world of Scandinavian jazz and improvised music. Bringing these strands together in an original Australian recording has been a powerful and unrelenting dream of mine.
Donations will be used to fund studio hire and recording costs.
We have been able to retain leading sound engineer and sound designer, Richard Belkner from Free Energy Device Studios to work on the project. The recording will be Produced by 2011 MCA Freedman Fellowship jazz award winner, Matt Keegan. As well as being a member of Elysian Fields, Matt is a nationally and internationally known performer, composer and arranger.