Kati Rán - Photo by Ruben Terlouw - @Woedans

Kati Rán

Kati Rán is a Dutch vocalist, musician, songwriter, and producer and is described as a genre pioneer within the Dark Nordic Folk genre. In her audio work, she utilizes historical and folk instruments, such as the Swedish nyckelharpa, moraharpa, hammered dulcimer, Norwegian Kraviklyra, bone flutes and overtone whistles, hurre, conch shells, primal percussive textures and skin-drums and vocalizes mystical ‘characters’ and powerful emotions. Kati Rán is also known for recording for TV, film, and video game productions adding historic sound textures to contemporary scores. She workes with film composers, TV streaming, and gaming industry companies from the USA, South Korea, and Canada.

Her lyrics are infused with mythology and mysticism, rooted in her travels and research to explore and deepen our knowledge about history, folklore, and traditional cultures. “From the start, I have intended to make music that carries the power to reconnect people back to nature, to their history and each other, while sounding fresh and pure as Nature itself. That has always been the mantra to my work” – Kati Rán

Kati Rán released the successful folkmusic album ‘LYS’ (2015, produced by Christopher Juul and Kati Rán in Denmark) and three Nordic dark folk singles (‘Blodbylgje’ 2019, ‘Unnr | Mindbeach’ 2021, and ‘Hefring’ 2022) that are running well into millions of streams online and gathered a large following of her work. Her music evolved into a wider, dark ambient, and momentous landscape. Delving deeper into the subject of music production and sound design, Kati Rán’s releases were gradually more and more self-produced, mixed, and finalized together with Christopher Juul (Heilung). This set the darker tone and more ambient rich sound in Kati Rán’s music.

The sixteen-minute long oceanic and immersive track ‘Blodbylgje’ (2019) took the metaphor-rich environs of the ocean as its thematic and sonic guide, with additional vocals from Norwegian metal vocalist ‘extraordinaire’ Gaahl (Gaahl’s Wyrd, Trelldom, ex-Wardruna).
Followed up by ‘Unnr | Mindbeach’ (2010), written in Icelandic poetic narrative, we encounter the magnificent contra-bassist Borgar Magnason (Björk, Brian Eno) adding his strokes to the contemplative skaldic narrative by Kati Rán, and hear a return of Gaahl’s deep baritone vocals, and topliner vocalist Yana Veva  (Theodor Basterd) supporting the song’s storytelling ambiance to reach our hearts in full.

With her release of ‘Hefring’ (2022), the landscape changes into a dense forest with the calls of eagles flying over the listener, a subtle methaphor for the always following eyes and guidance of the ever shapeshifting Gods of Nature and times past. Here, Kati Rán reached a personal milestone for her own growing career as a self-recording songwriter, musician and audio producer with ‘Hefring’ being entirely written, recorded, performed, produced, and released by herself, with the mixing process and final touches taken care of by her newfound friend in the North, Finnish producer Jaani Peuhu. That initial collaboration would ultimately lead to an intense work period of 1,5 years for daily work on co-producing, recording and finalizing Kati Rán’s second full-length album ‘SÁLA’ (Old Norse for both ‘Sea’ and ‘Soul’) with the intent to create something lastingly beautiful, captivative and profoundly personal, yet inviting all to go deeper into the layers of reality. SÁLA has already been described in one of its first reviews as a ‘masterpiece years in the making’ ( Prog.Mag, 2024) ‘that flits between mythology and realityh in breathtaking style’, and this is exactly what underscores Kati Rán’s aims for creating music primarily, as a vessel to travel between worlds.

With the long-awaited full-length album ‘SÁLA’ (2024) Kati Rán establishes her artistry in full and offers us a 13-track album filled to the brim with songs containing her poetry and personal reflections, Nordic mythology and the wisdom that still course through them and songs that are crowned by collaborations with several renowned guest artists. ‘SÁLA’ presents a deeply rooted connection to the historic landscape of the North, through the lens of a feminine point of view. Kati Rán’s new album SÁLA (2024) is dedicated to the theme of the nine, sea-personifying daughters of Ægir and Rán and embodies the echoes of voices of various female mystical characters; with völva performances, angry valkyries, and prophesizing seers to enliven and the stories of Old from Nordic literature from new perspectives, as well as mythologizing our own journey through life and Kati’s personal and poetic interpretation to share with the world.

Kati Ran SÁLA Album Cover

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out May 24, 2024, via Svart Records

The year 2024 marks a lot of new music releases by Kati Rán. The poems, lyrics, textual research ‘brick stones’, and demos for SÁLA were collected and written gradually by Kati Rán over many years before the full production of the album and the final shape of its songs took place, with some of the album lyrics dating back to as early as 2015 when they were first penned down. The first beacon to ‘SÁLA’ lighted on February 22nd, with the release of its first single release STONE PILLARS came to the surface, immediatly placing ‘Best New Metal Songs of the Week’ (LouderSound, Metal Hammer UK, february 2024).
Stone Pillars features backing vocals by her “male backing choir” Kristian Eivind Espedal ‘Gaahl’ (Gaahl’s Wyrd, Trelldom, ex-Wardruna), Jaani Peuhu (IANAI, Hallatar, Swallow the Sun) and Mitch Harris (Napalm Death, Menace) and the Icelandic female music ensemble UMBRA, as well as the recordings Kati Rán made locally with the resurrected slate and lava stone marimba sound, recorded in a barn in Húsafell in Iceland, together with its maker, the sculptor, painter and musician Páll Guðmundsson. The stone marimba creates in itself a specific sound which had not been recorded since its prominent feature in the legendary cult song ‘Odin’s Raven Magic’ (Steindor Andersson, Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, Sígur Rós) that inspired Kati to seek out its original sound and maker to record with it for her own album SÁLA, ultimately to pay tribute and enhance her album with sounds that capture ‘essential energies’ as Kati herself describes it, that so richly stem from and embody the Northern Realms.

The second beacon to ‘SÁLA’ was lighted April 5th, with the release of the second single KÓLGA | 16 by Kati Rán. KÓLGA | 16 represents one of the coldest waves among the nine billow maidens of the goddess Rán, capable of engulfing you in a severe grip of icy water and heavy emotions that leave you breathless. This particularly cold wave reminds us that what we often perceive as the most ‘destructive forces of nature’ can also serve as potent catalysts for change, offering newfound clarity in the wake, or aftermath of destruction or a ‘death-sleep’. Kati also dedicated the song to the many female figures, as described in history and it’s surrounding mythologies, that in one way or the other made significant sacrifices in their lives. KÓLGA | 16 opens with the profound and luring call of the Norwegian ‘Bukkehorn’ (a goat horn) performed by the legendary Jazz,- and Folk musician Karl Seglem, that further graces the album at ‘key’moments, Icelandic female ensemble UMBRA, Kristian Eivind Espedal ‘Gaahl’ (Gaahl’s Wyrd, Trelldom, ex-Wardruna), Jaani Peuhu, and Norwegian topliner Sól Geirsdóttir and Nordic lyre by Varg Saastad (Vǫluspá band). “The sixteen female names mentioned in KÓLGA, alongside the elemental imagery of glaciers and the forces of giants, ice, and fire, create a powerful contrast between the enduring strength of these women and the often-destructive nature of the stories that have confined them”. (Folk’n Rock,). Upon the song’s origin Kati Rán relates “The first demo ’16’ was written by Jaani Peuhu, stemming from a chilling dream and since then we further shaped, directed and developed Kólga | 16 together, adding my nyckelharpa, hammered dulcimer, harp and nature recordings and lyrics to further capture the essence and cold, death-sleep story as ‘Kólga’. I immediatly could hear where this song could go. It became clear to us it was meant to end up on ‘SÁLA’ instead of another project and a 2nd album for IANAI for which we were also writing and creating at the same time. It just made sense and from the start it already had that giant, Þhursameyjar-like energy. We are so happy we followed up on that initial feeling” Kati adds. KÓLGA | 16 released with a custom animation lyrics video made by Costin Chioreanu, the second single of SÁLA aswell placed on ‘Best New Metal Song of the Week (LouderSound, Metal Hammer UK, april 2024), together with releases of other giants in the genre and was decribed amongst other as a ‘Cinematic Drift on Frozen waters. Kati Rán stretches beyond the physical world into the depths of another time and place. ‘SÁLA’ releases May 24th, 2024 on Svart Records, as a highly anticipated release within the Dark Folk community (Folk ‘n Rock, 2024)

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