Posted March 29, 2015 by Jeff in Tunes

Ewert and the Two Dragons: Act naturally

Ewert and the Two Dragons, photo credit Mart Vares
Ewert and the Two Dragons, photo credit Mart Vares

Sounding a bit like Radiohead and/or Jeff Buckley, the Estonian indie band Ewert and the Two Dragons plays with a quiet intensity. Some of the songs on their major label debut, Circles, even have elements of jazz. Singer Ewert Sundja phoned us from a Philadelphia tour stop to talk about the album and the tour.

How did the band come together? It was in 2008, right?
We were all friends for quite a long time before that. We realized that this really works and we have the magic and chemistry that a proper band should have. We went from there and tried things out. Eventually, we put out an album and we haven’t looked back since.

Is there a music scene in Estonia?
Absolutely, otherwise it would be quite difficult to form a band. There’s a really cool music scene and with technology nowadays, everything is so connected. You can hear all the albums that are released on the same date as anyone else. The distance and location doesn’t make any difference anymore. I think we’re quite connected.

Who would you consider your influences?
I don’t think we had any one particular band or certain influences that we listened to. We have quite an interesting range of music that we like. We have listened to jazz at some point. Our drummer played in the orchestra as an orchestra percussionist. When you add all those things together, you have a musical melting pot.

You play mid-tempo music. What do you do to ensure that it still has some intensity to it?
We try to be as honest as possible. What I’m saying is that we don’t really have a proper plan before we start making music. We don’t set out to make quiet music with intensity. It has to be a natural process of getting to the end. We’re all pretty much alike and share the same aesthetic values. We all like Radiohead, for example. I guess that transfers to our music in some weird way.

Good Man Down became one of the best-selling albums in Estonia and earned a slew of awards. What do you think connected with people?
It’s a weird result for an Estonia band to have English language music that turns out be a record-breaker. No one has ever done that before. It’s a new experience for us. I do believe there’s something about the music and the way we approach things that is important. It’s also about storytelling. People like stories. Good stories and good music. It makes it easier for people even though the album in a lyrical sense was maybe not that happy. People say the song “Good Man Down” is such a happy one even though it’s not really such a happy song. People take what they need at certain times in their life. That’s probably why the album was successful. It can go either way. You can take the happy feeling or the feeling of solitude from it.

Talk about Circles. What did you set out to do differently with the album?
I don’t think there was any plan. I suppose we were in a different time and period in our lives. That’s probably significant. With a circle, you’re in the same place but not the same place anymore. We just wanted to make as good of an album as we could possibly do. We tried not to think too much about the how and those artificial elements.

We tried to work as naturally as possible.

Did you record in Estonia?
No. We recorded [in Washington] at Bear Creek Studio with Ryan Hadlock producing. He was really good. He was very patient. It was an amazing place. It was a century-old barn made into a studio. There were nice forests around us.

I like the video for “Picture”
That’s filmed in Estonia. We have used those bulbs before. It’s simply a performance video.

Is that song autobiographical?
Not too much. I wouldn’t say it’s that personal. I think it’s just about how aging gives you a new perspective.

It’s great that it has a jam at the end.
Yes. We don’t want to cut the song for the radio. We want to keep that because I think it is a good thing.





Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at [email protected].