Interview with Pia Fraus
Written by Constance Kampfner on 17 avril 2020
Pia Fraus is a 5-piece dreampop band from Tallin, Estonia. Together since 1998, the group are seasoned performers with a polished, understated and hypnotic style. Band members Eve Komp, Kärt Ojavee, Reijo Tagapere, and Joosep Volk joined us (virtually, of course) for a chat. We spoke about their latest album, Empty Parks, but also about the Estonian music scene, about touring in Japan, and about how they came very close to being forever associated with the fruit and veg aisle.
Empty Parks, your 6th album, was released in January this year. How has it been received so far?
REIJO: It’s quiet at the moment. But when we released it, it got a good start. We managed to go to Japan in January, just before all this started.
KÄRT: Now when you think back on it, it was only two months ago, but I can’t imagine being in that kind of situation, in a crowded concert. A lot has changed.
What inspired the album?
EVE: Rein [Fuks], who is not with us today, is actually the author of all the songs. He’s the mastermind. He always draws his inspiration from his feelings about the life around him.
KÄRT: The recording process was so fast, and the songs were all recorded in different environments. There’s a beauty about it. We recorded in the countryside and lots of different places. All these different kinds of emotions are somehow loaded into the music.
What are your favourite songs on the album?
JOOSEP: Nice and Clever for some reason… This album sounds quite pop-ish, but at the same time some of the lyrics are quite dark. If you concentrate on them, they give a bitter-sweet emotion. Nice and Clever is one song that I really like for that reason.
Who are your audience? Are they mainly Estonian?
EVE: In Estonia, our audience hasn’t changed – our audience have grown up with us. It’s nice to see the same faces, but of course it would also be nice if we could inspire the younger generation with our music. I don’t think that Indie music at the moment in Estonia is the coolest music scene.
What is the Estonian music scene like, for people who might not know?
JOOSEP: It’s mostly soundcloud rappers, when it comes to young people. Then there are really serious musicians, and mainstream music. Estonia is so small so when you tend to do something totally left-field, everyone that likes that kind of music will come to your show. But there’s not really much hope of growing that fanbase.
KÄRT: There’s also an interesting electronic scene in Estonia. There’s everything really that would happen anywhere else, but on a smaller scale.
You’ve been to Japan three times, do you have a big fanbase there?
REIJO: Most of our fans are in Japan, they like this kind of small scene stuff there.
KÄRT: It’s lovely to see that wherever we go, when we give concerts outside of Estonia, there are people who know us from before. I’m always amazed to see people from the other side of the world who know our music.
Where does the name Pia Fraus come from?
REIJO: It’s Latin. It means “good fraud”, or a “fraud with a good cause”.
KÄRT: Or “a little lie”.
JOOSEP: I remember the other option that was on the table was a type of apple.
REIJO: It would be like calling your band Granny-Smith.
During the quarantine, are you finding ways to keep working together?
JOOSEP: We’re actually trying to shoot a music video right now. Everyone is tasked to film their own parts at home, or in any other safe place they can. And then I’ll try to edit into a coherent, meaningful and aesthetically matching video. So that’s one thing that we’re currently doing, but we haven’t actually done much of it yet!