Meet Russian minimalist folky progger Dikajee

Dikajee portrait with flowers
(Image credit: Press)

Olja Dikajee's debut single, Lily Of The Valley, immerses listeners in a hauntingly beautiful world of sound. Taken from her forthcoming album, Forget~Me~Nots, it explores the bond between nature and humanity, beauty and grief. 

“The song is based on the picture of a young lady lying in the grass in a blooming valley,” Dikajee begins. “It was originally written as a broken-heart song. I wanted to describe this scenery to put some glory into hopeful things. I bring sadness as something beautiful.”

The poisonous yet graceful Lily Of The Valley is characterised by this blend of grief and beauty, and it’s something that the song suggests humans can share.

“All beauty comes from nature and at some point will return to nature again,” Dikajee comments. “In the video for this song, there is a sculpture that at the end turns back into stone. I studied art history as a student and this video pays tribute to the miracle of what human hands produce.”

Dikajee links her connection with nature back to her childhood, having grown up near Lake Ladoga in northwest Russia. “I remember composing songs when I was four years old. I grew up surrounded by nature and this is where I get my energy and my inspiration. Ladoga has beautiful northern scenery and is famous for being stormy. You can’t see the horizon – it’s so huge that it’s like the sea.”

Lily Of The Valley and Forget~Me~Nots bring to life a fairy tale world. Inspired by Tolkien’s fantasy realms and also modern folk music, the tracks reverberate with a mystical quality. 

“Our country went through difficult times and a lot of old folklore was destroyed,” Dikajee explains. “A lot of modern folklore music is not real folklore. You have to go far into the countryside to hear real songs. This music, maybe because it’s rare, has unbelievable energy. Time stands still when it starts to play.”

Aside from folk and fantasy, Dikajee’s compositions draw inspiration from the progressive music of Kate Bush, Nightwish and Björk. Her pieces never stand still, driven forward by her own visions and the talent of her fellow musicians. 

“I always make sure there are moments for musicians to shine,” she says. “They’re all amazing composers and I feel blessed to work with them. There are some people that I dreamt of meeting and they’re on the album. You don’t invite genius musicians to just play what you tell them. You invite them to be who they are.”

With tight-knit collaboration made difficult in recent months, Dikajee describes the peace she experienced during lockdown. She also speaks of her hopes for the new album after its release was delayed from last year.  

“I’m usually travelling constantly but right now it’s me and my piano,” she concludes. “For the first time in years I really noticed the summer. Lockdown was not bad timing because my album was already recorded. We put a lot of life and dedication into it. I hope it will echo in people’s hearts and show that there is always beauty in everything.” 

Prog

Prog File

LINE-UP: Dikajee (vocals), Fiona Rüggeberg (bagpipes), Guillaume Bernard (guitars), Artis Orubs (drums), João Filipe (guitars) 

SOUNDS LIKE: Imaginative, mystical sounds with hints of folk, minimalist and progressive rock 

CURRENT RELEASE: Forget~Me~Nots is out now via Bandcamp

WEBSITE: www.dikajee.com