Listening to Nadja Stoller's music feels like delving into a Narnia made of memories. It is a land of plenty, filled with small wonders, undiscovered secrets and strange images sent to tease our imagination. A soft toy donkey missing an eye and a picture book without the last three pages – but that is exactly the reason why they were kept. "Alchemy", Nadja's fourth album, is an album like that.
In June 2009, Nadja Stoller packed her bags and travelled to Paris. Having been a member of many bands over the years, she was fed up with the constant drudgery of being musician, manager, promoter, agent and song writer all at the same time. She took with her only the instruments she could carry on her back: accordion, glockenspiel, banjo, plenty of rattles, recorder and keytar. In Paris, she continued a process she had started some years previously, to un-learn the things she had been taught at Jazz School in Berne about what constituted a good song structure, a good arrangement and a good composition. She stayed in Paris until January 2010 when her money ran. During this time, she played her music where ever there were people – in the metro, on the street, in tiny hidden parks, and in friends' houses. "Wonderful. Exhausting. Exciting." These are the words she uses to describe her Parisian adventure as a one-woman band: "There is no better feeling than when people who thought they were doing nothing but going from A to B as quickly as possible, stop to listen. It is a touch of magic in everyday life." Ever since then, Nadja has thrived on the liberating of that experience.
Nadja Stoller grew up amongst the spectacular mountains of the Bernese Oberland in Thun. She loved her piano lessons, not just for the music but also for the stories the teacher told her about each piece. Aged twelve, she began to spin her own tales and wrap them in songs. She was also a talented artist, however, and she ended up at art school in Berne, studying pottery. After being no more than semi-serious about the Pop and Rock bands she was singing with in her spare time, she changed gears when a singing teacher recommended an album by Rickie Lee Jones to her, "Pop Pop" (it is still one of her favourites). Discovering an entirely new side to her voice, she became a student at the Swiss Jazz School in Berne, taking her diploma in "Jazz Vocals" in 2004.
Before embarking on her solo experiment, Nadja Stoller was the leader of the Nadja Stoller Band and, with the well known keyboard player Oli Kuster, a member of Lumi. Nothing she has done before, however, compares with the luminous, playful and happy-sad beauty of the songs she has written since throwing off her shackles in Paris.
Nadja Stoller performes as a Walking Act from 28 July to 3 August.
For more information visit www.nadjastoller.ch.