Part of the Touch: Isolation subscription project. Mastered by Denis Blackham, 30th March 2020. Photography and design by Jon Wozencroft.
The cancellation of gigs and festivals has already severely impacted Touch’s artists creatively and financially. In addition it has denied you, our audience, the opportunity to see them play and support them. The notion of ‘independent music’ might, in effect, be pushed deeper into the self-isolation mode it is already struggling to break free from. We don’t need studios to the same extent, but we do need a stage, a physical reference and if not, a mental space with which to question the drive to online existence.
Touch have set out to respond to these challenging times in a creative and helpful way. The idea is to present Touch: Isolation whereby a new exclusive track from one of Touch’s artists, each with a bespoke photograph/cover image, is presented on a regular basis over the coming weeks. All the income received is collected from your subscriptions and put in a kitty, the proceeds of which are then divided up between the contributing artists.
The spruce tree which Jana recorded for ’Surge' on 16th March 2020 was planted before the First World War in 1907 by her great grandfather on the family farm, which he took over from his parents in that year.
During the Second World War, her grandfather, who was born in 1910, joined the resistance and had to escape to Sweden with his wife, sending the twins (aged 4) to the farm. They were told to leave with 30 minutes notice, warned with a coded message from another resistance member. They walked to a nearby house of friends where they slept on beds made from two chairs. In the middle of the night they were awoken and taken to a nearby farm. At the time, the twins, Jana’s mother and aunt, were sick with a bad cough. Her mother remembers hiding under a bed, with her own mother holding her mouth shut, so not to be heard by the soldiers patrolling outside.
They were taken to the train station by horse and cart without their mother (who went to join their father and they then fled through the forest over the border into neutral Sweden). Accompanied by their babysitter, the twins took the train to Hamar and then to the family farm, in the late summer of 1943. They remained there until the end of the war. Parcels were sent from Sweden to the children and grandparents, with food, toys and other supplies. Not all arrived. Some of the toys, including two dolls, are still there in the house.
In 1939 a maple tree self-seeded there, and grew ‘looking' at the spruce tree, creating a space of safety and calm in the centre of the farm. Around that time, Jana’s mother was born, and the tree grew with her and became what Norwegians call “Tun Tre”, or the main central tree on the farm. The trees are guardians and also witnesses to generational change and historical events. A crow family has been nesting there for as long as Jana can remember.
Jana’s grandfather planted five more spruce trees when Jana moved there at the age of 7. Her daughters also have trees the same age - four plantings for 5 generations, creating a ‘Tun’, a place of safety.
She is currently living on the farm with her mother and daughters during the period of isolation.