Dear friends and fans of Chaika. A message for you.
Chaika, at times, has felt like a way of life to me. A family of like minded humans with vast and different experiences of life, who would come together to diligently and emotionally express themselves collectively through music. We spent thousands of hours of our lives together. Rehearsing, traveling, recording, composing, eating – some of us even living together during our formative early adult life.
Like all relationships, things change, the world pushes and pulls us in different directions, we discover more about ourselves, we make huge decisions, we make mistakes, we take risks. There is no doubt that when the pandemic threw us all into a weird and unknown space, there has been a lot of collateral damage, especially to those in the performance world. I can only speak from my personal experience, but for the last few years I grappled with what it meant to be a musician, and whether it was what I should be doing with my finite time on this planet. I went through periods of not picking up instruments for months, years for some of them, and having no want to compose or spend time making the kind of music I was making before the pandemic. Let’s be honest, it’s been a mighty rollercoaster for a lot of us. I know that the members of Chaika have all been through serious personal upheaval over the last few years which has not been easy.
This year I am finally beginning to find the spark again, and that spark has been lit by a multitude of new projects, new ideas and new experiences. I have found it so difficult to come to the decision to put down the big, colourful basket that is Chaika. I have carried it with me since we first morphed from Di Khupe Heybners in about 2011. Chaika has nourished my musical soul, and those in it have been like sisters and brothers to me along the way. Making music with Laura A, Laura B, Susie, Rendra and Johan has been a wonderfully wild journey. It has taught me many lessons, not only musical, but very personal ones and also was a training ground for me as a young inexperienced freelancer and manager.
As with families, as they grow, members decide on their own various paths through this world. For me, our paths have become too divergent to be able to continue along with my beloved Chaika. It has been an enormously hard decision to leave something that I love, that I have tied so much of my musical identity to, built relationships with communities in Australia and made music I am so proud of. There comes a time, though, where letting go may be the best thing to do in order to move forward.
Being part of Chaika showed me the path into the folk world, for which I am incredibly grateful for, and where I still feel most at home. So for all of you beautiful folkies out there, that’s where you will still find me, albeit in a different guise. Whatever the next steps are for my friends in Chaika, as a band and as individuals, I wish the best and most beautiful of journeys.
Love long time to Susie BishopLaura ALaura BishopRendra FreestoneJohan Delin and of course to previous members Mirabai Peart Pip Murphy-Haste and the amazing woman who started me off on the journey – Sarah Myerson
I’m looking forward to playing one last tune with Chaika as a guest at Sydney Folk Festival 2023 – Sydney’s coolest little urban Winter fest!