Despite the impressive journey Ewert and The Two Dragons have already been on, there’s always somewhere new to go. The four-piece band started playing in their native Estonia and have since become a worldwide draw thanks to smart, quirky pop songs and a slew of major awards, in order to make their newest album, Circles, the group went somewhere they’d never been before.
“It was definitely a special process for us,” frontman Ewert Sundja explains. “Our previous two records were quickly recorded in a small Estonian town without any fancy equipment. This time we spent over a month in a studio in the U.S.—and that was a big thing.”
Logging time at Bear Creek Studio wasn’t the only new experience for the group— Sundja, guitarist Erki Pärnoja, drummer Kristjan Kallas and bassist Ivo Etti — who in 2013 won the European Border Breakers Award. For the first time, the band not only recorded in a studio but wrote their tracks there as well.
“It all happened during the recording process,” Sundja says. “On previous albums, we had all the songs done and studio time was only recording time. This time, we had three or four songs from the beginning, but the rest of the songs were just ideas. We didn’t have any clear concept when we went there, it was something that was happening on a subliminal level and we couldn’t change the direction.”
This time around, the band—who’ve been playing together since 2008—found themselves embracing new sounds and new ways of thinking about music.
“This new album is different than the albums before, while we were recording it seemed like everyone was having the same kind of questions and thinking about the same things and this became a concept for the album,” Sundja says. “Even though we’re barely in our thirties, the growing and maturing process is the main theme of this album. We all started understanding more about life in general, hence the album title Circles. Everything is turning and we’re suddenly back in the same place we’ve been before, wondering about love and life and death and right and wrong.”
It’s a thought process he says can be heard in the album’s tracks, especially on “Million Miles,” which falls far outside what Sundja admits to be the band’s “indie folk” wheelhouse.
“It’s probably the most rock ‘n’ roll song we have,” he says, “and we’ve never done a song like that before. It didn’t freak us out, but it took some time for us to get used to the idea of making something so different. It felt right, though, so it really just had to fit.”
Indeed, this time around the band seems to be guided by feeling. And while they might have shelves full of awards and weeks in the studio to work on new material, they’re adamant that the music they’re making is some of the most honest and important work of their career.
“In some ways, nothing has really changed and we’re the same guys,” Sundja says. “Previously, we had the feeling that we needed to prove ourselves, but that’s not really a helpful thought. Now we’re just always trying to be better, that’s the biggest thing we’ve learned so far.”
Ewert and The Two Dragons’s tracks