Traffic is an Estonian music band that plays melodic pop with a big admixture of guitar – once adding claws to the sound and then bringing the romantic atmosphere to the listeners again. Since the crucial song for band’s career, Kallis Ära Küsi, every next single has turned out to be a great success. But we all know that such a band couldn’t just appear and on the spot get to the top. So, how did it all start? How does the band’s career look like now? What does this band, consisted of five young hotheads, has to offer?
Stig Rästa, guitarist, producer and author of lyrics and melodies to most of Traffic’s songs, has been writing songs long before the creation of the band. He had been filling countless quantities of paper sheets, giving his growing talent the way out. Dust started to settle on those paper heaps and so the danger that they might be forgotten appeared. They had to be used somehow, someone had to perform them, record, show them to the wider audience. It was something that caused the necessity of creating the band, because Stig didn’t want to start a solo career. And then, by a stroke of luck, Stig met Silver Laas (present vocalist) and invited him to the co-operation. Not long after that, band had got new members – Tõnis Kivisild (bass player) and Reigo Ahven (drummer, now playing inter alia in band Lenna), whom Ivo Priilinn later substituted. Traffic was born and a strong friendship between the boys started to grow.
Beginnings are always hard
The most difficult thing for us was to find our own style and to record the music that satisfies us. There is something that tells me how the song should sound like, but recording it and producing it the right way to fulfill our expectations is the art itself. I have been learning how to achieve it for 15 years.
It seems that through the years the band has found the right path and their own unique style. However, it doesn’t mean that their music is corny. Their albums include touching love ballads, catchy and uplifting hits, as well as tracks that would be basically heard in a disco. You can even find some rock tunes – for example the song Muuta Ennast from “2” album. Traffic is an extraordinary band. They don’t record songs in just one style and they are not afraid to take the new musical challenges. There is always something suitable for fans of almost all musical genres (the problem occurs when somebody wants to hear heavy-metal – band hasn’t tried it yet). You might think that their music is trivial, but this is pop – happy and sporadically talking about serious topics. Traffic itself is not banal, though. The musicians really put their hearts and souls into the band’s life.
The group’s further development was accompanied by Fred Krieger, who is responsible for introducing Traffic to a wider audience. Like every young band, the boys began their journey with performing in pubs. What about today? Any important festival can’t be held without them. Every year they are included in the line-up of the most important musical event (connected to a beer festival), called Õllesummer, and this year they performed there 2 times. What is more, travel agencies organized trips with Traffic’s performance as one of the main attractions! In January of 2009 and 2010, the skiing trip with the band to Val Thorens in France had taken place, and in May 2010, another trip to Alanya in Turkey was held. This kind of journey is always a great opportunity to promote the band outside the homeland, but not many artists are able to reach out for it. Another contribution of Krieger to the band’s success was finding a new guitarist (in 2007), marvelous Robert Vaigla, who helped to push the band to a new level.
After a few years of playing, artists are able to create their own “Top Live Shows” list. Traffic has already started to compose such register.
We love all our concerts. We enjoy playing our songs and showing them to the audience, and this is what the whole thing is about. But, there was one acoustic concert we played in Tartu. There were no crowds, but this day we all were playing just like inspired and everything sounded so perfectly, that even magically. It was our best performance. In our TOP 3 there’s also one of our concerts in Õllesummer, in 2009, but this is because of wonderful public.
Musicians has released two albums already – Traffic, where their first hits such as Kallis Ära Küsi, Vihm or Meie Laul, recorded with famous Estonian singer Maarja Liis-Ilus, found their place, and 2, with the amazing single Kesköödisko, which not only won Estonian’s hearts but also got to the second place in end-of-the-year-chart Aastahiit 2008 (Hit of the year 2008). Next to Kesköödisko, its place took song See päev, with which band tried to get through Estonian pre-selections to Eurovision Song Contest 2009, and with which they reached 2nd place there. Traffic was just a step from the victory and representing their country on this European song contest. Unfortunately, they didn’t make it for the 2nd time (in 2007 they also tried their luck in pre-selections, then with young singer Luisa Värk, with whom they performed a song It’s never too late and reached 7th place). But they say it doesn’t discourage them and they will be trying again.
Traffic is that kind of band, which became famous for one song, but they are definitely not a one-hit wonder. Their song Kallis Ära Küsi was just the beginning of the road. It charted at 10 in Aastahitt 2006, a prestigious list that gathers the best artists of the year. The following year they got there to the 8th place and then in year 2008 to the 2nd! Even though the fame came so unexpected and suddenly, the band found their loyal fans very quickly. We have fans, whose faces we see on almost every concert. It’s rather nice than tiring. Traffic has quite a big fanbase. After a concert, it’s never a problem for the guys to sign autographs, take photos or have a conversation with fans waiting at the backstage.
These are fans, who give them “a kick” before going out on stage, but also because of them, even after 4 years on stage, the band… is still stressed before the beginning of a concert. We are like… thrilled, because we don’t know what’s going to happen, how big crowd waits for us and how people are going to react to our music. It’s like this every time. Until now it didn’t happen that a disappointed fan had hit one of the musicians with the egg or a tomato, and that’s an absolutely good sign for the future.
Exactly, future. How does it look like for now? There’s already a 3rd album in preparation and it’s promoted by the brilliant single Elekter, with an absolutely uncommon and original video, filmed during group’s trip to Turkey. The clip is really cosmic and for sure worth seeing. It seems that the next success is coming… And what are musicians’ wishes for the future?
We would like to create songs, which will last forever and which will bring us happiness already during composing. It’s time to make bigger use of the inspiration, which for us is all the music around! And, what is the most important, that you – our present and maybe future fans – will enjoy our music and our live shows! This is what we are playing for!
To learn something more about Traffic and their works, we invite you to visit their official page – www.traffic.ee.
For his input in the article I would like to thank Stig, who sacrificed a big part of his scarce free time. Aitäh!