Honeypaw is a duo including Jurgita Zvinklyte and Matti Palonen. Jurgita is a newcomer to Canada, having arrived in 2019. Since that time they have been playing Finno-Baltic neofolk that explores the interconnection of ancient Lithuanian and Finnish Kalevala traditions, and fusing them with modern soundscapes and rhythms. The journal of Musicology has called their music “unusual, evocative, and inviting one to rethink the concept of instrumentality.”
Their music is deeply rooted in the forest, and trees are often an essential part of their recording and performing process. The ancient stringed instruments they play were traditionally thought to define the boundary between the human and forest realms, and this concept has led them to develop the tree harp, an interactive art installation built into or attached to trees. The tree harp is the culmination of their backgrounds in music, environmental science, lutherie and sculpture, as they seek to recast traditional music with a contemporary focus on sustainability and aesthetics.
The name Honeypaw comes from the traditional names given to the bear because the original name was thought to bring bad luck. The Honeypaw symbol combines the hannunvaakuna as the top half with the saulutė as the bottom half.
“Matti Palonen on moderni Väinämöinen,” proclaims the cover of the Fall 2019 issue of Finland’s Pirta magazine. He has performed Finnic and other European folk music with many groups across Canada since 2008. He studied Lutherie with David Freeman, and builds stringed instruments including harp and kantele. He has studied folk traditions in Finland with Maija Pokela, Emmi Kuittinen, and Arja Kastinen. He teaches kantele, and is the cantor at a Finnish church in Toronto.
Jurgita Žvinklytė has a M. FA in sculpture from the Vilnius Academy of Fine Arts. She performed in several folk ensembles in Lithuania before coming to Canada in 2019. In 2023 she was selected to be part of the Small World Music Incubator program for emerging Canadian artists. In addition to music, she is a pottery instructor.
They have performed and installed tree harp sculptures at festivals and events in Canada, Finland, and Lithuania. They also present workshops and lectures about their musical projects. Their work has been exhibited in Lithuania and England, and they have been the subject of short documentaries.