Interdisciplinary artist Jurgita Žvinklytė and musician/luthier Matti Palonen met in 2019, and quickly discovered their cultural connection through music and story-telling. The Honeypaw sound combines a respect for the Lithuanian sutartinė and the Finnish kalevala traditions, while also reflecting the urban landscape around them in Toronto, Canada. They play traditional instruments including the Baltic psaltery, known as kantele in Finland, and kanklės in Lithuania. They also create music on stringed instruments installed into hollow trees.
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, including Toronton Pelimannit, Polky Village Band, and Old Man Flanagan’s Ghost. He studied Lutherie with David Freeman, and builds stringed instruments including harp and kantele.
Jurgita has performed with the Davila and Sėdauta ensembles from Utena, Lithuania in Festivals in several European countries since 2016. She was part of the arts organization Pokšt in Utena from 2017 until 2019. She holds a M. FA from the Vilnius Academy of Fine Arts, and her piece, “Riddle: Where is the Centre of the World? Answer: Where You Stand” was part of the National Art Gallery of Lithuania’s Sweet Sweat of the Future Exhibition in May 2020.
The music of Honeypaw has been heard on national radio including the CBC in Toronto, and Ukrainian Radio in Kyiv. They have been part of live streamed concerts hosted Small World Music and Estonian Music Week in Toronto.