Trasna na dTonnta is a popular Irish-language song, recrafted to perfection by singer-songwriter Lenii.
The Irish-language classic song Trasna na dTonnta has been lovingly and beautifully recrafted this Seachtain na Gaeilge by Cork-City native Lenii. The singer-songwriter has been living in New York for a number of years and just as she is set to launch her first EP, the 20-year-old has taken on the traditional Irish air and giver her own version a more modern spin.
The release comes just in time for Seachtain na Gaeilge (the Week of Irish which is actually a fortnight long) that celebrates and promotes the language, nationally and internationally. The lyrics of the song itself have, in fact, been used recently to help connect Irish speakers overseas, who can find out where else people speak the language by using #TrasnaNadTonnta.
Trasna na dTonnta
With St. Patrick's day coming up ☘ Here's my rendition of Trasna na dTonnta! Feeling a little closer to home ❤ #ireland #stpatricksday #trasnanadtonntaPosted by Lenii on Dé hAoine, 2 Márta 2018
“I just love how the Irish language is so unique,” Lenii told IrishCentral.
“I appreciate it so much and I had the idea to do a new version of Trasna na dTonnta, to make it a little more modern. Now I think with songs that I'm doing in the future, I'm going to keep doing productions that goes in this direction, even if I incorporate some Irish words or melodies into my own songs because it's different.
“Ireland is such a small country but there are so many Irish people around the world and I think it's really special to be from there.”
Although she may have only just reached her third decade, Lenii has already had a wild ride in terms of her music career, moving to New York for a spell when she was in Transition Year, a less academically inclined optional school year in Ireland.
At just 15, she whisked her classical-violin-playing self away to a Dubstep and electronic music production school in the Big Apple, hoping to gain experience in that side of music production but never expecting herself to become known as the “little Dubstep girl from Ireland” to her older and mostly male classmates.
It didn’t take long until the spirit of the city enslaved her and she was determined to return to work on her music career in New York, despite some protestations over the need for a college degree from her parents.
“It was scary … I was very quiet in school and not a lot of people knew that I was so into music. When I came over here, it was just like I could be more. I could turn over a new leaf and be a new person and it was so colorful,” Lenii explained.
“I dyed part of my hair pink and I wanted to be New York. I was so used to being in a place now where everyone stood out and it was ok to be different,” she continued.
“I'm very academic and I love learning and reading and being in college was a great feeling but I felt, ‘I have to be in New York, I have to be doing music.’”
Arriving back in New York after a quick six-week-stint on a Psychology course in UCC, Lenii (whose name while off the stage is Ellen) went back to the music school Dubstop where she carried on further courses and taught before it eventually closed down. It looked like she was going to be forced to return to Ireland until she was approached by somebody looking to manage her music career but not for her production skills, for her voice.
“I never loved my voice so I didn't expect that I'd be a singer but I knew I wanted to do something musical and write for other people,” Lenii said.
“I was expecting that he wanted to meet me because of my production. I was still making electronic music at that stage but he said ‘I want to manage you but I want to manage you as a singer.’
“That was such a shock to me … All my life I wrote songs, from the time I was seven years old, so I thought of myself as a songwriter and a producer. Even when I was 11, my 20-year-old cousin said to me one day, ‘Ellen, you know you write great songs but I'd leave the singing to Elizabeth [her sister].’
“I really didn't have a great voice when I was younger. I had to work at it a lot. It's quirky. It's not a Christina Aguilera kind of thing.”
Thrown back into gigs and stripping away the electronic to return to her voice, Lenii feels that she’s finally found her comfort zone and where she belongs as a performer.
“Performing,” she states when we ask what some of her favorite things about New York are.
"I did want to be a performer when I was younger but because I had come to terms in my head with the fact that I wouldn't do that, starting to perform was really scary.
“I have a band and when I'm doing gigs I just love it so much. It's the best thing ever. You’re having a conversation with people and the audience. It's like what I was made to do but I never really knew it until this year.”
You can find more about Lenii music and her story here.