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lembe lokkLembe Lokk (left) performing at the New York Estonian Cultural Days 2016 at the NY Estonian House with David Rothenberg.  Photo by Chris Nigul


Lembe Lokk is an Estonian singer, composer, actress and a poet currently based in Paris, France. In her most recent single “Don’t Ask” she addresses the immigration issue both in English and in Estonian. A discussion that sparked many contrary views all around Europe and North America takes a new perspective through the eyes of “a refugee of her personal life”. Vaba Eesti Sõna had a chance to get an exclusive background story of her recent song as well as her upcoming poetry and thought compilation “elsewhere, today” soon to be published in France.


“The song ‘Don’t Ask’ was sparked by a certain political sadness which I wanted to offset with a little bit of tenderness and beauty. Today’s society is no longer governed by human interests or sanity, not to even mention altruism. Huge cash flows and financial interest groups are the primary drivers which consistently and comprehensively shape our world, and our world view, so that we often no longer understand what we can and should believe. I’m not only talking of the big political game, of which I feel I understand relatively little, but even the simplest everyday values like generosity, and honesty towards oneself and others. How should I tell my kids about this world, so as not to hit them too hard now, while ensuring that they’re not hit too hard when they grow up? Should I teach them to fear, for their eyes will doubtlessly, sooner or later, see war? Should I teach them to understand and to think, so they wouldn’t be reduced to basic instincts even in the most complicated situations in life? Will I teach them to trust people of any skin colour and religion despite everything, because I myself believe that the bombs are detonated only by a few odd terrorists, over-hyped by the media? Should I teach them to seek truth through their own ideas, or to believe the media? Should I show them that you can help your fellow people even when you yourself are finding the going hard?


In the past year, all kinds of issues related to refugees have become topical – their place and their rights. Who has the right to live where? And not at all so unexpectedly as we would have liked, we saw our intolerance, not to even mention racism, and our mental weariness, not to even mention blind hate.


I have been living in France nearly 20 years and nothing justifies my leaving Estonia. There was no longer any war or persecution, Estonia regained its independence shortly before I gained mine, and neither I nor others in my generation had better opportunities for success anywhere else than in Estonia which was open to everything new. I am not homosexual, or able to point to any other officially recognised form of persecution, but I still went away from Estonia, although not knowing then that I would stay ‘away’. But then I stayed.


This kind of a ‘white man’s exile’ in a country of other white people is a separate issue for me, of which I will talk about in a poetry and thought compilation soon to be published in France. But I still find that the generalisation here is not out of place, just like my sadness is not out of place. I am a refugee, a refugee of my personal life, and it can be said that I live in a foreign country where nobody directly needs me and where nobody expected me. And I am certainly not the only one of my kind. Every year, thousands and millions of people migrate this way and that, sometimes to people of their own colour, and sometimes not. I therefore feel this bottomless sadness when someone like me thinks that the places are now full or that some have more ‘right’ to move than others.


This is a long and complex issue and I don’t, indeed, strive to criticise anyone here or in my creation, because I think that the hostile attitude is, above all, down to weariness. An all-encompassing weariness, disappointment and hopelessness as well as the absolute absence and unacceptability of any illusions. And it is pointless to criticise anyone who is scared. Try and yell at a scared child and see what happens. The knowledge that no slope can rise forever and descent also has its beauty could simply be the answer.

Only you. Only me. Today.”


Lembe Lokk’s last album “Rouge Madame” was released in 2011, more information about her work can be found on Youtube and Facebook. The Estonian version of a song “Don’t Ask” (Ära Küsi) is available on Youtube:


For more information of Lembe Lokk’s work visit


Lembe Lokk

Valev Laube


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