About us

Krilja is a trio based in Gothenburg, Sweden, who play traditional Roma/Gypsy songs from Russia and Eastern Europe. The music is of uncertain date but in many cases from the 19th century and onwards and shifts between lyrical melancholy and fiery intensity. The lyrics of the songs are in Romanes and Russian, and tell of sorrow, pain, poverty and suffering, but also love and passion.


The arrangements have been improvised by the musicians, often influenced by styles such as flamenco, but they remain true to the traditional idiom.

The name ”Krilja” means ”wings” in some dialects of Romanes as well as in Russian.


Krilja was founded in the autumn of 2010. Marita Johansson (vocals) and Jonas Liljeström (fiddle) were the original members, and the flamenco guitarist Emil Pernblad joined the group shortly thereafter. Since then we've performed in various venues, mainly on the West Coast of Sweden and in and around Stockholm - from cafés and culture centers to arts museums, churches and folk music festivals. We've also toured abroad; in Scotland in the spring of 2013 and in Iceland in the summer of 2017.

We seek to bring forth an aspect of the Romany music tradition which is less well known than the Balkan/South-East European tradition which is represented by artists such as Taraf de Haïdouks and Goran Bregovic, and we do it in our own way. We don't try to imitate anyone else; we define our own sound, very much influenced by the various genres and traditions that the individual band members are fluent in outside of the Romany musical idiom.

The members

Vocalist Marita Johansson - the group's initiator - is a driving force for Romany culture who has spent 25 years collecting almost forgotten traditional Romany songs and adding them to her repertoire. As a part of this process she has also learned several dialects of Romanes as well as Russian. Marita is versed in many other folk music styles, and sings songs from the Sephardic Jewish tradition, Central Asian Tatar songs as well as early music from the Medieval and Renaissance eras and much more besides. Marita and Jonas are also members of the world music trio Salamander, who's debut album was released to critical acclaim in 2014.

When quite young, guitarist Emil Pernblad became fascinated with flamenco, and from the 1990s and onwards he periodically lived in Spain to study the music tradition. Today he is known as one of Scandinavia's foremost flamenco guitarists and he performs frequently in various constellations. Emil has composed music for theatre and television, and he also works as a guitar teacher. His latest projects include the album De Noche which he recorded together with the vocalist Marianne Holmboe, and which contains flamenco music composed by himself. It was released in 2014.

Jonas Liljeström (fiddle and percussion) started playing the fiddle on a professional level in 1990. He has played in bands with widely different musical orientations over the years, and also participated in the organising of the annual Irish cultural festival ”Gothenburg Irish Festival” in the late 1990s. He is proficient in many different musical styles, including Nordic, British and Irish folk music, jazz, blues, bluegrass, klezmer and various kinds of East European folk music. He also works as a fiddle tutor and is a PhD student of ethnomusicology at Gothenburg University, Sweden.

Emil, Marita and Jonas.
Emil, Marita and Jonas.

Information for concert organizers

Are you interested in booking us for a concert? In that case, feel free to contact us by emailing krilja@hotmail.com.

The cost is negotiable; please contact us to get an estimate!

All Krilja members have CVs, which we are happy to email to you on request.

Press material and files


Lovely variation /.../ here there is both quiet intensity and grand gestures, just as it should be in this style of music. / Norran, September 10, 2015

There is a maturity in Krilja's interpretations which I believe stems from a deep knowledge of the Russian-Romany music tradition. / Rolf Nilsén, Lira Musikmagasin