Wimme Saari, better known as Wimme, was born in 1959 in Kelottijärvi, Enontekiö. Wimme is a modern interpreter of the Sami yoik, combining colorful grittiness of traditional yoiking elements with original improvisations. In the last few decades yoik in general has undergone some changes; in fact Wimme’s yoiking could be called free yoik. In his yoik, he constructs intense, clear melodic arches and stretches his voice from a sweet falsetto to a grave baritone. But the old yoik is still there: Wimme has recaptured the essence of the ancient yoik, and even the clever voice technique of the animal yoiks.
“My yoiking has some elements of the old style yoiking, such as the voice technique and the throat technique. I can also do some traditional yoiks, but accompaniment doesn’t quite suit them. When I yoik and the boys play I have to do something new. Colors and patterns are emerging in my mind I have to let them guide me. In my home area people say that I have created a new style. Young people, of course, like it most, but even people in their 50s have come to me to thank me.”
The art of yoiking has traditionally been transferred through generations of oral tradition, but Wimme learned the tradition in a more modern way. “I started working at the Finnish Broadcasting Company in ’86. There I found some tapes including tapes of my uncle’s yoiking. With the help of those tapes I learned some of the old tradition. Although my mother comes from an old yoiking family, the direct connection from one generation to another had already been broken. Due to religious fundamentalism there was no yoiking at home. In border areas like ours, where there are a lot of people other than Sami folks, yoiking has had a tendency to vanish, but in Sami areas like Kautokeino, naturally it has been able to survive better.”
In addition to his solo work, Wimme has contributed his unique voice to albums by artists like Hector Zazou (Songs from the Cold Seas), Hedningarna (Trä and Hippjokk), Nits, RinneRadio and the BMG-released compilation Finnish-Ambient Techno Chant. Wimme Saari also collaborated in Italian composer Aldo Brizzi’s international project Endless Trails.
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.