Tag Archives: Finnish music

Artist Profiles: Ulla Pirttijärvi

Ulla Pirttijärvi

Ulla Pirttijärvi is one of the most significant Sámi artists, born in
the village of Angeli, Finland. She began her career in Angelin Tytöt.
Ulla founded the band Ulla Pirttijärvi & Ulda and performed with Frode Fjellheim, Snorre Bjerck, and Wimme Saari among others.

Ulla and her daughter Hilda Länsman created the group Solju in 2015 and they participated in Finland’s Uuden musiikin kilpailu (Finnish selection for the Eurovision Song Contest) with the song “Hold Your Colours”.


Ulla Pirttijärvi and Hilda Länsman won The Finnish Music Publishers
Association, genre-free category, Vuoden etnotekijä as songwriters of Solju: Ođđa Áigodat.

Solju also won the Folk Music Creator of the Year award at Finnish Ethnogala 2019 and The Indigenous Music Awards (IMA) Canada for the Best International Indigenous Release in 2019: Solju: Odda Áigodat .


Hoŋkoŋ dohkká (1996)
Ruošša Eanan (Atrium, 1997)
Máttaráhku Askái – In Our Foremothers’ Arms ‎(Innovator Series, 2002)
Aibbašeabmi ‎(Vuelie, 2008)
Ulda (2012)
Roijk ‎(Tuupa Records Oy, 2016)
Odda Áigodat (Bafe’s Factory, 2018)
Áššu (Bafe’s Factory, 2019)


Artist Profiles: Olav Torget

Olav Torget

Olav Torget has been an independent musician since the early nineties. He plays electric and acoustic guitars and the West African konting (ngoni).

He learned music at the University of Oslo with guitarists Knut
Værnes, Bjørn Klakegg and Staffan William-Olsson. Olav also studied konting in Senegal and Gambia with Amadou A. Gueye.

He has performed with Kristin Asbjørnsen, Karl Seglem, Geir Lysne,
Solo Cissokho, Diom de Kossa, Anita Skorgan, Sjur Miljeteig, Eli
Storbekken, Steinar Ofsdal, and Ali Farka Toure among others.

Olav recorded the album Áššu with Sami singer Ulla Pirttijärvi .


Suburban Jive ‎(Echofisk, 2007)
Áššu (Bafe’s Factory, 2019)


Multifaceted Essences from the Far North

Although Finland is a relatively small country in northern Europe, it has a sizable, high quality music scene. These are some noteworthy recordings from the Nordic nation.

The album from Finnish duo Aino & Miihkali performs mesmerizing music rooted in northern Karelian traditions and West African beats. The Helsinki-based duo uses the traditional kantele zither and guitar along with vocals and loop pedal.

Aino & Miihkali – Aino & Miihkali

Aino is Finland’s leading progressive kantele player, known for her work with Uniruukki. She is also a composer and vocalist. On this recording she sings in three different languages, Finnish, Swedish and English.

Miihkali’s is a virtuoso guitarist, influenced by jazz, blues and bluegrass banjo.  He studied at the celebrated Berklee College of Music.

Aino & Miihkali started playing together in the spring of 2017 released their self-titled album in 2019.

Pirttijärvi , Skullerud and Torget – Áššu

Pirttijärvi , Skullerud and Torget’s debut album on the Bafe’s Factory label is titled Áššu (Embers). The trio’s style is rooted in traditional Sami Joik. Ulla Pirttijärvi joiks about her extended family and her home villages, Utsjoki and Angeli. Olav Torget and Harald Skullerud complement the ensemble with string instruments and percussions. The group draws further inspiration from West African rhythms and traditions.

Áššu won The German Record Critics’ Award in 2019 in the world music category.

Puhti – Pahan Lalulu

Puhti is an innovative Finnish folk group that incorporates dance and electronic sound design along with traditional finish music. Their music on the album Pahan Lalulu includes fiery accordion and percussion pieces along with meditative songs featuring kantele and harmonic singing. The duo includes Anne-Mari Kivimäki on accordion, stomp box, harmonium and vocals and Reetta-Kaisa Iles on stomp box and vocals.

Tuuletar – Rajatila – Borderline

Tuuletar is an exploratory a cappella group influenced by traditional Finnish music, overtone singing and beatbox culture. Their latest album is Rajatila – Borderline (Bafe’s Factory, 2019) is full of amazing vocal wizardry. Two additional musicians appear as guests: Pekko Käppi on bowed lyre and vocals and Antti Paalanen on accordion and roars.

Helsinki Soundpainting Ensemble – Helsinki Soundpainting Ensemble

The Helsinki Soundpainting Ensemble was founded in 2007. It is an improvisational ensemble featuring musicians from Helsinki. On its self-titled album “Helsinki Soundpainting Ensemble,” they use soundpainting-language to compose music and combine various musical styles, including folk music and avant-garde music.

The ensemble includes Sonja Korkman on soundpainting; Charlotta Hagfors on vocals; Teea Aarnio on vocals; Amanda Kauranne on vocals; Mimmi Laaksonen on flutes; Turkka Inkilä on flute; Anu Keski-Saari on cello; Sigurdur Rognvalsson on guitar; Ilkka Heinonen on acoustic bass; and Oskari Lehtonen on percussion and drums.


World Music Expo 2019 Opened with Arctic Fire – Pohjoiset tulet Show

Pekko Kappi during the WOMEX 2019 opening ceremony – Photo by Jacob Crawfurd

The World Music Expo, WOMEX, opened its 2019 edition at the Tampere Hall in Finland on October 23, 2019. The opening show, titled  Arctic Fire – Pohjoiset tulet , was produced by Music Finland and directed by internationally-renowned choreographer and dancer Kaari Martin, along with composer, musician and producer Roni Martin. The concert featured four laudable performances from Pauanne, Pekko Käppi, Suistamon Sähkö, and Vildá, all representing this year’s host country, Finland.

Hanna Kosonen, Minister of Science and Culture of Finland, welcoming WOMEX 2019 delegates – Photo by Yannis Psathas

On hosting WOMEX in Tampere this year, Minister of Science and Culture of Finland, Hanna Kosonen, stated: “Finland can be considered as an example of the power of music; to help to construct and articulate national identities in the language of music, but also offer the most peaceful and natural way to fuse cultures together and express multi-culturalism…World music brings audible values such as equality, multi-culturalism, cultural diversity and easy access to culture. These values go extremely well hand in hand with the main goals and values of our Ministry.”

Johanna Loukaskorpi, Deputy Mayor of the City of Tampere at the WOMEX 2019 opening ceremony – Photo by Eric Van Nieuwland

Deputy Mayor of the City of Tampere, Johanna Loukaskorpi, expressed: “The value of music can be a personal emotion or on the other hand, its value can be the huge economic impact the music industry has. Cities and nations all over the world need you, the music professionals, to keep them going. Equality and diversity are things which have to be essential values in every decision and action we make…this is something to be celebrated.”

Vildá at the WOMEX 2019 opening ceremony – Photo by Eric Van Nieuwland

The evening reception was hosted by Music Finland where a special toast was raised to the all WOMEX delegates who have attended every edition of WOMEX’s 25 years of life.


Robust Finnish Presence at WOMEX 2019

The World Music Expo 2019 starts next week in Tampere, Finland. Tampere is the 3rd largest city in Finland and a multi-talented music hub. It is the home for numerous high-quality festivals, events and music companies.

Finnish music will play a key role this year. The Opening concert is titled Arctic Fire – Pohjoiset tulet. To celebrate WOMEX’ 25th anniversary, four leading Finnish acts, Vildá, Pauanne, Pekko Käppi and Suistamon Sähkö, will be performing on the opening night at 19:30.

Pekko Kappi – Photo by Toni Pitkanen

The Northern Connections showcase will present MA Rouf on Saturday, October 26 at 00:45. The band combines mystical Persian and Nordic music; Tuuletar, a vocal group that draws from Finnish traditions and modern influences, set to perform on Thursday, October 24 at 00:45; and the Sami yoik of Wimme & Rinne on Friday, October 25 at 23:15.

The Official Showcase features Finnish act Emilia Lajunen & Suvi Oskala, scheduled to perform on Friday, October 25 at 13:00. Emilia Lajunen & Suvi Oskala are five-string fiddle masters.

More about WOMEX.


Artist Profiles: Pekko Käppi

Pekko Käppi – Photo by Ninni Luhtasaari

Composer, producer, researcher and ethnomusicologist Pekko Käppi was born in 1976. He is a jouhikko player from Tampere and a part-time instructor at the Sibelius Academy.

He has a band called K:H:H:L.

Pekko Käppi’s style combines folk, rock and blues.


Kalastajia ja kaivostyöläisiä, EP (Amerikan Peikko Records, Kuusi Pientä Kustantajaa, 2001)
Бубнить Себе под нос, EP (267 lattajjaa, 2003)
Minun päiväkunnissani, EP (Imvated, 2004)
Jos ken pahoin uneksii (Peippo, 2007)
Vuonna ’86 (Singing Knives, 2010)
Rammat Jumalat (Helmi Levyt, 2013)
Sanguis Meus, Mama! (GAEA Records, 2015)
Matilda (Svart Records, 2017)
Väärä Laulu (Svart Records, 2019)


Artist Profiles: Pauanne

Pauanne – Photo by Pekka Sinikoski

Finnish band Pauanne explores the pagan traditions of Finnish folk music. The trio has uncovered and collected long-lost folk music that includes stories of spells and curses, the dreams of a shepherd, 17th century witch hunts and magical iron fences that repel invaders.

The trio includes Kukka Lehto on violin; Tero Pennanen on Hammond organ and other keyboards; and Janne Haavisto on drums.

Band leader Kukka Lehto searched through Helsinki’s music archives and discovered exciting material from the early 20th century. Pauanne’s material includes traditional folk songs and new compositions as well.


Pauanne (Nordic Notes, 2019)


Artist Profiles: Markku Lepistö

Markku Lepistö – Photo by Tania Arcieri

Markku Lepistö, from southern Ostrobothnia, is one of Finland’s most dynamic accordionists, having been playing folk and dance music since age five.

A graduate of the Sibelius Academy Folk Music Department, where he studied kantele, woodwinds, double bass and fiddle, Markku was a member of the now defunct ensemble Pirnales, has played with the group Progmatics, more recently in a duo with Aldargaz mandolinist Petri Hakala and in the klezmer group Doina Klezmer. Markku joined Värttinä just before the Vihma recordings.

In 2011, Lepistö released an album titled Accordion Samurai along with four other accordion colleagues: Riccardo Tesi (Italy), Bruno Le Tron (France), Didier Laloy (Belgium) and David Munnelly (Ireland).

A follow-up Samurai album titled Te featured David Munnelly; Riccardo Tesi (Italy), Simone Bottasso (Italy) and Kepa Junkera (Spain).


Silta (Aito Records, 2002)
Polku (2006)
Tupasoitto (2009)
Accordion Samurai (Homerecords, 2011)
Samurai Accordion – Te (Visage Music, 2017)


Artist Profiles: Kimmo Pohjonen

Kimmo Pohjonen – Photo by Tuomes Jaskelainen

Kimmo Pohjonen is one of the most respected and in-demand musicians and performers in Finland. An accordionist of exceptional ability and imagination, Kimmo’s musical history goes back more than twenty years in rock, folk, avant-garde, improvisation, classical, dance and theater music projects.

He was born in 1964 and began playing accordion at age 8, playing dance music, folk music, later classical and rock music. He studied Classical Music at Helsinki Conservatory 1980-1985. He later studied at the Sibelius Academy Folk & Classical Music Departments in 1985-96. In addition, he studied at Bagamoyo College of Arts, Tanzania, off and on, 1985-92; and in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1994. He has worked as teacher of accordion at Sibelius Academy and in the USA, Sweden, Denmark, and Holland.

Pohjonen was named “Folk Musician of the Year” in Finland in 1996, 1997, and 1998. He has played in over 75 different albums in the past years, including Finnish folk music group Ottopasuuna, duo Pinnin Pojat with JPP’s Arto Jarvela, and rock band Ismo Alanko
Säätiö. Pohjonen has also performed music for theater, ballet and modern dance.

In 1996 he embarked on a solo career with his solo 5-row accordion project, featuring extreme and original compositions, live loops and effects, a dynamic and animated stage performance, orchestrated lights and surround sound. This show received instant massive worldwide critical acclaim at WOMEX Berlin in 1999 and led to continuous work with his many projects all over Europe, North and South America, Israel, Russia and Japan to rave response.

In 2000, Kimmo received a five year composer/artist grant from the Finnish state and he was named “Accordionist of the Year” for 2000 and 2001 in Finnish Jazz magazine Jazz Rytmit.

In 2000 he presented “KalmukkiSinfonia” project in Helsinki featuring the 15-piece Tapiola Sinfonietta orchestra, two percussionists, light show and surround sound.

In 2001 Pohjonen formed duo Kimmo Pohjonen Kluster with sampling whiz Samuli Kosminen. Kluster toured Europe throughout 2001-2004.

He teamed up with French percussionist Eric Echampard for a first concert in Tallin. Finnish choreographer Jorma Uotinen directed Finnish National Opera Ballet performing Kimmo’s Kielo music at Helsinki’s National Opera House.

Pohjonen worked on the Kalmuk project with Tapiola Sifonietta toured England in 2002 with the simultaneous release of Kalmuk DVD Symphony. The Kalmuk DVD Symphony won the Teosto Prize (Finland) in 2003.

The Manipulator project was created in 2002, with multimedia artist Marita Liulia. It was performed in Helsinki, Sweden, and Belgium. In Helsinki it was 6 hours of improvised performance on each of three days, with a total 18 hours.

Pohjonen composed and performed, with Kluster, music for the UK short film “Flickerman and the Ivory Skinned Woman”.

In 2004, Kluster collaborated with Pat Mastelotto and Trey Gunn of King Crimson, and with Kronos Quartet.

Pohjonen’s recent adventures include Animator, featuring live computer graphics by Marita Liulia and live video mix by Antti Kuivalainen. Pohjonen also performs entirely improvised music with French percussionist Eric Echampard.

Out of the collaboration with Pat Mastelotto and Trey Gunn came KTU, a live band featuring Trey Gunn on Warr guitar, Samuli Kosminen on vocals and accordion samples, Pat Mastelotto on drums, Kimmo Pohjonen on accordion and vocals, and Heikki Iso-Ahola as sound designer.


Kielo (Rockadillo, 1999)
Kluster (Rockadillo, 2002)
Kalmuk (Westpark, 2002)
Uumen (Rockadillo, 2005)
8 Armed Monkey (Rockadillo, )
Quiver (Rockadillo, 2009 )
Uniko (Ondine Records, 2011)
Murhaballadeja / Murder Ballads CD (SiBa, 2012)
Sensitive Skin (Octopus / Ondine, 2015)


Kalmuk DVD Symphony, with the Tapiola Symphony (Lilith, 2002)
Uniko, with Samuli Kosminen and Kronos Quartet (CMajor, 2011)


Áššu Wins the German Record Critics’ Award

Áššu – Áššu

Ulla Pirttijarvi, Harald Skullerud and Olav Torget’s album Áššu has won The German Record Critics’ Award (Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik), Longlist 3/2019, Weltmusik (world music).


Áššu includes Ulla Pirttijarvi (Finland) on vocals, joiks; Harald Skullerud (Norway) on percussion, calimba, calabas, harmonium; and Olav Torget (Norway) on baritone guitar, konting, oilcan guitar.

Áššu – Ulla Pirttijärvi

On behalf of the jury, Johannes Kneihs stated “Rough and with electrifying energy, singer Ulla Pirttijärvi from the Finnish part of Lapland “joiks” about people and others bring West African elements into the game – which fits surprisingly well and clearly convincing better than other pop-joik adaptations from Finland or Norway in past years. A rousing debut album, it makes you curious and wants more.”

Áššu – Harald Skullerud
Áššu – Olav Torget

The trio recently performed at Etno-Espa in Helsinki 9th of August, 2019.