Posted by: admin in: Music
When and how was your band created?
Me and Dj Ender started trying to produce dancefloor tracks together in late 1998 and soon asked musician friends for sessions at our project studio. We wanted to produce stuff that would combine modern production with top notch musicians that can be found in Helsinki. There has always been very strong jazz tradition around here… Dj Lil Tony (the owner of the number one club in Finland, Kerma) joined a bit later on and introduced me to Kim Rantala aka Kasio who again knows basically all the musicians in Helsinki area.
When we got some of the best musicians involved and me as the principle producer had some experience of producing music, things started evolving to sort of the next level. Instead of tracks for djs, our focus moved into composing actual songs and finding new ways of combining samples/programming with live instrumentation.
I’m the only non-dj in the core group of five. Furthermore two of the members also run clubs in Helsinki. Lil Tony has Kerma and Kasio runs a club called Mocambo. Kerma is one the best clubs for eclectic dancefloor music (every name dj of the scene has visited it) and Mocambo a rather new place with interesting live act guests (Azymuth, Marcos Valle played there this
summer). The fifth core member is Dj Eppu.
Where the name of your band is coming from?
It was invented by me to reflect the idea behind the group. To expose the top class musicianship to the rest of the world that can be found here. To produce the sort of music that has not been done here too much… but scene is getting better, so it’s kinda starting to happen here.
What musicians or artists did have a major influence in your life / work?
50ies-60ies modern jazz (miles, art blakey, freddie hubbard, gil evans) and soul from the same era. I’m also a huge fan of Astor Piazzola. We’ve been asked to do a remix of one of his songs for Milan Music / BMG. It is a great honour for us.
The contemporaries in Europe I would name Nitin Sawhney, Herbert, Hefner, Basic Channel as inspiration. In the US I really admire the quality of production&sound of likes of D’angelo, Philadelphia sound like Roots or Jill Scott. Then we all love also the Detroit techno thing, I just heard Recloose’s new album and it was proper stuff.
What are the positive and negative aspects of being a musician / singer (in Finland)?
Positive is the open minded athmosphere. We can collaborate with all the best artists/musicians, also the older generation (including Eero Koivistoinen, Olli Ahvenlahti etc.).
Negative might be the fact that the scene is still quite small. We’ll it’s a small country… especially good singers for what we do is quite hard to find in Finland.
How could you qualify your style of music?
NSH is trying to explore new ways of producing modern music that is to be loved by people… not just charted/played by djs. For me it’s all the time more and more about making good music than something just for the clubs. It can be sometimes something you could call house but I would say less and less really… I hate strict music scenes and try to stay open minded and just find ways to produce good music.
Of course there are a lot of jazz influences in our music…
As for the technological side of things… samplers have been around since 1980′s. Then, in the beginning the newly discovered postmodern way of producing music was very fresh and opened up a whole new world. These days there’s not much totally new to discover in production purely based on samples and programming. The next level for us is to find fresh ways of combining electronic elements with live intrumentation. There is a lot to discover still in this field. Also for the live band set this is very interesting and challenging at the same time. It’s not easy to combine jazz musicianship with samplers&sequencers in a way that the musicians do not
feel their hands are a bit tied.
Of course the approach we have has very much to do with new technology. Still, I would say that what makes this special is the top quality musicians together with a fresh way of producing. Not the technology as such. We’re lucky to be able to work with some of the best musicians (for example the drummer, Teppo MÃ¤kynen (also part of a Blue Note recording band etcetc.) is
the number one jazz drummer in the country) you can find in Finland. I don’t think this is usually the case concerning so called “electronica” artists around. That’s why we can really consider ourselves lucky here.
Have you ever considered the possibilty to change totally your style of music? If so, what style of music would you choose?
We do not consciously support one specific style of music. Basically just try to follow our heart… I guess our musical basis will sustain in 50-70ies afroamerican music combined with more european flavors like string sections and such. I mean, your artistic style is not just a simple choice or a selection. It just happens. And your lucky if it does, as it is very rare to find contemporary artists with actually own established and unique style.
What are stories/topics you tell/treat in your songs?
Our first album does not really have any specific lyrical theme. Our lyrics are mostly written by guest vocalists so they basically reflect their feelings and the ideas our music has given them…
What is your favorite song in your repertoire and why?
First I love Nicole’s voice and her unique style of singing. I think the track really backs her up in a good way. The sort of rootsy soul kind of elements like the jazzy horn arrangements and the rhodes&strings they really serve their purpose well in the background. And I think this one is maybe one of the best compositions on the album.
‘Seis por ocho’
If I had to choose only 2 tracks then this would be my second pick. I think the track now has the kind of form it was meant to have. I love it because it such a simple track as such but has very emotional edge to it. It was really composed in a traditional way by me and Kasio the keyboard-player sitting one evening down and just getting to it. The only idea we had initially was to write something for 6/8 time signature (and that’s what seis por ocho means in spanish) We did this originally for the JCR ep but that one had more electronic elements on it. The album version is almost totally live and for this sort of track I think that’s the natural outfit.
The guy playing the fluegel horn, Jukka Eskola, is also one the best musicians you find in Finland. And even though his playing is already quite mature he is still quite young… I bet he’s going to be a big name some day. This track is on Gilles Peterson’s coming World Wide compilation 2 on Talkin’ Loud.
Do you tour regularly? Do you actually prefer performing your music live or in a studio?
Of course for musicians playing live is ultimately what this thing is all about. Sharing. Getting instant interaction with your audience. The feeling a good gig can give you is really something that can never be achieved by recording music in a studio… definitely…
We will do a scandinavian tour + a tour in Finland in January. In February we’ll do a full UK tour. Then after that hopefully a tour in central europe… maybe around spring USA and next summer as many festivals as possible.
During the process of making an album, what is the moment that you prefer?
The moment I walked out from the mastering studio, Metropolis in London and knew that it’s all there. Finally. For me, it was a hard process and in the end there were a lot of challenges…
What kind of music / What artists do you currently listen?
A lot of Astor Piazzola, Eero Koivistoinen’s new album “Utu” (jazz versions of Finnish folksongs), new Fertile Ground album, Coldplay, electronic contemporaries include Herbert and some new scandinavian stuff
A stupid question but… what is among all the songs you’ve been listening in your life the BEST song?
I cannot pick one song, but I would definitely pick Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue” album. That’s just taking things to a level, people hardly ever achieve. It’s not like jazz music to me first and foremost, but just good music that touches even those who do not usually enjoy instrumental jazz and such stuff… He is concentrating and focusing on producing interesting sounds, notes and melodies with his trumpet instead of trying to be a masterful instrumentalist. The thing I hate about most contemporary jazz music coming out… Miles just got it – he knew how to combine improvisation and pre-written arrangements in such a perfect way… like european and afroamerican traditions meeting. Yeh, Miles is my star. The first one for me, and I guess he will always be that.
Internet is something interesting for musicians because it gives them the opportunity to touch a larger audience but it is also a threat for them (regarding the copyrights). What is your opinion regarding this medium?
Well this is such a question that I could write a novel about… so, I’ll just express my opinion very shortly. Internet is hardly a threat in my opinion. The studies that took place on napster when it still existed showed that actually heavy users of Napster actually bought more cds after they
started using napster… so internet is more about promotion as such.
Heavy copying of cds with home cd-burners is another thing. I guess that has
seriously diminished cd sales worldwide… more than mp3s really…
Do you use computers or home studios during the process of making an album or a song?
We have our own project studio with computer based recording system… with
small protools and such. But we mix the final version in bigger commercial
studios… and record some bigger session such as strings.
What are your actual and future projects?
We are currently doing remixes for Yoko Ono and Astor Piazzola. There is also an on-going 60ies style dancefloor jazz project that we’re doing for a new Helsinki-based label called Ricky-Tick. That will be coming out under another name, not NSH. Eero Koivistoinen is one of the featured artists on that one.