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Interview : J. Karjalainen


When and how did you decide to become a musician?
In 1980 I just wanted to make a single record as a keepsake for myself and here we are! I didn┤t decide anything.Things just happened.

What musicians or artists did have a major influence in your life / work?
Maybe the old country  bluesmen like Robert Johnson  and Mississippi John Hurt. As a teenager I listened to old recordings and tried to learn how to play guitar. J.J. Cale was another great influence.
What are the positive and negative aspects of being a musician / singer (in Finland)?
Positive: A guy like me can hit the top of the charts.
Negative: -
How could you qualify your style of music?
My music is a mix of styles I like. Blues, Rock┤n┤roll,  Folk , Country , Soul, Funky, New Orleans stuff. Plus finnish words. That makes The J. Karjalainen -style.

During the years how has your musical style evolved?
Not very much. The music is mainly the same as I started. The words have changed a little.
How do explain these changes?
Im not a teenager anymore.
Have you ever considered the possibilty to change totally your style of music?
If so, what style of music would you choose?
Sometimes I┤ve tried, but it always sounds the same! Music is like hand writing. You can`t change it, not even if you want to.

I don┤t think about any styles when I`m playing  or making new songs. I just do everything that sounds good to me.
What are stories/topics you tell/treat in your songs?
I do as most of the blues and country musicians  usually do. I sing about my own life. Sometimes I tell fairy tales.
What is your favorite song in your repertoire and why?
"Villejń lupiineja" is the song I`m never tired to play. It sounds good to me night after night.
Do you tour regularly?
Nowadays I┤m doing some 50 gigs per year.
Do you actually prefer performing your music live or in a studio?
I like it live. I really enjoy touring with my band, the great Electric Sauna.
During the process of making an album or a song, what is the moment that you prefer?
Maybe the greatest moment in the songwriting process is to come up with a good text idea which suits the music. The music comes very naturally to me. The right words are harder to find.
What kind of music / What artists do you currently listen?
I┤m learning to play 5-string banjo. This summer I┤ve listened to a lot of american folk music. Old timers such as Tommy Jarrell, Clarence Ashley and Dock Boggs.
A stupid question but... what is among all the songs you've been listeningin your life the BEST song?
I┤ve heard hundreds of the world's best songs in my life.
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?
I know that I should make a speech against piracy here, but I┤m not in that mood right now.

What are your actual and future projects?
Most of the time I just play the banjo. Just for fun. I┤m also putting together the compilation record of my best songs from years 1992-2002.  It will be released in the spring. Earlier this year was released Eduardo & The Brazilian Aeroplane CD which contains my songs in portugiese. (You should make an interview  with Eduardo, he can tell you more of the project!)

Interview by Vincent Lefranšois - 2003




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