Late November might seem like a crazy time to visit Helsinki, Finland, but not if you’re going for Slush 2016, a high-energy gathering of global tech heads focused on entrepreneurship and new developments and ideas in technology. This was the first year they had a full day of music programming, bringing the tech and music communities together to problem solve and share thoughts on how technology can help have more impact on the music world, from the artist, label, industry, and music lover perspective.
It was all really fascinating and inspiring — I felt honored to attend and participate. There was music, of course, too, and I was invited by our friends at Nordic Playlist to present a show featuring my favorites from the Nordic counties. As part of the show, I was privileged to host a live set from View, a young Finnish rapper I’ve been diggin’ lately. View’s debut EP, Avalon, is a beautiful set of deeply blunted, nourish beats and grooves, with honest and introspective narratives about depression, survival, and self identity, definitely capturing the city night, and the vibe of cutting through the haze of the dark daze.
While in Helsinki, I wanted to get a better sense of what the music scene was like. Huge thanks to Katariina Sorsa, Tuomo Tähtinen, and Teemu Fiilin from Music Finland for arranging a Friday afternoon session attended by over 20 independent labels and industry peeps. As a result of that session alone, I’ve already discovered some great new music from Finnish artists that span the musical spectrum, including post punk, jazz, singer songwriter, hip hop, electronica, and afrobeat. And that’s just scratching the surface. Here are a few of these new discoveries.
Gary Louris from The Jayhawks, John Stirratt from Wilco, and Joey Burns from Calexico all contribute to this track. If you like any of these bands, you’ll dig this. Beautiful, delicate, dreamy.
VIRTA — “Time Travel”
VIRTA are a Finnish instrumental trio that layers jazz, post-rock and electronica with avant-garde sensibilities. This could be the soundtrack for your very own spy movie.
Helsonki-Cotonou Ensemble — “Djigbo”
Finnish afrobeat? That’s right, with this remarkable collaboration of Finnish and West African musicians. “Djigbo” is from their second album, 2015’s Fire, Sweat, & Pastis, which won Finland’s Ethno Album of the Year award.
Mikko Joensuu — “Warning Sign”
Amen 2, the second release in the Amen trilogy from Mikko Joensuu, is an eclectic marvel front to back, with an unlikely combination of The War On Drugs, Ennio Morricone, Vangelis, and prog rock. “Warning Sing” is a mournful song about regret and defiance with a twangy pedal steel part that just twists the knife in even further.
Tontario x Lucas Nord — “Rewind”
Young Finnish producer Tontario and Swedish vocalist Lucas Nord with a downtempo electronic track that floats like giant flakes of snow suspended in air.
Tune into The Afternoon Show this Thursday, December 8th at 4:00 PM PT as I feature some of the best Finnish tracks I discovered on my trip to Helsinki. And, check out Nordic Playlist, a great resource for discovering and keeping up to date on all the sounds coming out of the Nordics, via curated playlists from artists and DJs like Ólafur Arnalds, Júníus Meyvant, Lindstrøm, Sóley, and yours truly.