Jaakko Eino Kalevi
Feeling the Flow
Oct 30, 2015 Issue #54 - August/September 2015 - CHVRCHES
Although only now being introduced to an international audience, Finnish singer/songwriter Jaakko Eino Kalevi would like to clear up a few misconceptions. First, even though the former tram driver makes cinematic pop and played a carefree character, cavorting with a pack of comely ladies in the surrealistic video for his single "Deeper Shadows," Kalevi still has a lot on his mind. Right now, it's trying to establish Internet connectivity in his Berlin apartment, to which he decamped from Helsinki shortly after recording his self-titled debut. (Yes, it's taken a year. At this he offers a verbal shrug, admitting the delay in service might be due to a language barrier.) He's also not an expert in dreams, despite what might have been claimed by journalists after the release of his EP Dreamzone. ("Maybe in some interviews people wanted to ask about it because of the name?" he asks. Having admitted to occasionally scrolling through dream-related Internet message boards for inspiration, he still sounds bemused at how the story was distorted.) And even though his music bears a resemblance to Ariel Pink's twisted pop confections (Kalevi counts himself a fan of the Los Angeles provocateur's work), that's not all the two musicians have in common. Kalevi admits that he and Pink share an intimate connection.
"Once we were supporting him in Finland," Kalevi recounts. "I used to live just by the venue. We went to my place for an after party and he slept in my bed. I never did talk with him, actually!"
The comparisons may continue with the release of his debut full-length on Domino imprint Weird World. The album is a trip down the rabbit hole, Kalevi telegraphing a sense of shivery sensuality through playful production choices (sax solos and guitar riffs that sound ripped straight from a 1980s thriller all factor in heavily), slinky bass lines, and sing-speak in both English and Finnish. Most of his freewheeling compositions, however, have very pedestrian roots—the voice memo function on his phone.
"Sometimes I don't even have to go back there and listen to remember these recordings," he admits. "I remember it wrong and it's actually better. It's the same effect when you hear music from the distance, and it sounds very good, and when you actually hear the song it sounds like shit. It's not as good as your distant impression."
Sometimes songs come together even faster. Although it took Kalevi nearly five years to release it, he recalls that writing "Deeper Shadows," a playful pop piece featuring a thudding baseline intertwined with flute-like synth harmonies, was an almost instant process.
"I came up with it in one soundcheck," he says. "I recorded it, and later I was looking through my recordings and made this jam into a song."
It's an ideal instance of creative conception that's likely to anger those musicians whose work only comes after days of toil. Kalevi admits that while it often happens with him that ideas emerge fully formed, writing and recording doesn't always go so smoothly.
"Well," he adds with a nervous laugh, realizing that his statement might be misconstrued as boasting. "I also sweat!"
[Note: This article first appeared in Under the Radar's August/September 2015 Issue, which is still on newsstands now. This is its debut online.]
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