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Currents of different sounds: Virta at the We Jazz Festival

by Julius Töyrylä

In Virta’s music, one can discover a captivating vortex of traditional jazz, electronic soundscapes and skilful musical craftsmanship. This photo feature showcases their performance in Helsinki from December 2023.

Originally hailing from Kuopio in Eastern Finland, the trio of friends that makes up Virta consists of Antti Hevosmaa (electronics, flugelhorn, trumpet, vocals), Erik Fräki (electronics, drums, percussion, vocals) and Heikki Selamo (bass, electronics, guitar, lap steel, vocals). The name Virta (meaning electricity, energy, stream), aptly suits their wistful-sounding music, which they have been releasing since 2012.

The currently Helsinki-based ensemble held an audiovisual performance at Korjaamo in Helsinki during the eleventh We Jazz Festival in December 2023. Before the gig, the team assembles their equipment. The band's drummer, Erik Fräki, has a setup with many moving pieces.

Virta Dokkari 4

Some of the act’s main elements are visual. According to guitarist Heikki Selamo, the lights and the background play crucial roles in enhancing the show.

The electric sound wizard and trumpeter of the band, Antti Hevosmaa, practicing before the gig.

Virta preparing for the gig with a hug.

The band performed a variety of songs from their catalogue. One of the most fitting live renditions was ‘Sininen’ (Blue) from the album Horros (2023). As Virta’s melodies galloped through the air, a serene atmosphere enveloped the audience. Many listeners closed their eyes, while others revelled in the show that seamlessly merged lights and sound.

In the middle of a speech by Antti Hevosmaa, the backdrop broke adding a touch of humour to the performance. Despite this minor inconvenience, the show went on.

As the final song concluded and people began to leave, a comment emerged from the audience: “Wow, that was like a warm bath...”

Virta: Erik Fräki, Antti Hevosmaa, Heikki Selamo

When asked about the genres that their music represents, the band responded, “You tell us! It’s even hard for us to say sometimes... there’s definitely some calmness and jazz influences, and the funny thing is that our different musical tastes might not even mirror the music we create with Virta.” 

Antti Hevosmaa adds, “I guess Virta’s music takes shape when we can simply create at ease, just the three of us, and most importantly, when we have the freedom to explore crazy and out-there ideas.”

Photos: Julius Töyrylä

Text: Julius Töyrylä