I find it very important to maintain hope in any moment of crisis. Through my music, I try to raise an alarm about the prospects that humanity is facing in a changing ecological environment, as well as the challenges brought on by globalization.
Hope is my fourth recording as a bandleader. This time, I felt the need to connect my music to the current state of the world, its ecological crisis, and the current state of my life as a human being, and as a parent. But always from a positive perspective. The theme of the music goes hand in hand with the entire album’s overarching message: to bring hope for the future, even amid a variety of different threats, and how hope and uniting for a common cause can save our planet.
I view the new album as a bold step for me musically speaking, in a more experimental direction. Some music on this album (including the title piece) has been created during the pandemic, as a way of escaping the strict restrictions, harbouring hope for an end to this period and for a better future for humanity. The lyrics of the title piece paint dreamlike visions of a future reality that looks threatening, but that also brings people together to appreciate and nurture our unique living globe.
My collaboration with violinist and composer Adam Baldych has been ongoing for three years already, and it is wonderful to finally have our music officially released into the wide world. Adam’s violin playing is such a beautiful interpretation of the musical thoughts we wrote for this project, with a sensitivity of a sophisticated pearl. Our musical connection has always been the engine of our ensemble playing, crossing national borders, and bringing three different cultures together through the universal language of music. We are a multinational group (Tuomas J. Turunen – piano, Oskari Siirtola – double bass, Anssi Tirkkonen – drums), with roots in Finland, Romania, and Poland, and I feel that all three cultures contribute to the beauty of our music.
Meeting the great Quincy Jones in 2012 at the Montreux Jazz Voice Competition in Switzerland definitely gave me hope for what was to come. As the head of the jury, he presented me with the Second Prize and Audience Choice Prize, telling me that the latter was actually more significant, because of the fact that the audience voted directly for me. It proved the importance of the public, of our listeners, to us musicians.
When I compose music and write lyrics, I start from the concept of wanting to communicate true facts and real things to my listeners, and find issues that are relevant and common for all of us as humans. I love to connect with my audiences, and I want to speak out about things that matter to me. When it comes to lyrics, I love to be poetic. When it comes to music, I love grooves, patterns, odd and polyrhythms.
Rhythm is very important to me. Both the rhythm of the music and the rhythm of the lyrics, of words. And they have to work together naturally, in a tandem. I get inspired by the stories around me, most often my own stories but in some cases other people’s stories as well, or quite often our shared story: the story of humankind and the society we live in.
I am a musician who writes lyrics, but is not at all a poet. I always start with the music and write the lyrics afterwards. But I occasionally enjoy reading poetry, which is another source of inspiration for my lyrics.
I will expand my ideas further with a few examples, starting with Hay Moon, the first single of my latest album, a piece written by Tuomas J. Turunen. The lyrics of this tune artistically reflect the prospects for humanity in a changing ecological environment, as well as the challenges brought on by globalization. We have also released a music video for this track, and the visuals elements were chosen to sound an alarm about all these concerns.
I will continue with Run Away, a piece co-composed with Tuomas, a more pop-influenced tune. The lyrics describe the struggle between oneself and the others, what it feels like to be the seal of others. The main ideas of this song include the status of refugees, one’s internal mental struggles, insecurity and uncertainty, and emotional rejection. This piece also includes a very beautiful music video, part of which was filmed under water.
Another piece that I want to introduce to you is Luca, written for and dedicated to my son. A tune about parenthood, children, and the world we bring them into and raise them in. Food for thought for the next stages of humanity on this globe...
Sincerity is a very important aspect for me as a performer. Sincerity when performing on your own instrument, owning that line, that music that comes out of the instrument which in my case is my own voice. Then come the lyrics, in most pieces but not always. Singing about something without immersing yourself into that story, into that moment, into that feeling, it means not being sincere about what you tell to your listeners. And I feel that this sincerity must be there even when there are no lyrics. A performer is always telling something with their instrument and specific lyrics are not the only way to do that. I think sincerity is the key to intensity in one’s voice, and should be present both in music and in everyday life.
Although the bulk of the music on my new album Hope was created during the pandemic, we wanted to include a few of our earlier tunes as well. We have made music and composed during these extraordinary times to make it easier to endure the hard restrictions. It was a way to hope for these times to end as soon as possible, bringing hope for a better future for humanity.
Even though the lyrics sometimes seem to illustrate a rather gloomy and threatening reality, they also speak of the hope that these troubled times will bring people together and make them more aware that we must do something to protect this world, the only one we have. Give #hope for our globe.
Translation: Hanna-Mari Latham
Featured Photo: Andrei Budescu