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Zetaboo: Ethnic Jazz from Finland

By Published: November 7, 2006

AAJ: Is there any specific inspiration behind the album?

JS: This music was inspired by the trips I made to Cuba and Brazil—it felt like a road diary to me. Some songs may not have any relation to that process, but all the material felt like it was part of this idea. Some had this excitement of being a stranger in a strange place, and this place doesn't have to be this exact Cuban club here or the sound of Rio de Janeiro. The excitement was about not coming up with something pure, but with this exotic, unfamiliar sound. Some of the tunes were about home-sickness. The way I experienced it during these trips was all about this idea of being lost, but trusting the intuition to go to a strange place and still having the feeling of being safe and excited about the new things.

I did some recordings with my minidisc, but it was mainly atmospheric. I had also run into a group of youngsters who were playing football, singing and clapping their hands. I also met this crazy guy on a beach when I was playing the cavaquinho that I had bought from Salvador, and he joined me and started talking and singing. He was nuts and a bit wasted, but I didn't feel that he was dangerous. Some of his songs I got on my minidisc. I also recorded sounds from the street where one of my hotels was in Havana and the sounds of a waterfall in Rio de Janeiro, which actually are the samples on OuterRail. There are many location sounds in the background of the mixes, and also some train sounds to get the feeling of traveling and being on a trip.

It all seemed very clear to me, but it wasn't very easy to explain it to my friends. I told them not to worry about "my philosophies, and let's just try to create some good music. I made lots of decisions on the landscape of the tunes and the instrumentation—there are lots of ideas behind the notes. The way Anna-Mari, Pekka and Marko play on the album is purely great and their ideas make my music sound so much richer than I could ever have thought. Though I made the music personally for them, I could never have expected what they came up with—it always sounds fantastic.

AAJ: When you went to Cuba were you going with the idea of finding material for Zetaboo?

JS: No. But when I went to Brazil for the second time I had Zetaboo in my mind, but it was somewhere deep. But I was traveling for other reasons—the long, cold Finnish winter, and other things. This time it was some kind of a sabbatical break for me. Anna-Mari also was away in Italy for some weeks and I think we are now all at that point in our lives where we have two alternatives: we can choose to work, work and work; or we can stop at some point and see that we have the option to take it easy, and take up the opportunity to expand our experience and develop our imagination.

I also went to Spain last spring, and when you are in the middle of nowhere, on your own, in a strange place and with no expectations, you might just do nothing. But if you start doing something then it really is something you want to do. I wrote lots of music during that week. And I think the same thing happened with Ann-Mari, that after a long period of working with, and even for, other people she had to get away. And the result was she wrote a lot of stuff!

And even though you hear that an artist always writes for himself not the audience, that music just came out from me. I knew I had to share it with these guys. I'm really happy with it now it's released and can be shared with other people. And if any single person can relate to it, or get excited or inspired by it is a bonus, because to me it's like a documentary of the trip I have made. Continuing from there and promoting it is quite hard, because I have already moved on. The most important thing for me is that it is documented, and packaged and can now be shared. That's the way it goes—I couldn't have stayed in this "OuterRail position very long.

Zetaboo: Jarmo Saari, Anna-Mari Kähärä, Pekka Lehti, Marko Timonen.

AAJ: And now we have the product here, what do you think of it?

JS: It looks very nice. I think the designer got the idea very well, and I'm very pleased with the way it looks. Nowadays when so many people download their music from the internet it's important to produce something that is actually nice to handle. And to listen to!

AAJ: And how abut actually performing the material?

JS: Well, truth to say, at the moment all we have planned is the release concert. Of course we are ambitious and are hoping to get more gigs, especially after the concert in Huvila. The timing and everything felt so natural. And psychologically it is good for Zetaboo to have the need to play a great concert...


Zetaboo, OuterRail (Aito, 2006)
Zetaboo, MedZine (Aito, 2000)
Zetaboo, Zetaboo (Texicalli, 1997)

Photo Credits:
Jarmo Saari: Jorma Airola
Zetaboo: Kie Von Hertzen, courtesy of Aito Records Ltd.

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