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Kimmo Pohjonen: A Very Cool Instrument

By Published: June 4, 2013
KP: I work with sound and in my workspace I try to find new sounds through my accordions and with electronics. It is an endless world with new colors and sounds. That always keeps me busy and it gives me energy to come up with something new. At the moment, I have a new duo, but this time it's with my daughter, who is 17. She plays drums. That is a beautiful collaboration, and I'm also working with a ballerina. It all depends on who you are working with and how you perceive that person. That also gives you ideas. These are probably the main things. And whenever I have nothing to do I always improvise, which always gives something.

AAJ: Please talk about your collaboration with Kronos Quartet. Later this year, in London, you will be performing with them at the Barbican. How did it all begin?

KP: [Violinist] David Harrington got my solo CD and then he contacted me and asked me to compose something for them. For me, that was great and a wish come true as, at the time, I was hoping I could write something for a string quartet and suddenly I was contacted by Kronos Quartet. I told them that I would like to approach things differently as I work with electronics and samples, and that was the basis for the work. I went to San Francisco with [percussionist] Samuli [Kosminen] and, after the first rehearsal, we realized that it was ok and that I should compose more and do a bigger project. In the end, we did a DVD and a CD, and it went really well. We still perform these compositions with the Kronos Quartet. Sometimes I work with a Finnish quartet as Kronos is very busy. It is the most composed project that I have done because Kronos' parts are written. In a way, there are improvisations, but it's written music.

AAJ: What's it like to be playing with the ex-King Crimson rhythm section, Pat Mastelotto and Trey Gunn?

KP: Those two are really great guys. I'm so happy actually that we are going to tour again soon. It is always fun with those two guys. Pat is like a crazy bear from Russia who plays drums so well, and with Trey's Warr guitar we work as a power trio. I play bass with my upper side of the accordion, so I can share the lower frequencies with him. Therefore, whenever I take the bass he can solo and whenever he takes the bass I can solo. With Pat on drums it is pure fun. It is us. It is pity that we all live so far away from each other—Seattle, Texas and Finland—so it is not that easy to get us all together. Luckily there are opportunities for us to gather.

AAJ: How have all of these projects and experiences helped you evolve as accordionist and as a composer?

KP: It is amazing to look at the great opportunities I have had with my accordion. I have played with all kinds of people, and those were different kinds of collaborations or projects with a different angle. And I've been influenced by those people; they've influenced my playing. In a way, it was some sort of exchanging of energy with these people. When I think about it, I can't believe how lucky I have been, to have these kinds of opportunities. If you believe in the work that you do or want to do, and work with some of the guys that we were talking about, that certainly influences your instrument, your personality...everything. It is more than I would have ever expected.

Selected Discography

Heikki Laitinen, Kimmo Pohjonen, Murhaballadeja / Murder Ballads (SiBa, 2012)
Kimmo Pohjonen, Samuli Kosminen and Kronos Quartet, Uniko (Ondine Records, 2011)
KTU, Quiver (7dMedia, 2009)
KTU, 8 Armed Monkey (Thirsty Ear, 2005)
Kimmo Pohjonen and Eric Echampard, Uumen (Rockadillo, 2005)
Kimmo Pohjonen, Kalmuk (Westpark, 2002)
Kimmo Pohjonen, Kluster (Westpark, 2002)
Kimmo Pohjonen, Kielo (Rockadillo, 1999)

Photo Credit

Page 1: Edigio Santos

Page 2: Pavel Strazay

Page 4: Anastasiya Kononenko

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