Interviews Music

Burnside picks

Burnside’s picks

Worldwide Evil Reverse

That’s an
evil one.

Count me out.

It makes
your hip move

Slow down

The closest
thing to country music we’ve done. It even has the pedal steel.

Rock’N’Roll Bang!

That’s pure
Flaming Sideburns. A straightforward rock and roll song.

Interviews Music

Back where it all began

The CD starts
playing at high volume before Jay Burnside starts his pint. Keys to the Highway kicks off with an
angry drumbeat. It is furious, it’s pissed off. But against whom are these
rockers mad? “This feeling is mainly against us. After touring for ten years,
there was a little bit of frustration because we hadn’t been able to do any
records for a long time. We wanted to show to ourselves that we still can do
it”, continues the drummer.

The Flaming
Sideburns' career seemed to have entered into the wrong path after the release
of Sky Pilots (2003). “We seemed to
get stuck with bad luck”, Jay says. “A lot of things didn’t work out. We were
about to go on tour in Europe for six weeks, but one month before that, our
booking agent in Europe had a nervous breakdown, so we ended up doing only one
week in Germany and one week in France.”

To overcome
the bad luck strike, the new album is a new beginning for The Flaming Sideburns. It is a comeback to the origins; so the
recording process reflected. Last May, several weeks before the recording, the
band went on the road and started playing a new set of songs. “That’s the way
we recorded Hallelujah Rock’n’Rollah,
our first album, and maybe that is why it turned out so good. We had this bunch
of songs that we had been playing for a couple of years. We went to this studio
and cut the songs almost live”, Jay reminisces. “With this album we wanted to
do something similar”.

In the summer,
the band went into the middle of the woods to record. “There was nothing there
but horses and fields”, Jay Burnside remembers. “The purpose was to stay there
for a couple of weeks and record the album almost live. That’s how it happened.
Nobody seems to do it this way anymore, but we like doing things the wrong

Keys to the Highway features the guest vocals of Lisa Kekaula, singer of the American
rock’n’soul band The Bellrays. “It was a natural idea. The main reason to record
with them was that they are good friends of us since we first played together
five years ago. Oh, another reason is that Lisa can sing a bit as well… “, he

Jay Burnside
looks very happy with the new album and points out his favorite moments while
it is still played in the bar. “This is our country song”, he says as Slow Down
sounds. “Our aim is not to repeat ourselves, even if we work in the small frame
of rock and roll”, he explains, “We try to find new ways and influences. We
have a little bit of country rock and next song is punk rock. That’s the
similarity between our albums. All of them are diverse.”

The new
album will be released on the 31st of January. After that, the band will start
touring Finland and then Europe to be back in Finland in time for the summer
festivals. Expect a year full of hallelujah rock’n’rollah.

Art Interviews

Interview With Hanna-Leena Hemming

Could you tell us where the idea for opening the new museum came from?

Hanna-Leena: There were two coincidences that led to the opening of EMMA. First of all, we had the right building, this old printing factory that was available because it was being sold, and then the city of Espoo noticed that these premises could add value to the city. Then we heard that the Saastamöinen Foundation was looking for a place where they could put their works to be seen, so the two coincidences matched very well.

What could Emma offer that other contemporary museums in Finland do not, like for example Kiasma museum?

I think that EMMA will have a remarkable role in the Finnish art scene. We have Ateneum that shows art until beginning of 20th century, and then Kiasma which exhibits art that is the most modern and newest at the moment. Between these two museums was a big gap; the 20th century was missed, with coverage only from smaller museums. So now in EMMA we have a larger range of pieces of art that were not available in Finland before.

For the foreign visitor, you can already get tours information in English. Will there be other languages available in the future, like French or Spanish?

I am not sure about that, it is going to depend on the temporary exhibitions. If, for example, there is a French artist, there might be need for that, but it is very costly and the demand for other languages is limited, so at least in the beginning we will have to cover the gap with papers in different languages that guide the visitor.

What about the partnership with other international museums and galleries? Does EMMA have any special agreements with other museums around the world?

We do not permanent agreements, but we are working very closely with foreign museums. We are planning to have twelve temporary exhibitions per year, with very big international names, so we need cooperation. It is permanent in many senses, and the idea is to bring remarkable temporary exhibitions.

You have four important exhibitions for starters.

Yes, and four more that we are going to have after Christmas.

What were the criteria for choosing these artists for the opening of EMMA?

The head of the museum, Markku Valkonen, is personally responsible for this selection. I don’t know the criteria, but I think that his selection was very lucky one. It shows the beginning of modern art in a way if we think about Malevich, for example, and then something very new with the Iranian artist Shirin Neshat and her video installation.

You have both big Finnish and international artists' names. Is this going to be a trend for future exhibitions?

Yes definitely, we are going to have very big names for next year. Our plans reach even to the year 2009. For sure there will be more very interesting and exciting artists for the visitor.

Interviews Music

Expressionism Painted with a Jazz Guitar

{mosimage}Raoul was born in Los Angeles when his mother, the Finnish actress Taina Elg, worked for Metro Goldwyn Mayer in Hollywood. However, he was raised in New York, where he started to get interested in music. “There was so much to hear: the Art Emsemble, the Sam Rivers trio, Dave Holland… I got a lot of energy from that music”. As many other jazz musicians from New York have said, Björkenheim admits that the scene there is not as good at the moment: “You might make more money playing in the streets than in a jazz club”.

Although he’s educated in jazz music, Jimi Hendrix is still one of Björkenheim’s heroes. “If anybody asks me who the best jazz guitar player is, I always say Hendrix. The best guitar solo is Machine Gun”. But there is another great influence in Raoul’s playing and that does not come from any guitarist: “I like saxophone players more and John Coltrane is still the most expressive. I don’t try to copy him, but the spirit is something that I try to emulate”. With this influence, Raoul’s guitar-playing showcases textures and sounds that could get a definition similar to expressionism. Sometimes, like with the project Scorch Trio, the approach is close to violence when doing some improvisation. “But it’s in the sense of expressionism, not just to make noise and play loud. {quotes}Maybe we play too loud. Do we?{/quotes}”

Finland was always part of Raoul’s background. In the eighties he moved back to Helsinki and became very active in the jazz scene at the time. For eight years he worked at the jazz department of the Sibelius Academy. “I was the crazy man of the village”, he says. “We did a lot of free improvisation stuff. There I got to meet a lot of young guitar players that now are big names, like Jarno Saari and Kalle Kalima.”

In December, Raoul Björkenheim will premiere a new piece for full symphony orchestra with the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra. “There will be echoes of African and Javanese music in this concerto for orchestra, with the percussion section playing an important role and each instrumental section having important solos to contribute.”

Photo © Maarit Kytöharju