Born and raised near the central Finnish lakeland city of Jyväskylä, Jaakko Eino Kalevi’s musical journey began in the mid-90s when, aged 11, he discovered the progressive metal of US rockers Dream Theater, whose riffs he and a pal would play on guitar.
Naturally, hip-hop came next, and Jaakko learned to make beats using Fruity Loops and a sampler. Then came passionate investigations into reggae, disco, techno and whatever else his friends or the internet happened to introduce to him, before he ultimately moved to Helsinki. It was in Finland’s capital that Jaakko found his feet in the local music scene.
His self-titled debut album is the most vivid portrayal yet of Jaakko’s sensual world – a Technicolor and wondrous place where everything happens in its own time, and where nature and technology get along harmoniously.
The ten-track collection finds Jaakko on spellbinding form, composing sumptuous and wildly original music that teems with ideas and more than delivers on the promise of its predecessor, the breakthrough 2013 EP Dreamzone. “Jaakko Eino Kalevi” marks the start of a striking new chapter for the Berlin-based artist – a former tram driver in Helsinki – who’s already made quite an impression on the international stage these past 12 months.
“I played the ‘self-titled’ card this time because for many people this album will be their first encounter with my music,” says Jaakko. “Also, I get my name misspelled so often that I think it’s good to focus on that at this point.”
From the alluring opener ‘J.E.K.’ to ravishing finale ‘Ikuinen Purkautumaton Jännite’ (loosely, ‘Eternal Ejected Voltage’), this is a richly immersive and hyper-vivid record that sparkles with modern pop gems like ‘Double Talk’, shared today, and ‘Deeper Shadows’. Throughout, Jaakko cuts a cool, Zen-like figure – a street-smart sage who sings in English but expresses his most intimate thoughts in Finnish.
“I wanted this album to be more like a whole rather than a collection of songs, and I’m happy that I was able to develop that ‘Dreamzone’ feel,” he says. “These songs are tied closely together and I worked on them at the same time.”
The warmth and body Nicolas Vernhes, the man with the Midas touch, added, helped draw the songs together and underlined the unusual, head-turning quality of Jaakko’s songwriting. Even though he covers a remarkable range of styles and moods across the album, it feels beautifully weighted. What strikes you, too, is how ambitious the record is yet how at ease he sounds.
This event is presented by Digital in Berlin. Check out our Facebook page to win tickets.
Jaakko Eino Kalevi
Tuesday, 23 February 2016 | 20:00 CET
Kantine am Berghain | Am Wriezener Bahnhof | 10243 Berlin/Friedrichshain