The Song Navigator – Mi Esquina: My street corner

(c) Jussi Heikkinen

This song brings back memories of a time when Bajo Cero was still Anna, Okko, Kili, Elina, Antti and Joonas and I was still playing some rock-type music. To be honest I was getting tired of trying to find the perfect marriage between the sounds of Metallica and Incubus. Hence, it was no surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed seeing “Bajo” for the first time in Tervahovi, the long lost neighbor of the beloved NGO.

During this gig I went through all the emotions that an emotionally restricted and artistically introvert Finnish man would experience when he feels the need to dance but can’t bring himself to do more than grin and tap to the tempo with his foot. Even after that I would look around me nervously –did anyone see me do that?

Mi Esquina brings together some of the things I like about Bajo Cero the most. It is danceable, lively, groovy and catchy. The funky rhythm, contemporary arrangement and fusion between different musical styles like reggae and flamenco make it interesting to listen to as well as play. At first pretty much all I did was listening as my one and only instrument in the song was the shaker. Say what you will, but even if my role as an instrumentalist wasn’t great, because of it I got a chance to ease myself into the band and the style of music it was playing quite easily. Later on I started scratch in Mi Esquina as well as some other songs which gave much more personal depth to the expression from my side of the turntable.

When playing live, Mi Esquina is one of those songs that spark a good connection and interaction between musicians on stage. Often I find that when the set list says “Esquina” the tension that everyone felt before the gig gets finally turned into eye contacts, jamming, dancing, shaking, clapping, laughing and even fooling around to a degree. At this point I usually also notice the guys standing on the edges of the audience slightly grinning and tapping to the tempo with their hands in their pockets. They would like to move to the music too.

Mi Esquina talks about a loss being a blessing as well. The narrator of the lyrics sits in a street corner and watches a stream of people passing by. This is still only one side of the story, because Mi Esquina is the street corner in which I learned to dance and express myself better. I hope that some other people will stop here in my street corner too by listening to the album or coming to the gigs.

-Juhani

 

The Song Navigator: Espejo – The Mirror (and a bit of butter)

Ancient Finnish legends tell that the old wise man Väinämöinen had to smuggle himself into the Underworld and back, to seek for secret or hidden words, wisdom or tools. When we got to the 1970’s things had gotten more laid back in here and it was enough if the people just crossed the border to Sweden to get some cheap butter. I was born early enough to take part in these “fat-trips”, as they were called, and my uncle was inspected at the border every time he was coming back, for he had such a dark hair that obviously something illegal must have been going on.

Somehow many of us made it to the next millennium, and one sunny Friday morning at 8:15 in 2008 or maybe it was the next year, I found myself being in a band that was starting a 1300km journey for a single gig to Stockholm to export some flamenco world music, this was how strange the world had become.

The next day at noon I woke up, for some reason I had insisted to drive the whole way there, and as we got there I had the need to take a sauna for hours, swim in the nocturnal sea and to be noisy and full of life till the wee hours, and so my head was being hammered with a small brigade of pick-axes and there was a bunch of dandelions glittering on the window shelf and I couldn’t figure out whether I had picked them up myself of if it had been someone else. From the yard I could hear the hilarious noise of experimentation of or bass played Antti who had received a brand new effects pedal just in time before setting off for the journey, and who was basking in the sun and trying to imitate the sound of a duck that had flown by, with his bass.

Time passed slowly in the strikingly beautiful archipelago first woken up to a spring glory and then lullabied back to a charmingly humid sleep by the early summer heat wave. Anyway in some point I noticed I was sat on a rock, out from the bad air of my room, a steady rock impressive enough to rise quite a bit of every Swedes national pride, squinting my eyes. Okko was playing his guitar and Antti had swapped to his violin, as his bass amp extension cord was not long enough to reach this majestic rock.

How it all went

An idea emerged out of nowhere, or somewhere, and i wanted to play along the others. But all my instruments were somewhere and I was somewhere else. Still the images kept dancing into my mind as lightly as a freight train dances, and those images needed to be dealt with. Over a thousand years ago the Swedes leaving these rocks, the Swedes nowadays mainly recognized for ABBA, a stunning ability of being sovereign and their IKEA meat balls, a fair thousand years ago these Swedes formed the most inner circle of the bodyguards of the almost almighty emperor of Bysanthium some 3000km away, because they were big, frightening, extremely strong and ready to die to the last man instead of surrendering.

In my eyes I had the vision of a declining ruler, surrounded by his last men, even though they all know they’ll soon be defeated, but not yet, for the last battle is still just about to start, and so I grabbed a few dry sticks lying on the rock and started banging them along with the music, to live with it.

I started feeling better as the day went on, the gig went fine that night, the next day I drove those 1300km back home, a moose ran to the road but we missed it so that I’m still here to tell this story. Those fragments of sounds and visions we brought home, instead of butter, later became the second song on our album – Espejo. But the dry sticks I unfortunately left lying around on that rock. However, or maybe therefore, the song turned out great.

-kili

The Song navigator: Caras Escondidas – Hidden Faces

When we first started writing the song Caras escondidas there was just a massive big bang in the beginning and some eerie sketches of a song melody made by Okko along with some ideas for the rhythm for the vocals.

As I started to write the lyrics in a suitable rhythm and length, with words that would somehow fit the mood, the story soon started to form into this ”scary ghost story at sea”.

Ahogan las olas del mar
en la distancia

oyes a
alguien canta

/

Drowning
waves of the sea
in the distance
you hear someone singing

We wanted the atmosphere to be somewhat spooky and even apocalyptic. It didn’t matter if the story itself was quite abstract and left a lot of room for imagination. The ”Caras escondidas” (=hidden faces) in the story are a symbol for the fear that creeps up on you when night falls. They are the faces of those abstract figures you think you see in the dark when you are scared enough.

The ”me” in the song is a force that is commenting the occurrences in the story but also affecting them.

She is singing for the poor drowning soul that is the object of the happenings:

No hay cuerda pa’ cogerte
mi voz te ahoga
buscas el fondo,
pero no encuentras
la cuerda pa´ salvarte

respira la melodía, resipira la melodia            

/

There’s no cord* to hold on to
My voice will drown you
You search for the bottom
but won’t  find
the cord that will rescue you
Breathe the melody
Breathe the melody

*la cuerda means not only a rope or a cord but the string of a musical instrument and a chord as in the term used in music

For a musician it’s not so unusual to be drowning in melodies. Sometimes it would be nice if someone threw you a rope to hold on to (be it a chord that makes the song make sense or something else that helps you) when you feel that the song is just not coming together and the ideas are floating on  some other, distant, ocean. With this song the only solution was to let go and permit myself to write such an ambiguously heaving story that it shall take the weight of itself to carry afloat – or just let it drown in the melody. Whatever happened, we got through with the song, and it even ended as the opening track for the album.

-Anna

 

Out of records

We no longer have records. But don’t you worry! It seems there are still some CDs in most Finnish cities, in record stores, and the new shipment from the press is on its way, possibly being pressed right at this moment. Thank you for buying the first round! And oh, yes, it is out digitally as well!

This is all very overwhelming, but so is the pictorial that I used to illustrate this little good news flash (I must admit that I did add the Óyela album to the original picture).

The picture I used for this news flash was taken in Afghanistan in the late 50’s or early 60’s, photographer unknown. In the promotional pictures of those days the country seems to differ quite little from Finland in those days, though there seems to be a bit more food for sale at the marketplace, when compared to Finnish pictures of the time. It seems something just went terribly wrong there after this.

I recommend you take a look at all the photos of this article Once upon a time in Afghanistan… Record stores, Mad Men furniture, and pencil skirts – When Kabul had rock ’n’ roll, not rockets. As the publisher of these photos, Mohammad Qayoumi, puts it “I want to show Afghanistan’s youth of today how their parents and grandparents really lived”.

Maybe things eventually get better and we can one day throw a gig in Kabul too.

– Kili

Every week in Top ten

It’s finally here! And on top of every list! Our new album Óyela.

With lists we don’t by any means mean playlists, selling lists, the lists of the most downloaded or any other lists that mark the true greatness of a band. No, we mean those lists with the title TTD. At least for the time being. It is now two years form that day when we started writing the songs for the album. We promised to publish one song every two weeks and managed to give birth to a total of 11 songs in 16 weeks. A year of recording, mixing and mastering has now been spent. The whole band is in gratitude to our master-mind Okko who has done almost everything you can hear – and see – on the record. Even most of the composing.

In the next stage the record should be spreading madly out to the stores and to people, to the critics, to clubs and to the people who book bands on gigs. And this work – like the Bajo Cero DIY philosophy says – will be done mostly by ourselves. That is why – even though when asked how we feel about the record coming out we should say ” Wooh yeeaah greeeeat mahtava!” – we will not forget the fact that this is just the starting point for our work. Long lists of tasks await us before we can get off the TTD-lists and on to the most-played-lists.


But while we’re working on it, dear friends please remember that the record Óyela by Bajo Cero is now in stores all over Finland and will be available as a digital release soon for our international fans. Wooh yeeaah greeeeat mahtavaa!

¡Gettin’ da Gig!

Besides music, everyone in Bajo Cero has a special role in our D-I-Y  band. We are doing it ourselves so maybe I should call it D-I-O band instead (no pun intended R.I.P. Ronnie James).  Anyway, D-I-Y means that we have to do everything that is involved in making music and getting it out there. My responsibility is to get gigs to our band. When a band is big enough, they are invited to all of their gigs; the bands responsibility is to pick the suitable according to their schedule. We are in a situation where we get invitations too, but most of the time we have to do the selling work for the gigs to appear into our schedule.

This gig selling does not differ from the work of a telephone salesman: you call, represent your stuff, get an answer. Often before the telephone salesman phase, you have entered into e-mail lottery, i.e. sent the stuff via e-mail to various promoters who receive thousand similar kind of offers. It is difficult to stand out. However, one thing is true to all selling, whether it is a vacuum cleaner or one-hour-musical extravaganza:  the content has to be right! It has to be good stuff that you are selling.

Last year was so far the greatest for Bajo Cero gigwise. This year’s bookings are on the way, if everything turns out right, the upcoming summer is full of very special events! Stay tuned for our gig roster to be completed and announced!

-Antti

Fan lotto

I’s been quite an active spring at the Bajo Cero Facebook-site. We’re happy to have noticed that there are almost a thousand likers, in fact all together there are 914 people, touched by our world fusion at the moment. And since none of us band members have so many moms and dads or spouses, it seems there has to be at least one or two real fans amongst these likers. Yippee!

As an Easter surpise Bajo Cero now declares the search for it’s 1000th fan open. Bacome a fan (or suggest it to your frends if you happen to be one) and win our upcoming debut album! The winner will be declared when we have reached the magical number of 1000!

-Anna

Caught red handed

I need a therapy band with a name that means something warm. Bajo Cero, “below zero”, always ends up doing stuff in extreme coldness. For me this winter has been amazing – first i froze my hands in Bajo Cero’s photoshoot, then a few weeks later in our video shoot.

We had a grande finale for the video shooting week as we played a gig in our hometown Oulu. The atmosphere was great, the audience beat all of my expectations, and playing was fluent fun. After the gig there was a musician that i highly respect, who wanted to thank the band for a great gig by shaking hands. But this i couldn’t do. My double frozen skin had not liked my one hour bare hand beating of cajon, and it started cracking in some point, so that for the last fifteen minutes i’d been playing very manly with bloody knuckles. Skip the hand shaking.

We wish to thank all of you who were present at that gig, but also those of you that helped us with our music video shoot earlier that week (Ville R., Teresa, Erick, Mia, Pirjo, Esa, Jamal, Kerttu, Pekka, Joni aka Camera wizard, Jenni, Tiina , Kaisa and those of you whose name i maybe accidentally forgot to mention. You were and are important). And my hands are starting to get better!

We lost a lot of loot in the thunders of the video shoot (including my beloved kalimba, but it’s now found, after just three weeks of being lost). Also we now finally found some pictures from the video day, to add into our Bajo family album.

-kili

The artist and the director share their views. The actor is sitting at the back paralyzed with fear.

 

The director, the artist and the lovely hideous camera monster we just created.

 

Our singer is locked into a box. It only makes her totally freak out just a bit.

 

All the little obstacles on our way were greeted with enthusiasm.

 

The actor falling on his arse does make him smile (apparently), but luckily the actress keeps her poker face.

 

You gotta get us to the next whisky bar, feat. our bass player Antti Sixx and his heavy metal nasty pose.

 

Is it a bird? A plane? No, it's songs from the second floor.

 

Fearless Joni grabs the camera monster by its hand and shows no fear. Behind him our artist seems to be admiring Joni's bravery.