65°01’N, 25°28’E

Our home town Oulu is the “capital of northern Finland” and the sixth most populous city in the whole country. Still, it’s a small town of about 140 000 inhabitants at the edge of the peripheria. Even the city center ends where the sea starts. And most of the year the sea is on ice and when it’s not, it’s filled with seagulls and drunks, floating aroud (just kidding… a bit). Eventhough it’s nice to live in a city by the sea, it also makes the climate quite challenging as the slightest little breeze feels like a dozen icy daggers, piercing through your clothes. But what do we do here when it gets too cold?
The answer: We organize open air festivals.

One, and maybe the most exotic one of these is called Poro Feria (=Reindeer Feria). It’s a surprising mixture of the Spanish feria tradition (flamenco, colourful outfits, general fun) AND the northernmost culture of Europe, the Sami culture (yoik music, colourful outfits, reindeer, general fun). The festival is held at the Oulu market place when the winter is at its coldest and the icy breeze from the sea just keeps on blowing.
You might think we’re crazy: Why would you have a flamenco event in the middle of the winter – outside? What do the southernmost and the northernmost cultures of Europe have in common?

Photo by Jari Länsman

Must have something to it, since Poro Feria was actually marked as the 3rd most important event (in the world) for the traveller by the biggest finnish travel magazine Mondo. Can’t really blame them. I’ve been involved with this arctic madness since the planning of the event, five or so years ago, and am waiting for this years’ party on 29.-30.1. again. Having your toes numb and ears frozen isn’t such a big prise to pay for seeing two great cultures really meet at such surreal surroundings. At last year’s Poro Feria I had the priviledge to perform with one of the greatest Sami yoik artists, Ulla Pirttijärvi. A traditional sequiriya turned into a yoik and a yoik merged into the rythm of an alegría. Damn right it was freezing on the stage, but it was also kinda hot to be able to perform such cultural fusion, there at the edge of our frozen sea.


P.S: There’s also a video from last year.

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For about 26 years now, I’ve been interested in the Finnish language. It is the language i speak, but there are some bits of it that please me a lot. Bits that would please me even if i had no clue of the simplest phrases in Finnish. For those of you who don’t see the reason why i love my language, there is a link. (actually this is more interesting for us who do love languages, but do click it even if you don’t).

Finnish is like the fifth song on David Bowie’s 1972 album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars: It ain’t easy.

Short blog in our shop. Kaupassammekinkohan.


Yoga and Bollywood dance in India

On my Christmas holiday I visited a country I have wanted to for a very long time – India. I stayed in the area of Goa, which is a very touristic place but next time I’d like to see more of this fascinating country. It is always interesting to explore a new culture and a different way of life.

I was prepared for a cultural shock when going there. However, I was surprised. Of course, it was dirty there and trashes all around, a lot of people everywhere, wild traffic with cows and mopeds in perfect harmony. But what I really fell in love with was the joy and openness of these people, vividness and opulence around you, spicy lovely food, funny Bollywood dance videos, not forgetting the Goa beaches… and yoga!

I did study some yoga there. I had done a bit of that in Finland before, but this was a different kind of experience. The teacher was a doctor of ayurveda and taught me positions (asanas), but also a lot of breathing and concentration.

I think your day will start in a bit more relaxing way after breathing and stretching instead of running for your life (like I every morning do) to the bus stop. I decided that this thing is something I could change in my life. Could I start the new year less hurried, have my morning coffee peacefully, do one thing at a time instead of doing a million things at the same time. Thank you for teaching me this, India.


See also

Time to go back to 2010.
What good happened in 2010? Every blog is making a list. Probably cos they’ve been celebrating the holidays too much and are afraid to think of anything new. So I’ll make my list here. Top five. All five things on the shared first place. Recommended to you by Bajo Cero.

-Miesten vuoro
A documentary in which everything is small. No explosions, no action. Just Finnish men talking inside and outside of a sauna. Makes a big man cry. A must see 2010. Written and directed by Joonas Berghäll & Mika Hotakainen.


-The Rise of Congo music in the whole Europe
We don’t often hear too many good news from Congo, but at least this year we got to hear a lot of good music! Flow-festival in Helsinki presented this year, among other nice names, the Congolese Konono Nº1 that has been doing their own thing since 1960’s.
And more nice stuff keeps on coming, last night I just had to order the 2010 album of Baloji, a Belgian/Congolese rapper, who recorded the album with the same Konono Nº1 old folks.
And thanks to the Belgian record company Crammed Discs, more music like this will surely be published in 2011.

-The rise of etno music in Finland
Dozens of albums of music, based on either Finnish or other ethnic music, were released in 2010. It is quite a number in a country with only five million inhabitants (and in a time of “big” music business being totally unwilling to take any risks). A nice list of some of these albums you may find here (in Finnish, I’m sorry).

-Heavy Metal in Baghdad
Acrassicauda, a thrash metal band from Baghdad, Iraq, finally published their first album Only the Dead See the End of the War, in 2010. We have been following this band since seeing the extremely interesting 2007 rockumentary Heavy Metal in Baghdad. It’s not easy making music anywhere, but at least no one’s bombed our practice place down yet. A must-see rockumentary.

-Tuomas Henrikin Jeesuksen Kristuksen Bändi
This Oulu-based group released a studio album in 2010, called Ruuvimeisseli perseessä, a total fuck you to everybody. And their live performance is absolutely pure energy. If they come to play a gig anywhere near you, go and see them!


Year 2010 out of the blue

And out of the blue, as we all were waiting for 2009 to end, the year 2010 sneaked up from behind the corner and surprised us all. Two thousand and ten was a clever, no, she was a foxy bastard. And she took us by surprise even though we all knew she’d be there sooner or later. We were surprised by that year even though we knew exactly when she was due to land.

Years are like Santa Father Christmas – you never know what you get. At least a box of chocolate, usually.
Years are like a box of chocolate – if you’re allergic to nuts you may die.
Years are… you get the point.

Time is a big elephant and we all just try to walk our way on her right side.

Bajo Cero is happy after 2010. I could see that as we had an “End of the year meeting” in our local pub. Before enjoying any beer I could enjoy the faces of people that had suddenly realized what they had done. We have recorded nine (i.e. 9) songs this autumn, starting at the end of august, and most of those songs were composed on the way, and – to me it seems – all of the songs were the kind of music I’d love to hear.

Let’s insert a bit of comparative analysis into this blog.
If we kept this tempo all the time, there’d be 2,5 albums out every year.
No band does that. We thought we might try that for some time…

That material recorded this year is quite a good start for our album coming out whenever time is right.

We believe in the music we do, but were still amazed to see people enjoy so much on our recent gigs in Oulu, Tampere and Helsinki. And other gigs this year too. We were happy to see crowds. We want to thank all the people involved. We want you to get involved again!

We also filmed and released a music video during this “a song out every two weeks” –project. And we were happy as hell (to have the video done and to see how people liked it). We have our cameras ready and might just do another one any sunny day.

We didn’t see all this coming when 2010 first showed her face. She (2010) was a clever bastard. But I can say that we’re all happy we’re all through with her. It’s been demanding, she’s beaten us down and she’s taught us loads. Of ourselves, of love and dignity.

And we’ll keep on doing it all again.

Thank you.