The Song Navigator: A Volar – Take flight

We wrote our song A Volar (“Take flight”) as a request for the final gala of Oulu Music Video Festival 2008. The project was really interesting because the theme that year was Finland and being Finnish. Our challenge was to fuse Spanish language music with being Finnish. We had the chance to perform our song and choreography in front of an audience of a thousand people. The songs theme is really dark – men have left for war and a woman has been left behind, alone, crying on the shore.


“To the faraway islands travelled
my loved one, leaving me
on an island without trees
and with rivers of blood. “


The songs rhythm is one of flamencos most fascinating, siguyrias, which makes it very mystic, and it suits very well a song telling about the bird of death, bringer of sorrow.


“The bird is calling
with the voice of the dead,
the bird is calling,
the bird of oblivion.

And dressed in a blackbird´s gown
it crosses the sky
and changes the light into dark”

Bird themes have always fascinated me, and I also have picture of a crow embroidered onto one of my show dresses. There is a lot symbolism related to birds and people have believed that birds had a big part in the birth of the world and circle of human life. The “swan of the underworld” is a symbol of death, and a “wounded albtraos” is free in the sky but a prisoner on the land. At one time birds were thought of as the embodiment of peoples hopes and dreams, as they could fly upward unto the heavens.

Finnish mythology contains a lot of bird-related thematics. “Lintukoto”, Bird home is the place where a human soul goes in the end after detah. You can also see human soul described as a bird figure, and they believed that the raven took a dead persons soul. In our folk poetry also women could be described as a bird, a bride being elegant with her feathers like a dancer.


Bajo Cero in Sweden

Bajo Cero takes on the second biggest open air stage at Sweden’s Umeå Kulturnatta event on Saturday, 18th of May. The band plays at 00.35 as the finishing performance of the evening on “Renmarkschenen”.

Read more about Umeå Kulturnatta.

The Song Navigator: Eco (Echo) – Lauri Ahtinen shows us what Eco sounds like

Eco (Echo) is one of the songs that were created in an absurdly short period of time, when we had decided to take the principle of “a song out every two weeks”. When I first heard it, I was amazed. I had taken part in the compositional work quite actively, and I’d proposed loads of ideas for the song we were indulged in. My handprint was crucial in what became Eco; almost all the ideas we used came from Okko, whereas the vast majority of the ditched ideas were mine…

The song couldn’t have hit me better, and I ended quite many busy nights then by stopping to listen to it, far too loud, all by myself, with my headphones on. I do admit that there is a place and a time for “feel good music” (on a sunny Saturday, yes), but far too often in music I crave for a feeling of threat, danger and aggression, discharged by ways of music.

This kind of music is a delicate kind, as expressing feelings through rhythm and melody is often a paradox. A west-African happy going rhythmic exhilaration easily makes me pretty frustrated by the time of the third song, due to an overdose of good vibrations. And the northern, anguished death metal tends to tumble down to something so pathetic it only makes you laugh. With Eco, I think we managed to paint quite an accurate picture of one sort of an emotional landscape.

A long time ago, as i was getting all excited about our future (now recent past) comics collaboration with Ville, I asked my friend Lauri (that also is a comics artist, I wonder how we tend to befriend with them) to re-draw our promo pics in the good old Kylli-täti style. I set the pictures on his table, I set the camera and the light pretty badly, and pressed play on his stereo (this time the song was Eco), and there he went, beautifully smutting the picture to suit the soundscape of the song. The resulting video leads us to suspect that his feelings aroused by the song are somewhat close to mine. And despite the black paint he uses, I believe we both pretty much like the song.


The Song Navigator: Óyela

I often feel I have to explain the language choises of our lyrics. Why write songs in Spanish in (Northern) Finland when no one’s gonna understand them?

Veo que me miras de distancia
no entiendes nada de mis palabras
estoy hablando en una lengua
que no quieres oír porque no es tuya

I can see you looking from a distance
you don’t understand a word of what I’m saying
I’m speaking in a language
that you don’t want to hear because it’s not yours

I find myself returning to this basic question over and over again if not because of our audience then because of questioning myself. The lyrics for the song Óyela surfaced from this question that is somewhat personal to me as a songwriter and a singer. Somewhere along the way the lyrics became a part of an even bigger message that can be regarded as a kind of message of tolerance: Music is a universal language – why could it not function as a bridge between us people? If only we had the skill to listen to it.

Hablar es mucho más que palabras
una forma de música
tienes que escucharla
Oye, oye, óyela

Speaking is so much more than just words
a form of music
you have to listen to it
Hear it, hear it, hear it

Bajo Cero’s songs are written in Spanish. If they weren’t they wouldn’t be Bajo Cero’s songs. As I would not be me, should I take the easy way out and start writing the lyrics in my native language Finnish or in English. Anyway even though all our listeners might not fully understand all of our texts I do believe that the music does relate a feeling that in itself is a message.

No me voy a cambiar
lo que digo es la
la sonrisa en mi cara
suena como la musica

I will not change who I am
what I say is the truth
The smile on my face
Sounds like music

For me Óyela is a summer song. From the beginning I’ve always thought it to be that song that you sing with your hands up in the air at some summer festival, while the sun is setting on a lake and the Finnish festival folk is full of love and tolerance (and maybe just a little bit of beer too).

Waiting for the summer,

New music video out now!

Bajo Cero’s new music video Óyela is produced in collaboration with comic artist Ville Ranta. The ambitious objective of the video was to shoot it in one pass changing locations while Ville is making the drawings. After a month of preparation we almost pulled it off with couple of exceptions. The camera was attached to the highly modified movable drawing board which also held the key lighting setup for the whole video. Ville doesn’t actually appear in the video until the very last frames.

Music video by Bajo Cero performing “Óyela”
Directed by Okko Meinilä. Drawings by Ville Ranta
Script: Okko Meinilä, Ville Ranta, Kili Kauppi
Camera: Okko Meinilä, Joni Kesti
Thanks to: Tiina Junno, Kaisa Hurtig, Erick King, Bar Never Grow Old
© Impïria Records 2013

Buy the new record “Óyela” at Recordstore Äx or iTunes.

Bajo Cero releases a new music video

Bajo Cero releases their third music video on the first of April 2013. The video which is made to the title song of the band’s debut album “Óyela” is directed by the guitarist and songwriter Okko Meinilä. The video was made in collaboration with comic artist Ville Ranta who made the drawings seen on the video and also took part in planning of the manuscript.

A link to the music video will be published 1.4.2013.


The Song Navigator: Retransmisión / Reality Check

“La realidad no es la única verdad- The reality is not the only truth”.

Our song “Retransmision” has the most special place in my heart. It was written in times when I faced difficulties in my personal life. But as the chorus says “The reality is not the only truth”. What was reality in those days was not the only truth, although it seemed everything was gone. I was not able to see the truth because

“Soy una máquina rota

radio que no funciona

estoy buscando en esta confusión alguna señal”

“I am a broken machine

a radio that doesn’t work

I’m searching in amidst this confusion for any signal”

When a person is broken and lost, one looks for answers everywhere. When you stop looking, one really starts to see. There is a great difference in looking vs. seeing. And if you do not look for answers everywhere, you see them in yourself, if you stop and be present for what is “now”.

The song was born in front of a fireplace in my home. Me and Okko had been out having some beers. We ended up having an after party at my place. As we sat in front of the fireplace we started to jam. I told Okko that I have come up with a new violin theme (which starts the song and appears in the middle part too). I played the theme and we both had tears in our eyes (yes we were drunk and had this normal “you are a good guy”-phase going on). A couple of weeks later Okko had made a whole song out of it. Think it is a beautiful theme and song. Thanks to Anna for the beautiful lyrics too!


The Song Navigator: Paseando (sometimes you need no more than dance)

“To have some fun, sometimes that’s all you need, if you don’t know what you want, you don’t really need it. In my life it’s joy that has any meaning”

Bulería is flamenco´s party “palo”, in other words the rhythm for having fun. It is danced, played and sang together in the party until sunrise. It is a song, which traditionally ends the flamenco performance. But even though it may look as if the singers, dancers and players were just having fun together, they know the exact rules of how to “play” bulería. It doesn’t matter where you come from, you can speak bulería. Rhythm is the element that unifies people.

“Wearing this dark veil on my tired face. Feel like I see nothing clearly. Then you hold out your hand and on your side I know I’m not alone, with your eyes you guide me. “

Our song Paseando describes the story of the morning after party. We have been playing, singing and dancing together until the wee hours. When making music together, communality is a very important thing. You should also have some fun and unforgettable moments alongside the music. Bajo Cero is not just a band but a group of tightly knit friends, who share special moments together. Music and dance is universal, it unites people. We need evenings, when bulería is played throughout the night until sunrise!


The Song navigator: Hierro – Iron

I heard Hierro for the first time as a demo made by Okko and it became immediately one of my favorite songs. Hierro is like a compressed miniature portrait of Bajo Cero:fragile in a certain sense, but includes a lot of strength. The song starts acoustically and minimaly but the intensity grows through the whole song and in the end everything is at full blast. It has to be mentioned about the singing that even if you didn’t understand the lyrics, you can’t help but listen to Anna’s intensive interpretation.

As a player I’ve always enjoyed the most of those kind of songs that make you forget that you’re playing and you just focus on the feeling of the song. Hierro is one of these songs. You get sucked into the atmosphere of the song immediately and I think the song works best when listened your eyes closed and your head set on (preferably the same kind of head set that Anna uses in the music video of the song). Hierro is also a great song played live. The whole band obviously enjoys playing it and at least for myself Hierro is always one of the highlights in the show.


See also: Hierro music video on Youtube

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.