Jaakko Eino Kalevi is proud to announce details of his new self-titled album, due for release 15 June 2015, and his first full-length album on Weird World. 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.”
On the strength of ‘Dreamzone’ tracks like ‘No End’ and ‘Memories’, Jaakko spent 2014 playing shows and festivals across the UK, Europe and Japan, bringing his unique vision to life. In the summer of 2014, he released the ‘Yin Yang Theatre’ EP, a bohemian disco six-tracker for New York DJ Tim Sweeney’s Beats In Space label, which demonstrated just how diverse and enticing he is.
In the periods between shows, Jaakko would work on the album in various studios in his native Helsinki, where he’d write, play, record and sing almost everything himself. Suad Khalifa, who sang ‘No End’, sings with Jaakko on ‘Double Talk’, ‘Deeper Shadows’, ‘Room’ and ‘Hush Down’, while the voice of Sonja Immonen graces the truly epic ‘Ikuinen Purkautumaton Jännite’. Jorja Renn – who often performs live with Jaakko as well as for a certain Bryan Ferry – plays saxophone on that track as well as on ‘Say’ and ‘J.E.K.’.
The album was already recorded by the time Jaakko relocated to Berlin last summer, and so later in the year he escaped to New York to mix the record with Nicolas Vernhes, the man with the Midas touch whose recent credits include The War On Drugs and Run The Jewels.
The warmth and body Nicolas 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.
On the velvet swirl of ‘J.E.K.’, he introduces himself, quite elegantly, in Finnish. Then follows ‘Double Talk’, a sublime love song in the opiated vein of ‘No End’, as well as ‘Deeper Shadows’, an addictive slice of exotic R&B, and the sultry new-wave of ‘Say’. All this before the album’s six-minute centrepiece, live favourite ‘Mind Like Muscle’, which features Jaakko repeating the mantra “Break the self/ And build it again/ Again and again” over glowing synths until the whole thing swells to a majestic crescendo. “If you say something once it’s different than saying it ten times,” says Jaakko. “Sometimes words lose their meaning in repetition, but sometimes they become stronger.”
After steamy canter ‘Night at the Field’, Jaakko reveals his softer side in the smoky Gainsbourg blues of ‘Don’t Ask Me Why’ and the tender, late-night taxi ride of ‘Room’. At the end, the handsome disco strut of ‘Hush Down’ gives way to ‘Ikuinen Purkautumaton Jännite’, a psychedelic rococo odyssey – or “pursuit of bliss”, as Jaakko puts it.
Born and raised near the central Finnish lakeland city of Jyväskylä, Jaakko’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.
Jaakko Eino Kalevi 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.