This week we interviewed singer-songwriter Juhani Valkama. You can find his profile HERE.

Please introduce yourself.
I’m Juhani Valkama, singer-songwriter and theatre director from Tampere. I have been making music for all my life, there are 2 albums I’ve released: Musical soundtrack album Vakivaltamusikaali (Eclipse Music 2008) and my own solo album Kahleet (Eclipse Music 2009). I’ve also written a lot of stage music for theatre and music for TV. I’m also a musician in an improv theatre, Tampereen improvisaatioteatteri Snorkkeli.

How did you start making music? Which came first, theatre or music?
Music came first and has always been an essential part of my life. I wrote songs already before going to school. I got interested in theatre in very early age too, probably when I was around  7 years old. I was excited to act in school plays and I wanted to plan my own theatre productions. Later I studied Theatre and Drama Research in Tampere University and got Master of Arts -degree.

How would you describe your music?
I have always been interested in music which is hard to label or categorize, because music, I believe, is limitless – we just want to label it so we can understand it more easily. My idols are, for example, Scott Walker and Sting – it’s really difficult to define what kind of music they are making. Also in my music there are several influences from many kinds of music: it’s a mixture of ballads, schlager, pop, rock, jazz and even folk songs. I have made pop songs, choral works, reggae and even some atonal pieces – still I hope it’s all me :)

Tell us little about your creative process?
When it comes to songs, I normally write the lyrics first, or at least some parts of lyrics. Lyrics are important to me. I also have some riffs or musical ideas for a song. Then I just try to find a path where those musical ideas and lyrics will find each other. Some times they do, some times they don’t. I do this all the time. :)

You have also composed a full-length musical. Can you tell us about it?
It was an attempt to create a different kind of musical. It was about Russia and Chechnya conflict and the main subject was violence (it was called A Musical of Violence – Vakivaltamusikaali in Finnish). The idea was to let the subject of violence beat the form of musical and see what happens. We tried to make it an entertaining show as well as an emphatic statement for humanity and justice. As a composer, I tried to link Slavic music with more traditional musical music and modern rock.

What is the best thing about being in a performing artist? 
The interaction with the audience – the shared encounter with the performer and the listeners where the focus is in music.

The most memorable show you performed?
One of the most memorable was in this summer, in a songwriters festival called Ekakerta. It was a lovely event, perfectly sunny Finnish summer  day and there were a lot of enthusiastic listeners. As soon as my gig started it started to rain heavily and almost everyone in the audience left. Once my gig ended, the sun and the audience came back. It wasn’t the best day. :)

If you could choose, which artist would you like to see live? Dead or alive.
I would like to see the Beatles, Doors and Nirvana, also Jacques Brel would be cool. I’m lucky that I have seen Stevie Wonder and Bruce Springsteen.

Tell us about your regular hang out? Have you ever had a gig there?
I don’t actually have a regular hang out. When I was in Tampere Student Theatre we used to hang out in a cafe/bar called Piika & Renki (Maid & Drudge) which was a lovely place. My friend and me wrote a hymn of praise for the place. Another great place in Tampere and full of feeling is Telakka. I had my first record premiere there.

Future projects we should know about?
There are many new songs that are waiting to see a light of day. You should keep an eye on my web or FB page (www.juhanivalkama.com).

Which artist would you like to see being interview by BTA? Which one question would   you ask them?
Tapio Ylinen. If he could choose only one song, what would be his desert island song of choice?

Thanks Juhani! See you guys next week!

-BTA TEam

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