1 May 2016

Recording Maija Kauhanen in Helsinki

Earlier this year I enjoyed a one-week visit to Helsinki wearing my producer's hat (furry with ear-muffs), working with the remarkable Maija Kauhanen - expert player of the kantele (Finland's national instrument, British types might call it some kind of zither), singer, percussionist and composer/songwriter of artfully undulating soundscapes, generating sparse skeins of silvery sonority, glittering as snow-dripped pine trees in a Nordic forest in the long sunlight, rising to intense rhythmic blocks of deep texture, channeling the wordless, nature-communing joiking tradition or unflinchingly delineating dark tales of abuse and murder, a lullaby laden with foreboding as well as, of course, a story of the mystery of young love.
Maija at her kantele surrounded by interesting microphones

Recording took place at the excellent Ambient Studios, discreetly located above an auto-mechanics' workshop in an industrial area, and a veritable storehouse of vintage gear including a fine old Neve analogue desk and an exciting stock of microphones including some elderly but still proudly functioning RCA ribbon mics.

Master recording technician Joonas Saikkonen at the Neve desk.

As Maija writes and performs her songs best in organic fashion - singing, playing kantele and percussion at the same time - that was how we recorded her, without (except for one song) the aid of click-tracks. So each song is a performance. There are some with additional overdubs, but everything you hear is sung and played by Maija.

Vintage RCA ribbon microphone used on all vocals

 Mixing is currently drawing to a close between North Wales and Finland. Watch this space for more news!!

The team

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