Friday, 19 September 2008

Finnish Romani tango musicians

It all started when mum sent me a YouTube link to the song Kuumat tuulet ("Hot winds") from the Aki Kaurismäki film Kauas pilvet karkaavat (Drifting Clouds), performed by Markus Allan, and swooned about how cute he was when he was young. I found a photo of the young Markus Allan on the record cover on the right - a compilation of Finnish tango music. Markus is, of course, in the middle. (You can buy the record here.)

Maybe it is appropriate to take a moment to explain something about Finnish tango. People unfamiliar with the eastern tango traditions might only think of tango as fiery and temperamental, but in Finland, tango is slow, dark and melancholic. (Russian tango is kind of like that, too.) There is a strong tradition of going out to dance, mostly to tango and various other types of schlager music, so there is a lot of demand for this type of music.

Some Finnish tango musicians are cute guys of Romani descent.

Dimitri (Sjöberg) was born 1980 in Vammala.
At the age of 14 he participated in the preliminaries of Tangomarkkinat ("the tango market", the big tango festival in Seinäjoki). However, he was still too young, and had to wait another two years: at 16, he got to the semifinals and was made "Prince of Tango" in 1997. In the following year he won the same title again.

After his victories in Seinäjoki Dimitri dropped his last name and called himself only Dimitri.

Dimitri has no formal musical education, but he not only sings, but plays guitar and piano as well.

Here is his profile (in Finnish) at the venue Halssin lava in Nilsiä ...

Saska Helmikallio is another young and charming singer. He was born in Helsinki, also in the year 1980.
In 2005 he was crowned "King of Tango" at Seinäjoki (the second Rom to have won the title after Sebastian Ahlgren in 1997).

Next year Saska Helmikallio will be acting at the Imatra theater as the main character of the play Rakkauden rikkaus ("the riches of love"), which tells the story of the legandary tango singer Taisto Tammi, who died at a young age.

Here is Saska Helmikallio's official website, with some photos. Unfortunately they are quite small. Auraviihde, on the other hand, has a few high-resolution photos of him for press use, and a short audio clip.
Here is a slightly disturbing Titanic-themed fan made music video with his song Niinkuin tähdet ("like stars") ...

Finally, Benja (Jean-Benjamin Rooth) became known as a child star when he made his first solo album at 11 years. He studied music at the conservatory, and later on piano, composing and arrangement with a private teacher. In 1995, when he was 16, Benja won the competition Syksyn sävel ("autumn song") together with the duo Pelimannet (whose name is a pun on "pelimanni", musician, and "manne", a common, perhaps slightly derogatory, term for Roma among Finns). They toured together and recorded an album. Benja continues to make music and works in various studio projects.


ainur said...

Great! I thought about exactly the same things! (Maybe because Mum spammed me too...)

ainur said...

Sorry for all the censored comments, but I wasn't sure if the last guy was Benja or somebody else. Turns out I confused him with someone older. Always double-check...

Tinet said...

Aww, how could you doubt Benja's cuteness?
You can see him very briefly together with Pelimannet in this video ...

Tinet said...

If someone is as cute as Benja, I always double check. ;o)

bubu said...

Kymppiheikin verkkokaupasta musaa!

Huh, en oo selvinny eilisestä illasta vieläkään, vaikka oonkin rutistellu Cindyä kainalot märkinä.

Musta on tullu vanha, kun muistelen kaipauksella nuoruuttani... .