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Interview with MeNaiset

Over the summer I made this song “above” a UC song of the day. It comes from the Finnish vocal artists “MeNaiset,” who are becoming one of the groups I appreciate the most and listen to the most often. My name is Nader Boulberhane, and as a major fan of this female commanded vocal ensemble, it is fair for me to say that it was an honor to ask some questions with Maari Kallberg from MeNaiset.

NB: When I share your music, people ask me "what genre is this?"....I have told them "Folk Music." I'd like to ask you. What is the exact genre of your music?

Maari Kallberg: The genre is folk music, in Finland we call it also contemporary folk music. Our music is traditional, they are also all our own compositions, which are based on tradition and improvisation.

There is a short article in the web site of Fimic (Finnish Music Information Centre) about contemporary or new folk music.

Click Here for FIMIC

I put here also the link to the doctoral dissertation which has made an American woman Juniper Hill about Finnish contemporary folk music. There is explanation for this genre in page 5.

Click Here for Dissertation

I gave this a look, and it is worth it.
***First Lines of the Dissertation Abstract
This dissertation provides an ethnographic account of the history, ideology, teaching methods, and current performance practices and creative processes of Finnish contemporary folk music, an urban, professional music using traditional Finnish folk music as a point of departure for contemporary, individualistic creations. It focuses primarily on the Folk Music Department of the Sibelius Academy music conservatory in Helsinki, where the genre was created and where its most important practitioners have studied or currently teach and work.

NB: How did you all meet? Moreover, how did MeNaiset get started?

Maari Kallberg: We met in Sibelius-Academy. All the members of MeNaiset studied at the department of folk music at the Sibelius-Academy.

NB: How many languages do you perform in? Or a better question, how many does the ensemble speak total? ;)

Maari Kallberg: We have songs in Finnish, Karelian, Estonian and Setu languages, Mordvin, both Erza- and Mokshamordvin, Russian. Actually I don´t remember how many languages we have.

NB: Wow!

Maari Kallberg: But Finnish, Karelian, Estonian and Setu are quite near each others. One of the members of MeNaiset (Anneli Kont-Rahtola) is Estonian. Erza and Moksha are also Finno-ugric languages, but we can´t speak in Mordvin. It is important to understand the story of the song what are you singing.

Some of us also speak Estonian and Russian languages.

NB: I confess I am unfamiliar with Mokshamordvin, but from the name alone it sounds awesome.

NB: Many people have an artist or song they listen to when they grow up that really makes an impact on their lives. For example during my "youth days" the band, Gamma Ray just had the most pleasing sound in the world to my ears. Or lately, I've been hooked on this Japanese song called "Sakura," which just makes the world stop. What musical artist made a major impact on you?

Maari Kallberg: Certainly the each members have their own artists and experiences which have made an impact, but as a group I think that our musical big thing has been the folk music itself. The early and old recordings in the archives, the stories of the runosongs, the sounds and harmonies of the vocal groups etc.

NB: Name one other recording artist/musician from Finland that you greatly admire.

Maari Kallberg: We can´t name the one artist, we have so many unique folk music artists and bands in Finland.

NB: Do you ever get nervous before performing or recording songs?

Maari Kallberg: No.

NB: In all honesty, I am glad to hear that you don't ever get nervous before performing and recording. I feel that way a lot…like with situations of public speaking or writing, I don't get nervous when other people do...I've always thought nervousness was all in the mind. I'm glad to hear a good example of a performer who has conquered that.

NB: What is one piece of advice you would give to aspiring musicians and artists?

Maari Kallberg: Our advice is, you have to believe in your music and in yourself.

NB: It's January, and we are in a brand new year...what are your plans for 2012. Any new Records? Concerts? Videos? What's new?

Maari Kallberg: We don´t have any special plans; however, we get support from the Kone foundation to do the new concert/ performance.

In the July we will perform in Mordovia with the mordvin group Toorama.

NB: Just thanks for taking time for The UC.

Maari Kallberg: Thanks to you.

For more information on MeNaiset and their available music and records, you can visit their website...Click Here

Who wants to share more folk music?


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