DEAR INTERNATIONAL PEOPLE,
Hi and welcome to read my blog about the life of a Finnish folk musician. I'm going to open my everyday life a bit and tell you what do I actually do for living and how does it feel. Of course I can only tell about myself and my days are obviously Leija-like, since no other folk musician lives the same life than me. Even if you travel with your band mates your days can turn out different. I feel very excited to start this! And I really appreciate comments, feedback and topic ideas, so please leave a comment here or email me whenever you feel like it! I'm going to write in Finnish and English so if you aren't up for Google Translating my Finnish stories, please click yourself here to the Blog in English page and you'll find something else! :)
So let's begin!
W H O A M I A N D W H A T D O I D O
My name is Leija and I'm a professional folk musician from Finland. At this point I usually get asked 'oh wow, can you make a living out of that?'. My answer, luckily enough, has been yes for now! I play melodeon (a diatonic accordion) and harmonium, a little bit mandolin and I sing as well. I play in several bands. The most active of them at the moment are the trad girl power band ENKEL and Finnish-Danish-Swedish Floating Sofa Quartet. My other bands are Haka (almost 15 years of modern Finnish folk songs!), Sheehan/Lautamaja (combining Irish and Nordic traditions on two different kind of melodeon) and the acoustic folk-punk combo VIHREET-HOMOT. Sometimes I still play with the group I learned to play accordion with, Alavuden Kaksiriviset (The Melodeons of Alavus). I'm also part of a Nordic harmonium project called Marja-Liisa Orgelsuite (NO-SE-FI) lead by a Norwegian composer Mariann Torset.
Besides the bands and different projects I also perform solo. I have a repertoire of modern folk songs, partly written myself and partly traditional. At the moment I perform solo if needed but my dream is to get back working on songwriting and my solo material. You will probably hear more about that – in good and bad!
I absolutely love performing and maybe that's why I ended up being a musician. Besides gigging I also teach different kind of things attached to folk music and dance. At the moment I'm leading a band of youngsters (oh my, they're so good!) and a couple of instrument students. I also give workshops and short courses. Lately there has been workshops like Finnish 3-beat tunes, Arranging folk music and Dancing Finnish polka. 8)
The latest passion of mine is social folk dancing. I mean, dancing as my passion is not new. But working with it and trying to spread it out there is! I learned to dance as a kid. As I wrote, I learned to play the accordion in this big accordion group and we performed a lot. Usually there was not much to do for children at the night time at festivals and the dance floor was maybe the only place where underaged people could go. So I went and learned all the different folk dances by imitating what the adults did. Nowadays I never miss a good change to dance! To create more of those changes I united with two wonderful human beings, Saana Kujala and Riina Hosio, and started Nordic Dance Helsinki a year ago! It's a regular dance club for social dancing that's based on Nordic traditional dances. By social folk dancing I mean spending time and connecting with people by dancing. So it's not a performance but communication and being in the moment. Our first ever spring season just ended and I'm looking so much forward to get rolling again in the autumn. In a year our crowd grew four times bigger than it was in the beginning and it's been so nice to see people learning and enjoying to dance. And also to play for them dancing!
U N O F F I C I A L F A C T S
I like books, mostly novels. This year I'm trying to read a book per week. So far I'm following the schedule!
I absolutely love Finnish spring nights. Especially around Easter time when you start to see the ground under snow and ice, sunsets are amazing but it's still a bit chilly.
My favourite tune at the moment is Buster Keatonin valssi.
My secret hobby atm is to study Danish. In my head I think I can speak it quite well but unfortunately it doesn't come out at all. We'll see if I never manage to say a word!
T H A N K Y O U
for reading this first ever blog post up 'til the end! I'll write more soon. And if you have any questions, comments or even ideas for blog posts, please don't hesitate to comment or email me!
Until next time, enjoy the spring sun!