Finnish musician Rasmus creates eclectic music by blending sounds of assorted instruments. He will present two concerts in the city
On a bright windy morning, 36-year-old Finnish musician Rasmus Pailos sits at Springr in Mattancherry surrounded by an assortment of instruments. There’s a melodica, a recorder, tambourines, a kalimba, a baby keyboard, a drum machine, synthesizers and much else, all popping out of a wooden case that Rasmus calls “The Box”. Unlike Pandora’s Box of evils, this one comprises all things wonderful that make Rasmus’ eclectic sound.
In Kochi to perform two experimental electronica gigs as a solo artiste, Rasmus says this side of him is one he indulges only outside his mainstream career with several Finnish bands. Back home, he alternates between accordion, keyboard, percussion and guitar for the popular Finnish act Jätkäjätkät that blends hip-hop, reggae and rap.
He also tours with an instrumental jazz troupe, as well as an eight-piece local band in his hometown Fiskars. “I got into electronic music about five years ago as a project for myself. When you’re with many bands, it’s nice to do things for yourself sometimes,” he says. In this time though, he’s done just a handful of shows, most of them in Finland with one in India two years ago.
Rasmus says his music usually centres around a drum and bass line over which he begins experimenting chord progressions. This process probably arises from his musical education in Finnish folk music with a specialisation in percussion. He began studying drums and clarinet at the age of 10, followed that up with the guitar and eventually went to music academy for formal studies. “At the academy, I was surrounded by people who were interested in very different genres of music. We had the freedom to try different styles and choose what we wanted to learn. I was interested in the rhythm patterns of different kinds of folk dances and songs.” He even went on to learn Afro-Cuban percussion such as congas and bongos. This interest remains even today with Rasmus recording Panchavadyam and Chendamelam sounds during his travels to Kerala, besides street musicians in Tiruvannamalai. He has also hand made percussion instruments such as a marimba from diseased tree branches in Finland and steel pans from aluminium.
At his Kochi concerts, Rasmus plans to put together electronic loops with his acoustic instruments. “I will also be singing in English, rapping in Finnish, with some Hindi throw in as well as an indigenous South American language, Quechua.” His songs range from light and funny observations to existential questions. ‘Bombay Eye’ for instance jokes about the eye infection Rasmus catches every time he’s exposed to Mumbai’s pollution. ‘Giant Mosquito’, on the other hand, asks whether one is more than one’s body and mind. “I make my electronic music usually by establishing the basic loops first. As I listen to it over and over again, new ideas to play with different instruments just come,” he says. Rasmus’ stage name is Rasmoose and he will play a solo set today at Cafe Papaya from 8.00 p.m. onward. On March 5, he will perform at Springr Studios at 8.00 p.m. followed by DJ VIV3K and Street Academics.