Timo Kiiskinen, Petri “Rähjä” Räisänen and Albert Ahti used to live in a big, old villa named Honkasyrja in East Helsinki in the late 80s. They were called the Honkasyrja’s Indians, as they lived an isolated life in the woods, by the sea. They converted the potato cellar into an authentic Finnish smoke sauna, where they held huge sauna parties with shamanic singing performances. The back garden was home for Albert’s goat and chicken, and for Rähjä’s rats. The guys were easily recognizable from a long distance due to their wild look, complete with long hair and the smell of goat.
All of them were interested in philosophy, spirituality, and different types of music. Timo made his first recordings, one of them being the Finnish radio hit “Hullu Helena.” In 1989, Rähjä found Ashtanga yoga and got hooked into that. Timo kept writing more good lyrics and songs, and Albert was involved in his artist’s world.
In the 90s, the guys left the villa and lost their close connection for many years. In 2003-04, Rähjä and Timo reconnected in Helsinki. Timo was now a professional musician and had won the Emma, the biggest songwriter award in Finland. Rähjä had become an internationally-recognized yoga teacher and was based in New York City.
One day, when Timo and Rähjä were hanging out in Timo’s apartment in Hakaniemi, Helsinki, they started to sing old shamanic incantations. There, cross-legged on the floor, two old friends came up with idea for Korpivaara folk/world music band. The instruments used were an old plastic garbage can, clapping hands, and a broken guitar, along with Timo’s voice and Rähjä’s throat singing. In this way, sitting on the floor, using whatever was close-by and following the vibe, Korpivaara was conceived.
Timo and Rähjä kept rehearsing new songs, to which Rähjä’s new mythological lyrics and Timo’s music had been added. The first record was made in 2005, which included funny video clips such as one with Timo singing and playing with one of the their instruments, the garbage can, on his head.
Kari “Reiska” Reiman was Timo’s good friend and an ex-Varttina member. Varttina is the most successful Finnish folk- music band, worldwide. A talented musician whose main instrument is the violin, Reiska was also able to play several kinds of traditional instruments like drums, flute, and string instruments, among others. Timo invited Reiska to play in Korpivaara and he didn’t hesitate to join in. In December 2008, Reiska built a bass violin, or Korpivaara violin, from a shaman’s drum. It consisted of a piece of plank wood, bass violin strings and it became the foundation of Korpivaara’s sound.
Korpivaara’s lyrics are based on healing words found in ancient traditions and rituals due to Rähjä’s interest in both Finnish and World mythologies. Add to this his involvement in the Punk movement of the 1970s and 80s, and these lyrics have a raw, sarcastic edge.
The music and melodies are mainly Timo’s creations, but they are performed by Reiska, who plays all the instruments and sings in the chorus. With his deep voice and long experience as a singer/songwriter, Timo is the main singer, with Rähjä taking the lead in some songs. Rähjä’s extensive practice with throat singing adds a hypnotic background sound similar to that found in a Buddhist monastery.
Timo Kiiskinen: vocals/songwriter
Kari “Reiska” Reiman: instruments
Petri “Rähjä” Räisänen: vocals(throat singing)/lyrics
Korpivaara’s first demo was made in December 2008 at Reiska’s home studio in Vihti, Finland. Some songs include two former Varttina singers: Sirpa Reiman (Kari’s wife) and Susan Aho.
Enjoy the Korpivaara sound !
Petri “Rähjä” Räisänen
Ratakatu 5B 19
+358 40 57 25 113