Deep in the heart in the land of a thousand lakes lies the country’s best kept secret. Founded in 1996, TENHI have masterfully carved out a niche with their unique style of neo progressive folk music. Drawing parallels between nature and the human soul, the band create compelling, introspective soundscapes that speak directly to the soul. APESHIT spoke with TENHI mainman Tyko Saarikko about their mystical world and their amazing new album, Maaï¿½et.
APESHIT: First off, congratulations on creating such a fine record in Maaï¿½et!
Tyko: Thanks for your words. We are very pleased with it.
APESHIT: Most of our readers are probably unfamiliar with TENHI. Can you please give us a brief history on how the band came together?
Tyko: I founded TENHI in late 1996 after writing songs for some of my drawings. I asked Ilkka [Salminen] to join in for recording the demo, Kertomuksia, which led to a deal with Prophecy with whom we have been working since. Ilmari [Issakainen] joined in soon after and has been also a driving force behind TENHI from those days on, bringing the unseen a bit closer.
APESHIT: TENHI has a unique sound to say the least. You guys have major folk influences. Can you please describe how you got into this genre of music? Are you mainly inspired by Finnish folk influences?
Tyko: We have common metal music background from which TENHI in a way evolved. I listen to folk music but not much as before. I can’t say that folk music has affected our way, as we are pretty far from traditional folk music scene. What connects us to that scene is mostly our use of instruments, which are mostly acoustic. We just paint our visions on musical canvas without thinking of certain scenes but still we have very clear vision of our musical path we are on.
APESHIT: How about your metal influences? There must be some metal artists who influence TENHI’s songwriting.
Tyko: As I stated we all have been listening metal bands from our teenage years and I still admire the classic bands of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. They have been huge inspiration for making music but that haven’t affected the way we make it, like I enjoy DANZIG a lot but I can’t say we have too many similarities in our music.
APESHIT: The three of you are multi-instrumentalists. Can you please give us your musical backgrounds?
Tyko: Ilmari is the only one who has had some musical education for drums and piano, I and Ilkka are self taught. We don’t concentrate too much on technical aspects in playing, the interpretation is far more important, to get the right feel to it, the rest is more or less irrelevant.
APESHIT: Maaï¿½et centers around themes of nature. Since the lyrics are all in Finnish, can you please tell us about the themes/concepts that you cover lyrically?
Tyko: They are poems and plays in nature’s set-up. They are feelings that occur in that husky landscape. The scenery is always on the background…in a sense it is an own world where the TENHI‘s music dwells.
APESHIT: I find your music to be extremely spiritual and soulful. To what extent does TENHI’s music reflect your personal beliefs and feelings?
Tyko: It is us and extension to us. It is one door for imagination to flow, a channel for me as an artist.
APESHIT: It’s easy to envision you three setting up your instruments in the middle of the deep forest covered in mist somewhere and just absorbing your surroundings and writing music. Is that far off from the truth? How did the songs come together for Maaï¿½et? Is it usually an arduous task to create an album?
Tyko: It is pretty much like that only that we usually work alone with the song and then just represent it to others when the main theme is ready. Most of the Maaï¿½et songs were written by me and Ilmari. The first idea was to make an “band” album in short sessions and with just few takes but we once again ended up trying different approaches and arrangements which led to very long sessions till we were satisfied with the result.
APESHIT: There aren’t many bands that are in same musical universe as you. Perhaps, some of your labelmates on Prophecy Productions come closest. Who do consider to be your peers, if any?
Tyko: I have noticed some bands popping up which have similarities to our style and it is kind of flattering, yet I am not stating that we have started something special ourselves, it is just that we think our music to the bone with all graphics and lyrics etc. included, which forms style, that is easy to recognize.
APESHIT: Is it a difficult task to organize live performances given the fact that there are so many instruments involved? What is the live TENHI experience like?
Tyko: It has been a problem for us to play live due to that, we have had seven people on stage when we have performed but now it seems we can’t do that anymore as the four session members are far too busy with their own projects so that is why we haven’t been playing in far too long time. We are planning to make some more special acoustic gigs with just few members so we could finally go on a tour. We will see how that idea will start to live.
APESHIT: With each release, you have expanded your sound whether it be with new instruments or incorporating new moods. What does the future hold for your next release?
Tyko: The next release will be our 10th year celebration album with unreleased and rare songs and also alternative takes. It will also include some of my graphics made for the songs. It should be released next winter.