Guitar virtuoso Erja Lyytinen’s spring will be primarily taken up with the release of a new album and a Finnish concert tour in February. In addition, dancing has also become an enjoyable pastime, as a result of a certain TV program.
The sweet sound of Erja Lyytinen’s slide-guitar can already be heard on five of her own albums, as well as two compilations. Her reputation is growing all the time, and there have been plenty of gigs on the estrades of Finland and Europe. So well in fact, that that the guitar virtuoso can now, literally, pick and choose the venues for her performances.
– A new album, Forbidden Fruit, will be released in January, and we will celebrate it with a four-week-long tour in Finland, says Lyytinen.
Still this year, Lyytinen will tour Sweden and Denmark with her band, after which, they will then head towards the UK and the Netherlands early next year. A month after the Finnish tour, the travels will continue, at least towards France and Switzerland.
– We will also try to become more active in Germany, and we have achieved a comfortable foothold in England. I am happy about how well we have been received there.
Invitations to take part in festivals are continually being received from the United States and Canada, but so far, no time has been found in the band’s schedule to make such a trip possible to organize.
– Touring life is regularly irregular – smooth and irregular at the same time. In particular, touring in Europe is wonderful, since gigs take place so much earlier than they do in Finland. Shows usually start at about eight or nine o’clock in the evening, then the set takes a couple of hours, leaving time afterwards to chat with the fans. By twelve, we are already sleeping back at the hotel.
– I also take care of a large number of interviews during the concert tours. If necessary, I can pop into a local radio station, perform a couple of songs and do a promo, in a way, it goes along with the job.
– I personally feel that the audience gets more out of the music, when it is listened to earlier in the evening. Besides which – a woman needs her beauty sleep, Lyytinen says with a laugh.
Music samples, concert dates and much more can be found at www.facebook.com/erjalyytinen.
In own studio
– The upcoming album is quite bluesy, and I am very satisfied with it. The album sounds really good and the guitar sounds are better than ever. Davide Floreno, who is carrying out the mixing, has a good perspective on what the album should sound like. We didn’t want it to be too hifi, nor too Mississippi. Modern sounds make modern blues rock!
In addition to their own songs, the album also includes cover songs, which Lyytinen has played at her concerts. The covers have been strictly modified, in the band’s own distinctive way.
-There will be in-depth topics, that is, interpersonal dramas, in which we all like to mill around, Lyytinen says humorously.
Lyytinen and the band have recorded the album in their own production facilities in Helsinki. The “cellar” that functions as the recording location itself left its own rough tone to the music, she says.
Album sales are going against the flow
The record industry is suffering as a result of falling sales and freely distributed music. Blues music, however, does not seem to be suffering from the same problems.
– My album sales have continued to increase, we have been constantly on the upswing, says Lyytinen.
– Even the record label should be very satisfied that the last cd + dvd package, Songs from the Road, entered the sales charts. It is pretty amazing that a live DVD, containing blues music, was able to chart.
Perhaps the sales of blues albums have been given a boost by the sale of albums at gigs. If an audience member likes the gig, they often want to buy an album as a souvenir.
Permit suggests to Lyytinen that blues music is music for middle-aged men.
– Perhaps sometime in the past, but it’s not been like for years, comes the prompt response.
-The blues hit home for me already when I was just 17 or 18 years old, when I saw Ray Charles performing Georgia on my Mind during music class at school. I decided straight away that that was the path that I was going to follow. It was such an awesome feeling.
Authenticity is the most important thing
Lyytinen was born in Kuopio, Finland, and was able to live there for twenty years before she departed for the big wide world.
– My parents played in a dance ensemble, my father on guitar and my mother on bass, and I was already able to attend gigs when I was only 15 years old. It felt pretty amazing.
She studied at Kuopio Conservatory, received strong classical training in the violin, and later studied guitar on a pop / jazz- study line.
– I have always longed for authenticity in music, and I was already annoyed by the professional side of the conservatory, as many people believed that music should be technically challenging, with the trickiest tracks. Of course, techniques are important, but if what you are doing is not accompanied by any emotion, you shouldn’t get up on stage. At that moment, the playing would be just an activity. Of course, techniques can help you to express what you want to say, the matters are interlinked.
Role model for young musicians
The status of women in the music business has changed over the last decade. Lyytinen has been one of the new generation of artists, who have acted as role models for countless numbers of young girls.
– Many young girls come to our gigs with their middle-aged fathers and are excited that they, too, would be able to do something similar.
– It’s great to get to work as a woman, especially now, when I have figured out how rare it is. People come to tell me that they think what I’m doing is so great and how they gain something personal from the music.
Lyytinen has always considered it to be natural for men and women to work together in the music business, and play all kinds of instruments.
– Women are also, increasingly, becoming guitarists, as well as specialists on other instruments that are generally considered to be the realm of men, and not just singers. I think that it has been great that I have managed to break the gender roles and those invisible boundaries that people still believe in to a certain extent.
Good music is good music, no matter the race or gender.
A passion for dancing from a TV program
Erja was involved in the Dancing with the Stars TV program during the autumn.
– I managed to dance on the program for over two and a half months, during which, there were five live broadcasts, I got to wear five stunning costumes and learned five choreographies. It was just a great experience.
– I’m really happy that I was able to participate, even though our traditional five-week long overseas tour had to be moved to the following year. I also had to do a couple of gigs during the dancing competition, and it definitely took a small toll on my dance performances.
– Nowadays, I regularly go to dance classes, and dance has become for wonderful pastime for me. I will continue to dance, for as long as I have the energy to do so. I will, however, face quite a dilemma on how I will be able to exercise during our spring tour, she says.
Lyytinen was also interested in the tailor-made dance costumes that were worn by the contestants.
– We were given the possibility to buy the costumes for ourselves and I bought my wonderful- cha cha outfit. It is a cat woman like outfit, with a lot of shiny elements. All the other competitors told me that “it looks so much like you”. It is also one that I can also surely wear at gigs.
Dancing is a great way to recharge your batteries, says Lyytinen, it combines music and exercise. It gives a good feeling, your patience will grow and a good mood is created.
Her tour dates you´ll find in her Facebook-page.
Text and photo by Kari Martiala