Kalle Kalima

Do you know Kalle Kalima ? This finnish guitarist is a very active member of jazz in Berlin. He played two years ago in Reims with the amazing trio Johnny La Marama. A few questions are indispensable...

You studied first piano, then you choose guitar. Why did you choose this instrument ?

I was twelve and got very interested in Beatles and Pink Floyd. I thought electric guitar was cool and I still do.

You are now leaving in Berlin I think. Why did you left Finland and choose Berlin ?

I first came in Berlin 1998 as an exchange student to study at the Hanns Eisler Music University. I went a lot to jam sessions and concerts on that year and realised that the scene in Berlin is very interesting. A lot of interesting creative music, improvisers, noise rock, electro pop. And besides music there is loads to see. Berlin has become a sexy city for artists also because it is cheap to live here.

You recorded with french guitarist Marc Ducret : can you tell us more about this experience and about the music of Marc ?

I had a chance to open up for Marc's trio on a small tour in Finnland in 2000 with my group Nuijamiehet. I was already a fan of his but to hear him 5 nights in a row was great. He has a unique way on the instrument. I asked him to join my Trio in Studio for 5 tunes and he somehow fitted our group perfectly. I thought having two guitars would be interesting and the Cd got nice reviews.

You came in Reims for a concert two years ago. I was also here. And at the end of the concert I heard two guys talking together and saying something like "Johnny La Marama is a kind of little brother of Fred Frith Massacre". What do you think about that ?

I think that is a fine compliment. Although I´d like to know more Fred´s music what I have heard I have enjoyed. We have now a new album "Fire" out with Johnny La Marama (Have you heard it ?) and I think we are now going even deeper in our own musical world which is strange mixture of free elements, hip hop, kraut rock and jazz.

What is the part of jazz influence in your music : how do you feel about jazz history / legacy ?

Well, I got a proper jazz education in Sibelius academy and at Hanns Eisler in Berlin. During the years of studing I was playing a lot of mainstream jazz gigs. I think learning that music is good base for a improviser in creative music scene but it is not enough alone. I just played on a project with Anthony Braxton in Finland with finnish musicians and there were fine improvisers from a classical background in this project. It is important to respect the tradition but if you conserve music and restrict its developement it is going to die and this has happened to lot of so called jazz music as we know it. I think my music is coming from jazz but is not only jazz. It has also other sources: rock, new music, world music... I would call my music "avant groove music" or "creative music" or "apples not oranges - music". This words are all problematic, you know.

In which way improvisation (in music) can influence your way of living : I mean, improvisation could be a philosophy of live....

I think improvising as philosophy can be seen as a way trying to seize the moment. Improviser is living in the present time. If he is a good improviser he can remember some past and see a little bit in the future but it is usually close to the present time. That is the strength there but sometimes also the weakness. I think music can be truly great if improvised and composed elements are combined in a balanced and flowing way. I think almost all the people and for sure all the children can improvise.

Can you tell us more about Momentum Impakto and about your collaboration with Daniel Erdmann ?

We started this trio with John Schröder in 1999. It is a very special group where a lot is left to spontaneity. We try to avoid over intelluctal concepts and just play and have fun. I think the group has a very unique raw sound. Unfortunally the group hasn´t been able to perform a lot because it is not free jazz, mainstream jazz or jazz rock and a lot of venues find it somehow not fitting. The two cds we made have some cult fans, though. I played with Daniel in some other projets (Chritoph Studer' s Heidi´s Bouillie with Linda Sharrock) and it is always great with him because he is a fine communicator as a musician.

Have you ever think to leave Berlin for New York like Chris Dahlgren ?

Well actually Chris left New York and moved to Berlin... That is the trend anyway. A lot of musicians are coming to Berlin because it is uprising city for music. I think New York has great history but the things I´ve experinced with america lately are not inviting. I think the whole country is going in bad direction. I lived there 1990-1991 and thought that 2004 things have gotten worse when I toured there.

Next projects ? Next recordings ?

My group Klima Kalima is working on a new cd that is coming out in the fall. I´m also working on a solo cd with only guitar (but sometimes layers of them). These things will keep me busy. I´m playing in France with Jimi Tenor in the fall (16.11, Paris).

Interview by Jean Delestrade