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Screaming Bloody Oranges: The Invisible Oranges Podcast

Episode 24: Tenhi’s ”Valkama” and the Passage of Time

Wed May 31 2023

The Screaming Bloody Oranges podcast

  • Hosted by Jonathan Rosenthal and Ted Newbell, with guest host Nathaniel from Musk Ox and Tiko and Ilmari from the band Tenhi.
  • The podcast discusses Tenhi's new album "Valkama" and their unique process of making music where albums float on top of each other.

"Valkama" album

  • Took a long time to create, capturing the essence of all their previous albums while remaining unique.
  • Features more present vocals and lead instruments compared to previous albums.
  • No specific design period, as the band works on a subconscious level and follows what they like.
  • Songs are in a flowing state and may take a long time to finish due to constant changes and rearrangements.
  • Band makes music for themselves first and foremost, not necessarily for commercial success or current trends.
  • Lead single "Sato" chosen by the label, but it fits as an introduction to the album's world and connects to previous albums.

Changes in sound and themes

  • Different sound compared to previous albums, with more social and intimate elements, female vocals, and gatherings.
  • Themes range back 20 years in time, drawing from the collective memory of the group.
  • More major key moments in the new album.
  • Original concept about an island from Finnish folklore changed to be more abstract.
  • Artwork reflects the change in concept, with a graphic style.
  • Band wanted to leave room for interpretation and not be political or topical.

Illustrations and artwork

  • Interest in creating an album with illustrations.
  • Happy with illustrations for current album, but had a different idea that would have taken longer to realize.
  • Parts of illustration work will be included in an art book.
  • Cover art features a painting of a book and is more colorful than previous albums.
  • Artwork meant to appeal to both listener and viewer's eye.

Music scene and influences

  • No nail folk or folk music scene in Finland, but a few bands have some relation musically to the dark folk genre.
  • Gothic scene in Central Europe is big and encompasses different styles of music.
  • Tenhi's band has varied songs that could fit into the dark folk category but also have drum-oriented rock songs.
  • Mixing of popular music today is very different from mixing of bands like King Crimson, Genesis, and Yes.
  • Umari's old band was a heavy metal band and many members are now involved with Tenhi.

Background and influences

  • Speakers met in art college and their bands emerged together.
  • Ulver was a major influence for one speaker when starting their band, along with other Norwegian black metal bands.
  • Intrigued by soundscapes and how different sounds can evoke emotion.
  • Still listen to the same bands they did as teenagers and their musical taste has come full circle.

Grooves and composition

  • Incorporation of groove in Tenhi's folk music, sometimes sounding like hip hop.
  • Grooves start with rhythm and build from there, using shamanic repetition and mathematical structures.
  • Shamanic repetition and grooves are similar in nature.
  • Improvisation plays a role in composition, with some parts thought out and others improvised.
  • Use of traditional instruments brings an organic feel to the music.
  • Mistakes and happy accidents embraced in acoustic music.

Texture and composition process

  • Tendi's music focused on texture and leaving fingerprints in the sound.
  • Struggle between sound and story can lead to trouble, especially with old acoustic instruments.
  • Composing on one guitar and recording with another can change the sound significantly.
  • Meet every Saturday at the studio to work on music together, also work individually throughout the week.
  • Mix, play instruments, and work on other aspects of their music during meetings.

Time signatures and orchestration

  • Groove in a song is in 10, similar to Indian classical music.
  • Time signature was not intentional and came naturally while crafting the song.
  • Tuko's approach to music is more intuitive, while Ilmari has an academic way of doing things.
  • Orchestration involves trying out different instruments and arrangements for each song.
  • Drums used to improvise piano parts in one song where the grand piano was in a different tune.

Happy accidents and live performances

  • Happy accidents have led to interesting parts of Tenhi's music.
  • Trial and error is a big part of their composing process, contributing to the length of time it takes to create an album.
  • Consider doing a concert with full control over visual elements, lights, and sound in a theatre setting.
  • Haven't played live much recently due to wanting to be in control of their music and not being able to replicate small nuances in a live situation.
  • If they were to play live, it would likely be in a more relaxed concert setting.

Future plans and side projects

  • "Lalcoma" album has a more traditional song approach, but plan to release more music sooner.
  • Hope to introduce themselves to a new generation of listeners with this album.
  • Anxious about whether older fans still remember them and if they are still around.
  • Nylon string acoustic guitar is one of their favorite instruments and takes the foreground in many lead guitar parts.
  • May have future side projects under the i-root saga name.

Personal experiences and reflections

  • Value the purity of their expression and do not want commercial aspects to affect it.
  • Tenhi's music created in a time when pure expression was valued over commodification.
  • Taking 10 years to release an album made Tenhi stand out from other artists chasing success.
  • Band values the craft of their art and prefers not to make a big noise about themselves or their work.
  • Band had a painful experience during a recent photoshoot and prefers natural settings for photographs.
  • Hope to work on new material soon and release it within a couple of years.

Personal lives and creative outlet

  • Children play instruments and hope to pass on music-making responsibilities to them.
  • Enjoy having a creative outlet that allows them to feel like children again.
  • Do not do studio work for other projects, prefer to focus on their own music-making process.
  • Approach to making music may not fit with others' preferences, as seen in their experience working with Tiko on the Maria Matlaur album.
  • Value the purity of their expression and do not want commercial aspects to affect it.

Podcast details

  • Called Screaming Bloody Oranges.
  • Hosted by Jonathan Rosenthal and Ted Newbell, with guest host Nathaniel from Musk Ox and Tiko and Ilmari from Tenhi.
  • Thank guest for speaking despite technical difficulties.
  • Will be back in two weeks.
  • Listeners can subscribe on various platforms including Apple podcasts, Spotify, and Google podcasts.
  • Post will be made on the website to accompany each episode.