Their shared music journey began almost three years ago, when Misha reached out to Halme to sample his track “Early Evening in Brazil”, a track which Misha later reworked with Monma for “Brazil“, an instrumental released through Chillhop in 2018.
It is a project that bridges the old with the new, born out of love for emotional Brazilian/Latin music, where they joined forces and created something new, rather than just sampling Jussi’s older records. Thanks to music, not only have they become friends, but they have also developed an almost father-son bond.
We spoke to them about their chemistry, their latest project, being a jazz/boogie musician in Finland in the 80s and today, and much more…
First of all we want to congratulate you both on the EP, are you guys excited?
Misha: Yes, very excited. It’s our first collaboration EP. Although we wrote quite many songs after we released “Brazil”, this is our first collaborative EP project.
Misha you’re visiting Jussi right?
M: Yes I am at their place. I will stay here for two nights, near a city called Tampere, in southern Finland, a very nice place. Jussi has a studio here, a lot of keyboards and synthesizers…
Could you guys introduce each other? Misha you can start!
M: I would call Jussi “the best kept secret in Finland”, he’s a very kind and talented musician, and I would also call him the uncrowned king of Finnish funk!
Jussi Halme: Ladies and gentlemen (drum roll) I would love to introduce my very special friend. First of all he’s a wonderful person, a big human being and a very talented producer, beat maker, composer, whatever you want… Misha is my boy!
Jussi, how was being a boogie/disco/jazz and funk musician in Finland in the 80s?
J.H.: It was like chaos. I think it’s a little bit still the same these days in Finland. Music culture in Finland comes strongly from melancholia, heavy metal music, rock, punk, etc., it doesn’t have anything to do with soul and funk and disco or boogie. In those times we didn’t have many places where to play that kind of stuff, but still I played with my band, like the famous Pori Jazz festival in 1979.
In the 80s there were some clubs here where you had the chance to play this kind of stuff, for example in Helsinki, and a few other ones. However, I understood then that I also had to do something else to earn money, and between 1979 and 1983 I did nearly 1000 gigs with other artists and bands, just as a keyboard player.
When you first started, what was the main struggle you experienced playing this type of music in a country where this genre/culture was very small?
J.H.: I had these gigs with other artists from 1979 until 1983 and then I decided that I had to stop because I wanted to do my own stuff. It was in my heart all the time. I was very young, I was 22, 23 years old and I decided that if I couldn’t make my own music, then I would have had to change job.
When I composed and released my song called “Funny Funk” in 1983, I didn’t mean for it to be a big hit, nothing like that. I just wanted to do it, but none of the radios wanted to play it. I also sent it to record companies and they said to me that I was crazy and I got a ‘no way’ answer from them. They just told me to do more like the Finnish stuff, melancholia, heavy, etc. and I said to them “I am not fucking heavy” (he laughs). It was quite hard and I was very young, but I never gave up.
“Funny Funk” was not a big hit, but after a few years, around 1987, TV producers started to contact me and they were very interested in my sound. That was a big start for me because they wanted me to make music for TV programs, so “Funny Funk” was the one little key for me to open that business with them. I have been doing music for nearly 100 TV shows/ films and it has been a very big thing for me and for my family. If I never did “Funny Funk”, maybe they would have not found me, but because it was so different from the other songs they hear in Finland, it happened like that, it’s so crazy.