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  • Writer's pictureThe Sound Cafe

Finnish Multi-Instrumentalist, Composer, Arranger & Producer Matti Kallio To Release Third Album

Finnish multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger and producer Matti Kallio is set to release his third album Waterfjord, inspired by Irish traditional music.

Originally from Finland and now based in Iceland, Matti has worked on over 200 albums and countless live performances all over the world. Waterfjord features a combination of traditional tunes and self-composed numbers written over a 20-year period.

Thought to be the first Finnish musician to make an Irish trad album in Ireland, Matti cites beloved button accordionists Jackie Daly and Mairtin O'Connor as major sources of inspiration in the genre, having met and received lessons from them both in Finland over 20 years ago.

Matti said: “I started playing Irish trad in the mid-90s and toured Finland extensively with my Irish band back then. Even though my career took me to other genres and to the studio to work as a session musician, producer and engineer, I never stopped playing Irish trad. It felt like a natural progression to make a full album of the music I love… I actually made the last few tunes on my previous album jigs, so anyone who was paying attention might have seen this coming!”

In order to immerse himself in Irish culture and make the album as authentic as possible, Matti recorded at Benny McCarthy’s (of Danú) countryside studio in County Waterford. The place inspired the album’s title, which sees the Irish name blended with Nordic heritage. Matti is joined on the record by esteemed Irish musicians Tony Byrne on guitar, Liam Flanagan on fiddle, and Colm Murphy on bodhrán.

Matti Kallio explained the significance of Benny’s involvement, he said: “Producer Benny McCarthy was instrumental in helping me put this album together, to select tunes that worked well and learn songs like Trip to Cullenstown and an old version of Cliffs of Moher. I visited his studio months before the recording sessions, and spent a few days discussing, playing and choosing the tunes – it was a really wonderful experience. Early summer in Waterford, next to the beautiful mountain ranges and the sea, there's nothing better.

“Having previously released two solo albums, on five-row chromatic accordion and piano, I felt it was time to make an album using the two-row accordion as my instrument. I wanted it to have a focus on Irish traditional music, and luckily I had some stellar Irish musicians to help me out. I've always liked the reel Game of Love and after we secured Colm Murphy to play bodhrán on the album, I learnt that he played on the original Daly and Creagh record in 1978. It’s such an honour to have musicians like this involved.

“I've been writing original tunes ever since the 90s, some more in the Celtic style than others. For this album, I went through some of my old pieces and found some surprises. Valo, for instance, is a waltz I'd written a decade ago but had forgotten about until now. While the slow air The Snowy Mountain was written just before the recording session – I heard of the passing of legendary Finnish singer and actor Vesa-Matti Loiri, who I’ve had the honour of working with, and immediately wrote the tune in his memory. It was a spontaneous process and that poignant piece just poured out. It feels fantastic to bring all of these tunes together into one meaningful and celebratory collection.”

Matti’s previous projects cover a wide variety of musical styles, from pop to traditional folk music, jazz to classical choral music, and from gospel to children's music. He has won numerous awards including the Womex Artist Award in 2012 as a member of Finnish folk music band Värttinä, and four EMMA awards, the Finnish equivalent of the Grammy Awards. Waterfjord follows his debut solo album Waltz for Better Times and 2022 release Murder Street.

Waterfjord will be available to stream and download on all major digital platforms on Friday 27th January 2023.


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