Meet Meriheini Luoto – Finnish composer and violinist

In our final music post of 2020 we got to hear from the incredibly talented Meriheini Luoto – a composer who uses the nature surrounding her as a big part of her inspiration. Her music is both hypnotic and haunting, perfect to help wind down after a hectic year.

Tell us who you are and what is your sound?

I’m Meriheini Luoto, a Finnish violinist and composer. In recent years I’ve been composing music which is most inspired by nature, especially forest. I love to explore all the different timbres of my instruments and to create immersive, site-specific listening experiences. I would describe my sound as wooden, tranquil, deep, fierce & reverberant. Rather rough than clean.

What exciting projects have you got coming up?

This year I’ve been working on a new album with my band Akkajee. It’s a duo (but sounds bigger than that!) together with a violist/vocalist Iida Savolainen, I play the Swedish nyckelharpa and sing. The album will be out in April, hopefully. Then I have a few really nice collaborations coming up next year – recording sessions with a vocal ensemble Signe, and commissioned composition for The Electric Guitar Quartet. That’s the first time I’m composing for a group I’m not playing with!  I will also continue working with my own ensemble ‘Metsänpeitto’ and compose new music for us.

Meet Akkajee (Photo Credit: Risto Savolainen)

Where did you grow up and what music influenced you?

I grew up in a small town in Southern Finland. I began playing violin at age four and continued playing throughout my school years. I was never too conscientious about practising but I loved to play with others. I feel very lucky that there were so many opportunities for that from the beginning – folk music groups, chamber music ensembles, orchestras, steel pan orchestras, pop cover bands etc. At junior high school I had a really open-minded music teacher who had wild ideas about music. Once I ended up playing a bicycle on a tv show! Years later I realised that he was the one who taught me that any kind of sound can be used to create music, and everything is allowed in music.

At the same time, as a teenager, I was listening to a lot of metal and hard rock.  It still affects my music somehow, I guess.

What cool places do you recommend to visit in your city (bars, restaurants, etc)?

We have a new central library Oodi in Helsinki, that’s definitely worth a visit! And Kamppi Chapel ’The Chapel of Silence’ is a place for you if you need a moment of silence (who doesn’t?), it’s right in the center too. That’s actually the place where we recorded a live session about a year ago. I love that reverb! There are also concerts every now and then, definitely recommended!

We love recommendations – what have you been listening to, watching, or reading recently?

Recently I’ve been listening to Kara-Lis Coverdale, Aoide, Jessica Moss and Vilde&Inga.  When I’m hungry for new music I often listen to New Sounds radio show!

2020 has forced me to watch more series than ever before. My recommendations: Stateless, I May Destroy You, Broad City, Normal People & Caliphate.

Finally, what was the last thing that made you swear out loud?

It was today when I opened a brand new box of christmas lights and the string was a huge mess immediately after opening.

Interview by Alex Minnis

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