Into The Mystical Realm of Tenhi

There is a sense of magic and wonder to be found within the brilliant compositions of Tenhi.  An intriguing sense of melancholy permeates throughout the Tenhi soundscapes, as exhibited on their latest magnum opus entitled Saivo.  Now available worldwide from Prophecy Productions, Saivo is a dark work of artistry that should appeal to all types of music connoisseurs seeking a brave new adventure in neofolk.  Read on as we delve into the mystical realm of Tenhi…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Tenhi, and how long the band has been together.
Hello there. I am Ilmari and I play various instruments in the band. Piano, guitar, bass, drums and backing vocals would be my normal territory. Tenhi has been around from 1996 and currently me and Tyko Saarikko are the ones composing, writing lyrics and making the art work in the band. We have a bunch of talented musicians as well performing on our records and in live situations.

Where is the band based out of and what is your local music scene like there?
All the personnel connected to the band live in Helsinki, which is the capital of Finland. It is situated in the southern tip of the country. The music scene in general is quite vibrant.  There are definitely a lot of interesting acts coming more and more. In recent years I have noticed that there are even some bands that can be related to what we do. For a long time we where the only band in Finland that was doing the type of music we do. As a band we are not involved in any sort of scene activity – we are more on the recluse side of things.

Is there any overall story or concept behind the Saivo title?
The old myth about a Finnish equivalent of Hades or Elysium that resides beneath a lake binds all the songs in an indirect way together. A stronger conceptual link is the theme of water that is dealt in every song from different symbolical perspectives. For me one main meaning for Saivo is a current of subconscious that connects us to the past and thus reunites us to the ones that have passed over to the other side.

Select any two songs from Saivo and what inspired the lyrics.
These types of questions puts me to a thin ice…I rather not open the songs from my personal view at all – the interpretations that are made by the listener are equally important and correct. Giving my predigested analysis on a plate does not add anything to the song…

Who did the cover art for Saivo and how much input did you have on it?
Tyko has always done the artwork for our records. Art of the records is very important for us – we consider it to be an integral component of Tenhi. The process of the artwork goes alongside with the music so both have a influence over each other. Very often song is born from a visual starting point.

How did the core members of Tenhi meet and what do you think has made this collaboration work so well since 1996?
I met Tyko back in the day when we both attended Art High School here in Helsinki. Before me joining the band we were just friends hanging together and musically we had somewhat different interests. I was playing doom metal and classical music and Tyko was into black metal at the time. The musical common ground was found when Tyko envisioned a idea of a band performing acoustic music with dark and atmospheric feel. Since then Tyko and I have shared a similar vision of the band – but at the same time we have maintained our own identity as musicians and composers.

What could one expect from a live Tenhi show?
We have really sparsely played live and we do not consider ourselves as a live band. The gigs we have done have been simple calm performances without any explosives and such. I hope that we deliver a spiritual blast to the brain when we play. I guess that our type of mood music requires a lot from the audience as well for if people behave like in a normal rock concert yelling and farting a lot of the details are missed and the focus is gone from us too.

What is your favorite Finnish beer and why?
This is really not a typical question! Current favorites are Sandels and Karhu for me. They are both nicely balanced in taste and do the trick.

When you look back on your older work recorded from 97-02, what do you think if it now?
I think that the albums that we have done previously have stood against the tooth of time quite nicely. I have never considered our span of work as progression – for me the albums are just different but equal.
Every album has its own special spot in my heart for different reasons. Our style has been quite the same thru out the years so all the albums form a coherent body of work.

Are you or any of the other members involved with any other musical projects outside of Tenhi?
Our outer ring of the collective is very active in doing other musical projects – unfortunately I do not know exactly what they are doing…Some folk music and opera to my best knowledge.

Has your music ever been featured in film? If asked, would you ever consider doing a film score and do you have any favorite film scores or composers?
We have not done any music for films but we have done music for a television series in the past.
Sure if we are asked to score a film we would definitely consider it.

What’s up next for Tenhi in the New Year?
Currently we are reassembling our studio. We have a small recording rig, which we have used for the albums in different locations but now we are planning to have more stable studio. At the moment we are planning the acoustic treatments for the spaces – there is a lot of work to do before we start to chew all the ideas that we have for the next release. In the past we have been tossing ideas about a book or a movie too – but I think that we end up making music as usual…

Any final words of wisdom?

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions
Thank you for the interest towards us and give my regards to the Sun. I have not seen lately too much of it here….

(Interview by Kenneth Morton)

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