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Peaking Lights selects Jaakko Eino Kalevi

Finnish rocker Jaakko Eino Kalevi is tweaking guitar rock into unexpected works of genius

Taken from the January issue of Dazed & Confused:

Psych-pop pin-ups Peaking Lights: “Jaakko’s music could easily have been dug out from a record store abandoned in 1984, at the same time having current fresh flavours cooked up by a mastermind chef. At his most pop-E moments it’s got a similar vibe to Laid Back, and the darker more mysterious parts threaten some serious Night Moves vibes.”

The field of rock’n’roll is littered with unlikely savants who emerge from the middle of nowhere to create unexpected works of genius. But few can have come from somewhere as obscure as emerging songwriter Jaakko Eino Kalevi, who hails from Tiituspohja, Finland. “I just always say I’m from Jyväskylä because it’s a place that people could possibly know,” he guesses from his current home in Helsinki. 

Growing up, the young Kalevi tired of cornballs like New Kids on the Block being played at home, and developed a taste for something gnarlier. “Me and my friends were really into (US prog-metallers) Dream Theater at that time, but my real favourite was Jimi Hendrix. My friend’s father had a big record collection where we found some old blues and rock.” When an Iron Maiden-obsessed neighbour taught him guitar his fate was sealed, and he started his first band at the age of ten after a routine trip to the playground.

“My first encounter with Ariel Pink was special. I was supporting them here in Helsinki and after the show he slept in my bed”

Although Kalevi identifies primarily as a drummer, he plays all the instruments on his debut EP, Dreamzone (Weird World). The layering of sounds spawns a homespun, psychedelic dream-pop that has drawn comparisons to Ariel Pink and Connan Mockasin. “I like both artists very much,” he says. “My first encounter with Ariel Pink was special. I was supporting them here in Helsinki and after the show he slept in my bed.”

The songs on Dreamzone range from a nostalgic ode to memories inspired by a Ren & Stimpy episode to “Uu uu uu”, the melody of which came from a dream Kalevi had as a small boy. Sonically, the songs combine analogue percussion with synthesised melodies and plush, narcotic vocals, and resemble a ceaseless arpeggio of voltaic wind chimes that seem to draw whispers and howls out of the air. The spatial aura perfectly suits the record’s arcadian origins. “The title is a tribute to my friends who made a comic album called Viihdealus Dreamzone,” he explains. 

“It is the name of a Finnish online dream forum where people write their dreams and interpret them. I sometimes go there and steal some of their dreams for my songs. Dreams tell us things, and there is something dreamlike about reality too.”

Dreamzone is out now on Weird World