Viivi Maria Saarenkylä’s accordion mixed with Hildá Länsman’s joik singing form a combination that’s not been seen before. It’s been three years since the pair first met, but they have already attracted international attention and released an album full of their own music.
You will be playing at Celtic Connections at the end of January. What are the things that make the gig worth going to, even if Vildá as a band is unfamiliar?
Joik singing and accordion are a surprising combination. This combo is so untraditional, that there is no pressure to fit into a pre-existing mold. Our voice and sound come forth effortlessly and it’s possible for us to play around and have fun. We are able to mix folk and disco to something more traditional without worrying about it too much. This is the reason why people are often amazed at our shows. This is also a unique opportunity to see us live, as we don’t have other gigs booked in the UK at the moment.
What kind of expectations do you have for the Glasgow gig?
Neither of us has played a show in Scotland before! This is the first time we are playing in the UK as Vildá. We have heard many positive things about Celtic Connections. We’ve understood that at this festival people are used to hearing all kinds of music. We don’t have to worry about shoking people! It’s also exciting that we’ll play at the same event as the Malian artist Fatoumata Diawara, whose music is completely different from ours.
What has been the most memorable gig you have played so far?
Viivi Maria: The first thing that pops into my head is actually an afterparty! We were playing at St Mary’s Day Celebrations in Hetta in Lapland, and I really wanted to go to a snowmobile safari. The gig was great and at the afterparty we bumped into two Norwegian Sámi guys that promised to make this wish come true. We managed to sleep for a couple of hours before we had to start driving further up north where these guys were waiting for us with the snowmobiles. The day was unforgettable.
Hildá: I remember the time we played at Owen Sound festival in Canada. We were going to take part in a workshop but turns out the meaning of the concept is a bit different than what we were used to. We were put on stage with a couple of other bands and we were just supposed to play and improvise together. We didn’t know any of the other performers and a massive festival crowd was there watching and listening. We hadn’t prepared for anything like that and it sure was a unique experience. At least we now know what a Canadian workshop is!
What kind of plans do you have for the future? Where is Vildá headed after Glasgow?
We still have a lot to see, both in Finland and abroad. In Finland, world music is a small scene, and relevant festivals are few and far between. Maybe it won’t take much longer till we will have gone through them all. We have managed to get a good start and now there are as many gigs lined up as we want to play. People always ask if we are working on a second album. The first one was released so recently that we haven’t thought about the next one yet. But we do have new music in our heads constantly!
At Celtic Connections
Friday 31st January at 7:30pm, Tramway
25 Albert Dr, Glasgow G41 2PE
Text: Eeva Lehtonen Photo: Joanna Suomalainen and Jimmy Träskelin