Magic happens amorandomly
Sometimes good things just follow one another, and people’s paths are drawn to cross or together, like it was meant to be, like the timing was exactly right for some reason. In music, hitting the time is essential, as well as doing so with the right people to make it sound perfect.
- It’s all about the music: It has to impress and make my jaw drop, to arouse my interest, says Pia Raitala, the CEO and founder of her brand new management company Raitala Music. After a long career in artist management, she decided to say yes to entrepreneurship. Raitala Music represents a handful of Finnish jazz and pop artists, with pianist Aki Rissanen being one of Pia’s most recent discoveries. Or was it Aki who made the discovery?
- I heard Aki’s Amorandom concert a few years back and to me it became crystal clear that this was it. Aki’s unique way of running the melody lines in between the rhythmic constructions definitely makes him stand out in the crowd, Pia Raitala recalls their first encounter.
And stand out he did. The British label Edition Records released Aki Rissanen Trio’s Amorandom album in 2016, and Amorandom won the Finnish Grammy for the best jazz recording of the year. The Guardian described Rissanen’s trio as “a formidable force, with fresh musical intelligence to match flawless techniques” and The Jazz Breakfast called it “an album that gets under the skin with overall mood and atmosphere”. Aki takes the critical acclaim with ease:
- When we walked out of the studio, we all knew that the recording was a success, and that it would sound distinctively ours. Making the album, I had no pressure about finding a record label or making an international breakthrough. I had held back on making this album for a long time, because until Amorandom I felt that all the other piano trios in the world had already put my thoughts into music. To me the wait was essential. I feel we really have something original to say on Amorandom, and yet there's so much more to come. We'll release our second album on Edition as well, later this year, and I feel really confident about that. We have such a great spirit and interplay with Antti Lötjönen and Teppo Mäkynen, and such a great team working with us.
So who discovered who? Finland is a small country, and the jazz scene is even smaller, yet oddly enough, Pia’s and Aki’s paths hadn’t yet crossed. Pia had heard Aki play and Aki had heard only positive things about Pia’s work ethics and her long experience in artist management. A year ago, shortly after their trio debut was out, Aki decided to take the bull by the horns and get in touch with Pia.
- To me it’s crucial that the chemistry and trust between me and my artists is there. I have a very hands-on way of working and I tend to take care of a lot of the artist’s personal matters as well, in order to let them focus more on their art. That requires effortless communication and also equally passioned minds on both ends, says Pia. After a few tentative meetings with Aki, she was convinced.
- Aki is the "crème de la crème" of professional musicians: He has virtuosity, heart and a strong vision. On top of that he is a great guy!, laughs Pia. The pianist is immediately matching the chord:
- We clicked right away. It was easy to find the common ground and get to the core of our co-operation. I can rely on Pia and her professionalism in everything and we speak the same language, share the same energy!
Survival guide for jazzahead! 2017
Soon it’s time for the 12nd edition of the annual jazz industry trade fair jazzahead! in Bremen, Germany. It is a meeting point for the international jazz scene, and with its showcase festival, conferences and exhibitions and clubbing, it has become the must-go networking event. Besides enjoying a long weekend of music and people, there’s always some tricky questions hidden behind the concept of music industry fairs and showcases as well. Every participant has to make their peace with their own values and compromises regarding the purpose of the event and their own aspirations. Can you put a market value on art? Who profits when professional artists perform for free? How to sell your art and who’s going to buy it? What am I looking for in this event? How do I make the most of it? Does anyone close any deals in jazzahead!?
- Good music will always be discovered when there are professional buyers present. It kind of defeats the point if you push it too much as an agent or over-do your pitch as a musician. In my experience it’s good to keep yourself active and out there, just representing your artist and not to plan too far ahead. It’s best to take the chances as they come across, tips Pia Raitala, manager in Raitala Music. Pianist Aki Rissanen agrees and echoes:
- Some of the musicians seem to cast a shadow of exploitation over showcase performances, but I think that showcases are simply one of the ways how an artist can invest in their own careers. Usually you can’t pinpoint the benefits right away, though, and some of the best deals present themselves in the most unexpected situations. Maybe the best strategy is to expect nothing, yet believe in anything being possible! Take it easy and have fun, don’t let the volume overwhelm you - and remember that you also have a bunch of other Finns there with you, who also are potential collabo and business partners.
Aki Rissanen Trio performing at Finnish Night on April 27, at Hall 7.2 at 11.30p
Contact Pia Raitala at firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. +358 40 8202340 or come by and say hello at the Finnish Stand 6B40.
Text: Raisa Siivola, 2017