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Eating Oysters With Jaakko Eino Kalevi

"I’d never be like, 'Oh I’m so hungry, let’s order some oysters!'"
July 21, 2014, 8:00am

Welcome to Sounds Tasty! This is our column dedicated to two of the best things on the planet: Festival food and our favourite musicians. Photos by Emil Nordin

I spent the end of last year listening to

Jaakko Eino Kalevi

’s

“No End”

on repeat. After a while I started to obsess with him to the point that every single playlist on whatever music source I’m using now features at least two songs by him. It doesn’t matter if it’s an upbeat or sleepy playlist, I just have this weird urge for Jaakko to be part of them all. I’m particularly in love with his funny little synth lines and smart lyrics like in his and Long-Sam’s “I’m Scared I’m Getting Used to This Lowlife I’m Living.” There’s also something tremendously appealing with the fact that he’s Finnish. I mean, Jaakko is finally building up whatever reputation the Rasmus and H.I.M (the band) have destroyed with their terrible music that for reasons unknown have gained international attention for decades. And he’s way better looking than Ville Valo.

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Jaakko’s been in Sweden several times since the release of his

Dreamzone

EP. But I’ve somehow always managed to miss him. So when the line-up for this year’s

Gagnef/Skankaloss festival

was released, his name shun towards me in such bright manor that I didn’t even bother to pay attention to any of the other acts playing at this small but wonderful and remote festival in Sweden’s Dalarna.

For those of you who aren’t already familiar with Jaakko, here are three things you’ll find out if you google him:

1) He’s a tram driver in his native Helsinki.

2) He finds inspiration to some of his lyrics in an online dream forum.

3) Everyone from

the Guardian

to Swedish public service loves him.

Here are three things I found out about Jaakko upon meeting him:

1) He’s extremely good at walking down terrifying slopes without falling (I saw him doing this twice).

2) His hair is even prettier in reality than in photos.

3) He’s attended music festivals since 1999 but only because he’s been part of the line-up – never as part of the audience.

The Gagnef/Skankaloss festival is unique in many ways. Not only because it’s located in a place that looks like what the outside world believes that all of Sweden looks like, but also because the organisers put a lot of effort into quality of the festival food available there. Stockholm restaurants such as

Häktet

and

Svartengrens

attend the festival, which means that you can choose between anything from wild-boar hamburgers to local pork kebab (made of pigs from a local farm) instead of flabby

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langos

or plastic-like pizza slices. Since I’ve been day-dreaming about Jaakko for over six months I obviously wanted our meeting to be special. I spoke to his manager a couple of days before arriving in Gagnef, when Jaakko was preforming at

Træna in Norway

(another one of Scandinavia’s incredible and remote festivals). I told the manager that my interview with Jaakko would take place in the spirit of festival food. Luckily, Jaakko is the kind of guy who loves food. So on Saturday when we met I took him out for oysters and sparkling wine.

But the eating part didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped. We had to wait for the oysters for what felt like forever. Apparently, it takes ages to open oysters even for a chef whose job is to open oysters all day. So instead of sitting by the nearby river and slurp down one oyster after another while discussing their weird appeal, Jaakko ate his oysters first, Emil the photographer after, the manager last, and I couldn’t be bothered to order one for me since this process had already taken 45 minutes.

Jaakko seamed to enjoy it though, which was the priority. It was extremely hot and I felt a little bit stressed because Jaakko was waiting to rehearse with a local sax guy for his show later that night. Oh, that’s another thing I learned from meeting Jaakko: He sometimes hires a local saxophone player a couple of hours prior his shows. And it always turns out really well. “Sax guys like to jam. Or actually, they love to jam. That’s what they do”, he told me. I also heard that Jaakko’s show at Gagnef/Skankaloss turned out to be one of his best shows ever. I feel blessed.

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Anyway, it was after the slightly awkward oyster session that I followed him down a slope that almost killed me. Then we finally sat down looking out at the river. Noisey: When it comes to eating at festivals – considering that you've always played at them – have you ever lived in the camping area and been forced to eat weird cheese or canned stuff?
Jaakko Eino Kalevi: No, not really. Two years ago I went to Lappland for a festival. I didn't play there, cause it was a film festival. But I was camping there. It was summer but still pretty cold. I bought a tent for the occasion, which wasn't waterproof. On the last night of the festival it rained. I woke up from being soaked. But a few interesting directors were holding talks in the morning, so it was good anyway. What did you eat then?
Everything was very expensive at the festival. But then I found out that there was this hyper-market around where you could find cheaper food. I think I bought bread and some cheese. Maybe tuna? And some tomatoes. Classic. What do you cook when you're at home? Do you have a standard dish?
My standard is a tofu curry. That sounds pretty complicated.
It's very easy. It's just a paste, coconut milk and tofu.

Do you have any weird food-memories from festivals you've been to?
Well, the day before yesterday, [at Træna] I had whale for the first time. That was kind of special. I put a piece of whale meat on a plate for my friend to taste it, and when he took it, it was only whale blood left on the plate. That felt dramatic. God. What do you eat with whale? Potato?
Well, it was a buffet, so it was with everything. How did it taste?
It tasted pretty much like beef. Or, not like a fish thing at all anyways. Is there any kind of food that you absolutely don't like to eat?
Not really, no. Is there a Finnish specialty that you're particularly fond of?
We eat quite a lot of salmon and mashed potatoes. Anything with potatoes really. Pizza is a nice Finnish speciality. That's funny because I just found out that people in Stockholm eat more pizza per capita than anywhere else in the world.
That makes sense. It's weird how Scandinavians are obsessed with pizza.
Well, it's the night-and-hangover-food. True. So do you ever dream about food?
It must have happened. But I don't remember dreaming about food. It's a bit like peeing. Or actually, I do dream that I pee. Do you pee your pants then?
No. When I'm very "pee-y”, or I have the urge to pee, I dream that I pee but I don't pee, which is weird. It's like a prophecy.

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A friend of mine told me how she was dreaming a lot about wanting to poop. But every time when she woke up, she didn't need to poop. And then a Russian friend of hers told her that according to Russian folklore, dreaming about needing to poop means that you will go through a divorce or break-up. And then a few weeks later, my friend's boyfriend broke up with her.
I didn't know that… I've heard that poop in your dreams means money. What? That you'll become rich?
Yeah! Do you dream about poop a lot?
About poop? No, not really. Not recently at least. I wish! Haha. So tell me, how do you get taken care of food-wise when you're out on tour?
Recently it's been very good. Especially here and in Norway. Usually it's taken care of and the food is very good. Do you have any horror stories?
None that I can share on the record, unfortunately. So what are your plans for the rest of the summer?
I’m going to Holland and then back to Finland… You’re working on an album, right?
Yes, that’s true. That’s the priority! That’s been going on for some time. How’s that going?
It’s almost there. It’s coming out in January, I think. Or at least that’s the talk we’re having now.

Alright. So what did you think about the oysters?
They were good. I liked them. Oysters are weird food. They're not very foody-food. And it’s more the process of eating them that is interesting. I mean, I’d never be like, “Oh I’m so hungry, let’s order some oysters!” Haha. Do you like other seafood?
Tuna! That’s the best, of course. That’s the king of the fish. I mean, I like fish! Salmon, and sometimes those squid-things that are chewy. I don’t eat that very often, but sometimes they’re good. And finally, what are oysters called in Finnish?
Osteri.

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