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Maija Kauhanen — vocals, kantele & percussion


Expressive voice, deep-rooted kantele and inventive percussion: fleet-fingered virtuoso and one-woman band Maija Kauhanen specializes in Finnish kantele and its old and rare playing techniques. Weaving together polyrhythms and organic beats, she creates unique soundscapes and compelling grooves.


Multi-awarded Maija Kauhanen is one of the most internationally successful folk musicians from Finland and has toured over 30 countries around Europe, Asia and America. She has released two solo albums with the German label Nordic Notes. 


On her latest album Menneet (The Past, 2022) Kauhanen takes a step towards being a singer-songwriter without losing the strong roots in tradition. The music draws influences from folk music, indie pop and film scores and tells stories of personal space and setting one’s boundaries. How much space is enough? How can a personal space be maintained and cherished, without letting it hold us back?


Her debut album Raivopyörä (The Whirl of Rage) was released in 2017 and was praised and noted worldwide. The album won a Critics’ Spurs prize by the The Finnish Critics’ Association for “the best artistic breakthrough of the year”, “The Newcomer of the Year” Award in Finnish Ethno Awards and the prestigious Emma Award for the Best Ethno Album of the Year. 


Kauhanen specializes in the rare Saarijärvi kantele from Central Finland. She plays the kantele in various tunings and with different playing styles, using her fingers, tiny wooden sticks as plectrums, a cello bow, an E-bow as well as other preparation materials like Blu Tack. Her percussion set consists of a kick drum, juju bean shaker, cymbals, wind bells, enamel pots and bowls, silver plates, metal muffin tins, trays and assorted kitchen utensils found at flea markets.


Maija Kauhanen’s vocal technique is inspired by imitating instrument sounds, rural music traditions of Finland and Karelia as well as the Swedish kulning vocal tradition. She develops her style further all the time as she encounters and collaborates with singers and musicians from all around the world on her travels.


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