A Finnish record label with a heart of soul

Wednesday, August 14, 2019 - 4:49pm


Helsinki is a town with a budding interest in American soul music. Timmion Records is a small Finnish label that releases soul music, and even has two house bands. Jukka Sarapää is the label's co-founder. Their recent collection features a group of American artists who've signed with the label. The compilation is called "Bad Education Vol. 1: Soul Hits of Timmion Records."


Marco Werman: Wanda Felicia, a singer from Brooklyn had hopes of working in fashion, but she can sing and she happened to be in Helsinki, a town with a budding interest in American soul music. Someone told her to check out the guys at Timmion Records, a small Finnish label. So she went and the next thing you know, she was recording [a track called] "Until You're Mine," featuring the Timmion house band Cold Diamond and Mink.

So, what's up with this little soul label in Helsinki? I asked co-founder Jukka Sarapää. He told me that Timmion actually began with a very different sound.

Sarapää: We started with a hard-core funk sound in the late 1990s, early 2000s. I think it's evolved from the raw funk to soul.

Werman: What got you interested in American soul?

Sarapää: I think kids listened to ‘90s hip-hop and then got interested about the samples and the old soul music behind those hip-hop tracks. So, all the samples led to soul-funk records.

Werman: Finnish music — the rootsy Finnish music, the traditional Finnish music — tends to be very sparse, not terribly warm and inviting. Maybe it echoes the climate there. Is American soul the antidote to that?

Sarapää: Yeah, yeah. Maybe the Finnish music is…melancholic because there's lots of dark times in the winter and no sunshine. People used to get depressed and maybe that shaped the sound of the music. In the US, maybe they use the major chords and we tend to use the minor chords. Maybe it's a bit moodier sound.

Werman: Yeah, maybe just a bit.

Sarapää's label is continuing their focus on the opposite of moody. They've just compiled a group of young soul artists, including many Americans, for a collection called "Bad Education, Vol. 1: Soul Hits of Timmion Records."