Beyond the Stars - Jimi Tenor interviewed Chris Gurney, June 2004

Jimi Tenor, his band & Rhythm Taxi. Photo: Thomas Ecke

CG: Hi Jimi, and thanks for delivering another fine album. How's things?

JT: Things are OK. I just came back from tour promoting this album. The second leg of the tour was done with Rhythm Taxi, the guys who play on Moon Goddess and Gimme Little Bit. That was a wonderful little tour although our van was small and everybody has a backache now.

CG: There are many quite mellow and soft tunes on Beyond the Stars, and although there is a bit of turbulence on Asteroid Belt, it's quite a laid-back and relaxing album - or what do you think?

JT: That's right, not that aggressive. It's the way my life has been recently (maybe always). It reflects definitely my everyday state of mind, the other me can be seen when we play live... a louder version. My plan is to bring more of that live vibe to the next album, which will be hopefully recorded with Rhythm Taxi guys.

CG: There are a couple of Jimi Tenor style afrobeat tracks on this album done with RhythmTaxi. It must have been cool working with them...

JT: Oh yeah, we had fun in the studio. Now we've been playing live together and there are quite a bit of ideas what we should do for the next album.

CG: How did you get hooked up with Rhythm Taxi?

JT: I was looking for an afro-beat drummer for Moon Goddess. I was originally thinking about Tony Allen, but that didn't work out. This guy from Berlin, Armin Engel, is sort of a manager of Rhythm Taxi and Raik from Kitty-yo knows him. We arranged a meeting backstage after our gig in Berlin (the Rhythm Taxi guys live in Berlin) and we decided to do the recording. I wrote a couple of more songs for that purpose and out of those Gimme Little Bit ended up on the album. Nicholas improvised the lyrics...I didn't understand most of the stuff he was singing, but it appears that some of the lyrics were dirty German words.

CG: The opening track Barcelona Sunrise features a guy called Allonymous. How did that collaboration come about?

JT: He came to this club New Morning in Paris when we were doing soundcheck. He said he was a poet or something. Anyway after the show we talked and later on I sent him an email and mailed a couple of tracks for him to bounce off. The best one was Barcelona Sunrise and we recorded that in Barcelona. Allonymous is a painter as well.

CG: Some tracks feature fine harmonies from Aventur choir. It's not the first time you've used a choir on your album - would you like to do more choral stuff? Maybe even a space opera? I think Gamelavad sounds like it could be part of something like that...

Jimi Tenor with Aventur choir. Photo: Chris Gurney

Recording with the choir:

Sirens of Salo

JT: I used to record with Pro Canto choir in my home town Lahti for two albums on Warp. Now I wanted to try a bit different approach. I also had a "choir-consultant", Timo "Paroni" Lintunen to look for a choir for this album. It worked out really well, they were very enthusiastic and they had rehearsed the material really well. The Space Opera... I'd like to try that. I seems still a bit too ambitious project, but if I take my time and make it slowly it could happen. I'm seriously thinking to create my own kind of "new" symphony orchestra for that purpose.

CG: Moon Goddess, Beyond the Stars, Asteroid Belt, Take Off... Space is the place, it seems?

JT: Well, yes and no. I would like to keep the space stuff as some kind of a hippie-space or even sauna-space. Something that doesn't need to be technical at all. The comparisons to Sun Ra are flattering but I saw a video-tape from our gig and it looks very much like a Finnish 1st of May party than anything else.

CG: What are your main sources of inspiration?

JT: I would like to say that I get inspired by walking in the woods or having sex or something "artistic". Recently though I have been forced to be "inspired" whenever necessary. That is for example the day before the studio has been booked, in the hotel room between gig and soundcheck... stuff like that. I find it really difficult to write anything during touring, though. I guess I'm saving my energy for the gig or something or maybe it's the anonymity of the hotel rooms. I try to make my studio as "bohemian" as possible. I put paintings on the wall. I don't have computer monitors and it's very messy as well. That seems to help quite a bit!

CG: Who is Mr. French?

JT: My friend Marek Pytel has been arranging these events where musicians play a new soundtrack on films. He gave me this film called Mr. Freedom. Mr French is one of the songs I did for that movie, I think it's played when Mr. Freedom dies.

CG: The last track is a song called Strawberry Place. What is your wild strawberry place?

JT: That's the thing: it's something you don't tell anybody else. There are not too many wild strawberries in this world and if you tell other people about them, there won't be any left for you. You are supposed to take your loved one there though.

CG: You are moving back to your hometown Lahti, Finland, after spending many years abroad. Any expectations - good or bad?

JT: We'll see. This is a difficult question. I think I'll be OK there. There's good water and air and a lot of space to fool around. I'll be the crazy artiste of the village and will be allowed to be different, I hope!

Beyond the Stars is released on Kitty-Yo, May 2004.

Beyond the Stars album info
Beyond the Stars (mp3 download)