Okra Playground, formed in 2010, is an ensemble made up of folk and rhythmic music professionals. This six-person band's fresh music captivates the listener with its hypnotic beat and energy. The kantele and bowed lyre, both ancient folk instruments, coexist in a new, exciting symbiosis with modern instruments and soundscapes. The music resulting from this interesting combination has roots deep in the Finnish soil, but its tallest branches spread out towards the furthest shores of world music. The strong voices of the three
female singers, as well as the age-old lyrics, simultaneously take the listener to far-off places and close to home.
The band was orginally formed when one of the female vocalist, Essi Muikku, wanted to bring together a nice group to play good music. “The band’s debut album. Turmio, is a surprising and engaging piece of world
music.” (Glue at Rosvot) Okra Playground’s long-waited debut album Turmio was released in October 2015. The
album has ever since been warmly received gaining praises in the new and old mediums.
Turmio also made it to few listings of best albums of 2015 (Glue at Rosvot blog and Spannish radio program O Recanto do Corcovado). After the release Okra Playground has played at the Folklandia Cruise and will for instance perform at Haapavesi Folk Music Festival, Flow Festival, Helsinki, and Nordsjøfestivalen i Farsund, Norway during summer 2016.
Before the release the band played at several festivals and clubs such as the Kaustinen Folk Music Festival, Helsinki based festival Art Goes Kapakka, and Semifinal Club, Helsinki. Especially these appearances were well received and made the public curious about the debut album.
Last summer Okra Playground also released their first video. The studiolive of the song Turmio can be seen on youtube: https://youtu.be/_b6KQ0QRFVs
Okra Playground is:
Päivi Hirvonen: vocals, violin, bowed lyre
Maija Kauhanen: vocals, kantele
Essi Muikku: vocals, kantele
Sami Kujala: electric bass
Veikko Muikku: accordion, keyboards and live programming
Tatu Viitala: percussions
All of the members Okra Playground have long professional careers behind them having appeared and played in several other ensembles and collaborative projects these including bands like Hohka, Mari Kalkun and Runorun, Rönsy, and Siba Folk Big Band. Inaddition few of the members have solo projects.