The internationally acclaimed Finnish six-piece group Okra Playground is releasing their highly anticipated third album on Friday, October 28, 2022. The group’s music is a combination of traditional Finnish folk, electro and pop–rock, where three mighty female voices, present-day lyrics and hypnotic rhythms create an energetic and relentlessly electrifying sound.
The themes on ITKU focus on change, growth and opposites. “The songs deal with such global and societal issues as war, pandemic and mental health. Many of the songs were created already before the recent big tragedies which speaks for the timeless nature of the subject matter. Change and growth are heavily present on the album – in the end, there’s light to be found even from the roughest of situations”, says group member Päivi Hirvonen about the album.
The songs on the album are written by the band members Päivi Hirvonen, Maija Kauhanen and Veikko Muikku; each also part of the production team. The songs were conceived working both alone and together in dedicated co-writing sessions. Compared to their previous albums, the lyrics on ITKU are more dominantly penned by the band members themselves, while the centuries-old texts of traditional runo singing still serve as an inspiration. As with the band’s earlier albums, ITKU is produced by Sami Zimmermann. Recording, mixing and editing is done by Samuli Volanto.
In their music, Okra Playground boldly combines traditional and modern elements. The fiddle, accordion, electric bass and percussions are matched with kantele and bowed lyre. Kantele is a traditional string instrument played in and around Finland for hundreds of years. Their sizes vary; Okra Playground’s Maija Kauhanen and Essi Muikku play 15-string versions. The bowed lyre, played by Päivi Hirvonen, is a four-stringed instrument dated back thousands of years that is held on the player’s lap and played with a bow. Kauhanen, Muikku and Hirvonen are also vocalists possessing the expressive singing style typical of traditional folk music from Finland and the Baltic Sea region. The album, however, still has room for subtlety and the Finnish language nicely brings out the emotional content of the lyrics for the listener no matter their cultural background.
The two previous albums by Okra Playground, Turmio (2015, Nordic Notes, DE) and Ääneni yli vesien (2018, Nordic Notes, DE), were successes both among critics and on charts around the world. The group has performed on such prominent festivals as the Rainforest World Music Festival in Malaysia and the legendary Finnish Flow Festival, and played and toured in Scandinavia, Estonia, Germany, Belgium, the UK and Hong Kong. During the next couple of years the group will be heading for the United States on a series of tours each covering multiple states.
Year of Release: 2018
Year of Release: 2016
Year of Release: 2017