by Harri Römpötti :: 2004
It is difficult for the Sámi people to fully explain the meaning of their ancient shamanistic yoiks to outsiders. There is a growing interest in the culture today, but the situation was very different only a few decades ago. There was a strong attempt to integrate the Sámi people into the mainstream population, and to weed out the practice of their traditions and culture. The music of the Sámi was seen as heathen witchcraft.
Traditionally, the yoik was passed on from generation to generation. Like many others of his time, however, Wimme Saari
(b. 1959) discovered yoiks as an adult in the 1980's. He was working at the Finnish Broadcasting Company archives and came across old sound tapes, some of them featuring his uncle. Today, Wimme is one of the brightest stars of the genre, developing and modernising the yoik.
Wimme uses traditional vocal and throat techniques and knows whole entities of traditional yoik songs that don't, however, work all that well with instruments. The music he makes with his band is something new and different, sometimes called free yoik by people who are familiar with jazz terminology.
Wimme has said that his yoiks are guided by colours and patterns which enter his mind. Although it is difficult for an outsider to tell his yoiks apart from the traditional ones, old yoikers have commended Wimme for creating a brand new style.
Wimme combines ancient yoiks with ultramodern ambient and techno music. New electronic music and ancient song reinforce one another, producing a strong atmosphere. Even people who are not into modern techno music have grown to like Wimme's original fusion music. In addition to his output as a soloist, Wimme has collaborated with the Finnish techno jazz group RinneRadio
Outside of Finland, Wimme's recording partners include Hector Zazou
and the Swedish group Hedningarna
. One of the best-known Finnish world music stars, Wimme's albums have repeatedly reached the EBU World Music Charts, and he has toured the world extensively, all the way from Texas to Delhi.
Translated by Hanna-Mari Latham
Wimme Saari (joiks)
Jari Kokkonen (keyboards, programming)
Matti Wallenius (guitar, banjo, ukelele, mandolin)
Wimme at Rockadillo