This time we’re heading another time to the north of europe, where the guys from Komposti Sound, out of Helsinki, holding it down for Finland since nearly one decade.
They are known for excellent artist- and soundsystem-bookings in Finland, decent mix-cds, playing gigs all over europe and, of course, their weekly radio-show on Radio Helsinki.
So we don’t waste no time and keep it short and spicy.
Here we go!
# Please introduce your Sound and all the members to the readers.
We are Komposti Sound, also known as Finland’s Finest.
We are the biggest, best and most hard working sound from Scandinavia.
Our crew has five members, out of which three are really active when playing out.
I, Bommitommi, am one of the founding members of the sound. I am – as they tell me – the president of the sound – I am a selector, take care of our sound’s and our club’s bookings and do much of keeping contact with the outside world – like cutting dubplates and such.
I am also a music producer, label owner and mixing engineer by profession and thus do most of our studio work.
My work outside the sound includes mastering, mixing albums, building riddims and producing albums for Finnish artists.
I have also been managing, booking shows and building careers for several artists in Finland, like Raappana and our sound system’s very own Paarma.
I’ve been working with reggae in Finland full-time since the year 2000 or so and am very thankful for being able to stay busy with things I love doing.
Musically I don’t really give myself too strict boundaries apart from good Jamaican music – I love rocksteady ,early 80s dancehall and late 90s/early 2000s one drops very much, but tend to be the one playing the prime time selections at parties with mostly new tunes – which I love as well.
The next founding member, Enrico, is nowadays somewhat of a foundation specialist in our sound. He often plays trademark warmups at our clubs with a selection of his favorite rocksteady, roots & early dancehall selections though he might drop a Bugle or two in between without warning.
Enrico also started MC’ing on our sound one time when one of our full-time MCs went missing for several days and hasn’t stopped since.
Enrico is the other half of our team doing our every Monday radio shows – where, like the clubs, he often playes the first foundation part of the show.
Enrico is still sticking to vinyl even the rest of us have Serato’d ourselves a long time ago.
He also does most of the graphic design for our posters.
Our newest member, VG+, is both an exceptionally good selector and our most active MC.
We invited him to join our sound as a full-time member at September 2008 when we need someone to lift some of the workload off our shoulders.
Only thing it seems it didn’t really work out that way – our bookings have pretty much doubled from since so we all have even more work to do nowadays.
VG+ used to be a member of a Jyvaskyla-based sound called Loudness when he lived there for some years and we booked him to our club as a regular guest after learning he had a skill for selecting good tunes with thought for any crowd as well as hosting himself on the mic.
Him being a selector makes a big difference when MC’ing – he knows all the tunes just as good as the rest of us and is instrumental in keeping the flow of music meaningful, lively and tight when we play.
Bommitommi on the selection and VG+ on the microphone is the lineup you’re most likely to see on stage when checking us out anywhere at prime time.
VG+ also plays a mad soca and daggering selection when needed and can be rightfully called the soca specialist in our sound.
He has been infected by the 90s one drop / rub a dub bug and he’s the one hosting our new every Wednesday club Rub A Dub in Helsinki, focusing on “real reggae music”.
A longtime member and a friend of mine since we were kids, Paarma, is a very well known personality in the Finnish reggae scene. Though not very active in the sound anymore, the guitarist – turned MC – turned artist Paarma has hosted countless sound nights, played shows in backing bands of artists and MC’d festival shows since the late 90s.
Paarma, who released his solo album “Pida Liekkis” in 2005, is nowadays active in several succesful reggae / soul / afrobeat / children’s music bands in Finland.
Paarma was pretty much the first real MC in Finnish sound systems who really put effort into the thing.
Another MC member of our sound, Bongo Rhino / Reino, is also a full-time artist / movie star nowadays.
Well before reaching the age to be able to go legally to clubs, he was hustling his way in by MC’ing / singing and playing bongos on our sound system. His soundsystem-backed soulful singing style is somewhat unique nowadays and has taken him (as well as into countless girl’s hearts) into big success with his soul outfit Reino & the Rhinos who released their debut album in 2008.
Reino also hosts his own Naamantai club on Mondays in Helsinki where he manages to make people first real angry and soon real happy with his selection of good reggae and soul music and his somewhat stress-free-free-to-go-anywhere MC’ing style.
One of the most popular Finnish reggae artists ever, Jukka Poika, also used to be a part of the sound when it was founded, singing & MC’ing on the sound.
He soon after moved to the countryside and has from since kept himself busy releasing albums and living a simple life…
# When was the founding of your Sound and since when do you djing?
Funnily enough, we don’t know exactly the date of birth of our sound as we played the first dance alongside Enrico some time in the year 2000 and soon after started throwing parties of our own.
For the sake of official birthdays we use spring 2001 as our starting point when keeping birthday dances (always the best).
Both me & Enrico have been playing records from our late teens in the 90s and really started focusing on reggae music when we formed Komposti and also started our radio show on Radio Helsinki.
# Can you describe which style your sound plays mostly?
We play quite a lot of things but always the music we love to play.
Though we always play for the crowd we have noticed sticking to things that we know & love always works best.
The typical prime time selection of ours consists of our favorite fresh one drop & dancehall tunes – the Helsinki crowd is very up to date with new things and we love to buss new things we love.
Though we mostly play new Jamaican music, we also features tunes from all over the world – as long as it’s good and it fits the selection.
When it comes to warmup we love to play everything positive in the history of reggae music – a typical night at Reggae Sundays might include rocksteady, early 80s dancehall, early 90s dancehall, late 90s one drop, UK lovers style, 70s roots, fresh one drop, fresh dancehall to soca and daggering.
We try to keep a certain logic within mixing tunes both musically and in carrying a point – though we love reggae and dancehall also as pure music the fact that it is music with a message cannot be overlooked – whether the message was about simply having fun or shining a light pon reality issues.
# Please tell me about the most important cornermarks in the sounds history, like clashes, the baddest dances, etc.
We have had many of them and it’s hard to say which ones are the most important.
Komposti has won the Finnish soundclash championship 3 times out of four, respectively in 2004, 2006 and 2007 and especially when the dub / clash thing was new to us we got a lot of energy from it.
Nowadays it doesn’t feel as important to us though we all enjoy the drama of good speeches and mad dubs a lot still – maybe it’s more that we don’t feel we need to constantly prove ourselves.
I also found the formats and the rules for clashes nowadays a bit limiting and sometimes think that the popularity of dubs & clashing in Europe has taken the clash scene to a bit stiffer and less original direction – I do feel that rules like having to play dub-fi-dub and especially having to play “foundation artists” in dub-fi-dub is what you NEED to do are very forced and are usually only based on very vague concepts of “what they do over there where this originally comes from”.
Honestly, if you look at the kids who go to dances and clashes nowadays Sizzla, Luciano, Bounty Killer and Beres are foundation – even too old sometimes to be interesting .. :) My nicest “clash” experiences have been some dances where somebody gets challenged and a “war” comes out of the blue unplanned – though alcohol often has a strong influence on this, lol.
We’ve “clashed” Civalizee at our own club both so drunk we barely remembered it the following day (we did record it and it was kinda wicked if funny to rass) – we also “clashed” Panza once by “who can play the sillier dubplate”.. ;)
The most important cornermarks honestly for our sound must have been the founding of our regular clubs – especially the latest one, Reggae Sundays which has been soon running for two years.
Over the 100 last Sundays we have hosted dances for tens of big-name international sound systems and artists that have all got a warm reception and strong support at the dance.
From the sound visits I would say last weekend’s dance with Silly Walks with the club as packed as possible was one of the nicest in the history of music.. But then again there were so many other good nights (visits of many others like Rodigan, Mighty Crown, Supersonic, Sentinel, Stone Love, Collie Buddz, Pressure, Konshens etc – and some mad nice shows we played by ourselves or at festivals in Finland) it would be unfair to call one of them the best.
Almost every night we play there is a lot we can be thankful for – and in a way I like to think every night is the best or at least has the elements of being the best ever.
We do not linger – we strive to do what we do always a bit better to keep things moving and the people satisfied.
For us travelling abroad to play is always a big motivational factor – all of us enjoy travelling and playing for different audiences and we’ve had the blessing of being able to do so for quite a while.
Over the years, our sound system has taken us to many places, including Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Estonia, Germany, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Russia and even China.
Even though I’d honestly say our sound has only reached the level of quality I’m happy with playing abroad some time last year pretty much all the shows have been succesful and we’ve met a lot of new friends on the road.
# Which plans do you have for your sound in the near future and what are the real longtime plans for it?
We strive to keep our own club things and radio shows as high quality as possible and try and push the Finnish scene to a next level still.
In this the focus is on carefully planning the club bookings to provide the best possible program for the best possible dates and having the best possible amount of people there to experience it.
Nowadays we also do some co-operation with bigger Finnish festivals which makes it possible to see some artists we simply couldn’t afford to bring to Finland by ourselves.
Personally, I am still looking forward as a challenge to taking some of my producing-skills to a next level – I have produced music for tens of Finnish artists and put out tens of thousands of copies of succesful albums and I would love to work more with Jamaican artists.
I feel music is a road that we will keep walking. It’s not like a mountain where you climb and climb and then reach the top and feel satisfied but rather something that you will have with you every day till the rest of your life.
We will do our best to keep what we do as good as we can in a positive way and enjoy whatever little is achieved by doing so.
# Which persons, sounds, artists have influenced you musicallywise?
From sound systems, one of the biggest influences for me used to be Supersonic from Germany.
They were actually one of the first big-name sounds we ever booked to play Finland – Panza and Spida have visited many times since.
Panza is nowadays a good friend and I’ve been influenced a lot by his taste in music.
Especially at the time we were voicing a lot of dubs I used to kind of think hype was the biggest and best thing you can achieve when playing sound – massive forwards with proper tune selection and on-point speech.
Sounds like Sentinel and Mighty Crown have definitely been influences in that sort of playing.
I could maybe count in Rodigan to this category though he doesn’t really fear to go down the slow tune road every now and then even in prime time.
Musically I would say my biggest heroes nowadays are selectors who dont worry about going outside the regular box.
Two of my favorite sounds in EU nowadays are Boss Hi Fi from Switzerland and Silly Walks from Germany.
What I enjoy about their playing style is they are able to combine very well known music and something you never heard in a way that no dancer can resist.
Even though I love finding things I never heard before I don’t really like a stamp-collector’s way of looking for rare tunes or even cutting rare to unknown artists on dub just for the sake of being hard-to-find.
To me, when a sound plays, musical appeal always comes first – though now that I think of it of course we often find sometimes clearing the dancefloor several times at first when bussing a new tune … the third or fourth time usually pays off, though.. lol!
I do take influences everywhere but do my best not to copy anybody’s style.
All the sounds mentioned above are important to me because I’ve had the chance to reason about music with the crew, as well as experience the sounds playing.
I do this a lot – discuss music with people – laugh about tunes, find new meanings to things, try to present things I found and dont feel are getting as much exposure as possible. To me this seems like the only way – I am not gonna just check what’s supposed to be hot right now somewhere else (though I also do that), but rather make an effort to adapt things I find love for in the culture and environment surrounding me.
On the artist side there are simply too many great artists to mention – both musically and in person. In my experience being a reggae selector and radio DJ in Europe is quite a thankful thing to do – apart from some Jamaican people thinking you earn a lot ;) – the network in Europe is very positive-minded and most of the Jamaican artists and producers treat you with respect and professionalism.
# What was the first dubplate you ever voiced, and do you still play it?
The first dubplates we voiced were by Finnish artists and in Finnish.
Some of them are kind of legendary still and we do sometimes drop a tune or two to bless a certain dance.
First artists outside Finland to voice were Anthony Johnson, Earl 16 and Cornell Campbell. They don’t really get played that much – but are still very much inside the box ;)
Nowadays our dub cutting style has changed to a much more friendly way though sometimes we still kill idiot sounds when necessary.
We’ve done quite a bit of an effort to bless the regulars at our dances in Helsinki with dubs with true meaning to the massive – sometimes tunes that are barely known anywhere else get mad forwards in Helsinki just through us building local anthems of them.
I do think seriously though – even we love to introduce ourselves with some dubs and get all hypey hypey every now and then – that any sound that needs dubplates to mash up a dance should keep on practicing.. :)
Alright, thank you Tommi for your time!
If you want to know more about Komposti check their myspace page and for mixes, videos etc go to their Facebook Group here: