Q&A with Erja Lytinnen Stolen Hearts Guitars and Touring
BD: Hi Erja hope you are well, thanks for taking time to speak to Bluesdoodles, for the second time this year as you embark on a UK tour.
EL: Yes, really well and looking forward to talking again as I am about to hit the road across the UK at the end of the month.
BD: Let’s start off with the tour seven nights in the UK starting in Sheffield at Greystones on the 20th How do you prepare and plan for a tour?
EL: It is nice to be back touring, it is an extension of the tour that started back in April to promote Stolen Hearts. Always wonderful when new people come to a show as well as meeting old friends. It is fun playing the music live. The twins see this as part of life, it is normal for them for Mum to go off playing her music. They go and stay with their father it is no different for them. They have grown so much they are now three and a half, they understand more and can talk about it. They love to help to load and acting as roadies. One is really good on the drums playing with two sticks and playing bass drum at the same time. (Laughing) just need the other to play bass be the perfect band. Seriously they can do what they want to do. It is though important I think for everyone to enjoy music. Everyone can be creative and involvement in the arts is so good for the soul; it lets all the stress out. I have been in rehearsals today preparing for the shows, and they went really well. I have new songs and a new pedal. One of the new songs gives me the chance to create a bit of chaos and develop the guitar sound. Chaos is a good thing and then take the music back to simplicity.
BD: For people seeing you for the first time how do you describe your special blues. Full of slide and magic and weaving in tones from across the modern music spectrum from Rock to Prog?
EL: I listen to lots of different music, guitar based and mostly bluesy. I love mixing and matching the various elements I have learnt from my many and varied guitar teachers. From my teachers, I learn different approaches and take what is good for me. I master as much as I can and add these skills into the mix. Blues always is the heaviest essence within my music; I like to go crazy with the music, playing free. Traditional blues are hard to play. Can be seen as boring by some. To take the best out of those three chords you need to be the master of the blues.
I have always been a bit of a rebel, wanting to deliver the unexpected, being unique. You cannot just copy you have to make your own stuff. Right now what is happening is a new thing and a new sound coming out of the guitar which is exciting.
BD: To sum up then your music is the blues with a twist of craziness and a lot of Erja uniqueness.
BD: Will the set list be heavy with tracks from your acclaimed album Stolen Hearts and do you have favourites from your whole back catalogue?
EL: The set list will be 100% Erja Lyytinen. The set list will include tracks from Stolen Hearts. The songs will be different playing live they get their own shape and energy. Into the mix will be songs going back to Grip Of The Blues with Everything’s Fine released in 2008. Wow, that is nearly ten years ago! Laughing. You can hear the development over the decade now maybe when in a set can be eight minutes of heavy shuffle blues, with loud guitar, in the solo using delay and Whaing. The cover song we love having in the set list and is pleasing for audiences is Steamy Windows; the Tony Joe White song a lot of fun, about sex and I can have a good time with the bass player.
BD: Having performed the songs from Stolen Hearts live do you have a favourite and why?
EL: Rocking Chair, from Stolen Hearts, goes in, it is always a challenge to play live and is becoming its own number little by little as it develops when played on stage if you allow the music the change. Having played the number at around one hundred shows songs are taken in another direction from when recorded in the studio of first played live. It would be boring if played the same way every time. In the blues genre changing and developing is typical and expected.
BD: As you will be only too aware of the debate about what is the blues. What are the Blues to Erja Lyytinen? Do you feel British Blues has a different feel to what is being currently produced in Europe, United States and elsewhere in the world?
EL: Europe definitely has different Blues from U.S.A. The U.K. definitely trades in the whole blues revival of the sixties as the great rock bands emerged Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones and so many more. A Blues band of every country has roots reaching back to the sixties. British Blues is stable with a clear identity.
American Blues is more conventional more towards the traditional roots. European bands are not afraid to mixing and making new sound being experimental. Without a doubt, rockier blues is trending at the moment after the phenomenon of Bonamassa and others have developed a great space a new thing and vibe.
We already have a great catalogue of blues from the past recordings of the 1940’s. We cannot go back. Fortunately traditional and new are being combined as players take elements from the past to where we are now.
BD: During your travels, how often (if ever) have you experienced sexism, and if so where is it worst/most rife?
EL: Sexism, chuckling, it is in the fabric of the blues. Women and the blues have always been present. Blues is a man’s world. It has been around since the days of Bessie Smith through to Rosetta Thorpe. They were all amazing musicians and women with an attitude to stride forward. They all had so much talent that the sexism within the business could never overshadow. It has changed so much over the last five years there are now more women in the blues. The change is thanks to many women including singer & guitarist Bonnie Raitt, who has been on the circuit for 40 plus years, Susan Tedeschi and Sue Foley and so many more. Women needed these idols. I was lucky my father played the guitar and my mother bass so there were no gender stereotypes of sexism what I was growing up.
BD: What projects have you in the pipeline for the rest of 2017 and into 2018 once the tour finishes in Bristol at The Tunnels on the 26th September?
EL: After the UK tour in September I am involved in a TV programme, Stars Stars (Tähdet Tähdet). It is a nationwide programme where ten singers who sing different genres each week. With over a million viewers every week. The viewers vote and it will stretch me singing Rap/Hip Hop/musicals and other genres each week, I hope the viewer’s votes mean I get through to the finals.
I have a big tour before Christmas in Finland at twelve big venues Erja Lyttinen & Friends: Blue Christmas with Sami Saari and Maria going to be fun. Then into 2018 still touring Stolen Hearts Europe in February and back in the U.K. in March.
We are already doing new songs so cool a shift in direction for the future. My music has been used in a documentary being premiered today. The programme is a big criminal case involving drug Police. So interesting to do different things
No album is being planned for 2018 as still touring Stolen Hearts. But I am writing lots. I noticed that Stolen Hearts full of emotions and my personal life. My writing has moved more base on the guitar a different sound more psychedelic. The stories are not ready yet, lots of guitar riffs and mood feels very different. So lots happening.
BD: Thank you for your time and looking forward to see you live on tour and reviewing the show on 26th September at The Tunnels, Bristol.
Bluesdoodles Stolen Hearts Album Review: The only answer as the last notes fade is listen and explore Stolen Hearts again. Why? Stolen Hearts is an album of musical maturity that will remain a firm favourite for years to come in collections of lovers of contemporary blues without boundaries. Read more…