Fat Beat Sound System, known as the “defenders of fat and wide rhythms”, is a Helsinki-based band playing eclectic slow-paced rhythm music and founded in 1996 by Måns “DJ Bunuel” Strömberg (born in 1962). He is widely considered a prominent figure in the Finnish rhythm music and club scene with a long and reputed history as a deejay, musician, sound artist, promoter, radio host and entrepreneur since the 1970’s.
Especially the first years of Fat Beat Sound System include numerous changes in the line-up as it first started with teaming up with Mitja Tuurala (Cool Sheiks) as a dj duo, but soon it was all extended with saxophonist and flutist Heikki “Hepa” Halme (Cool Sheiks, Tuomari Nurmio, Halme Prospekt, Bad Ass Brass Band) and trumpet player Antero Priha (Marjo Leinonen & Huff’n’Puff, Bad Ass Brass Band, Afrojazz Quintet) joining the ranks.
The first replacement took place with DJ Slow taking over Tuurala, who was too involved in playing with J. Karjalainen Electric Sauna. However, when he also got too busy with his other projects and left out, percussionist Abdissa “Mamba” Assefa (Giant Robot, The Five Corners Quintet, Kimmo Pohjonen, Nuspirit Helsinki), drummer Samuli Kosminen and bass player Jukka “Jukkis” Kiviniemi (Sami Saari, Ismo Alanko, Jukka Poika & Jenkkarekka, Nuspirit Helsinki) hopped in.
Until Fat Beat Sound System eventually evolved from a celebrated live band into a recording act, Kosminen and Priha left the group and guitarist Jarmo Saari (XL, Zetaboo, Anna-Mari Kähärä) joined the team. Now the band’s lineup was in the form where they recorded most of their material from their Quality E.P. in 2002 to their debut album Fala Fala in 2005 and the following Late Downtown EP the next year. Multi-instrumentalist and producer Arttu Tolonen (Giant Robot) stepped in during the recording process of the second album Feed The Vocalists (2017) and has stayed since.
Fat Beat Sound System plays slow-tempo electronic music with influences ranging from Jamaica to Africa and has labeled their music by themselves with slogans such as “We Came To Slow Down” and “Mentally Fat” to describe their eclectic mix of music. The vocalists of the group have included Hosni Boudali, Paleface, Tommy Lindgren (Don Johnson Big Band, GG Caravan and Ricky-Tick Big Band), Heidi Kiviharju and Danny Taylor. They have also recorded songs together with Jhelisa Anderson (USA), Sandra Melody (UK) ja Okou (FRA). Even if the band never made an international breakthrough, they earned a respected status among the Finnish rhythm music enthusiasts for their studio releases and inspirational live performances in the years before and after the turn of the Millennium.
In the continuum of Finnish black rhythm music, Fat Beat Sound System also represents the front row of the global musical development, where the electronic rhythms and influences took a big role in the funky organic rhythm music across genres. After a hiatus of ten years, Antero Priha returned into the lineup and they made a comeback in 2018 with the new “Fat Brazil” single featuring the vocals of Bossapoika. So the story of our funky eclectic adventurers still goes on. But who knows where…
Text: Joonas Kervinen / Funky Finland