Hailing from “Hämpton” aka. Hämeenlinna, The Blassics have been in the heart of the Finnish funky scene as one of the true trailblazers, who haven’t enjoyed publicity they would deserve but who have been doing their music year after another without compromising with their own style and approach. Founded by guitarist Juha Sarkkola and trumpeter Tuure Tammi, the afrobeat-funk-jazz band and collective has always focused on analog lo-fi sounds but subsequently reaching out for more and more influences from up north to different parts of Africa – and fusing it all together with open minds.
And when there was not even Timmion Records around, the funky pals decided already years ago to found their own label and studio under the name Odd Funk Records. The Blassics is also a dj and production duo, who have knowledge on all the fields of music making – except maybe on promoting themselves. The international quality was reached ages ago, but unfortunately their type of music is very marginal here in their sparsely populated home turf in Finland.
More recognizion would surely be only fair for the band, which has released several albums, one EP and a pile of 7’’ vinyl singles with the first one of them titled “Goljat / Cheek Playah” in 2011. Their self-titled full length debut was released in 2013 with new albums approximately dropping every two years since. Outside the Finnish events and festivals of the scene, The Blassics have performed abroad in several countries, and their music has occasionally found its way to international dj and radio playlists. During the last few years, they have collaborated with the Detroit-based Funk Night Records label, which has issued their 7’’ singles and will also publish their next album effort in 2022. The Dutch company Painted Dog Records has also distributed their albums internationally.
The sound of The Blassics has evolved from pure instrumentals to songs with various vocalists. Some of the musicians Sarkkola and Tammi have been actively working together include bassist Ville-Pekka Järvinen, drummer Joona Venäläinen, flutist Hanna Lotti, saxophonist Mikko Veijonen, and percussion players Jukka Teerisaari and Victor Tokpanou. On their album Togetherings in 2019 they also collaborated with Ethiopian-born singer MikiMac.
As a production duo named similarily as The Blassics, Tuure Tammi and Juha Sarkkola released in 2016 together with Odd Jazz Collective the album Odd Jazz Vol. 1, which focuses on avantgarde jazz. It draws inspiration from the global jazz movement of the late 60’s and 70’s with influences from the world. The sequel was released in September, 2022 and distributed by Tallinn-based label RR Gems Records.
During the last few years, the duo also produced songs for example for the instrumental hip hop collective Broaks, avantgarde jazz group Mush Tone Ensemble and funk/soul act Pascal & Baya Race. During the Covid-19 pandemic, The Blassics issued digitally a three-part series of their improvisation based c-tape recordings under the title Lockdown Cassettes Vol. 1-3.
Text: Joonas Kervinen / Funky Finland
Featured photos above: Toni Rasinkangas