Started as an instrumental band in 1997, The Soul Investigators is one of the most well-known and prestigious Finnish funk and soul groups of all times. The original lineup consisting of Pete Toikkanen (guitar), Sami Kantelinen (bass), Jukka Sarapää (drums) and Antti Määttänen (organ) are still the backbone of the band even though the retro-spirited band has had other members as well during the years. For example, record producer Didier Selin was among the ranks for more than 15 years since 1998. Back in the days, the band also used the names Calypso King & The Soul Investigators, The Fabulous Soul Investigators and The Guest Villains.
Debut album Soul Strike! (2001) was issued by the New York-based record company Soul Fire in 2001. Thus the band decided to found their own label titled Timmion Records and became the official studio orchestra of the label. Since 2016 the role was given to the production team and orchestra Cold Diamond & Mink, which Seppo Salmi (guitar), Sami Kantelinen (bass) and Jukka Sarapää formed and which is also the band behind Finnish soul singer Bobby Oroza.
After their sophomore effort Home Cooking (2002) and the compilation Fat Slice O’ Funk (2004), which was published by Australian Invada Records, the band found common ground with an established Brooklyn-bred singer residing in Finland and released three albums under the name Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators. Especially the first one of these titled Keep Reachin’ Up (2005) lifted them into international fame and recognition gaining only on Spotify way more than a million listens. Also, the two latter albums titled Tortured Soul (2013) ja Happiness In Every Style (2015) were critically acclaimed and melted the hearts of their fans even though they did not do similarly well in sales and publicity. The collaboration with Nicole Willis finished in 2017.
In 2013, The Soul Investigators dropped the collaboration album Broadway with Californian singer duo Myron & E. It was issued by the reputed American label Stones Throw Records. Besides this effort, the band has made and released collaboration 7’’ singles also with some other other acts, including American soul and rhythm’n’blues singer Willie West as well as Bardo Martinez, the lead vocalist of west coast latin soul band Chicano Batman.
Ernie Hawks & The Soul Investigators is the name of the lineup starring Finnish flutist and trombonist Erno Haukkala. They released the praised album Scorpion Man full of funky and soulful instrumental tracks in 2018. In addition to the traditional lineup of The Soul Investigators, the album features notable guests such as guitarist Roni Martin and saxophonists Jimi Tenor and Linda Fredriksson.
Text: Joonas Kervinen / Funky Finland
Main photo: Aaro Keipi