European DJ Tour Recap!

With Helsinki’s finest DJs Sampsa Vilhunen + Vesa Yli-Pelkonen at the gorgeous sauna-by-the-sea, Loyly

Just a few hours after the London party, I was en route to Helsinki for a 3-gig weekender with Sampsa Vilhunen + Vesa Yli-Pelkonen—the best kind of record collectors, DJs, and lovers of music. They are one of the main reasons Helsinki has such a vibrant vinyl nightlife. They devote a tremendous amount of time + love to digging for records, DJing + hosting their monthly party, BIG SHAKE. Vesa usually arrives at the venue 2-3 hours before a party to ensure the sound system is in tip-top shape. Together we hosted an all female-vocal Sh-Boom special on the Friday night at Putte’s Cellar, which had the most unbelievable sound system I have ever heard in my life. It’s so easy to underestimate the importance of quality sound, until you experience it firsthand and realize that it makes all the difference in the world. Oh to have such a sound system in a NYC bar….one can only dream! NYC DJ + PMS & the Moodswings bass player Leah Beth hopped over from Berlin to Helsinki for the evening, and we drank and danced with our Finnish friends, Otto Talvio, Aino Frilander, and Erika Halmeenpaa + her gal pal who did synchronized dance moves to all the jump blues/ rockabilly cuts we played. Thanks to Otto for doing a write-up on my Helsinki gigs in Finland’s main newspaper, NYT!

Sampsa Vilhunen, Sheila B., and Vesa Yli-Pelkonen at Sh-Boom, Putte’s Cellar, Helsinki

On Saturday night, the BIG SHAKE party was preceded by a metal gig featuring bands called Hard Nipples X and Kivesveto Go Go (which supposedly means ‘testicles’ or something equally delicious), so it was an interesting shift from metalheads to 60s soul dancers as the BIG SHAKE party took effect. Sampsa + Vesa had their special turntable set up to switch between 45s and 78s, and the dancefloor was packed until closing. When I stepped on the stage to get a shot of the crowd, a girl pulled me aside to ask if we could please play something her and her friends could dance to because the music we were playing was just so terrible. I explained that probably every other bar/ night-club in Helsinki was playing the music she was looking for, and that this was a special, less conventional night focused on the records from the 50s + 60s that we loved and wanted to share with the PACKED dancefloor. So please do yourself a favor and find the music you’re looking for elsewhere. She then thanked me for the explanation and said she actually wanted to stick around to give these records a chance. Score!

Sampsa + Vesa spinning 78s at BIG SHAKE, Bar Loose, Helsinki

A packed dancefloor at BIG SHAKE. The girl on the bottom left is ready to give me
an earful on our musical selections

Post-BIG SHAKE with Ikke Ikalainen, Sampsa + Vesa

My final DJ gig in Helsinki—at a brand-new eco-friendly sauna by the sea called Loyly—was certainly the most unique! Although I was completely dazed from the very late nights and consecutive DJ gigs, a lil’ red wine and laid-back bossa nova records revived my sleepy soul. At the end of the gig, Vesa + I spent a couple hours alternating between the hot n’ smoky saunas and dips into the freezing sea. 

DJing at Loyly, Helsinki for a different kind of crowd

A most exciting visit to this Futuro 001 house, built by Matti Suuronen in the late 60s.

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