Finnish-American musicians Sara Pajunen (violin) and Jonathan Rundman (guitar, harmonium, piano) explore their Nordic roots in the progressive acoustic folk duo Kaivama.
Finnish-American musicians Sara Pajunen and Jonathan Rundman of the folk duo Kaivama grew up in Northwoods cultures of long winters, lakeside saunas, rugged terrain, and solitude. The band is founded on Pajunen and Rundman's common ancestry and performs original compositions and inventive, energetic arrangements of traditional folk tunes from the Nordic countries. The name Kaivama stems from the Finnish word kaivaa: "to delve or dig." Pajunen's unique prowess on the fiddle and Rundman's versatility on guitar, harmonium, and piano allow Kaivama to explore a surprising variety of textures. Audiences from performance halls to folk festivals to rock clubs are captivated by this youthful duo's instrumental skill and fresh approach in creating music that is alternately joyous, primitive, experimental, haunting, and time-honored.
Sara Pajunen is powerful nitroglycerin and Jonathan Rundman is stabilizing sodium carbonate. Together these chemicals create the dynamite that Finnish immigrant miners utilized to blast iron ore out of the American Northwoods. Together Pajunen and Rundman are the musical duo KAIVAMA igniting listeners from Minneapolis outward to Helsinki and beyond.
Sara Pajunen and Jonathan Rundman grew up in Upper Midwest cultures of long winters, lakeside saunas, rugged terrain, and solitude. Both raised in Finnish-American epicenters not far from the shores of Lake Superior, Pajunens hometown of Hibbing, MN and Rundmans own Ishpeming, MI are famous for vast open-pit iron mines. Their bands name reflects this spirit of excavation. Kaivama is a Finnish word stemming from the verb kaivaa: "to delve or dig."
Even during Rundman and Pajunen's first performances, their explosive musical chemistry was immediately obvious to everyone who witnessed it. Pajunen's formidable prowess on the fiddle and Rundman's versatility on guitar, harmonium, and piano allow KAIVAMA to explore a surprising variety of textures, and they unearthed a uniquely American interpretation of the Finnish pelimanni folk music tradition. Word of this new Finnish-American band reverberated throughout the internet. Soon KAIVAMA was receiving invitations to perform across the United States, and Finland's national YLE radio network was requesting their earliest demo recordings for airplay.
KAIVAMA's pyrotechnic agent is Sara Pajunen and her masterful fiddling. Pajunen is classically-trained, but has transcended this background to become of one North America's most notable progressive Nordic folk fiddlers. Jonathan Rundman frames Pajunen's firepower. A veteran performer and recording artist, Rundman has toured the US and Europe as a troubadour songwriter, collecting raves from publications such as Paste, Billboard, and the New York Times. He complements Pajunen's violin virtuosity with his jack-of-all-trades multi-instrumentalism.
In 2011, less than a year after their first live performance, KAIVAMA launched an extensive national tour and released their self-titled debut CD. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune newspaper heralded KAIVAMA's "gorgeous, beautifully recorded" album, and the authoritative Americana publication No Depression recognized the collection as "roots music with the ability to transport the listener to another continent and another time." Radio shows from coast to coast spun the disc, and KAIVAMA video clips were featured on television in Michigan, Minnesota, and even on Finland's "Huomenta Suomi (Good Morning Finland)" program.
While supporting their first CD, KAIVAMA was invited to open some Midwestern shows for one of their musical heroes, Arto Järvelä of the legendary Finnish fiddle band JPP. One tour led to another, and by Spring of 2012 the inter-continental trio were back on the road with an entire set of new music. In one six-hour session, Järvelä, Pajunen, and Rundman tracked 12 tunes at The Monastery Studio in Cincinnati, recorded by renowned indie-folk engineer Ric Hordinski (Over The Rhine, David Wilcox). This resulting album Arto Järvelä & Kaivama features recent compositions by each musician, tied together by a series of traditional pieces from Finland. As Järvelä writes in the liner notes: "we have our ears and hearts open for new ideas, so I think our collaboration will continue rolling like a snowball."
Excited by the new Arto Järvelä & Kaivama album and an always-evolving repertoire of fresh tunes, Pajunen and Rundman look ahead to more musical adventures. Audiences from performance halls to folk festivals to rock clubs are captivated by this youthful duo's instrumental skill and fresh approach in creating music that is alternately joyous, primitive, experimental, haunting, and time-honored. Like their iron-mining forebears, KAIVAMA is making a seismic impact on the folk music landscape as they uncover a rich heritage of sounds and melodies.