Lost but not least! Jii Hoo – Let Me Luv U (white label)
You have no idea as to how I miss The Big Apple and all the ones who happened to become my people at the time. Of course, I’m thinkin’ of my late Uncle Mel (Cheren) of West End Records. And I’ve not forgotten the good times I had at Shelter along with Timmy Regisford, Freddy Sanon and Blaze. No more than the ones I had the day after at Body & Soul with François K, Joe Claussell and Danny Krivit. With this being where I discovered so many absolute delights. Beginning with this mysterious white label by the likes of Jii Hoo titled ‘Let Me Luv U’.
The ‘Let Me Luv U’ effect was immediate. Bringing me to wonder if ever this was not a remix. Unless an interpolation of something that had definitely rung a bell. I remember I felt like I had to write its details on a post-it with the hope to find a copy of it asap. With this happening a couple of days later at Dancetracks. Meanwhile realizing, it cleverly borrowed elements from Willie Hutch‘s ‘Hospital Prelude Of Love Theme’. A cut itself taken from the 1974 ‘Foxy Brown’ OST. And then turned into a winning blend that would get it to become a Body & Soul classic. Then given an official release, after F-Comm cleared up the sample, three years later as a part of Hulkkonen‘s 2000 ‘When No One Is Watching, We Are Invisible’ album.
‘Let Me Luv U’ is simply brilliant, and probably the best cut Jori Hulkkonen ever done…
Imagine yourself living in a small industrial town of 25,000 people, close to the Arctic Circle. Now, what are you options? You can either go with the flow and become a part of the system. Or you can start working on an escape plan. Not quite that dramatic, but the latter proved to be the case for Jori Hulkkonen. Born in the early 70’s in a small Finnish town called Kemi, he’s truly one of the last pre-Perestroika generation kids.
Having had the Cold War, the Inari missile-incident and the Tschernobyl disaster just right next door, Jori found his aesthetics for escapism from the in the early and mid 80’s music. To make it short, New Wave, Synth Pop and the New Romantics mixed with some traditional Finnish Pop and Rock. All things synthetic, distant, dark, cold, gloomy, but yet beautiful seemed appealing. In other words, everything from Visage to The Cure, and Pet Shop Boys to John Foxx.
“I can still recall the first time I heard ‘West End Girls’ by the Pet Shop Boys on radio. Then the sensation it gave me. Those chord changes in the intro and when that bassline comes in… magic. I basically started back then seriously thinkin’ about makin’ electronic music.”
When the first wave of Techno, Electro and House hit the shores of the neighbouring Sweden later in the 80’s, Jori had his radio tuned in. It wasn’t long before he realized that this was his calling.
Finding information about who these people making this music actually were, where they came from and how they did it… All of this proved to be quite a difficult task back then. After all, this was a time before Internet and even before the massive amount of dedicated electronic music press.
In 1988, Jori finally managed to hook up with a sampler and a cheap drum machine. Then he started to experiment with production. The early material was mostly inspired by old favs such as the Pet Shop Boys and some Italo Disco records. Themselves combined with current House and Techno, such as Derrick May‘s productions and Chicago House records.
“The fact that I didn’t have any musical education was an advantage I guess. It made making music more fun coz’ you would learn new things all the time. That’s one of the reasons why I keep changing my equipment in the studio on regular basis. Just to make it more challenging technically and therefore keeping it rewarding on all levels.”
Needless to say how the majority of people around had no idea as to what was happening in the universe ofunderground electronic music. Hopefully, there happened to be exceptions though. Like Tuomas Salmela, a schoolmate whom Jori had known since 1978. He was impressed by Jori’s passion for the new electronic sounds. Thus becoming an important part in creating a small circle of people who would be taking the Finnish club music to a new level. Tuomas got also into production in the early 90’s. And soon after, they started putting things together.
Another keyplayer, a local DJ, Kapa, introduced Jori not only to DJ culture. But also to another northern producer, Ari Ruokamo. They instantly decided to put out a record together, and LUMI records was born. Then, in November 1993, Jori and Ari released a compilation by the likes of ‘Under Northern Ground’ featuring also a few tracks from Jukka Hautamäki.
“Pretty exciting times, those early Lumi days. Getting your first vinyl on your hands.. And also the fact that we came basically from nowhere, as far as the rest of Finland, not to mention the world was concerned. That felt pretty good. Showing people that Techno and House was not all that urban big city music…”
Back then, in 1994, Jori was living in Oulu. Still very much up North of Finland. There he had started his English Philogy studies after havin’ spent eleven months in the army. Thus finding himself in the impossible situation of trying to run a label, make music plus create an academic career.
Sweden’s Techno pioneer Cari Lekebusch, known for his Hybrid label, was the first victim of their demo attack. He got so impressed by the demos sent in not only by Jori, but also Tuomas and Ari, that he decided to create a new label just for the “Oulu sound”. Later, he added some Chicago artists on the same stable.
Only eleven releases releases ever came out from the Trainspotter’s Nightmare label. But they proved to be enough to make their mark.
Realizing that dropping club oriented 12″ can only get you so far, it was time to look for a label that would be interested in working on a more long term basis. With the focus on albums rather that DJ tool singles.
French label F-Communications picked up on the demo Jori sent in in late 1995. And from around 30 tracks, the best were picked to create Jori‘s debut album – ‘Selkäsaari Tracks’ – the year after. Meanwhile, out of the six albums he released for F-Comm between 1996 and 2008, ‘When No One Is Watching (We Are Invisible)’ is probably his most achieved effort. With thanks to the inclusion of ‘The Moment’ featuring Chris Udoh whom you might remember of as a member of the Wamdue Kids. Not to mention the one of ‘Let Me Luv U’ which he’d first released as a white label three years before, back in 1997 under the Jii-Hoo guise.
The year after, Hulkkonen made a quick stop by Turbo Records where he released his seventh album, ‘Man From Earth’. Then he switched to Canadian label My Favorite Robot Recordings, where he dropped three extra albums. With his latest, ‘Don’t Believe In Happiness’, back in 2017.
Strangely enough Jori Hulkkonen may have found a better fame under the Zyntherius guise. This while sharing the duties with Tiga on a cover version of Corey Hart‘s ‘Sunglasses At Night’.
The depository of some unique aesthetics, Hulkkonen has left his name on countless projects. Inbetween collaborations (Tiga, Alexi Delano, John Foxx) and productions. Not to mention remixes. From Nova Nova to Télépopmusik, Nicole Willis, Goldfrapp and Troublemakers to name a few. September 2018 seeing his latest release coming to light. In other words, ‘Humanitarian Roar’ as a part of a shared 3 tracker along with AudioKode and Malpunkt on De-Noize Records).