Niko Valkaepää
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Niko Valkaepää

Oslo, Oslo County, Norway | Established. Jan 01, 2003 | INDIE

Oslo, Oslo County, Norway | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2003
Band World Traditional


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"Review Niko Valkaepää: «ÄÄ»"

Melancholic synthpop.

Niko Valkeapää is in a productive corner, with two releases in a few months. "ÄÄ" shows in addition Valkeapää from a lighter, brighter side than we are used to, with catchy, well-constructed pop songs and an expression that draws a lot of inspiration from 80's synth pop. Nevertheless, the sound is organic and rich in detail and with surprising touches, like an extended percussion sequence in "Vuoján ja Vuoján." Eventually does also the music show a darker side, through poetic lyrics about longing and estrangement.

Producer and guitarist Georg Buljo have made ​​most of the songs and done an excellent effort in seaming inviting grooves and catchy synth riff.

BEST SONG: "Galbma Giedat / Cold Hands» - Carl Petter Opsal

"His catching the Northern Light through the music"

ALBUM: Four years after the double album «Birrat birra» is the sami singer and poet from Kautokeino, Niko Valkeapää (43) releasing his fourth album, a new piece of Sami World Music - more stripped-down, acoustic, focused and immediate, and less electronic than his latest releases.

As usual, is Georg Buljo the man who "dresses" Valkeapää words - as a composer, producer, technician and musician. He has a background from Mari Boine's band and has worked with Valkeapää from his self-titled debut album in 2003 - which received a Grammy under the Norwegian Grammy Awards in the Open class.

And it's really not easy to place this music in any class or cubicle. And why should you do that? The most important thing is that a new world will open up for you who haven't heard this music before.

Themselves use labels like Sami americana and Sami blues about the music.

Most people associate Sami music with yoiking, but that tradition - with one exception - is absent here. Instead Valkeapää and Buljo renews the Sami music tradition again - by reinforcing what has become the signature of several Sami artists: Floating soundscapes that get the mind to form images of white, vast expanses. It is lingering, but also catchy - and immensely beautiful.

The music is to recognize, however, is has a new feature that makes it interesting - a new depth that wasn't there before. The melodies has also become even better.

With a few minor exceptions, does Buljo play all the instruments, with more use of acoustic guitar than of the previous albums - among the brilliant fruition in the final melancholy gem "Áigi lea boathán (The Time Has Come)." Buljo also plays instruments like dobro, bouzouki and percussion.

But it is again Valkeapää's warm and distinctive voice that gets to play the lead role.

The lyrics are admittedly in Sami, but they are translated into English in the cover - and got titles like "New Path", "The Moon And Me", "Where" and "Moon's Tale."

It's not the big, elaborate themes, but the simple, sensuous images that Valkeapää's texts convey: About childhood memories, reindeer, love and dancing Northern Lights as beautiful as their own distinctive musical universe. - ØYVIND RØNNING

"WOMEX 2012: Niko Valkeapää"

Niko Valkeapää, who has solidified his position as one of contemporary Sámi music’s key voices with this autumn’s applauded album "ÄÄ" proved his worth at his October showcase at World Music Expo Womex in mid-October.

Based in Northern Norway’s Kautokeino region, Finnish/Norwegian/Saami singer/songwriter and vocalist Niko Valkeapää has achieved what many artists strive for years to obtain: a personal form of expression and a niche to himself.

Although Valkeapää is solidly anchored in the Sami tradition, his musical outings owe more to contemporary americana and electronica-infused pop than traditional Sami chanting does. His string of five albums all manifest Valkeapää as one of Sami music’s foremost performers and one of the most integral voices to emerge on this scene in recent years. With well-developed compositional skills, his feet are equally planted in an Anglo/American singer/songwriter tradition as they are in a traditional Sami lyrical form of expression. Valkeapää’s latest album ‘ÄÄ’ draws a portrait of a young performer and composer that has found his linguistic as well as musical platform.

- The songs on my albums deal with themes such as urbanity, cultural diversity and introspective exploration. Inter-human relations, social reactions and themes that circle around these factors are also central topics in my lyrics, says the songwriter.

In close partnership with fellow co-producer, Oslo-based Georg Buljo, Niko Valkeapää has created a yet another sterling album with strong contributions from a varied and competent crew of musicians that are known for collaboration with such diverse artists as Mari Boine, Jon Balke and Amundsen. The overall form of expression is subdued and understated, but the deep, captivating and warm vocal contributions provide enough force to propel the minimalist playing and sparse arrangements into a powerful mix. Says Valkeapää on the creation of his latest album: - It’s been a long process that has seen me and Buljo working closely together to create a personal statement.

‘ÄÄ’ sees Niko Valkeapää presenting a style he has dubbed ‘Arctic Art Rock’ which traces its roots to the 80s with a nod to bands and artists such as Talk Talk, Japan, David Bowie and The Cure. Where Valkeapää on his recent album ‘Gusto’ dug deep into acoustic Saami Americana, ‘ÄÄ’ features him and his longtime musical partners dragging the old synthesizers up from the basement and turning up both the volume and the tempos several notches.

The otherwise melancholic Saami singer and poet now introduces strong choruses and adds tasteful doses of humor. Still, his trademark darkness and artistic depth remains as the basis for his musical work. Niko´s lyrics this time are influenced by human search, loneliness and despair. The musical surface might look calm and happy enough but underneath mirrors a depth and a dark human soul. The pop songs have a dimension that does not reveal itself immediately, but awards the keen listener that digs deep.

Vintage synth bonanza
Says Valkeapää on his approach to creating his latest album: - We had some songs that didn´t quite fit into the scene of singer/songwriters playing guitar and buozuoki around the campfire. That´s why we picked up the old synths from the 80´s. Suddenly we had a whole new album.

As a live performer, Niko Valkeapää has contributed to a number of central events – starting out with the EXPO 2000 fair and winning the coveted Sami Song Contest award for two consecutive years. 2003 saw Valkeapää being bestowed with a Spellemannspris, the Norwegian equivalent to the Grammy, for his self-titled debut album. The following year saw the release of his album ‘Sierra’ which again made the critics turn their thumbs up. Niko won the Liet International, the song contest for European Minority Languages in 2004 where he was awarded the ‘Public Choice price’ as well. Summer 2008 saw the release of his double album ‘Birrat Birra’ – again, with strong reviews at home and abroad. The album earned Valkeapää Norwegian Folk Music Awards in two categories, ‘Open Class’ and class for ‘Most Innovative Folk Music’. 2012 has so far been highly productive for the prolific artist; his fourth album ‘Gusto’ saw its release to critical acclaim in April while August’s ‘ÄÄ’ has performed even better with unanimous praise in the domestic music press.

Valkeapää has performed frequently at home and abroad over the last decade playing festivals and concerts throughout Scandinavia as well as in Holland, USA, Canada, Alaska, Russia, Japan and Brazil. - Tomas Lauvland Pettersen


Still working on that hot first release.



Niko Valkeap is a Finnish-Saami singer/songwriter. He is the godson of Nils Aslak Valkeap, and he has recorded new melodies to several of Nils Aslak's poems. Although Valkeap is anchored in the Sami tradition, his musical outings owe more to contemporary and mature electronica-infused pop than traditional Sami chanting does. 

Niko won the Saami Grand Prix in 1994 and 1995, and received Norwegian Grammy in 2003 for his debutalbum Niko Valkeap. In 2004 Niko won Liet Ynternasjonaal, a song contest for European Minority Languages. In 2008 his album Birrat Birra won Norwegian Folk Music Awards in to categories, Open Class and Most Innovative Folk Music.

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