Jimi Tenor Bio
and composer Jimi Tenor has never settled for the traditional role
of a pop artist. He is known as a productive musician whose work
lies beyond current trends, and also as a performer who combines
the finest elements of afro-american music, spontaneous silliness
and shameless glamour in an original way.
Besides being a professional musician for almost 20 years, Jimi
Tenor (born Lassi Lehto, 1965, Lahti, Finland) has also practised
photography, directed short films and designed clothes and musical
instruments. The electro-mechanic instruments built by Jimi Tenor
and designer Matti Knaapi are not intended to be pieces of art on
display at exhibitions, though have sometimes ended up as such.
They emerge from musical needs, and are mainly made of scrap material.
The instruments have been used at full blast during recording and
on stage, so some of them have been wrecked.
Tenor's music, along with his design and technical innovations,
springs from experimental rock. His first recording band Jimi Tenor
& His Shamans (1986-1992) was influenced by the early 80s industrial
rock, where instruments were made out of scrap metal and plastic.
Later during the 90s Tenor moved first towards electronic music,
but soon got closer to his roots: 60s and 70s jazz, psychedelic
soul and African funk.
Although Tenor spent all of the 90s in Berlin, New York, London
and Barcelona, his artistic approach was typically Finnish: technically
practical, but saturated with black humour and a national romantic
tone. So he was quite at home all over Europe in front of a crowd
gone wild, wearing a glittering self-designed costume and a flowing
cape, holding a noise-producing device the main components of which
were a walkman made in Hong Kong and an East-German bicycle dynamo,
performing a song about ancient Finnish forest gods, sounding like
a mixture of Gil Evans, Jimi Hendrix and Fela Kuti.
The music industry has found it difficult to operate with Jimi
Tenor at times. The hard rock driven Finland of the 80s considered
him weird and too marginal. In Britain in the 90s he was seen as
a trendy techno jazz artist, but Tenor soon confused the pioneering
electro label Warp by delivering an imaginary - and expensive -
soundtrack album with a symphony orchestra, instead of making minimalistic
Today Jimi Tenor is an established European artist who operates
outside the mainstream. His audience consists of clubbers and alternative
rock enthusiasts looking for new perspective, but also of jazz and
funk rebels. Those who understand that even unconventional pop music
can move your body and heart.
translated by Chris Gurney