Maija Kauhanen and Pauanne – A la Malmi

Ala-Malmin tori 1, 00700 Helsinki

Unique soundscapes and compelling grooves. Stories of spells and curses, the dreams of a shepherd.

Unique soundscapes and compelling grooves. Stories of spells and curses, the dreams of a shepherd.

Maija Kauhanen – One-Woman Orchestra

Expressive voice, deep-rooted kantele and inventive percussion: fleet-fingered virtuoso and one-woman band Maija Kauhanen specializes in Finnish kantele and its old and rare playing techniques. Weaving together polyrhythms and organic beats, she creates unique soundscapes and compelling grooves.
Multi-awarded Maija Kauhanen is one of the most internationally successful folk musicians from Finland and has toured over 30 countries around Europe, Asia and America.

On her latest album Menneet (The Past, Nordic Notes 2022) Kauhanen takes a step towards being a singer-songwriter without losing the strong roots in tradition. The music draws influences from folk music, indie pop and film scores and tells stories of personal space and setting one’s boundaries. How much space is enough? How can a personal space be maintained and cherished, without letting it hold us back?

Kauhanen specializes in the rare Saarijärvi kantele from Central Finland. She plays the kantele in various tunings and with different playing styles, using her fingers, tiny wooden sticks as plectrums, a cello bow, an E-bow as well as other preparation materials like Blu Tack. Her percussion set consists of a kick drum, juju bean shaker, cymbals, wind bells, enamel pots and bowls, silver plates, metal muffin tins, trays and assorted kitchen utensils found at flea markets.

Maija Kauhanen’s vocal technique is inspired by imitating instrument sounds, rural music traditions of Finland and Karelia as well as the Swedish kulning vocal tradition.


Pagan spirits still slumber in the depths of the Finnish forests – Pauanne has set out to awaken them. Stories of spells and curses, the dreams of a shepherd, 17th-century witch hunts and magical iron fences that repel invaders.

The trio’s archive research has unearthed a wealth of songs from the long-lost, non-Christian tradition of Finnish folk music.

Violinist Kukka Lehto and Tero Pennanen on Hammond organ and keyboards collect, arrange and further compose the repertoire while percussionist Oskari Lehtonen provides the rhythmic enhancement.

Pauanne is fascinated by the “outrageous beliefs” of the past and its endemic prejudices, paranoia, fear of foreigners and persecution of women. In their songs and videos they show that these traits are still very much alive, just dressed in modern clothes. The debut album Pauanne was released in 2019 by Nordic Notes (DE).

In recent times Pauanne has performed at WOMEX The World Music Expo, WOMAD Las Palmas, Folkelarm Oslo, Nordic Folk Alliance Gothenburg and Haapavesi Folk to name a few.

Kukka Lehto – violin, keyboards, archive tapes
Tero Pennanen – hammond B3 organ, keyboards, archive tapes
Oskari Lehtonen – drums, percussions, archive tapes

A la Malmi club series by Malmitalo presents the most interesting new Finnish music on its way to fame in acoustic form in an amazing concert hall environment. A la Malmi does not care about genres. Instead, it serves up the best creators of independent music in the country.