What`s up then?
In Finland, Kieku ja Kaiku is a popular cartoon from the 1950s, starring two chickens sowing mischief across their forrest land. Their names are onomatopoeias for the rooster’s crow—cock-a-doodle-doo, loud, brash, and eye-opening. Finland’s KIEKU RECORDS takes its name from these unofficial mascots, borrowing from childhood nostalgia but also carrying an important message. It’s time for the music industry to wake up.
Record labels used to be the revered curators of the music world, the gold standard arbiters who championed new, fresh, exciting artists because they believed their music should be heard by everyone, at all costs. These days, it seems like that magic touch has all but disappeared, lost to Spotify algorithms and endless boring Soundcloud mixes. Labels are beholden to the market, and not the other way around—if all that matters is following the latest trend, there’s no space to be innovative with the music they release. Kieku looks to inject a dose of passion–even, dare we say, anarchy–into the tired formulas that have left so much good music by the wayside, and show that releasing music in 2018 can still be conceptual, unconventional, and above all, showcase new talent in an utterly novel way.
Instead of creating more rules for the music industry to live by, Kieku wants to break them down. The concept behind the label is simple: every Kieku release is a digital-only double A-side, featuring two songs that exquisitely mirror each other. One light, one dark; one hot as fire, one cool as ice; one floating up to heaven, one pummelling down to earth. There are no other prerequisites on the part of the artists—no genre, no sound no vibe is off limits. From indie to pop to psych to drone, Kieku’s singles aim to introduce the listener to new ideas and sounds, delivering a true sonic journey across two perfectly crafted songs.
Even on top of just the music, Kieku strives to be a close-knit community. The label is a loose extension of the Berlin-via-Helsinki production house Kaiku Studios, run by industry vets Jonas Verwijnen and Janne Lounatvuori. Using the studio as a homebase, Kieku has set out to foster a diverse collective of musicians, record producers, sound engineers, and other music experts, becoming a platform for artists to express themselves, unhindered from the usual industry trappings that come with conventionally releasing their music.
Like all good labels, Kieku takes every aspect of their releases seriously, and this, of course, includes art work. Every year, Kieku will partner with a visual artist who will create all the cover art for each single. Its first collaboration is with Vilunki 3000, whose illustrations have already contributed to the trippy, psychedelic feel of the label’s first few releases.
At the end of the day, despite the industry’s recent pitfalls, there’s still a lot of incredible talent out there that deserves to be heard, and Kieku’s mission is to position itself as the go-to place for self-expression. From the artists, to the label, everyone is all-in, bouncing off each other, creating a space that’s as much for hard-earned expertise as it is for playful experimentation.
Kieku isn’t just a new type of record label—it’s a new way of thinking about music.