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My Town // DJ Katerina presents Helsinki

September 25, 2013

“My Town” is a feature wherein friends and family of Brownswood, from around the world, give us the lowdown on their home town – favourite bars, restaurants, record shops and more. Forget Time Out – this is the only city guide you need.

This time we hear from DJ Katerina about her hometown, the beautiful Helsinki in Finland. On one of Giles’ many trips to Helsinki he DJ’ed with Katerina. He describes her as “one of the main motivators of the scene in Helsinki and a great DJ and producer too.”

So Katerina, where do you like to chill out:

I like to chill out in places where I feel special and I can be myself.

My favorite park where I like to just sit and breath is the Engel Square in the heart of the Eira district, Helsinki. With extremely beautiful scenery and architecture surrounding it, I’m always taken by it. It’s so quiet and clean, rarely any people there and has an amazing view to the sea. It’s named in honour of CarlLudvig Engel designer of the historic centre of Helsinki.

I love the Academic Bookstore, it has a special atmosphere and a calming effect on me. A great collection of books and knowledgeable, friendly and helpful staff. It’s designed by famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. Another nice feature of this bookstore is the Café Aalto on the second floor, which even has its own bakery and table service.

I love museums and especially Ateneum Art Museum. They have the largest collection of art in Finland. Paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings are on the third floor an temporary exhibitions on the second floor. I also enjoy having late lunch or a glass of champagne with chocolate cake at the museum’s cafe. It’s a beautiful building.

Where is good to party?

There’s no doubt Lil Tony Rantanen owns the best party venues for a music lover in Helsinki. Be it house, be it jazz, be it techno, be it soul, reggae, disco or hip hop. He’s got it all covered and it’s all about good music. And not only the music but the sound as well, top notch sound system in every venue he’s got going. I only party in these places, nothing else compares.

Siltanen, a bar that serves food until 10PM and caters for a wide range of music tastes until 3AM. It’s always free entrance therefore you rarely see foreign DJs play but every now and again you might see someone like Nick The Record, Horse Meat Disco or Alexis Taylor spin records. Siltanen is open every day and you can hear interesting selections from talented DJs who are mostly local hardcore record collectors. It gets wild on the weekend and people tend to dance on the tables.

Kuudes Linja, Tony’s oldest running venue. 7 years and still going strong. Various club concepts from deep techno to hip hop, from dub step to soul and boogie, it’s a wide range. Live concerts every week. The likes of Ricardo Villalobos and Questlove have played there.

Kaiku, the new club situated in the same complex with Siltanen and Kuudes Linja is the venue I most enjoy at the moment. It has 2 rooms, the smaller room has a more bar/living room kind of vibe where the local record collectors spin their favourite tunes. There is no pressure of a big dance floor although it always seems to get wild there resulting in the breaking of furniture. The big room has got a loft kind of feel to it, large windows, nice wooden floor and a big sound system. Kaiku has only been open for 6 months and has already had so many interesting guests play such as Daniel Baldelli, Levon Vincent, Ben Ufo, Joy Orbison, Shed, Stacey Pullen, Mano Le Tough, Love Fingers, Veronica Vasicka, Horse Meat Disco, Andy Blake, Ron Morelli, Prosumer, Kim Ann Foxman, Barnt, Thomas Bullock and Gilles Peterson.

Ääniwalli, the hit of the summer. Every summer sunday the terrace of this warehouse venue in the industrial area in Vallila is a special place to be. Due to laws and restrictions in Finland playing music loud in outside public spaces hasn’t been possible here in Helsinki, until Tony found this place, an old factory. He decided to rent it and make into a warehouse club with a Funktion one sound system. This space has raw energy, people went free in Ääniwalli this summer, the most special thing to hit the club scene in years.

How about good spots to eat and drink?

I like restaurants that have good wine, spanking clean glasses with a sophisticated atmosphere and relaxed vibe.

I love mexican food and the best place for it in Helsinki is Patrona no doubt. The food is fantastic and the service truly passionate and warm. I always eat too much when I go there and leave smiling. The atmosphere is authentic, happy and friendly. They have a great cocktail menu and a an excellent selection of tequilas.

Tori restaurant is a long time favourite and feels like home. I’m one to have breakfast at noon and in Tori you can have your scrambled eggs any time you want. They serve freshly squeezed juices and the most incredibly tasty cakes, but I think the place is most famous for it’s brandy flavoured meatballs.

For the best pizza in town I go to Putte’s. I love it especially in the winter cause the place is so cozy and warm. They always have fresh flowers on the tables and they even have a great sound system downstairs. I sometimes play my favourite records in the basement along with a bunch of record collectors and music people such as the Sähkö Records guys who made sure a good sound system was installed. I like going there since often the basement is packed with music-friends and DJ colleagues that cheer from the table when a Prince record goes on.

Café Balzac, a combination of a café and a bistro is wonderful. Great sandwiches, fresh salads and lovely pasta. Somehow the place feels a little French, has that simple class. I love that they always play instrumental jazz which I prefer when I’m having a nice meal and a glass of wine or relaxing with a cup of coffee and a good book.

Gran Delicato a Greek-style café-deli famous for its fantastic sandwiches and great coffee. The ciabattas are amazing, such fresh ingredients and so tasty. I absolutely love their greek salad as well. The authentic atmosphere is created by Greek owner, big persona Kostas Barbunaki.

Where is the best place to buy music?

Digelius Music //

Green Grass //

Eronen //

Stupido-Shop //

Levykauppa Äx //

Keltainen Jäänsärkijä //

Best spots to shop?

My o My //

Beam //

Beam Hill //

Nina’s //

Mon Paris //

Experiences exclusive to your town?

Kulttuurisauna (Culture Sauna) is the new urban, contemporary Finnish public sauna on the Helsinki waterfront. Situated in Hakaniemenranta and designed by Nene Tsuboi and Tuomas Toivonen, both in charge of the construction, financing and running of Kulttuurisauna. It includes two steam rooms, a small café, an office with the a possibility to go outside and get fresh air and swim in the sea. A unique sauna that produces almost all the energy it uses. It is the most ecologic sauna in Finland.

What’s the local expression/saying?

“Eisssssss” a Finn version of “Fuuuuuuuu”

Please sum up your town in three words:

Fresh, quirky, honest

What’s the best local delicacy/street food/snack?

Baltic Herring

Who is the best local talent in your area?

Producer and DJ Jori Hulkkonen is one of the most successful Finnish artists abroad. Be it producing, remixing or writing his own music, Hulkkonen seems to find the time for a variety of projects including working on a record with me. I’m blessed to work with him. A recent successful project is Sin Cos Tan, his band with vocalist Juho Paalosmaa. Sin Cos Tan represents electronic synth pop with depth and strong vocals. The new single Limbo was just released along with a beautiful video and the album is gonna drop on the 25th October on Solina Records in Europe and the rest of the world on Sugarcane Recordings.

Sin Cos Tan – Limbo

Daniel Palillo – very proud of this dude. A unique fashion designer that makes the kind of clothes I feel special in. Not only cool but comfortable as well. He makes pieces unlike any other I have seen and being honest and bold like that has made him go far. The Daniel Palillo label is sold around the world and worn by people from Lady Gaga to Santigold.

Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators, a band that has a special place in my heart. The guys are friends from my childhood and once played at my house party when we were in our teens. Their debut album was fantastic and timeless and not surprisingly the new album that came out this year was just as special. You can hear the bands signature sound clearly but the new album also introduces a harder Rhythm & Blues edge which I love!

For me Lil Tony is the best DJ to come out of Finland and he has always been my musical mentor. In addition to being a great versatile DJ he’s practically made the club scene what it is in Helsinki and helped many DJs such as myself launch a career. Tony has toured the world and released music on several quality labels such as Running Back, Versatile and Innervisions.

Last but not least I have to mention the Finnish Hip Hop scene. It’s strong at the moment and has been for a while. I grew up listening to Hip Hop and I will always be a Hip Hop kid. Many of the artists doing well at the moment are friends and I feel very proud. I also feel like they support each other in a nice way, we need more of that! I think one of the most exciting live shows this year has been Karri Koira & Ruudolf. Karri Koira’s first solo album produced by Ruudolf is more R&B than rap and has been a hit with everyone from kids to parents to teenagers to young adults. These guys are overflowing with positive vibration and watching them live, there is no way you won’t smile and get excited.

Awesome – thanks Katerina. We’re coming to visit for sure!!