• Riikka

California, I'm Coming Home!

© Aino Keränen

I thought it would be suitable to quote one of my all time favorite artists, Joni Mitchell, as I'm now leaving for a visit to Los Angeles, California! Straight from snowy Oulu to the Big Orange! I couldn't be more excited: it's my first trip overseas!

I had a privilege to be chosen to take part in the Los Angeles Experience Program hosted by the USC Thornton School of Music. The Sibelius-Academy is sending four students to join in a week long program of music, concerts, lectures, masterclasses and sight-seeing. I'm forever grateful for being given the opportunity to do this at the final stages of my Master's Degree studies!

When I was still studying in high school in Oulu, I discovered the music of Joni Mitchell. I was mind-blown with the intimacy of the music and the lyrics. For me it all started with the album Ladies of the Canyon (released in 1970). The name of the album (which is also the title of a song on the album) referenced to the Laurel Canyon area, which was a centre of the singer-songwriter music scene in the 60s and 70s.

It wasn't until I explored Mitchell's other album from the same era, Blue (1971), that I began dreaming I would travel to Laurel Canyon one day. I daydreamt I would have a guitar with me and I would sit alone on a brink of a canyon writing the most beautiful songs I could ever imagine. I felt in my bones that this would happen one day and my songs would become a part of the canon of singer-songwriters.

I was joking about this old dream of mine on a tour car with Ylva Haru the other day, and my band mate and an amazing sound engineer/producer Matias heard me. He was staying in L. A. through the end of 2018 to the beginning of 2019, and he suggested I'd visit Laurel Canyon while I was there during the Experience Program. I had never realized that the place where my imagination flew every now and then during my teens was actually located in Los Angeles!

So, let's see if I'll find a sunset pig in Laurel Canyon. I'm finally on my way. Will you take me as I am? California, I'm coming home!


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