Milla Koivisto and Kaiku

Milla Koivisto is a Finnish artist who has combined music, illustration, and prose along with a love for all things ‘Nature’ into an interesting multi-level project called “Kaiku.”

“The barrenness of the landscape unlocked the ascetics of her mind. There were no dark corners in her core. Her comfort was found in the silence of the landscape, her assurance in the frames made of granite rock.”

“Kaiku” is an audio-visual narrative following the lives of a shaman, a girl named Aino, and her echo named Kaiku. The driving focus of the project is the unique landscape of the Finnish archipelago where the story takes place.

Nordic Style had the honor of interviewing the talented artists behind the project: Milla Koivisto.


The artist: Milla Koivisto

The Kaiku project is an audio-visual project centered around a story. Can you give us a background of the project? 

I began writing the story and working on the illustration for the Kaiku book in 2012. The project was born out of being homesick and became a love letter to the landscape and the island I was raised up on. After living away from my home country for such a long time it had become clear that very little was known about the great storytelling tradition we have in Finland, and this contributed to the decision to write the story in English. From the very beginning my aim was to create a “whole” world around the story of Kaiku by bringing several artistic disciplines together. In the Kaiku project the book represents the traditional way of storytelling and the audio-visual side is my chance to play around and use all the modern narrative techniques to make the world of Kaiku come alive.

What is the plot of the book Kaiku? 

The story is set on a small island in the Finnish archipelago and follows a reclusive shaman, a flute playing girl called Aino and her echo Kaiku. It is a story about solitude and isolation and finding ways of coping with these and coming in to your own with the help of music and sound. You can find an excerpt from the story on my website, and you can buy the book from there as well!k-3k-9

As a multifaceted project how do all the pieces tie into one another? 

The book is the skeleton of the project, the core narrative and the common factor in all of the pieces. It is my “manual” as I work on the future interpretations. The Finnish archipelago is also a constant in the project. The area is the location for all of the short films and the recordings used in the soundscapes are collected from the archipelago area.

What was the soul inspiration for the Kaiku project? 

The biggest inspiration for me has always been the interconnection between the natural world and humans. When you have been brought up in very close contact with Nature you really get it. Living in a climate where temperature varies between -30 to +30 Celsius throughout the year you appreciate your connection with and your knowledge of your environment – you understand that it is you who have to change according to the seasons, not the other way around. I feel that this is something the modern human is forgetting with such a large percentage of the global population now living in urban environments. It’s also about being respectful and learning to live in harmony with you surroundings.


The flute playing girl Aino.

The flute playing girl Aino.

How does the project reflect traditional Finnish folklore? 
Shamanism, as well as a close contact with animals, is something that is present in almost all Finnish folklore. Animals, domestic and wild were believed to possess magical powers and were worshipped. The bear in particular has a strong presence in Finnish folklore and was believed to be kind to humans. The sea, forests and lakes all had their own gods as well, and the landscape was considered sacred.
Why have you chosen to release the Kaiku project as a series of exhibitions? 
The Kaiku project will be my largest collection of work to date, with many varied outcomes, and rather than having one final release date I wanted to highlight the individual parts of the project with several small events and exhibitions. This also means I can keep the project fresh, continue to reach an audience, and keep myself interested and challenged! The project is due to be completed in 2017, and I am hoping to have all the works exhibited together under the same roof then, but there are already several exhibitions and film festivals lined up to show parts of the project as they are released.
The first installment of the project is an illustrated book, what do the future installments include? 
In addition to the book the Kaiku project will also consist of a set of short music films. The films will all explore different facets of the story and sound will be a prominent feature, combing original compositions and natural recordings. The first film from the series “The Old Woman” is now available to view on my website. I’m also planning an exhibition this year which feature a light installation showing how the fictional island where the story is based is affected by the dramatic change in sunlight that the archipelago experiences every year. The illustrations from the book will also be exhibited, alongside photography from the archipelago. I’m also in talks with several small film festival about showing future installments of the Kaiku series to an international audience, so this is looking like an exciting year for me!
milla koivisto

Go to the Milla Koivisto website.