Stressi - The Early FinnScene: Synthpop


Svart Records re-releases Tatsia - Complete Recordings 1980-1982+2018 as 2LP/CD (October 2018).

A "stylish" futu (as New Romantic/Futurist Pop was called in Finland) band Stressi, hailing from the town of Imatra in Eastern Finland, were successful at the Finnish Rock Championships, subsequently releasing a couple of singles and one LP on Finnlevy's sublabel Kräk.

Stressi's Kari "Gabi" Hakanen and Martti "Mara" Salminen started in 1978 as members of The Creepers Band, a group trying to play progressive rock. The Creepers Band split in early 1979, and the duo decided to start a new band which they christened Stressi. They early Stressi also played prog, but gradually, inspired by Kraftwerk, Devo, Human League, Gary Numan and David Bowie, by the early 80s their style had changed considerably. On their stage shows Stressi wore black overalls (Devo's had been yellow) and their faces had heavy make-up. They even had their own light show and regular stage crew.

The biggest record label in Finland those days was Fazer. Fazer's A&R, Pekka "Takku" Kotilainen approached the band and allowed Stressi to release in 1980 their debut 7" single 'Tatsia' b/w 'Rajattu vapaus' ("Limited freedom"), produced by Jimi Sumén. Also a new member, Mauri "Ming" Sumén was heard on the single, which wasn't any commercial success. Unhindered, Stressi decided to move on. Their only album was recorded in winter 1980-81 in an 8-track studio in Imatra. Initially, the band's friend Seppo Rintamäki had taken a bank loan to cover the expenses. After Fazer's Kotilainen had heard the material, the record label decided to take care of the loan and also for the studio time.

The Stressi line-up consisted of Mara Salminen (vocals, keyboards, guitar, bass, trombone, percussion), Gabi Hakanen (vocals, drums, percussion, rhythm machine) and Ming Sumén (Jimi Sumén's brother), who played keyboards. The founding member Harri Rasimus, who had been playing on Stressi's 'Tatsia' single, had by this time left the act. Another early member, Jukka Pulliainen, didn't play on any of Stressi's releases. The album was produced by Illi Broman, who also played on it guitar, bass guitar and percussion, alongside totally re-arranging some songs. Alan Parsons Project and Talking Heads are mentioned as some of the influences for this era's Stressi. The engineer on the album was Make Törrönen. The LP was released in 1981 on Finnlevy's sublabel Kräk!. The 2LP/CD re-release came out in October 2018, 37 years after the original vinyl.

The album was well received by the music critics but like the debut single, it wasn't any commercial success, either. There was one more Stressi release, a 7" called 'Ma Joeur' (1981), on which was heard the vocals of Riitta Havukainen, later better known as a popular comedy actress. Alongside Salminen and Hakanen this line-up featured the bass player Jesu Hämäläinen, Sumén having already left.

After a promising start Stressi's activities started to fade soon, since Fazer didn't want to back up the second album and it was also hard to get gigs and operate the band activities from the small town of Imatra. By 1983 Stressi had reached its end.

Stressi members Gabi Hakanen and Mara Salminen have continued their musical careers, among all, as producers. Mauri Sumén is nowadays known for his musical scores for many Finnish films.

The charmingly corny lyrics for the band were provided by one Jaana Rinne, who later became known for her collaboration with the retro-pop act Clifters and as a journalist for the tabloid City. The cover image for their only album was provided by Markus Heikkerö, also known for his notorious late-1960s underground paintings and the early incarnation of Sleepy Sleepers.

Over 30 years after their initial split, Stressi decided to return once more, for Gabi Hakanen's 50th birthday in 2012. Svart Records re-released Stressi's album, singles and three new songs (made in occasion of Hakanen's 50th anniversary) on the 26th of October, 2018, as Tatsia - Complete Recordings 1980-1982+2013 (2LP/CD).

  • A brief Stressi history in Finnish @ Mara Salminen's page

  • Stressi: 'Go-Go Mod' video @ YLE Elävä Arkisto

  • Stressi @ Finnish Wikipedia

  • Stressi @ FinnMusic database

  • Stressi discography @ Discogs

    Thanks to Jarkko Kuivanen for additional info and Mikko Niemelä for scans.

    pHinnWeb's Stressi playlist @ YouTube


    NOTE: by clicking some images, you can see larger versions of them.

    /pic/stressi1.jpg /pic/stressi2.jpg

    Kräk! KRÄKS-19 (7", 1980)

    A1. Tatsia
    B1. Rajattu vapaus

    Recorded in 1980.

    Producer: Jimi Sumén.

    Personnel: Mara Salminen (vocals on B., keyboards), Mauri Sumén (keyboards), Harri Rasimus (bass), Gabi Hakanen (vocals on B., rhythm machine).


    Kräk! KRÄKS-27 (7", 1981)

    A1. Labyrintti
    B1. Deodorant

    Recorded at Trackside Recording Studio, December 1980 - spring 1981.

    Producer: Illi Broman.

    Personnel: Mara Salminen (vocals, keyboards, guitar), Gabi Hakanen (vocals, drums, rhythm machine), Mauri Sumén (keyboards), Illi Broman (guitar, bass, etc.), Juha Päiväläinen (saxophone on A.)

    /pic/stresslp.jpg /pic/streslp2.jpg

    Kräk! KRÄLP-9 (LP, 1981)

    A1. Show
    A2. Harri
    A3. Go-Go *Mod*
    A4. Sinä teet minut
    A5. Deodorant
    B1. Omat karnevaalit
    B2. Labyrintti
    B3. Diplomi rakkaus
    B4. Finaali
    B5. Tatsia

    Recorded at Trackside Recording Studio, December 1980 - spring 1981.

    Producer: Illi Broman.

    Personnel: Mara Salminen (vocals, keyboards, guitar, bass on A2.), Gabi Hakanen (vocals, drums, rhythm machine), Mauri Sumén (keyboards), Illi Broman (guitar, bass, etc), Juha Päiväläinen (saxophone on B2.), Jakke Pätäri (guitar on A4. and B3.), pupils of Mansikkala Elementary School (choir on A1.), Anne Pulliainen (voice on A2.)


    Dig It DIGS-134 (7", 1982)

    A1. Ma joeur
    B1. Cairo

    Recorded in 1982(?).

    Personnel: Riitta Havukainen (vocals on A.), Mara Salminen (keyboards, guitar), Jesu Hämäläinen (bass), Gabi Hakanen (percussion, rhythm machine).


    Tatsia - Complete Recordings 1980-1982+2013
    Svart Records (2LP/CD, 26 October 2018)
    - tracklist and album credits coming soon

    Stressi live

    [FinnScene Early - Synthpop] [FinnScene - The Early Years]