Monday February 06th 2006, 9:41

SLOW - Designs of a DJ

Like many of his peers, Vellu Maurola got the early infection from hip hop in the 90’s and there was no turning back.

But unlike many of his peers, it wasn’t just a nice hobby or a passing phase. Music took over and soon DJ Slow was born and seen at all the hippest clubs in Finland. Determined to master his craft, Slow participated in the esteemed DMC Mixing Championships and won. In fact, he won the championship title four years back to back, so it was time to let other turntablists rule the decks.

Next on the plate was Pepe DeluxĂ©, an rhythm-infused outfit he formed with two like-minded music experimentalist friends from Helsinki, James Spectrum and JA-Jazz. Band’s musical cocktail consisted of cool grooves, sonic manipulations, inventive sampling and dose of sunny attitudes verging on blithe. Their track Before You Leave taken from debut album Super Sound was also noticed by Levi’s Jeans, who used it in one their ads, which eventually won a Golden Lion in Cannes. The track succeeded also in UK charts and suddenly the world beckoned the trio. Remixes for Tom Jones & Cardigans, Chingy and many others followed.

Heavy touring and the yearning for new experiences made Slow decide to depart the jolly company of Pepe DeluxĂ© and concentrate on his own material as well as produce music for numerous TV series, films and advertisements for companies such as Nokia, Finnair and IKEA. Another fruitful collaboration ensued when Slow met Finland’s foremost jazz saxophonist, Tapani Rinne. Their SlowHill album Finndisc was released in 2002 on legendary Blue Note label. Mixture of classic Finnish jazz samples and new music received welcome reviews from jazz enthusiasts.

Slow was also working on his first solo album, This Is Now (2004), which got kick-started almost accidentally when his made-for-advertisement track Got To Funk became so popular that it had to be released as a single. The feel-good vibe single rocketed to no. 1 on the Finnish single chart and established itself firmly as the summer party anthem for 2003.

Always comfortable with the technology and innovations, Slow started collaboration with the Finnish EKS and mobile giant Nokia. The result was the birth of world’s first Mobile Jockey, when Slow discarded the heavy vinyl and started using newest DJ tool XP10 digital audio stream controller and couple of Nokia’s N91 mobile phones as his gear of choice for providing the hip grooves and soothing atmospherics at gigs.

Recognized for his talent of handling the club crowds and being able to pick up the mood of times we live in, Helsinki’s Eat & Joy project selected him to provide the soundtrack for the innovative festival combining lifestyle, design and culinary aesthetics in 2005. His adventures as a musical designer continued with exclusive works for Nokia phones and events, top restaurants and hotels as well as design brands Artek and Iittala.

In 2006 he was invited to play at Wallpaper Magazine’s Design Awards Gala and Midem International Music Market’s Opening Night gala in Cannes. Midem also saw the launch of his latest concoction, sophomore album Pronto! which is also released in Japan through Columbia.

On Pronto! Slow explores the sounds and atmospheres from different parts of the world and designs a beautiful cocktail of soothing jazz, rumbling salsa, relaxing bossa nova, persuasive funk and the wonderful soul of vocal guest Natalie Gardiner. This music grabs the listener sublimely and fills the room with it’s delicate tapestry of soft sounds.