The female duo Zäpämmät was born out of Marjo Smolander’s and Pauliina Kauppila’s desire to approach their instruments and use their voices in new and exciting ways. Zäpämmät is like a demure summer girl who nevertheless possesses the uncompromising voice of a strong woman. The gritty and beautiful music features Marjo’s Finnish string instrument kantele and Pauliina’s exotic repertoire of percussion instruments in addition to their voices.
The music of Zäpämmät duo resonates strongly with its listeners, digging deep from the well of Finnish folk music and making original and very personal combinations of elements from Senegalese, Malian and Afro-Cuban music and flamenco. The musical influences from three continents come together in the duo’s music. This is not to say that the music of Smolander and Kauppila is restricted to these influences: they are keen observers of their environment and ready to embrace influences and motifs from other traditions and forms of musical expression.
The stories and rights of women and girls is a strong theme in the music of Zäpämmät. The duo’s philosophy is to give musical expression to voices that have been long silent or silenced. Smolander and Kauppila expose and shed light on the structures of society that are based on gender. On the other hand, they express their enjoyment of life and revel in it. Zäpämmät is a living example of combining instruments from different traditions without preconceived notions in order to break boundaries, creating mostly Finnish-language music with strong World Music leanings.