Thomas Venker

In praise of no parachutes on this flight.

“I think artistically it has been a blessing that I never had a back-up plan. No day job to take if art fails. I had no options, I still don’t.

So says Jimi Tenor in a recent Kaput interview. The Finnish musician, who scored a world hit with „Take Me Baby“ back in the mid-90s and became a techno posterboy on the back of it, is in favor of the uncompromising life. Having a Plan B, means you fail at Plan A.

It’s a dedicated stance, no question about that. One that has a nagging level of honesty to it. How often have we failed to pursue the best idea, because we were belligerent enough to see it through? (I see a few guilty hands going up at the back there). Pottering about, fearful of what total commitment might bring. Damn!

Of course, we live in a world without guarantees, even if you are utterly convinced that your latest album, art piece, start-up-idea or magazine is a world-beater. But what’s the alternative? Not even trying? Or driving with your foot only half down on the accelerator? The truth is the frustration following this decision will be worse than failing – the satisfaction will always come from at least getting your hands dirty.

Sure, I know what you’re thinking, it’s all very well to say this with the benefit of hindsight – for those that have already made it like Tenor for example – but did Tenor really make it? And what does it mean „to make it “ anyway? It’s worth digressing for a minute, especially for those lost in the thicket of their own decision making.

Regarding the economic success of „Take Me Baby“ and the album „Intervision“ from that point on Jimi Tenor never really “made it” again, he moved on, changed it up. But if we look on his career from an artistic standpoint, he made all the right choices: he chose not to repeat himself until he’d rinsed it dry, he kept adopting new influences from afrobeat to jazz and he built a great platform for other musicians with his Sähkö sub-label, Puu.

So let’s just accept that economic success is a weird construct anyway. It liberates you… only to constrict you. More, more, more! You get a bit more, then you don’t notice it, then you’re unhappy once more – call it the bourgeoise blues. True, this isn’t of much consolation if you’re struggling to put food on the table. But it’s worth remembering that “making it” isn’t about getting to the always-green pastures just over the way. Let’s hold out for the great stuff that comes of struggle without a safety net.

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