Track By Track: Timmion Records Founder Sami Kantelinen on “Bad Education, Vol. 1” Compilation

Bad Education, Vol. 1: Soul Hits of Timmion Records is a brand new compilation album including ten of the hottest soul sides produced by Helsinki-based label, Timmion Records. The LP was compiled by Brooklyn’s Daptone Records, released on July 19, and you can order it HERE.

We asked Timmion founder Sami Kantelinen to take us through each of the tracks on Bad Education, Vol. 1. His words not only provide us with an insightful look at the process that led to the production of these songs, but also the label’s collaboration with the artists featured on the LP, including Carlton Jumel Smith, Nicole Willis, Bobby Oroza and Willie Smith, among others.

Carlton Jumel Smith, “This Is What Love Looks Like”

This is the first track we cut with Carlton, minutes after he knocked on our studio door. Carlton was doing a casino show in Helsinki and had met Pratt on some jam session. They felt that our production and label would fit well for him. As we had some unused backing tracks available and Carlton insisted on recording something, we gave it a go. After 20 minutes, the track had been written and recorded! It just worked so well from start to finish. It didn’t take long to record the rest of the songs for “1634 Lexington Avenue,” which was released in May 2019.

Jonny Benavidez, “Tell Me That You Love Me”

Jonny had been in touch with us for some time as he wanted to record with us. Finally, we agreed to cut a track with him and we’re so pleased that we did! Jonny does this kind of stuff so well! Jonny being from Texas, we immediately thought about getting inspired by The T.S.U. Toronadoes and the Sunliners for the rhythm track. Jonny knows the tradition and it’s in his blood! This is one of our favorites in our catalog.

Pratt & Moody, “Lost Lost Lost”

Pratt had a song he’d never recorded and he came to the studios for some Cold Diamond & Mink treatment. The track had many different parts and we all felt while mixing it that it didn’t come through as good as it was supposed to. We came up with an idea to use just the groove from the verse and do the structure for the song with vocals. After some convincing, Pratt & Moody realized that this was the way to do it, and boy did it turn out great! Pratt is a phenomenal singer and Moody knows his way around guitar licks. A classic example of the sound we love so much!

Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators, “Paint Me In A Corner”

This was the first single from the Happiness in Every Style album. The whole album was written and recorded with Nicole and The Soul Investigators by jamming out in the studio, the band coming up with different grooves and Nicole writing and picking up a mic every now and then when her verse or chorus was finished. We’ve always felt a track like this suits Nicole so well. Her lyricism is insightful, and this one is no exception! All and all, one of our favorite tracks we ever cut with her!

Ernie Hawks & The Soul Investigators, “Scorpio Walk”

With Ernie Hawks, while starting to jam out the Scorpio Man album, the idea was to catch the moment, sink into that groove and let Ernie play his flute like a maniac. This gritty jazz-funk groove got even better as the bass got recorded too hot on tape – the take had such a good feel, we decided to turn the track into murmuring fuzz bass.

Wanda Felicia, “Until You’re Mine”

This was the first track we recorded with singer/songwriter Wanda Felicia, and it came out superb! She was visiting Helsinki from Brooklyn, and had heard about us and wanted to meet. After sitting down with her, we came up with backing track for “Until You’re Mine.” It’s classic soul, which goes so well with Wanda’s amazing voice! It worked out so well that we recorded a full album with her early 2019.

Bobby Oroza, “This Love”

The first track we cut with Bobby Oroza. At the time we recorded this, we were still looking for that right sound for him. Bobby had a demo of the song, and he came by the studio. The song was ripped apart and put back together with Cold Diamond & Mink. As soon as we had this one finished, we knew this was the sound!”

Bardo Martinez & The Soul Investigators, “Bad Education”

This track was originally recorded as part of Ernie Hawks’ Scorpio Man album sessions. It never made it to the album, since we felt it needed vocals. We started to look for a good match for the song and Bardo Martinez was recommended to us by Eric Banta from the Names You Can Trust label. Bardo immediately understood what the track should be like, and even hooked up super sweet backing vocals for it. “Bad Education” has that feel of a Nuyorican neighborhood in full effect!”

Emilia Sisco, “Don’t Believe You Like That”

A mutual friend recommended that we cut something with Emilia. We went to see her show and sat down at the studio, later on, to chat about what would be a musically good fit for her to cut with us. The backing track was waiting for Emilia to lay down the vocals on it! Emilia has a powerful voice, but we wanted her to try out singing with a softer tone. It came out to be a great beat ballad, which should appeal to the darker end of the dance floor!

Willie West, “I’m Still A Man”

After the album with Willie West, we felt like doing a track for him that would really support the distinctly personal lyricism and the emotion on his vocal performance. We recorded the backing track to an 8-track cassette recorder, with Cold Diamond & Mink. The backing track, that was also on a trailer of the movie Paterson by Jim Jarmusch, was then sent to Willie and his trusted co-writer Leon Laudenbach who recorded the vocals in his studio in Saint Cloud, Minnesota. This song ended up guiding our way more and more into a deep soul sound. The heavy minor-key groove and stripped-down arrangement on this track fit Willie like a glove!

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