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Auteur Fil de discussion: Mekong Sessions Interviews Jarkko Arjatsalo  (Lu 4838 fois)
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« le: 15 Juillet 2010, 03:59:19 »

The Mekong Sessions is proud to present the first in a series of interviews with some of the most influential people involved in the global phenomenon that Leonard Cohen's work represents.

First uder the spotlight is Jarkko Arjatsalo, founder of the Leonard Cohen Files and arguably his most visible fan. The Mekong Sessions also wishes to thank the excellent HeckofaGuy website from which some of his responses here have been abbreviated (Q1 & part Q4)


In 1995, Jarkko Arjatsalo, a certified public auditor from Finland, set up leonardcohenfiles.com as a way of channeling his immense love and respect for Leonard Cohen’s work and also to get to grips with the emerging phenomenon of the internet, which back in the mid-90’s had still yet to achieve its stratospheric popularity. 

Jarkko enjoys a unique position of longevity and authority atop the myriad of Cohen appreciation sites and clubs in that he was approached directly by Leonard Cohen in 1997 with an offer to provide previously unpublished archive material for the site. An early convert to the power of the internet as a bridge to his fans, Cohen subsequently provided material unavailable elsewhere including poems, lyrics and personal anecdotes. As a result, the Files and Forum are considered the authoritative online source on all things Cohen.

As their relationship blossomed over the years, Jarkko and the leonardcohenfiles.com have been trusted with information regarding tours and concerts often long before anyone else and Jarkko was honoured in 2008 with the leonardcohenfiles being personally chosen by Leonard Cohen as the initial portal for the announcement of his 2008 World Tour.

The Mekong Sessions, having first listed the announcement of Leonard Cohen’s historic benefit concert in Phnom Penh on the Forum, recently interviewed Jarkko in recognition of his immensely important role as a liaison between Leonard Cohen and his multitude of fans worldwide.

MS: When did you establish the leonardcohenfiles and what were the motivations behind setting up this now globally recognised website?

"First of all, I never had any plans to make any of this as big as it happens to be today. In fact, I didn’t have any far-reaching plans at all! I just wanted to make something with my son Rauli (a computer-oriented teenager at that time), to find out how the Internet operates, and to learn how a website is constructed and programmed. My love of Leonard’s music was crucial in the choice of theme for the new website. I collected the material from my archive and the Leonard Cohen fanzines, and Rauli made the html code. In September 1995, we were ready to open the site.

To my huge surprise, I began getting emails from all over the world. People were excited to find out that there are others who have found Leonard’s songs and poetry important in their lives. Many of them had believed that they were the only serious fans of this mysterious artist. At that time, we didn’t have either a chatroom or the Forum, but we did have an active Usenet group news:alt.music.leonard-cohen that was very helpful in keeping discussions going.

Many fans also began contributing to The Files with material from their own archives, and to share local Cohen- related news with us. Without these contributions, The Files would not be as comprehensive as they are today. Numerous times, we have been the first to inform Leonard and his management about interesting news received from members somewhere in the world."

MS: How many members does the Leonardcohenfiles.com have and how many hits do you get every month?

Leonardcohenfiles now offers more than 1,000 pages for fans to peruse. The Forum (www.leonardcohenforum.com) itself was launched in its current format in June 2002. We have now 22,000 registered members, and there are about 220,000 messages. However, there are MUCH more people lurking and reading the messages (one has to register only to get right to post!).

For The Files, there is no registration. I have a counter on the front page (now showing some 3.4 mill visitors). Recently the site has had some 1,000 visitors daily, entering the front page. However, many go directly to the sub-index pages (like the tour schedule), so the total number is unknown. Leonard's tour has created a lot of new activity on all Cohen sites.

MS: What does the music of Leonard Cohen mean to you personally?  Why do you think that Leonard Cohen has maintained such a huge global following over the last 30 years and why is his music still so relevant in 2010?

Leonard has often been regarded as a performer of dark and melancholy songs. His material, however, has several dimensions and plenty of hidden humor. The songs on his latest albums are characterized by the tranquility of his meditation sessions at the Zen monastery. Aging has also introduced another angle to his work.

Today’s music world is full of butterflies. Many artists are in the spotlight only for a moment, with just one throwaway hit, and then we never hear of them again. Leonard has released records over five decades, and the sixth is in progress. His long, productive career has given us a unique chance to examine his lyrics from his teenage years right through to the wisdom of a man who at 75 is still full of life.

In my opinion Leonard Cohen is an artist whose material carries over centuries; his listeners and readers can return to him at various points in their lives, and always find something new in his work. His texts have several layers and give possibilities of various interpretations - which is probably also the reason why there are many exceptional academic studies on his work.

MS: How many times have you seen Leonard Cohen play live and what were the most memorable?

Before the forthcoming 2010 tour, I’ve seen him live on stage 16 times, including the 1988 and 1993 concerts in Helsinki. The most memorable must be the first one in 1988. At that time Leonard had successfully released the “I’m Your Man” album, after a silent period in the mid-80’s.

I had been a fan long before that, but seeing him with his wonderful band, live on stage, was something that was just so special. Another magnificent experience was Manchester in June 2008, my first concert of this World Tour. I don’t think many of us survived his reciting of “A Thousand Kisses Deep” without tears.

MS: Leonard Cohen’s concert in Phnom Penh has gained international attention for its historic status and the immense generosity of Leonard and AEG Live in making it a benefit concert for the Cambodian Red Cross and Cambodians with a disability. How important a role do you think philanthropy and humanitarianism play in the work and life of Leonard Cohen?

Extremely important. Leonard has a deep understanding and knowledge of global religions and cultures, and he wants to contribute to peace and development initiatives. During the years I have known him, I have often witnessed what a generous and open-hearted man he is. Leonard has done a lot to help people in need, but it usually happens behind the scenes.

MS: Along with choosing venues like Ljubljana and Bratislava on this world tour, how influential do you think Leonard Cohen has been in putting previously obscure locations on the map as viable concert venues and what the impact will be for Phnom Penh and Cambodia?

A World Tour is certainly a huge financial and logistic challenge. It’s not easy to move some 50-60 people and a lot of technical equipment around the globe with a very tight schedule. To keep the costs under control, many quite big arenas have to be included in the itinerary. However, Leonard has expressed his wish to perform also at smaller, more intimate venues, and to get to countries where he has never performed before. After 15 years, he is loving being back on the road, and at this point of his career, and without financial worries, he can make decisions that would be completely out of question for some other artists.

At first I was surprised to see Phnom Penh in the tour itinerary, but after a discussion with Robert Kory, Leonard’s manager, I realized that Leonard is exactly the right man to do this in Cambodia!

MS: Leonard Cohen has announced that he will be returning to the studio after his world tour. How do you think his new album will compare with his former greats?

Leonard has been writing new songs before, during, and after the World Tour 2008-2009. Most of the songs on the forthcoming album were written before the tour. Leonard told us recently that all songs are in principle ready, and four of them had been already recorded (“The Darkness”, “Amen”, “Lullaby”, “I Know She is Coming”). During the 2009 tour he already performed some of the new songs live (like The Darkness).

The Mekong Sessions sincerely thanks Jarkko Arjatsalo for taking the time to speak with us and hope to welcome him together with many international fans to the magical city of Phnom Penh on 27 November.

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If it be your will...

« Répondre #1 le: 26 Août 2010, 10:37:52 »

The Mekong Sessions has forgotten to interview the LCS staff.
The Mekong Sessions has forgotten to mention this forum.
Although The Mekong Sessions is posting there and is welcome....

By chance, Leonard Cohen NEVER forgets to mention us ! Grin
Thank you, Mister Cohen.


Il est vrai que le clown est triste quand le rideau tombe enfin (Reinhard Mey)
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