Interviews Misc

Like Alice in Wonderland wearing a new pair of shoes

Is success coming
too fast, Minna?

All kind of
attention is good and it is nice. I enjoy it and it is good for my business,
but my goal has been to move forward very quickly. It is exactly what I wanted.
I did not want to start with a small thing, I wanted to start with a big thing
and move fast because also financially, it is my company and I founded it

Is it hard to
take full responsibility of the company?

Yeah, because I
studied design, and I suddenly had to be “business woman”. I learnt a lot in
1.5 years. I am kind of very proud myself that I have managed to do as well as
I have, without any kind of selling or business experience before, so it’s just
matter of finding out, and asking questions, and learning through mistakes.
Luckily there have not been huge mistakes so far…

You have said
that you wanted to be a designer since you were 15. Were you the typical
teenager burning time and money at the clothing shops?

Yeah, I have
been traveling with my family on holidays since I was tiny, all over Europe, Japan,
all kind of places, and I got used to be in all kind of shops and seeing all
kind of designs, things that we did not have in Finland. In the 90´s we still did
not have so many great shops here.


Getting experience in England

When you were 19
you moved to Leicester, England, to study Footwear Design
in Demontfort University. Why?

I wanted to go
somewhere else than staying in Finland,
I wanted to go and try out a new place and experience a new culture, and learn
the language perfectly. There were only 2 design schools in England, the other
one in London and the other one in Leicester, and when I was 19, London sounded
quite of quite scary…too big… and I just decided to go to Leicester, even when
I had never visited the place.

Tell me a bit
more about this prize you got: Young British Glove Designer?

Well, it is given
by the British Glove Association , the main glove thing in the U.K. there were
400 people taking part in that competition, so in that way it was quite a big
thing to win it.  I got the title of  Young British Glove Designer, even if
I am not British, which it was quite funny, and they had this way of doing it
in the center of London, in this mansion house , so they were quite “proper
English”, old men and old women with their hats and their gloves exclaiming “oh
yeah marvelous!”, “well done!”

After 6 years
abroad, why to settle again in Helsinki
and not somewhere else?

Well, it had been
easier to have started abroad, like in England, Italy or Spain, it is much bigger, you get
the producers there, and in England
you get the British Footwear Association that does support the designers. They
apply for big fairs where I cannot get in because I have a small company and I
am from Finland.
But I miss home. I miss my friends, after being out for such a long time it is
good to return. It is peaceful and calm here and there is a lot of space to do
new things. The environment allows new things and people here are very excited
about new things as well, so I thought that this would be a very good base to
create my own things in peace, and then travel a lot around the world.




Girlie designs
and summer fantasies

What makes Minna
Parikka´s designs different from others?

They are very
girlie, girlie shoes with girlie details, very feminine, like high curvy heels,
lots of inspiration from the 30s, 40s, 50s, when the woman was true woman and
they dressed up head to toe perfectly, with fun and quality. I always try to
offer something that is amusing, wearable and still doesn’t go over the top.
The shoes have a lot of details but people can still imagine that they can wear
them. Color is very important, colors suitable for the season, I m not a big
fan of browns and blacks. The buyers always say like “Hum, lovely colors, but I
will take the browns and the blacks instead”

Do people take
care of their style in Finland?

In general people
still do not spend much money on clothes. But I think that Helsinki is great, you get all kind of styles
here, people like to be quite individual, and not everybody is from “the same

Can you explain a
bit more about your new Spring/Summer collection?

It is a very candy
collection. It has candy colors, pastels, bright reds and it has very cake
shapes, hearts…very romantic. The collection is called holiday romance, so it s
everything that you could expect from a holiday romance to be like:
lighthearted and  fun and playful.

How many pairs of
shoes have u bought lately?

Nowadays I do not
have to buy shoes since I get them for myself. I got 50 pairs of shoes just for
this summer just for myself. For Finnish summer, 50 days, one for every day…
Maybe I have 150 pairs in total, I always go to fly market to sell my stuff
later, I don’t keep things, I do not have the space to keep things.

What are the
future plans for Minna Parikka?

Sell a lot and
design a new collection!!!


Interviews Music

New York City’s rock radio saviour

Eddie Trunk is host of Friday Night Rocks with Eddie Trunk, a hard rock/metal radio show from New York City that can be heard across the U.S. and on the internet. He was kind enough to spend a few minutes with FREE! Magazine to discuss his show and the radio business.

Eddie Trunk

I know your favorite all time band is KISS. So how did you go from a kid in the late 70’s with KISS posters on your bedroom wall to having a nationally syndicated radio show?

It’s been a long road but I started out writing the music column of my high school paper. I was always just a big music fan and chased down everything I wanted to do in the business. Did College radio while in high school, worked at a music store, worked for a record label (Megaforce), management company and more. I always did radio though regardless of what else I had going, it was always what I loved most. In 1994 I got a break when I broke into the NYC market and that’s when I made it my main focus. Everything else fell into place because of the audience I served and how loyal they are. I specialized in something and did more then just play records, which is what set me apart. NYC and Boston are the two biggest markets the show is heard and I also do a national XM show [satellite radio] on Mondays on channel 41.

Now thanks to your show, you’re able to have personal and professional relationships with many of the same musicians you idolized as a kid. In fact, you are actually good friends with original Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley.

I had a hand in signing Ace to his solo deal in the 80’s and we have remained close friends ever since. Ace is working on new music now and I’m going to pay him a visit soon and see what he’s up to. I’ve been fortunate to have many of the legends of music become friends after doing this for 25 years. It’s really all about how you treat them and behave around them. The key is to make them feel comfortable and avoid being a super fan, then you can establish a true connection.

Kiss Live!

Your show is a mixture of music and live interviews. What can a listener who has never heard your show expect?

Not just music. Anyone can be a jukebox and play CDs, and with iPods people can get any songs they want. I bring all my experience, stories, interviews, contests and more. The show is a mix of music and talk about music, and you will never hear the “hit” song you’re sick of from the classic artists. You will also hear plenty of classic artists that don’t ever get played from the 70s and 80s mostly.

It seems that hard rock & metal is enjoying a bit of a resurgence these days. Do you think there’s still that stigma that’s associated with those “hair bands” from the 80s?

Yes, unfortunately I do. Outside of Bon Jovi there really have not been any artists from that era that have had big time success now. It’s sad because there is so much great music that is not given a shot or written off by the mainstream. I do my best to cater to that crowd with the little time I have each week.

It’s great that in a way, you’re building a community of fans around your radio show.

I’m nothing without my audience and their support. I do my best to connect with them as much as I can in as many ways as I can. It’s so cool to meet people that get the show every week somehow, someway. It’s what metal has always been built on, loyalty and passion for the music and people that love it.

As many people probably don’t realize, most DJs in the U.S. don’t get to choose the songs they play on the radio anymore. You’re very fortunate to still retain complete control over what you play. What do you think of the state of radio these days?

Radio is big business and big money owned by big companies. I am fortunate I have what I have. I only wish I had more hours/days in the week. There is a reason why radio in the mainstream is the way it is. The ownership feels that’s the way they can make the most money, and that’s what business is about. I get that. I think there are more people out there that want to hear the type of radio I do then many think, but I’m grateful for what I have. I’m also on XM satellite radio and have a live weekly show there, so that is another great outlet that is live nationwide and through Canada, uncensored with no commercials. Lot’s of fun and another way to reach people.

It seems that radio used to play a big role in breaking new bands. I can think of a lot of bands that became famous thanks to some lone DJ playing an unknown band’s song which led to that band getting national exposure. With most radio station playlists being dictated by some focus group, how does a new band get that lucky break anymore?

They have to be creative. The entire music business has changed, labels, everything. Thanks to Myspace, YouTube, etc, bands have other outlets to reach people and even sell music. Top 40 can still break an act in a major market, radio still has lot’s of power and influence, it’s just the approach to the business is very different now.

Since this magazine is for people living in Finland, what do you think of the current crop of Finnish rock bands that have enjoyed some international success recently?

I saw HIM a couple years ago in LA with Monster Magnet. Wanted to like it but it didn’t really click for me that night. I lean more to the classic stuff but I know there is a big scene emerging in the clubs here with the Euro metal. I think it’s great that people support new music, very important. I would play more of it if I had time.

You are a person who is passionate about the music and it shows. How does it feel to be able to make a living doing what you love?

I’m very lucky and do not take it for granted. I have a great following and connection with the audience and artists. There have been some truly magical things take place on my show over the past 25 years and I’m proud it’s become such a big destination for rock fans and bands.

Listen online to Eddie Trunk’s show at:

Interviews Music

Electro + Pop + Sweetness = Regina

What was
the evolution of Regina? How/where did the three of you meet and how/when did
the band form?

It all
started when we (Iisa & Mikko P.) did a couple of demo tracks in our living
room a few years ago. To our surprise, our music found friends really quickly –
with the help of the Internet – and soon we were asked to play live. We wanted
to try it even though we had no plans to become a real band. It was the
beginning of 2005 when Mikko R. and his drums joined us, and in March we played
the very first gig at Club Limousine in Helsinki.


Regina most
distinguishes itself from other bands with its vocals. Many bands choose to
sing in English in order to reach a wider audience (I assume), but you sing in
Finnish. As it turns out, this in no way hinders your appeal. So, was singing
in Finnish a conscious decision?

I love our
language and choosing Finnish was the only solution for me. It's nice to be
able to use a language as funny and beautiful as Finnish and it's even more fun
when people tell you that they enjoy the language – even though they don't
understand it. We have heard stories of people who have started to learn
Finnish with our music.

{mosimage}Your music
is best described as electro-pop, but there's clearly a different sound coming
through on your new album. Less electronic, more organic, lighter but with more
layering. Can you talk about the differences between the way you approached
your first and second albums?

The new
Regina is definitely more organic and lighter but still electronic. We simply
wanted to get a totally new approach to our music with this album. We put a lot
effort into it. The vocals were also something we wanted to concentrate on more
this time.

What other
bands have an influence on Regina's sound? Any bands you can't get enough of?

This is
always really hard… We love electronic and guitar pop: many amazing solo
artists like Prince, Björk, Stina Nordenstam, Joanna Newsom and Kate Bush;
bands like !!!, Final Fantasy and Hey Willpower; Finnish indie music such as
Cats On Fire and some Fonal's bands for example; 60s and 70s pop, etc. All the
music that we love and enjoy listening to probably has some kind of an
influence on our music; but for us it is quite hard to recognize.

debut album (originally released in Finland in 2005) was released in Japan in
August 2006. Do you hope to continue reaching beyond Finland's borders with
your music? What's the next step for the band?

Our music
has some friends for example in Sweden and in Russia, probably in Japan and
some other countries too. And MySpace is spreading our music all over the world
and that's really nice. We would love to have some kind of audience in
different countries, so
that every now and then we could visit for example Stockholm or Berlin and play for the people that have
found us. But we have no serious plans about how to get big beyond Finland's

What are
your thoughts on Eurovision?

The whole
thing is pretty confusing. But fun at the same time! We enjoy watching the
weird performances. The music is the most confusing part of the show. Sometimes
you want to laugh, sometimes you feel like crying.


Regina’s new album, Oi miten suuria voimia!
was released on 21st
March. More info

Interviews Music

Pop out of joint

Rooted in
eastern Finland, Rubik found its current line-up in Helsinki at the turn of the
century, when vocalist Artturi Taira
and drummer Sampsa Väätäinen, joined
by guitarist Samuli Pöyhönen and Arvi Hasu on bass, rejected any master
plans and set out to make music with an attitude of open-minded
experimentation; merging shades of anything between and beyond indie rock and
ambient. ”Our sound has evolved quite naturally. We never rejected any idea
off-hand just because it didn’t fit some preconception of how Rubik should
sound”, Samuli Pöyhönen says.

{mosimage}With years
of gigging and an EP release under their belt, last summer Rubik sought the
solitude of a remote coastal villa to record their debut, Bad Conscience Patrol. The end result is an ambitious record that
takes pop melodies as a starting point, and ventures off in any direction it
damn well pleases. The songs take turns soaring and plunging, crawling under
your skin only to gestate and emerge in another burst of raw emotion. This
certainly merits the epithet of ”progressive”, but according to Samuli, Rubik's
cerebral reputation is mostly unintentional: ”we're not trying to be difficult
or strange. Fundamentally it's pop music, just a little disjointed.”

As for the
hype, the band pays no heed to it: ”we're not the ones creating it, so why
should we fret over it”, remarks Samuli. ”Of course we're excited over the
prospect of going abroad. We're working on it, but it all depends on whether
there's real interest in us”, he says with sober minded confidence. Indeed,
Rubik has good reason to be confident. After all, they've put out a debut album
that's quite likely to be one of this year’s hardest hitters.

Interviews Music

Releasing a violent storm of music

us about your new project, Violent Storm. What is the story behind it?

I have been writing music all my
life, since I was a kid and lived in Argentina. Then I moved to the UK and continued
composing. I did not have much chance to put my composition into performance in
live bands in the UK or the States, because basically I was playing
professionally; backing up other singers, rock bands, then with Ritchie Balckmore,
Malmsteem, and with these two guys you cannot show your own songs much, you
have to play what they tell you to play. So I was accumulating songs all this
time. And I felt it was about time to make my own CD, so I invited some guests
musicians like KK Downing and Malmsteem, and they were happy to collaborate. KK
became more involved producing the album.

Have you worked before with KK?

No. He came to see Yngwee Malmsteem
when we played in Barcelona,
and we met there for the first time. Then we kept in touch, I went to see him
playing with Judas Priest in Miami
and Las Vegas,
and I mentioned to him that I was in this project. I showed him some songs. I
told him that Malmsteem was going to play a couple of songs, and if he would
fancy to play a couple more. He said “sure”, and that is how the thing kicked off.
Then, he wanted to have a little more of input in the project. He has a lot of
suggestions and I welcomed most of them, so he became a producer in the

-Was it a problem not to be often
at the same place, working sending material via the InternetNo, not really. With many bands you
work on distance. You send ideas in MP3 and so on; it is not the old fashion
way of gathering with the band. Of course it is nicer when it is like that, but
logistics have improved, and sometimes schedules are busy. KK was busy with Judas Priest
project, I was busy touring with Malmsteem, and so it had to be done at everybody’s
convenient time.

And the story behind the band’s name? Who came
up with it?

It is a funny story. I liked the violet colour, maybe it also has to do
with the colour purple, since I am a great Deep Purple fan. I figured
out that maybe I could call the project “Violet Storm” but KK told me that he
was not going to be involved in any way in a band with the word Violet in its

So then I called it Violent Storm, that sounds similar, and I think that
sounds great.

Which are your favourite songs in the album?

For me it is difficult to choose because I like all the tracks. I
intended to have quite a lot of diversity. I listen to most of the band's cds,
and then after 2-3 tracks it becomes monotonous, so I tried not to have the
same feeling with my album. I think that all the tracks in the album are very
different. I enjoyed playing and composing all the songs, so I cannot say
“Track number 5 is the one”.  They all
have their own “thing” that I like.

And then it is a funny thing that people who have listened to the album
and critics mention different tracks as favourite ones. For Yngwee, “Empty
Hope” is the favourite because it is the one with more classical stuff, but
some DJs have different ones as favourite.

You did a solo album years ago, Ostinato, and now Violet
Storm. Which one do you feel most satisfied with?

Well, they both come from my creativity. Ostinato was a challenge, to
play classical things with an electric bass, music that was more meant to be
played with a keyboard, so I wanted to see what happened when playing it with
the bass. I had a very nostalgic feeling with that album, and I think that when
I retire, that is the thing I want to do, just to sit in my studio and record
classical stuff.

Any ideas about touring dates for Violent Storm?

We are working on that just at same time we speak. Things will be
confirmed soon, in the next few days. We intend to play all over Europe, including Scandinavia,
Spain, the UK, etc. We are
really eager to take this project on the road.

Are KK Downing and Malmsteem going to appear as guests in some

It would be great if they have time to join us in some of the shows, but
well, we are going to have our own band standing on their own feet. We have to prove
ourselves that we can work as a valid band.

You were recently in Finland
playing three gigs with Malmsteem. How was the experience?

Oh, it was great. Finland
became one of my favourite places in the world. I love the people very much; I
think they are very straightforward, very honest. I do not mind the cold
weather, so I enjoyed it. Although it was not so cold, I was looking forward to
lots of snow… and there was not.

Some people think that a Finnish audience can be a bit cold. Did you
notice anything like that?

Not at all. I really enjoyed the concert and the people’s attitude.

Tell me about this G3 project. How was to be in a project involving,
apart from Malmsteem, Satriani and Vai?

Doing the G3 was an amazing project! You can imagine, with these three guitar
monsters! The musicians in each band were amazing as well, for example Billy
was with Steve Vai´s band. Everybody was as good as it gets, so I felt
really privileged to be in a situation like that. You know you have to do your
best every night; you have to do well and perform well. I really learnt a lot
at that experience.

Malmsteem said literally in the Helsinki press conference that on
stage, he does “whatever the fuck he wants”, meaning that he can change the
song, he can play the way he likes. Is it difficult for you to follow the
performance, or do you enjoy with this way of working, this improvisation?

It is challenging, but well, I was “trained” with Ritchie Blackmore
because I played with him before, and he does similar things. Before you have
time to realise, he plays something that is not even in the set list and you
have not even rehearsed and on the spot, you have to play it! Maybe that is the
reason why Malmsteem likes to get “ex-Blackmore musicians”, because we are all
“well trained”

So after working with Blackmore, there are no big surprises for you
anymore on stage.

Being honest, it keeps the show from being boring. It keeps you on your
toes, because you don’t know what comes up next. I have done gigs when it was
the same list every night, and I almost fell asleep in the middle of the show,
so this is quite different.

I saw some pictures where you are dressed up
in these curious medieval clothes while playing with Blackmore. How was that?
Is it not strange to play, disguised like that?

In the Blackmore experience, he and Candy loved the medieval
things. They tried to put the show in medieval times, so a part is to work with
that kind of clothes…Well, I had never worn tights before, so it was a little
bit different. But well, everybody was in the same boat. Blackmore liked to put
this funny Austrian hat on himself. Sometimes we were hanging out, going to a
pub, and he would put one of those ridiculous hats on me. And people were
watching at me like “what is wrong with this guy???”But well, it is part of the
fantasy of working with Blackmore!

So the fantasy is everywhere, it can be on
stage or even in a pub.

Yeah, he really liked that! In his house, all the decoration is medieval
type! He has an old abandoned park nears his house… He owns lots of medieval
stuff, nothing too dark, but just funny stuff owned by him. So he really enjoys

And in the future, what is going to be next after Violent Storm? Any
possibility of having a second album?

Well, I have sort of being planning this project for a long time, so I'm
going to give this a lot of attention. The next step is touring, and not just
in Europe. The album is going to be released
in America
too, so I am going to be touring in America, and hopefully also in South America, Australia… and everywhere else.
Depending on the response, there would be the possibility of planning a second
album – let’s see.

Do you know how long the tour is going to be?

I expect it to be for a long time. Probably it will be starting in May
through the rest of the years. It could be having gigs for 3-4 weeks, and then
resting for a couple of weeks, and then back on the road. So hopefully it will
be a very extended tour, we need to spread the word and show it in many
different places. So you must come and see it!

Interviews Music

The teddy bear sings freakfolk




Your father is British and your mother is
Finnish, but it seems that you strongly identify with your Finnish side (your
band’s name is Nalle – Finnish for “little bear” – and you don’t use your British
surname for your work). Have you lived in Finland or spent much time here?

Yes, my mother is from Iisalmi and my
father from Sussex, where they both live and where I grew up. As a child I
spent my holidays with my Mummo in Iisalmi until she died and then visits to
Finland became less frequent. Two years ago I spent three months living in
Pispala, Tampere whilst on exchange at art school.




I identify with both ‘sides’, but yes, I
guess I yearn for the forests and lakes in Finland and the scent of the air.
They almost remain a fantasy in my dreams when I am not there and a constant
source of inspiration. I use my middle name Tuulikki (in English means little
wind) as my surname because I think its meaning describes me and the things
that I do better than my real surname. 

The band name Nalle came from the name of
my bear I was given by my Mummo and the idea that somehow our music is like a
transition object between us and the world, in the same way that a toy is to a

Your website ( gives a really
great overview of all of your work, which includes music and drawing. As your
artist’s statement highlights, you use various media “to explore music not as
an end in itself but as part of the wider environmental sound-scape”. Why did
you choose art school rather than music school? Who did you study with at the
Glasgow School of Art?

I guess I never really considered myself a
musician. Sure, I played music, but never in public! Aside from learning the
recorder and flute as a child, I have taught myself to sing and play, so music
school was never an option. It was only while at art school that I began to

I went to art school in Glasgow because I
was interested in the environmental art course as something that looks at other
ways of engaging with an audience apart from the gallery space. Whilst there, I
studied with Tanya Eccleson, Justin Carter, Sue Brind and Ross Sinclair. 

Going to art school was great because it
made me think about who I was and what was important to me. I realised that my
connection with nature and music were the things that motivate me and I wanted
a way of combining those things. I started to experiment with playing outside,
listening to and imitating the sounds around me that in my ears, were all
music. When we look at the world, our sense of vision emphasises the distinct
boundaries between phenomena, whereas the sounds that things make are often not
so distinct and sometimes the experience of listening is often one of
perceiving the inseparability of phenomena. So, I guess I like to create sound
worlds that attempt to dissolve certain distinctions between humans, the
environment and animals.

There’s a thought-provoking essay on your
site (by you) on the role of art in ecological sustainability and environmental
change. Are those ideas you continue to deal with in your work? If so, how do
you do that?

I wrote that essay while I was at art
school, where I became very interested in art that can help to create
social/ecological change. There are certain artists around the world who seek
to use their art as means to create pragmatic change, for example to restore
contaminated land and habitats. I really believe in this work, for example the
work of Mel Chin, Alan Sonfist and Helen Mayer, and Newton Harrison. I began to
try and work in a similar way, but felt trapped in politics and felt
disconnected in some ways to the things that really inspire me.

In this time of ecological crisis, I think
it is also important to embrace the tools that we have to remind us of the
sacred. Music or sound are my tools and I have discovered that aural and
musical metaphors can provide us with a means to describe the world in ways
that remind us of our physical connection to the environment. Within my work
now, I seek to find a sonic space where I can almost transcend my humanness or
my sense of self in order to feel a deeper connection, either with other
people, or another species or a particular environment.

{mosimage}Your band, Nalle, released its first album
(By Chance Upon Waking) in 2006. You sing
partially in Finnish, you play the kantele (a traditional Finnish instrument),
and your music fits in nicely with the current Finnish folk scene. Were you
influenced by Finnish folk music? Who are some of your other influences?

On that album I actually don’t sing in
Finnish, but for some reason in some reviews it says that I do. When we play
live I do sing one traditional gypsy song in Finnish (Voi Ruusuni), which we
are currently recording as part of the new album to come out on Locust Records later
this year.

I picked up a kantele when I was living in
Pispala and started recording with it, enjoying the way the wood sits in my
hands and its pure sound. I like the kantele as an instrument and its symbolic
significance in folklore. I have not heard many recordings that use traditional
musical forms, except for PRIMO’s Bear Feast (Karhu Juhla), which I think has
definitely been an influence. I also have a great album of wax cylinder
recordings made in the first part of the 20th century. I like the
simple pentatonic melodies and I love the stories. I have also listened to a
fair bit of Finnish gypsy music and met some great players on my travels.

Other influences range from traditional
folk music from many parts of the world, music of the 60s and 70s folk revival,
60s drone music, free or improvised music and music of the birds.

People have compared you to Joanna Newsom
and Björk, but I find your vocal
experimentation unique. Can you share something about your singing aesthetic?

Yes, that comparison is made too often! I
find this question quite difficult to answer because I don’t really think about
it – I just sing! It is just what feels like the most natural form of
expression. I try to expand the range of sounds I make so that I use my voice as
an instrument and I sing with words to tell stories.

Interviews Music

Metal God’s predictions

“I love
Finland. I was there recently, a couple of weeks ago. I visited to some Finnish
friends who are helping me to put my future website together,“ KK says.

{mosimage}Let us know more
about Violent Storm project, where you recently got pretty involved.

We were on
tour in America,
with Judas Priest, and we had a couple of tours in Miami. We met Mick Cervino there.
Later I met him again in Barcelona.
We went there to see Yngwie Malmsteem´s show. He asked me to play a
couple of songs in his album. Nobody has offered me that before. I said
“maybe”, and when he sent me the record I thought it was pretty cool. So I
played the solo guitars guitar solos and then slowly I got more and more

Did you
enjoy the experience?

Yeah, it was
very interesting to see the whole process. I was not there from the very
beginning, otherwise I could have had even more input. It was a lot of hard
work in the end but I think that for a first album, it sounds good.

They are
going to be touring pretty soon. Any chance you can appear as guest musician in
any gig?

I suppose
that at some point we are going to be on stage with them at a festival or big
concert, so anything can happen.

It would be nice
to see you on stage with them.

Yeah, maybe
they could even open for Judas Priest. You never know what is going to happen. I
think that they would work very well as a support band for Judas or for others
like Black Sabbath.

It was
recently confirmed that they will play at the Sauna Open Air festival next
summer in Tampere, where
Black Sabbath guys will play as well.

I am looking
forward to seeing the band live. After delivering a good record, you have to be
able to show that you can deliver a good live show too.

Focusing on
Judas Priest, the launching of the new album about
Nostradamus is coming
closer. Why this turn toward a conceptual album?

It is a very
good challenge for us. In Judas Priest, we have never been too afraid of
pushing the boundaries and trying new things. We always thought that if we can
bring a wider audience to metal, that's a good thing, because it makes this
kind of music stronger, and this is good for other bands as well. People
complain that heavy metal is boring, but it is funny that every year, the same
classic metal bands are the ones that have the biggest headlines in the festivals.
All in all, Judas Priest are very proud of what we have achieved, and not only
from our band, but also from other bands.

Do you have
any information about the releasing date of the album?

Not yet. For
the moment it is going exceptionally well. We are working very hard on it and
hopefully it will be released soon.

What is the
story behind your first guitar and
Michael Schenker?

U.F.O. was playing on a Saturday night,
this was years and years ago, and I think that Michael saw the flying guitar
that I had, in a little shop window, and the shop was obviously closed because it
was at week end. He went back to London,
and came back to Birmingham
to buy the guitar, but I had bought the same guitar that morning on Monday. So
later when I saw him in Los Angeles,
he told me “That's the guitar that should have been mine!” I said: "too
bad, it's mine now!" That particular guitar… Gibson only made 117
worldwide in 1969, so they were quite rare.

So Michael
has kept reminding you about this every time you met later?

Yes, of
course, yeah. I said: "if I go to my grave first, Michael, I will leave it
to you in my will!"

You also
like collecting cars. If they offer you a choice between a nice guitar and a
nice car, what would you take?

The car! I
can play a cheap guitar, that's fine, but I would take the nice car!

Is true that
Julio Iglesias, the legendary Spanish singer, and Judas Priest
collaborated together once?

Yeah, it is
true. We were recording in Miami,
and Julio came to the studio where we were rehearsing. I think that we released
the song in the bonus track of the Remasters.

He was a
very nice guy indeed. One day a big truck arrived outside the studio, and then
a brand new Ferrari come out of the vehicle: a present for “Mr Iglesias”, sent
by the record company for selling so many records. He got in the car, drove around
the block, and said “too fast for me, I will give it to my son”. I said: "I
will take it, Julio, that's fine for me!"

I want to
see one day that I am in the studio and a truck comes with a Ferrari for me!

We work hard
for it.


You only
need to sell some more million albums, KK…

Art Interviews

Interview with Eko Nugroho

Your home city Yogyakarta is said to have a
thriving contemporary art scene beyond any other city in Indonesia. What makes
it so special?

A number of
reasons. The Indonesian Art Institute is in Yogyakarta, and so many artists
come there to study. There's a lot of history there, a lot of culture and
tradition and people appreciate art more. Generally the atmosphere is really
creative. There's a lot of public art on the streets. Not just graffiti and
tags et cetera, but also plenty of legal street art, all kinds of different

Is that how you got started, doing street art?

Yes. When I
was growing up there were graffiti groups and street artists in Yogyakarta who
were sort of competing with each other. Some were graffiti kings, you know,
interested in spray-paint, tags and slogans. But the group I ran with was into
more visual and artistic expression. I like to do art in public, for people to
experience outside the museums and galleries. Also the murals, I like to do
them in public and invite people to watch and participate. I did one in Berlin,
which was really lovely, they gave me a big building neighboured by graffiti

You're painting a mural here in Kiasma. What's
the main idea behind this one?

It's called
Pleasure under pressure, it's about
how living in Indonesia you're are always surrounded by political things; even
if you don't choose political subjects, the media and everyday life are
constantly full of politics. It's about the political situation in Indonesia,
but it's not attacking things directly. It's softly critical, for people to
recognise what's happening around them.

{mosimage}Is it hard to be an openly political artist in

political situation is changing all the time, mostly for the better, but after
the previous regime people want things to get better fast. And a lot of things
still remain, corruption and political power centres. The people are really
politically active, calling out for things and being vocal with their opinions.
For artists, however, open criticism that's too direct is not permitted. You
know 70% of the people are Muslim and some of them want an Islamic state, but
not everyone is happy with that. There's a lot of tension between politics,
society and culture.

Can you tell us a little about your work with

I do some
comics on my own but mainly I work with a collective called Daging Tumbuh (Diseased Tumour). We
compile art from contributors: comics, illustrations et cetera, all
photocopied. Ordinary people can write or paint about their personal things and
so on. Every six months we publish a new issue, only 150 copies or so, which is
circulated from hand to hand on the streets.

Sounds very underground. You're also connected
to the world of institutionalised art, museums and galleries. Do you think it's
important to keep in touch with the underground?

There's a
lot you can do only in the underground, like criticise certain things in
society. In Indonesia the political situation is getting better, but there's
still a lot of narrow-mindedness and social pressure, and that's exactly what
I'm critical of in my work. Also, I like to be in contact and communicate with
people, hear their stories and experiences.

Some of your works include embroidery. How did
you get interested in that?

Some time
in 1999 there were a lot of social problems with urban youths and they formed
street gangs. It was a part of their fashion to have a cool embroidery on the
back of their leatherjackets. The gangs vanished after 2000, but they inspired
me because in their way they were rebelling against the system. Later I found a
small town in Java called Tasikmalaya, which was famous for embroideries, and I
studied it there myself. Nowadays I have skilled craftsmen do most of the big
ones for me based on my design.

Books Interviews

Running to the limit

Where were
you born?

In Oulu. I
moved to the capital some years ago to study.

Do you like
living here in Helsinki?

Yeah. The
first months I missed my home city a lot. I was even visiting the Railway
Station just to watch at the trains departing to Oulu. But after some months, I
started to work in Linnänmäki amusement park and it became more fun.

What do you
like doing in the capital when you have free time?

I like
running around, especially on summer. When I was younger I trained hard in
athletics, but now I can just open my eyes and enjoy the landscape. I have
recently discovered the Punavuori area, which is really nice.

How do you
deal with your studies at Helsinki University?

I am a bit
ashamed because I still have to finish my thesis and I have not talked to my
supervisor… I am so busy that I don’t know when I am going to have time to
complete it…

What is the
thesis topic about?

It has to do
with the devil.

What book
have you read lately?

Pääskynen´s Vihan Päivä

What place
in Finland would you recommend to visit?

{quotes}Oulu, of

Do you feel
nervous about the critiques?

It is the scariest part of being a writer
for me. I have read three bad critiques, and three good ones.

Your reaction about the bad ones?

They were right on some points. I tried to
read them from that angle, but it was hard for me as well.

In your book, how can you imagine being
under the skin of a man who makes love to a woman?

I have only one answer, it is a cryptic
answer, I said that I know my own parts because he is “me” at that time in the
process of writing, so everything feels right and natural.

What is the future for Riikka Pulkkinen?

There are different kinds of projects. I am
going to be on TV for the whole spring. It is kind of a talk show called Kuka, mitä, häh.

Books Interviews

Pedro Juan’s dirty Havana

FREE! Magazine had the honour to get an exclusive interview with one of the hottest contemporary authors in Latin American: Pedro Juan Gutierrez. A writer whose style, full of passion, sex, visceral, raw, harsh but also hugely beautiful, creates equally love and hate among his readers.

Pedro Juan kindly answered our questions while staying in Colombia for some days, out of his beloved city. "I always have a nice relationship with journalists. I was one for 26 years, and I know how agonizing this job can be, but also how rewarding in other occasions", he recalls.

When you published Dirty Havana Trilogy, in 1998, you recognised that it was a very hard
time in your life, very depressing, almost with suicidal tendencies. What do you feel now when you look back on that period?

I try to forget the past and not to be afraid of what the future will bring. I just try to enjoy the moment, be calmer.

Pedro Juan Gutierrez

That book has a high degree of autobiography, hasn’t it?

Yes, it is almost an autobiography, but not totally. I think that many readers, after the second time they go through my works, start to understand that the real “leit motiv” of my books is poverty more than sex.

Your books have a very aggressive style. There are ideas poured against almost everything in politics, philosophy, religion… How are they received in Cuba?

Well, they are not received well, nor badly. The point is actually that they are not published here. There are only some selected titles that circulate with a small number of copies. But I think that the new generation, young people with no prejudices, like them very much. Many times they circulate from hand to hand.

I see some features in your work that reminds me of Guillermo Cabrera Infante´s masterpiece Infante's Inferno. Have you read that book?

No, I have never read that book. In Cuba you cannot find his works. As simple as that. If he would have won the Nobel Prize, no Cuban would have known about it. When he died, nobody even published a short article in the press. But I like very much his book Three Trapped Tigers.

“I have had sex with more than 2.000 women in my life”

What contemporary authors do you read?

I am interested in Richard Ford, Carver, Houllebeck, Guillermo Arriaga, Fernando Vallejo and some others.

You have worked in many different jobs, met many people and gone through many experiences. How do you face life when you get up every morning?

I learn new things every day, I am like a child. I still get amazed about many things and I try to understand them better. Now for example in Colombia I was carrying out a poll about silicone implants. It has become very popular here among women, they do it everywhere, in their tits, lips, ass, and cheeks. It is fascinating to hear
what they have to tell.

Going through your work, we can appreciate that you must have had many experiences and success with women. Have you found often real love, or has it been more about frantic sex like in your books?

I have had sex with more than two thousand women in my life. A bit excessive maybe. Real love…only with five or six… and I feel very bad when everything is over. A female Finnish journalist, whose name I do not remember now, interviewed me in La Havana not long time ago. She was very friendly. She tried to link all this behaviour to former psychological problems with my mother and father.

Pedro Juan

Would you be able to live in another place, different from Havana?

Moving to somewhere else? No, never! Well, maybe Spain. I would not like to live in a place with a different language.

Have you ever been in Finland? What do you know about this country?

Yes, I was invited to Helsinki and Lahti some years ago. I gave a speech for two minutes, and the other five days I was walking around the beautiful lakes and forests. I had a very nice romance with a sweet Finnish woman who cultivated aromatic herbs, and I enjoyed sauna. Lahti was an unforgettable experience. I would love to go back, but I suppose that warm woman does not live there anymore, because the world is not a perfect place.

“I suffer from censorship in Sweden. Publishing houses do not want to publish my books there”

In your book Tropical Animal (Etelän Peto), the main character also had a romance with a Swedish woman: Agneta. Is the inspiration coming also from a real story?

Yes. Agneta, with another real name, really exists. She is a real woman. I lived in Sweden in 1999
for three months, and everything happened just as it is told in the book. She felt betrayed at the beginning, but later, she understood that a writer is always a bit of a “son of a bitch”, not always a nice human being, and she accepts me the way I am. Publishing houses in Sweden, in revenge, do not publish my books. I suffer from censorship in Sweden, and I think that they are really stupid because they are missing very good books that are already published in twenty other countries.

What are the future perspectives for Pedro Juan?

Like everybody else: projects. The first one is to live a relaxed life, and have fun whenever I am able to. Life is a great crazy adventure, funny, unpredictable…  Time flies, and without realising about it, we have become old, and we cannot fuck anymore, or drink, or smoke, and the women look at us like if we were old grandpas. Shit, what a horror!

Cinema Interviews

Tales of love, sex and solitude

by old projectors and film star photos at the Motion Picture museum in
Helsinki, Aku Louhimies speaks calmly, even when discussing his latest movie Man Exposed (Rissuuttu Mies, 2006) that has been recently banned by the Court of
Appeal of Helsinki. He does not seem to give much importance to his awards, as
he is already working on his next film, which he describes as a “dark love
story during the Finnish Civil War”. This new movie sounds like a different and
challenging project for a director specializing in modern and urban stories. He
enjoys shooting the city and analyzing complicated human relations that are resolved
in an inevitable solitude.


How do you find stories worthy to be made into
a film?

I read a
great deal and I find a lot of different kinds of ideas and stories, but I also
have to think about the investors, about what kind of a movie they are looking

How involved do you like to get in the writing
of the screenplay?

In general,
I hope the screenwriter will be in the process from the beginning until the
film is on the screen, since it’s a really important cooperation. I assume that
here in Europe we need to start to work together already from the beginning.
Usually in Finland it does not happen that there is a very good script already
finished and on my desk, so I think it is always a close cooperation.

{mosimage}There appears to be some recurrent topics in
your movies, such as the portrayal of the city in Kuutamolla (Lovers and Leavers) and Valkoinen Kaupunki (Frozen

In the
films I have made so far, the city has played a big part, but my next film is
not going to be set in a city; it depends upon the story. For example, for me Kuutamolla was a realistic way
of looking at Helsinki. I also think that Valkoinen Kaunpunki is a realistic way of examining a different part of the same city.
However, the people who select the films for the Berlin International Film
Festival said that Kuutamolla
didn’t look like Finland and there was not enough Finnishness. So, you never

What were they expecting of Finland?

I’d guess
probably something sad, or maybe an Aki Kaurismäki type of film.

Sex is also a recurrent topic in your film. Is
there any message involved?

I don’t
think if there is only one clear message, but it’s a subject in which I have
been interested and I wish that we could show things differently, like in
mainstream Hollywood films when characters meet, kiss and then it fades into
next morning. In Riisuttu Mies (Man Exposed), there
is a scene in which the guys are coming out of sauna and start wrestling. There
is full frontal male nudity, but you cannot have that in the US. It would be
like an X-rated film, which I think is really funny. I want to express it in a
more natural way…I hope it is not that big a deal.

In both Restless
and Man Exposed one of the main
characters is a priest. Why is this?

When you
think about human relationships, the one with a priest is one of the most interesting.
We expect them to be better in a way, especially in a Protestant church with
women priests as well; this profession can get very interesting.

You also like focusing on the family.

When you
are a film director it’s not very easy to be a good husband and father at the
same time, but I try to combine both. Those are also subjects in which I’m
interested. Kids are interesting.

Is working with them so painful like some other
directors say?

No, I
really like working with kids. I also like working with animals. I have only
good experiences.

The character of the mother leaves home
in both Kuutamolla and in Valkoinen Kaupunki. Do you want to stress the
importance of the mother in the family?

In Kuutamolla, this situation was already in the book. It is a stereotype that
it’s the man’s departure that only destroys the family; the woman can leave
too. Valkoinen Kaupunki is told from the
point of view of the man for the audience to identify with his drama. It has to
do with the fact that when something goes wrong in the marriage, everybody
tends to point his finger – it is not always like that.

I noticed that another connection between those
movies is Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver
and loners.

that’s right. I like that film a lot. I like how it portrays loneliness and it
is a meaningful film for me. When I read Katja Kallio’s book, which had
references from lots of films, this part specially came to my mind. It also has
to do with the fact that film was distributed by Columbia, so we could have the
rights to show parts of Taxi Driver
in our movie. In Valkoinen Kaunpunki it’s a
bit different; it’s like a homage referring to loneliness. I can easily find
that loneliness has been one of the themes through all of my films – Iiris in Kuutamolla is also quite lonely,
in a way.

Do you think that is an influence of Finnish

I think
that’s one of the things. It’s definitely cultural. This is a very different
country than, say, Spain. It’s different how people walk around the city and
how they interact with one another.

However, it has been said that your
movies don’t really reflect Finland and that they are not realistic.

For me,
they have been quite realistic. They are not showing the whole picture of
Finland. They show just one small part, but I think they are realistic. I
understand, though, that the {quotes}Helsinki of Valkoinen Kaupunki or Paha Maa is not the
city shown at the tourist information office.{/quotes}

Most people remember Levottomat (Restless) because of its sex scenes. Are you concerned that the
audience will remember one part of the story?

It is far
more interesting if movies have different layers and you can watch them several
times, going deeper into it with each viewing. It has to be the same way with
advertising. When Restless has gone
to international festivals people did not pay attention to sex or who the
actors were. They can access the story easier and find the theme of loneliness
than people in Finland, who know the actors and have seen the promotion. It
happens with other films in the same way, they have done well internationally,
but they didn’t find many viewers in Finland.

Does this fact annoy you?

No, not
really, because you cannot always please everybody and a filmmaker cannot keep
in mind the audience response all the time.

Do you think much about the audience when doing
the films?

Yes, in a
way, but also, in a way, not at all. When I’m preparing a scene, I’m thinking
about how they should be acting and how we can shoot this, and then I don’t
think about the audience.


A difficult

Can you explain more about the troubles you had
with producer Markus Selin with the editing of Paha Maa?

It was a
matter of who has the final cut in European cinema. Traditionally in Finland,
the director has the right over the final cut. Films are not a bad business.
There is not a big risk for production companies, although they try to make it
look like that. Costs are paid with governmental institutions and the presale
of television rights. The problem was solved and the end result was fine, although
the problem received some publicity. I’m sure producer is happy now, because,
although it was not a mainstream film, it attracted a lot of viewers and it has
been distributed in the Scandinavian countries, in the Benelux and in the UK.
It has done well.


And now you have a problem with Riisuttu Mies.

It is quite
different because I’m not legally part of that argument at all. My contracts
are fine. The screenwriter Veli-Pekka Hänninen is an old friend of the producer
and their contracts have some strange things that don’t really fit in the
normal way of filmmaking. I have never seen them but it kind of says that the
screenwriter could have a final cut of the film. That might be if you are in
the United States and you are Stephen King or Michael Crichton. Maybe those
guys could have the final cut. If I had known that there was this kind of
arrangement, I would have not worked on Riisuttu Mies. I do commercials sometimes and I know how it works. You work as a
hired gun, but I would not do a feature film in Finland as a hired gun.
Everything is fine from my point of view besides the end result of the court.

You seem to be taking it very calmly.

I cannot
believe it is going to be the end result. It is ridiculous. If there has been
something wrong with the contract, I think it is good if the producer pays
something to the screenwriter; I don’t have anything against that, but since
the film was already made it is very dumb not to allow all the work of
cinematographers, editors, composers and actors, for example, to be seen. There
were several film festivals around the world that have been interested in the
film and now they don’t have the possibility of showing it. It was supposed to
be shown in Gothenburg. {quotes}Banning Riisuttu Mies is a very dumb decision.{/quotes} I don’t think it is going to be this
way in the end. 

What is it like working with actors?

I cannot
really say in general. I want them to give something I can believe and
something that I can feel emotionally or intellectually. Some people like
rehearsing, others hate it, but is it rehearsing when you go for a cup of
coffee? Why not? To me, it’s very important to get to know the people with
which I am working.

There’s no better example of this than
with your own wife Laura Malmivaara, who appears in several of your movies. Is
it stressful to mix work and family?

It helps in
the way that you will work with somebody you already know, so you can get to a
great level of confidence. Maybe sometimes it’s little bit more stressful, but
mainly it is a benefit.


Five movies

Let’s talk about your movies. Your first
one was Levottomat.

It took me
many years. It took around five years to get the financing for the film. It is
really hard to breakthrough in a small country like Finland where only about
ten feature films are made every year. It was an important story for me at that
time. It was hard to get the first one done.

{mosimage}Next came a bittersweet love story, Kuutamolla.

I read
Katja Kallio’s book and I thought that this would make a good movie, and then
the producer also thought it was a good idea. We met with Katja Kallio and we
thought that we could work together. I approached her and she approached me at
the same time in a way. It was a really nice cooperation.

Paha Maa was a hit and critically

I already
had that script ready for almost 14 years before I was able to do it. I think
it was more experimental when it comes to the structure. It also felt important
to do.

Man Exposed brings back the figure of a priest.

There was
no script in the beginning and we developed as we worked. I wanted to do
something that would be lighter than Frozen
and it is closer to Lovers and
. The main character, played by Samuli Edelmann, is a priest whose
wife is also a priest and the story follows their marriage and not having kids.

The last is Valkoinen Kaupunki, a very tough story.

In a way it
is also really experimental. It is made with small cameras. It was also
personally important for me to be done.

Valkoinen Kaupunki and Paha Maa have very
similar titles in English, but not in Finnish. Why is that?

I think
‘Frozen Land’ is a good translation. It expresses the same ideas as in Finnish.
It is even better than in Finnish. However ‘Frozen City’ is a mistake because
it should have been ‘White City’. Perhaps production companies thought it would
work better to present it like a sequel to Paha Maa, which it is not. I think the audience is going to get confused and
think it is the same movie.


Photos by J.M. Rodríguez 

Interviews Music

Apulanta breaking the law

We have an animated talk with Toni (vocals and guitar) and Sipe (drums) about their history and their new album that was released that same day.

Why the name Apulanta (fertilizer)?

Toni: When we formed the band we were very young. I was 13 and he was 15. We were punk rockers at that time and we just decided to choose the worst possible name for the band. I think we succeeded pretty well…

Sipe: What can you expect at that age…? The first point was that it had to be easy to remember and the second point was that it was funny.

Toni: There have been one or two occasions when we came to regret the decision; it is an ugly child, but it is our child!

How did you get to know each other?

Toni: We went to the same high school.

Sipe: And we were basically the school outcasts. When you are an outsider and you do not have friends, you seek out similar people. So, we met at a disco where we both were trying to get girls, but instead we met…

{mosimage}And you formed a band!

Toni: We both come from this small town called Heinola. At that time, in the early-90s, there was nothing going on there, no sub-cultures of any kind. We were the only guys at the high school who were wearing band t-shirts, as we were into heavy metal, trash metal and death metal at that time. It was kind of a “t-shirt” incident that led us to meet each other. I saw that there was one guy with almost the same kind of t-shirt that I was wearing, I said: “Hi, what is your name? Do you play anything? Why don’t we form a band?” So actually, that was simple.

It was like a Aki Kaurismäki dialogue…

Toni: Yeah it was.  A couple of months later {quotes}Sipe stole his first drum kit{/quotes}

Sipe: Actually, this is the first time we say it in public!

Toni: It was actually a place owned by city of Heinola. It was a nasty thing to steal those drums, but years later I think we have paid it back with taxes and so on, so it was a kind of “investment”.

How was it living in Heinola?

Toni: Actually, Heinola is a nice place and I would like to return there at some point. I get my dose of “action” on tours, and, for example, we will perform over 100 this year, starting this Friday and will probably end in November, so after spending so long in rock clubs I really need peace. Well, when you are a 19-year-old guy in a rock band you need more than peaceful countryside, so Heinola was good for growing up, but it was also good to get out of there.

We have seen Apulanta live several times before. It seems that you love having these acting shows, such as being disguised with strange costumes.

Sipe: There is a lot of time to kill on the tour bus…

Toni: I kind of like it. It keeps us occupied, we do it for ourselves. A couple of times we have gone over the top with it and the show became more important than the music. Once we had this outrageous theatrical thing: knights versus orcs…Lord of the Rings style.

Sipe: Sadly, there were only seven or eight songs in our festival set…. But playing punk rock songs is basically “the thing”…

Toni: At the end, punk rock is the thing. Not the other things. It was fun for one summer. Then we changed the line up and we couldn’t hide behind masks anymore. We had to come back to our roots, do what a band is supposed to be doing and that is rocking, writing good music and entertaining the crowd. We had to leave the costumes.

Sipe: Well, since the tour starts on Friday, we have to concentrate on music. So no costumes… for few months at least.

We know that Toni likes to appear in movies, making small cameos, such as in Kuutamolla (Lovers and Leavers), or playing a role, like in Pitkä Kuuma Kesä. How was the experience?

Toni: Yeah, I did some of those in the late-90s and early-2000. It really was not my thing, it was more arrogant attitude. When you are a young guy and all of a sudden you become successful, you think you can do everything. You can do a movie; put together an art gallery… I realize now that I completely suck as an actor.

I like the name for the film’s band you led, Vittupää

Toni: We actually wrote the songs for the movie. We went to Lahti, 30 kms from Heinola, by bus and wrote three or four songs on the 30-minute bus ride to the Lahti studio, so in the whole process of getting our asses on the bus in Heinola, going to Lahti, recording some songs, mixing the songs and back to Heinola took two hours. It was very fast and very fun, kind of very punk. I really liked the songs. In fact, we still cover those. There is one very good song, which translated means: ‘Cop is a Nazi Bastard’. Where did we steal that riff, Sipe? We stole most of the riffs for those songs…

Sipe: I think that was a Black Sabbath riff reversed and played.

Do you feel you have softened your style?

Toni: In the late-90s we went in a softer direction, but lately we are back to our roots; I think that is a natural evolution of a rock band. You kind of walk a circle, as simple as that. I don’t really feel like going soft. I really enjoy playing the new album – it is quite hard with technical riffs and very aggressive. I enjoy aggressive music these days. {quotes}We are in pretty good shape to play aggressive music these days.{/quotes}

You have two albums in English in your discography: Viper Spank and Apulanta. What can you tell us about them?

Toni: When we started to sell big amounts of albums in Finland, we generated interest in other countries like Germany and Spain. They asked us if it was possible to make some translations – that is basically what they wanted us to do, so we did these couple of albums. Viper Spank is a collection of hit songs with the re-recordings, and it was nice. We had some success, not anything big, but we went to different countries to play and it was nice to do.

You have a very long discography already. Do you feel pressure to release new albums often?

{mosimage}Toni: We live through music. We are both music lovers. It is natural to work a lot. Of course, when you do nine albums, you have to reinvent yourself because you do not want to make the same song over and over again; that would make it very uninteresting for people and for us. With the latest album we worked very hard to make it a living breathing album, and I think that we succeeded in that.

Sipe: We are very proud that Apulanta is a band with roots. There are not many bands with 16 years of history, and every year doing better and better. The previous album, Kiila, that was released a couple of years ago, was the best album we ever made and stuff like that, so it created a lot of pressure, cause you never want to do an album that is not better than the previous ones.

Sipe: It sounds like a cliché, but our fans seem to be a pretty loyal bunch of people, so we really do not want to let them down. We want to do things with a lot of heart.

Toni: I think that the respect for the fans is one of the things that keep us trying new stuff. The loyalty and dedication they have given to us. The fans have bought me my shoes, my t shirt, my car…it is for all those people who decided to spend 20 euros on my album that I have these things, so they deserve the best they can get.

I think it works both ways, that you are one of the bands in Finland you take more care of the fans. In concerts there is always a great feeling. You put in a lot of effort.

Toni: I think that is due to the punk scene we come from. It has always been about interaction with people. We had this crazy Japanese girl who flew from Tokyo just to see us, she spent all the money she had just for that, that was crazy dedication. We got to know her pretty well and she ended up spending several weeks with us on the tour bus.

Sipe: We obviously took care of all the expenses…

Toni: Of course, when somebody says that you have a nice 19-year-old Japanese girl who wants to join you…you cannot say no…

Sipe: I have one reference case of a thing like this. In 1993 in Provinssirock, my “gods” Bad Religion played there and we had a chance to meet them, they spent 2-3 hours with me, and I was just a teenager from Heinola, so that was sort of a lesson for me: being a rock star does not mean that you have to be an asshole.

You have been playing for 16 years. Starting so young, and after so many albums and songs, is there a point you could feel “burnt out” in the music business?

Toni: At this point…when you complete an album you can feel empty, but at the moment, it has been a very refreshing experience… You never know what the future brings, but I do not see any point in quitting at this stage, when the band is still at the top.

Sipe: We still have lots of ambitions. We want to do better shows, better albums, know how to play even better, when we started we were not the best musicians in Finland, and we still have a lot to achieve. I think that our band is needed in the Finnish scene; I think that it is our duty to be here.


Pick up your copy of FREE! Magazine to read more of the interview with Sipe and Toni 

Photos by J.M. Rodríguez

Books Interviews

Mikael Niemi: A warm writer from the North

We have the good luck to meet him in the
offices of his Finnish publishing house, few minutes before flying back to his
home in the Swedish Artic Pole. A trip of 10 hours leading him to his village
of  only 2000 citizens not far from the
Finnish border: Pajala. Mikael has spent the week end in Helsinki promoting his
new book: The man who died like a salmon
(Mies joku kuolli kuin lohi), and
feels surprise about how the author of this interview, coming from a southern
warmer country, can live in Finland’s capital. I wonder the same about his life
in such a remote place as Pajala is.

“I am a typical northern person, so my
mentality is from the north. I was growing up there, my father is from Pajala
and my people too. We have our minority there, we speak Finnish , my surname is
Finnish “Niemi”, my father first language was this typical Meänkieli, different
from the Finnish spoken in Finland,
but still related, and it is about my roots. I love to be there. I love skiing
for example. I do 1000 kilometres in total during the winter and of course, and
then I also write. I have my family there, I have 3 kids, and I like that they
are growing up in my own culture, and I think I am lucky to live there. When I
was younger I was living in Helsinki
for one year, because I had a girlfriend here. I also lived in Stockholm, but I think that Pajala is

must be a very beautiful place to live

I like it, but some people say that it is
too dark and too cold, but we are very warm people, to balance the situation…

have now this new book whose title in Finnish is
joku kuolli kuin lohi, The man who died like a salmon. In Popular Music book, we
could find also a funny title in the Finnish version (The title literally
translated meant Popular Music from the cunt). Is it your personal choice when
choosing the titles?

Yes, I always make my own title, and it is
very important to have a good one, I started as a poet, and it is very
important that the language contains a lot of poetry. I was also a very bad
musician, I was composing my songs, so I work a lot with the titles, and I am
very satisfied with this one. I think that is poetic, but a bit brutal and
strange at the same time.


write your originals in Swedish. Why not in Meäkieli, the Finnish dialect
spoken in Tornionlaakso, the region where Pajala is?

Because it is not my language, it is my father’s
language. But in 1960´s, people were ashamed of using it, cause of the
oppression from the state. They were afraid of us speaking Finnish, so we would
like to have independents thoughts. It is about history, so Sweden was very
nationalistic years ago. This is the same case all around Europe,
but we never wanted a nation or our own land or belong to Finland, We
only wanted to have our own culture and feel proud of it. When I grew up, my
father never taught me Finnish. I learnt from the streets, from my friends,
from speaking when I am hunting with my friends, so I know a bit, but not too
well to write it. Meänkieli did not have a written language, and efforts
started very recently to try to write down this language. So people are
developing the grammar, or rules to spell the word.


So it
is a language under construction…

Yeah, it is under construction,  and you have to make that with every word, so
it is complicated but very interesting at same time. That also means that we
have very few books written in meänkieli. Some authors are writing in
meänkieli, very few, but then you have the problem that people cannot read it,
so they are not used to see their language in letters.


father spoke Meänkieli, your mum Swedish, you grandmother Sámi, and you are
married to a Dutch woman. What language do you speak at home?

At home, we have 3 children and we decided
from the start that she should speak only her language to the children. It is
not Flemish, but Frisian, a minoritarian language too in the north of Holland, so we have the
same situation in that aspect. So my children speak Frisian and Swedish, and
then we try to learn a little more of meänkieli too.


with your wife, do you speak English?

No, my wife speaks perfect Swedish; she is
very good in languages. My oldest son, who is 9 years old now, is very good in
languages, so he can learn now other languages like English. He goes to Holland and talks to
people there in good Frisian, so it is fantastic to see how he can speak much
better than me. This could have happened to me, I could have had fluent
knowledge of meänkieli and Swedish, but it was not allowed at that time. It was
considered to be bad.


you explain us a bit more about the plot of your new book?

{quotes}It is a criminal story, so it starts with a
murder of an 89 years old man in Pajala.
{/quotes} He was working in the customs when he
was younger, to guard the border between Finland and Sweden, and he
is very aggressive to the minority language. He is a symbol of the oppression,
although he belongs to the same culture as well. So he is murdered and a woman
comes from Stockholm,
a police officer called Therese Fossnes and she starts the investigation. She
cannot speak any Finnish and does not know anything about the culture. She is
watching reindeers for the first time in her life. So she is in her own
country, but it is like another world for her. I am using here the conflict of
culture collision, conflict of woman against the man “macho” strong society, and
she is a very strong woman as well. She meets a man from Pajala whom suspected
to be the murderer and then they start to get to know better, so there is love
in the story as well. The book will be translated soon to English.


grade of self involvement do you have in the novel?

I am much involved too. I put a lot of real
people in the book. I am using around 40 real people of Pajala in the book, and
for instance, at the beginning there is a woman who takes care of old people,
and she finds the dead body, and she is an existing person


Mikael looks for some papers and show us
pictures of real people and places in Pajala that appear in his novel.


is the reaction of the people when they see themselves in the story of your

Well, I ask them for permission, I always
say “Do you want to be in my book?” and everybody says “yes!” I had also a
chapter about hunting, I am a hunter too. My father is in that chapter and my
hunting friends too. They appear with the real names. And everybody gets a free
copy of the book…


So at
the end, the entire village wants to appear in your book!

Yeah, some people told me “Why am I not in
the book? You should put me in the next one!


you said, there is not much written tradition for Meänkieli, it is coming
mostly from oral tradition and stories. So which are the sources from where you
get to hear the stories?

In our culture, in some special occasions,
people start to tell stories, and then I always listen with “big ears”. Now I m
starting to tell them myself, cause when you are getting a bit older, I am 47
now, then you start to tell stories also, about people who lived there or
special things that happened in our area. It is really wonderful, and I get a
lot of energy from that. So I tell to those people that they are authors also,
they do not write books, but they have the language, the ability to tell.


was your father also telling you stories?

Well, my father was a quiet man. He was
telling sometimes. He was a policeman, and actually that is also a great
motivation for me to write the police story in this new book. Sometimes he told
me about some dramatic things that happened during his police job. Many times
he told me “you must never write about this!” “It is a secret” and I always
answer, ok, I will not write about it now, but I don’t know if I can keep this
promise forever, because they were very good stories, so as a writer I feel the
need to collect them.


you satisfied with the
Popular Music movie version?

Yes, I like it. Of course it was much
shorter than the book, but well, some people said to me that the movie was ok,
but the book better, so I could just answer to them “Thank you!


the book became so popular, no bigger company made you an offer to film
something with bigger stars?

Yes, I had propositions, but I wanted the
movie to be recorded in Tornionlaakso, I wanted to be shot there, and I wanted
also to have some Finnish meänkieli there. It was important from our culture,
and the producers from other big countries like Germany or Denmark wanted it to
be shot in south Sweden or in studios, and they wanted to dub the actors, so I
preferred to do it in Pajala, and it was very good, many hundreds of people
there participated in the movie. For example, my mother was in 2 scenes, my
wife also appeared in the movie, and a lot of young people who could be actors
for first time in their lives, so it was fantastic to see that experience for
the people.
{quotes}As an anecdote, when they were making the scene for the sauna
competition, they had a real sauna, and it was real hot.
{/quotes} It took many hours to
film it.
The director said to one Finnish actor “Could you do it like if you
were dying”, and the actor answered “I am dying!”, and he fainted, he was
really ill, and was taken from Pajala by ambulance to reanimate him. They were
going to stop the filming, but they had still one important scene to do, so the
actor came back to the sauna again. That really showed some Finnish “sisu”!.


or Rolling Stones?

I prefer Beatles, but I also like the
Stones. We played with my band covers like Brown
. When I saw the Stones in Stockholm,
they started the concert with that song, so I felt a high feeling, like if they
were playing it especially for me.


are The Beatles your favourite all time band?

I would say yes, but I listen to a lot of
music. I can listen to hip hop, techno, hard rock, trash metal… I also follow
new bands, and when I have the opportunity to go to a concert, I try to see
them on live, because I love live music and rock and roll.  I play also some harmonica, accordion,
guitar, piano, just for myself. But I think I am a better writer than musician
(laughs). But I love music and it is very important for me in my lifestyle. For
example, I also love Hendrix, he was a genius! In my science fiction book,
there is one part where people go to heaven, and there is a Jimi Hendrix’s gig
every night!


you feel pressure when releasing a new book into the market?

I felt some pressure when I wrote a science
fiction book after Popular Music (Nahkakolo), but now it is not like that
anymore. With this new book I did not feel pressure. Writing is my hobby more
than job. I get a lot of good feelings, it is fun to sit and be many hours
writing and writing. Many people do not understand it, but I love it, it is my
life!. That is why I write, and then of course I try to publish. When Popular Music book was finished, 2 big
companies said no to the publication (it was not still a success in Sweden),
they thought that sounded very strange, and the 3rd company was Like
who took the risk. So it was not easy to publish in Finland first. But it is a good
question how you deal with expectations. I stopped to read reviews, I do not
read them anymore, because they change my mind in a bad way, and I do not want
to write for money, but for my heart. My creativity should come from my heart
and from my soul, so that is why I try not to think about money or success.
That is very easy in Pajala. They ask me how is to be famous in Pajala, and I
say that in Pajala, every one is famous, I go in the street and I talk like
them, I act like them, I go hunting like them, so I am only one more there.

Cinema Interviews

Kristina Schulgin’s candidates

{mosimage}The series of Mexican films came about
through one such happy coincidence. The organizers of Mexican DOCSDF contacted
DocPoint to ask for help in setting up their first documentary film festival.
“I knew there had been a strong tradition of filmmaking in Mexico, and I
had seen recent documentaries that were excellent,” says Schulgin. She returned
from Mexico City
with her bags full of films, as it were. 

As the festival “considers every film the
festival winner”, Schulgin is hesitant about naming personal favourites.
However, she can’t help praising the carte blanche selection by Ilkka
, who was awarded with the Apollo prize for his work for Finnish
documentary film. Schulgin also can’t help but highlight Mexican Juan Carlos
’s In the Pit, about a massive highway construction site in the
heart of Mexico City,
intended to drive people underground and lift cars high into the air.
Schulgin’s Danish favourite is the IDFA-festival winner Monastery by Pernille
Rose Grønkjær
, a funny yet deep film about an eccentric gentleman farmer
who wants to build a Russian Orthodox monastery.

“What is special about this year’s
selection,” Schulgin says, “is that we are screening so many funny
documentaries. We have brutal films, but surprisingly many feel-good

Interviews Music


You always kept a very clear principle: make it
your own way. In the early days, did you expect to get this far, to reach the
25th anniversary?

Asko: Yes
and no. When the first ten years were done, we were very surprised: “Wow, it
has lasted this long”. But then the 15th anniversary was nothing special. We
didn’t notice the 20th anniversary, but the 25th… we like it! When we formed
the band, we had the dream of becoming professionals and having this band for a
long time. We were lucky.


{mosimage}Do you consider your legacy as a classic

P-K: We are
not the right people to answer that. We are still working on it and hopefully someday,
someone will come and tell us “you just made a classic”. If it’s not going to
happen, we are not going to stop because of that.

Asko: I
like many of our songs. I don’t know if they are classics, but I just like


Your first album, Piano, rumpu ja kukka (1984),
came out when Hanoi Rocks was on the top, internationally releasing
Two steps from the move produced by Bob Ezrin in the United States.
How do you think your first album was received in the middle of that glam-rock

Asko: Some
people were happy that there was an alternative, but the record didn’t sell.

P-K: I’m not
so surprised because even when there are some nice moments, it is not so good.
We had some positive feedback and a lot of negative feedback, but we expected
that in a way. It wasn’t a surprise.


That first record is in Finnish, but since then
you changed completely to English. How was that decided?

PK: The
reason for changing our language was pretty natural. Almost from day one, one
of our aims was that we should play somewhere else than in Finland. It is
easier to do it if you use an international language like English.


Your sound has evolved, using more and more
technology and spending lots of hours in the studio. Do you like studio work?

Asko: Yes. Our
second album The kings of Hong Kong
took eight months. Even when it sounds so primitive and simple, there is a lot
of studio work behind it. There were lots of trials and experiments. That’s
when we realized that studio work can be great. In every record it is nice to
try something new.


Every new record seemed to have more
electronics and programming. How did you start going in that direction?

Asko: When
we started the band, we had those little Casios. Not really instruments, but we
could get some bits out of it. We were composing songs from those machines and
then we wanted to have a rock-and-roll band, so we did those straightforward
records in the beginning. The next step was that we felt that it would be great
to achieve that mixture as a band: electronics and real playing. Maybe it was the
hip hop movement that amazed us. It was so fresh and cool.


What songs or artists surprised you at that

P-K: I was
so curious about Run DMC because they were the ones using the loops. I keep on
wondering from where they had gotten those sounds. It was not a drummer, it was
not a beatbox. What was it? After some time I realized that they were using
samples and drum loops. It was extremely interesting and it opened up various
chances for making music. When you are trio you already have a few options for
creating music. If you mix the trio with electronics, you have even more
options. That was the main reason we decided to go with electronics.


How do you think this change was received?

Asko: Every
time we have made a change, some people have been very disappointed, some
people have been really happy and some people have cared only about the song, but
not about how the song was made. Some fans left us, some new ones came and some
people came back. For example with Rally
of Love
(2001) there were people coming to us and saying “Hey, I like it,
the last one I heard from you was Big
(1992)”. After that album some others said: Yuck!


While recording, did you put some limits on yourselves
so you didn’t lose fans?

Asko: We
don’t care about the fans in that sense. We think about ourselves. Are we
happy? You have to be happy and inspired, that’s the main thing. If we come up
with the kind of records that we like, maybe some other people like them too.


There is a long history of brothers being in
bands and having a love-hate relationship. How does it work in your case?

P-K: It is
very simple and clear because we don’t have to pretend. We can be extremely
straight with each other and even rude, because we respect each other. We can
say whatever because we are just trying to make things go ahead. It is nothing
personal, but if it ends up being personal we can discuss it and solve it.

Asko: We
work for the music and the music is bigger than us.

P-K: The
secret as well is that we don’t have to spend our free time together. Then we
don’t have to see each other so much, we get our privacy. Generally speaking,
it has been nice.

Asko: We
are different enough.


Some time ago you had a big fight on-stage in

Asko: I
like those fights. They are great! It just happens. Sometimes we fight.


Does your being brothers affect your relationships
with the other member of the band, Espe?

P-K: We are
trying not to be too close when it has to do with Espe, but it can be
frustrating because Asko and I can communicate without speaking. Espe can do it
but not at the same level. Not so smoothly because Asko and I share the same


Side projects

Currently you both are working on other bands
and side projects. What can you tell us about that?

Asko: There
are three bands for each of us. Each band has a different approach. P-K has
this great duo with Janko and I have You & Me with Marjatta Oja. It’s beautiful. We also have The Others, which is
22-Pistepirkko’s alter ago for playing covers. The Others is very straight,
jukebox rock and roll. It’s a bit like when Pistepirkko started; we played a
lot in students’ parties and it was great. The Others is our party band.


Do these projects give you the freedom you
can’t get with Pistepirkko?

Somehow. When I’m doing music with Marjatta it is different because she’s a
different person. It’s a new thing.

P-K: For me
the most enjoyable thing, and the most inspiring thing, is to be surrounded
with different kinds of music. That’s the reason for me to have different
projects. We are thinking all the time about music.

Asko: It
helps Pistepirkko to stay fresh.


The You & Me project is with your
girlfriend. How did it start?

Asko: I’m
going steady with her. She’s a visual artist. When we met she said she always
dreamed of having a band. One day I told her, hey, let’s have a band, let’s
have this electro duo. I had this machine that we didn’t like with Pistepirkko.
It was like having a new toy at home so I decided to use it. Then I told
Marjatta, “You will play guitar”. She was surprised and replied “me, guitar?” “Yeah,
that’s it”, I said and we started. It has opened my creativity as a composer.


Did you ever think about expanding the trio
with more members?

Asko: Not
at the moment. I would like sometimes to have some extra people that could come
and play with us sometimes, especially when we play as The Others. We would
like to have Marjo Leinonen singing with us, and also a lap steel guitar player.
We could a litlte bit of blues and country.


{mosimage}Films and music

Your band has been very active with music
videos and even scoring films. Is it fun to create music for a movie?

P-K: We did
it some years ago for the movie Downhill City
(1999). It was great and we are working on it again. When we started to make
music for Downhill City, it was like
a dream come true. We always thought that it would be nice to try. We had the
chance and it was good. You don’t have to think in terms of a song; you can
create any piece of music that is suitable for the movie. It’s interesting and
demanding at the same time.

Asko: Now
we are working in a new movie with director Vesa Manninen. The working title is Viiskyt tonttua (Fifty Thousand


Did you have the chance to plan the music
before the movie was shot?

P-K: In
both cases, we had the chance to see the script and talk with the director, who
said he wanted this kind of music and afterwards we play him our music and he
says what he likes and what cannot work. It’s just cooperation.

Asko: Of
this new movie I have seen the raw material. Actually I’ve been acting; I’m one
of the bad boys.


In 2005 you released a DVD entitled Sleep Good, Rock Well that shows 22-Pistepirkko on a tour
spanning 50 concerts in 50 days. How did this project start?

Asko: The
director, Andreas Haaning Christiansen,
is a friend of ours, from Denmark. At that time in 2001, he was between
projects and we told him to come and jump on our tour bus. He asked what he
going to do there. We replied that we should just make a film. He spent four
years editing the film. As with all the Pistepirkko projects, it was a slow


Was it hard to have the camera around?

P-K: Since
he is a close friend of ours and the deal was pretty clear, it was easy. From
the very beginning we told him there was a clear rule – if the camera starts to
be annoying, here's a ticket back to Copenhagen.

Asko: It
was nice to have his Danish sense of humour around. When Finnish people are on
tour for many people, it is good to have someone from outside.

Asko: But
it’s good to have Espe around. He can come and say “hey, guys, cut the crap”.