Interviews Music

Henry Rollins

No big
plans. Producers asked me if I was interested and then we found a tv station
interested in the program. After the first season, they asked me do you want to
continue and I said yeah, so we did another season that just finished in the


It wasn’t
even my idea. I never thought about doing a tv show, but I like doing different
things. It keeps me awake. Now it takes quite a long time of my year and it
needs detailed planning. It is not easy. To make good interviews to people it
burns a lot of calories.


List of

I pick the
guests. I’m interested in a lot of people, so my wanted list is huge. We call
them and most of them say no for various reasons: “I’m not interested. Henry
Rollins? I hate that guy! We are busy, we live on Mars, we cannot make it”.

Someone you
really want

Tons of
them. Bob Dylan, Al Gore, Keith Richards, David Lynch, Martin Scorsese, Brain
De Palma… There are a lot of interesting people in the world, doing great
things from art to reporting. For example, there is a lot of investigative
reporters, like Greg Palast and Christian Miller. I’m interested in all kinds
of people.

performance of bands

There’s a
couple of bands I didn’t pick. Since it’s not my money, I don’t get to make all
the choice, so there are some bands that stick out for their MTVness. Nice
people, anyway. They showed up, they played well, but I have none of their
records. The rest of the bands I either know them and love them or I have
toured and played with them. I’m fan of them, I play their songs on my radio
show. In the seasons we just finished we had Iggy Pop and The Stooges, Peachs,
Manu Chao, who made his first American TV appearance ever. He’s huge all around
the world, but not in America. He’s a wonderful guy, very humble. He came to
play at the Coachella festival and all the tv stations invited him, but he say
no to all of them and yes to us. Why? I don’t know. We were lucky. The Good,
The Bad and The Queen played also. That was a highlight for me. I walked into
to the studio, turn around the corner and there’s Paul Simmons, the bass player
of The Clash. I was wow!! Also Fela Kuti and Tony Allen… I was, yeah! I love
this job.

O’Brien is very popular here.

I think
he’s good. It’s a very normal kind of interview show. They interview pretty
famous people about being famous and pretty. I think Conan is very talented and
funny. He used to write for The Simpsons. He’s very funny guy, but it’s not the
kind of TV show I watch. I don’t care about an interview with half of the cast
of Friends. I fall asleep. I don’t care.

Events in

but quite honestly and I’m not trying to devalue what goes on in Europe. I
think that America could learn a couple of things from Europe, but I’m very
concerned about the current Administration in the US. I primarily focus on and
research on the daily catastrophe in Iraq. I try to understand our relations
with Iran and Syria and what the president is doing to destroy our
Constitution. Right now Europe is not a priority for me because I’m watching my
own country going up in flames.

Tour for
the troops

Yes, I did
it. I disagree with the policy, but I don’t disagree with the troops. They go
where they are told. My argument is not with the soldiers is with the
Administration, with Dick Chaney, Donald Runsfeld. It’s not with the soldier,
he’s only 22. He’d rather be home. I’ve been in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait,
Qatar, South Korea, and few others. I go far for these people.


Writing is
very hard for me. It’s the most time consuming. The talking shows are also very
difficult. There’s no script. It requires lots of concentration on stage. It’s
all difficult, just different levels of intensity and concentration that you
have to give. When you are writing, you have to make it clear. When you are
editing, you are trying to make it better, you have to be aware of the words.
When you are on stage, you need a lot of preparation. When I interview people,
I do a lot of back checking on the interviewee, so I know what I’m talking
about and I don’t disrespect that person. All it’s a lot of work. Nothing is
that fun for me. I don’t understand fun. I’m a very nervous person. I get
stress out very easily, very much for a long period of time. I don’t sleep very
well. I’m always thinking something needs to be done. I’m a little crazy all
the time.


business aspect is way more unpleasant. I have my own publishing company to
publish my books, my records. I have a two-person staff. The insights of the
business can be very disturbing. For instance, the distributor of my books just
went out of business, with a lot of my inventory in his warehouse which was now
seized by the government. I cannot get my property and the guy even owns me
50.000 dollars. Guess what? I will never see anything. What is difficult is the
artist who has to become the business man. I have to be the boss and the artist
guy. It’s different to make that separation. I don’t bring the art into the
business meeting and I don’t bring the business into the art.


I live
alone. I don’t have any family. I don’t have any kids. I don’t hate people, but
I’m very busy. I write a lot and that takes a lot of my time. Nobody is going
to make it for you. I also travel a lot to places where having someone next to
you could be a liability, like parts of Africa. I don’t want a woman traveling
with me. It’s not that women are not strong and cannot defend themselves, but
in Morocco I don’t want to turn my back when the woman is not look out, because
she can get in danger. Also when I come back from a two-month tour, I don’t
want anyone waiting for me. I don’t want to have to call someone and ask what’s
that with the tone of your voice… I don’t want to have that conversation. Also,
I’m a pretty crazy man and I have seen many awful things and those things have
had a very substantial impact on me. A friend had his heads blown off next to
me. I cleaned his brains so his mother didn’t have to see it. I’ve seen some
things that your shouldn’t seen.


The Black
Flag experience was physically dangerous. I still have a lot of scars from that
period. I got punch. You got stitched up. You heal. I hit back. I broke a lot
of people’s noses. Never women, only men. But I’ve beaten the hell out of a lot
of guys. Pretty substantially. No regrets. But I think it’s more dangereous
what I do now in the present climate. To say what I’m saying about whom I’m
saying it. I think you can suffer.

for the future

I cannot
think of anything specific that I haven’t done. Perhaps catch up with some
reading or get a full night of sleep.

You like
reading a lot.

Yeah, I
cannot read as much as I want, but I think you should always have a book going,
you should be reading something.

Cinema Interviews

The perfect son in law

{mosimage}Mikko Leppilampi looks relaxed and confident
when we enter the studio where his future new project is being shot: 8
Days to Premiere. Like a person who is satisfied with his own life. Nevertheless
he is one of the hottest names in Finland nowadays. Not only for
being considered one of the best young and talented actors, but also for his
obvious charisma for the big masses. Being the host of Eurovision festival has elevated
him into an international status. And apart from all that, he is as handsome as
you can get!

I suppose everybody has been asking you in
the past few days about the experience of hosting Eurovision.

Yes, actually everybody has been asking but
you are the first one I am answering to… because after that I started to shoot
this film 8 Days to Premiere straight away. The final of Eurovision Song
Contest was on Saturday night and on Monday morning at 8 o’clock I was shooting.

So no holidays at all after Eurovision…

No, but it is all right, because this is
like a holiday. Actually I enjoy working at this. It was a very good experience;
the entire week when all the delegations were in Helsinki was a lot of fun, although we were
working very long days, many hours. The audience was changing and I was all the
time in interviews, pictures, etc. It was very tiring but everybody knew that
it was just that week, so we tried to enjoy it.

Were you nervous hosting an event that was
broadcasted live worldwide?

No, I was more kind of excited. When you
have an audience of 15-20 people that you know, you are nervous, but in things
like that, with thousands of people inside the arena and then millions on TV,
you do not even get that. I felt I was just making a TV show and performing for
the audience in the arena as good as possible. After that everything has been
nice. I think I was lucky I went straight away to work. Probably if I had had
one or two weeks off, I had been thinking more about it, or “missing it”.

You started to be really popular in Finland after
appearing in the film Helmiä ja Sikoja, in 2003. How was your life
before that?

I was always doing sports, more than arts. I
would say. I have always been a “physical” person. I was playing ice hockey
almost professionally. I quit when I was 20 because I realized I did not want
to be a player. I spent 2 years in Canada in a boarding school and I
played in school teams. During the years there I realized I wanted to be an

Did you like it there in Canada?

I loved it. I took part of drama courses and
in plays, and then after I got back and I did military service, supposedly I
was going back to Canada to study cinema production but then I applied in
Finland for the theater academy and then I got it and I stayed. That was pretty
much it. This was my dream and I never thought that it happened, but it did.

Do you feel  that everything was going
very fast? Helmiä ja Sikoja was released only four years ago.

I think my life’s pace has been very fast
all the time. I was going from one hobby to another, kind of “I am going to try
that…and then I am going to try that other thing”. I was skating and
snowboarding also, then playing hockey, playing drums (that was the musical
part of my youth). When I got inside theater school I realized this was really
my thing. Then after that everything has gone pretty fast, but that was what I
was hoping to be like. It is just the way it goes, so it does not feel so bad.
My work is more public than some other work from my theater colleagues, who
work in 3 plays at the same time, but they do not write on newspapers about
them, so people don’t know about them so much.

But you do not have the feeling of being too

That was I was seeking for. I definitely
want to keep both music and acting for the rest of my life. I have been very

Did it have something to do the fact that
your father was a singer too?

Well, we never had the question whether it was
all right to become an artist or not. It was more like nobody was pushing me. I
never felt pressured; it was more that I had to find myself, and realized what
I wanted to do.

If somebody would offer you to participate
in Eurovision in the future, as the singer representing Finland, would
you accept?

It is very hard for me to comment on that. It
depends on the people who vote about the one who deserves to go there. I am
not even thinking about it now. 

You appeared in Paha Maa and you
appeared in a short  cameo in Valkoinen
. How is your relation with director Aku Louhimies?

The cameo was made before Paha Maa.
Valkoinen Kaupunki at the beginning was not made to be a movie, it was made to
be a TV series called Irtiottoja. So
it was just a cut from that material the taxi driver’s character. I was just
lucky enough to be in one of the clips they put in the movie. Aku kind of tried
me out, to see if I was good enough for the role in Paha Maa. I felt it
was a bit like a test.

What can people expect from this new
project, 8 Days to Premiere, from director Perttu Leppä?

It is probably the most challenging role
that I have ever done. It involves making 3 most known love scenes in the
theater history, they are from Romeo and Juliet, so to be able to act
like that, in Shakespearian language… it was quite challenging, and then with Laura
Birn is very easy to work, she is very talented. The director writes his
own movies himself, and then they direct them and cast them himself. It is
going to be romantic and funny. When the audience is watching, they won’t be
sure if they are watching a scene from Romeo and Juliet or from 8 Days
to Premiere

The plot in 8 Days to Premiere
reminds me a bit of this other production, Shakespeare in Love

Do not tell that to Perttu! He would not
like that comment much…

Interviews Music

Trendy beats of change

{mosimage}Gocoo are a group
of seven female and four taiko drummers from Tokyo who manage to be super
trendy in a wide variety of music circles. Breaking with deeply rooted
traditions, they use taikos (Japanese drums) and other traditional acoustic
instruments to create a modern, free-spirited taiko music sound full of primal
beats and complex poly-rhythms, often accompanied by Japanese didgeridoo
virtuoso Goro

Very atypical
for a taiko group, Gocoo debuted at a techno festival, Rainbow 2000. They
reached cult status in the club scene of Tokyo, while at the same time gaining
respect in more traditional taiko music circles. They have since performed at a
wide range of events and venues, from major open air rock festivals like Fuji
Rock to rave parties, from Tokyo's cult clubs to the National Japanese Theatre,
and from big blues & roots events to traditional taiko festivals.

known internationally after they met and worked with British trance
trio Juno Reactor and were featured on the soundtracks of two Matrix
films. They performed in Europe for the first time in 2003, each year returning
for a more extensive tour, this year taking their exciting, energetic drum (and
light) show for the first time to Finland.

Kaoly Asano is the lead
drummer and founding member of Gocoo. She is by now one of Japan's most famous female
taiko drummers and also runs her own taiko school in Tokyo. Before kicking off their
European tour in Helsinki on July the 11th and 12th, she
was kind enough to give an interview to FREE! Magazine from Japan.

people here in Finland are familiar with more traditional taiko music in the
style of for example Ondekoza. Your style is quite different, and you have even
played at rock festivals and techno events. Your music is sometimes even
referred to as 'trance-taiko' or 'techno-taiko'. Can you tell us a bit more
about the difference between more traditional taiko music and your taiko style?

style of groups like Kodo or Ondekoza, which seems to be more
traditional, is not so old. In fact it was created between 1950 and 1970. These
groups transformed taiko performances held at traditional festivals into a
formal stage art performance with theatrical elements. Gocoo's style however overcomes formal boundaries which leads to a more
natural music performance. As for trance, I would like to say, that there were
times when festivals and trance were the same. So I have the feeling that
playing trance music with the taiko is just natural. I admire the beauty of
stage art performances, but I have the feeling that there are limitations and
restrictions. For example, the performers often do not show emotions while
playing the taiko. Gocoo's performances are much more
emotional. We freely bring any rhythms into play that groups considered to be
traditional would probably not use. 

"By using the softness of
the female body, we found our own taiko style" – Kaoly Asano, Gocoo

Besides the fact that your taiko music is quite
unique and crosses several different musical boundaries, traditionally, taiko
drums used to be a men's thing. Gocoo is made up of seven female and four male
drummers, with you personally clearly playing a
'leading role' in the group. During the ten years of Gocoo's existence, what effect do you think your success has
had on traditional views in Japan? Has there been a change in general attitudes
towards women playing taiko drums?

In terms of 
the relation between women and taiko in our group and the influence on
traditional views in Japan, Gocoo created a completely new and original female
drumming style that did not exist before. In other words, by using the softness of the female body, we found our own
taiko style. The traditional relation between the taiko and women was
limited for example to women dancing to the sound of the taiko. Later women
used to be limited to play the taiko either in an extremely feminine, elegant
way or in the same way as men, masculine and brave. Not only at my taiko school
Tawoo, but all over Japan the number of women playing the taiko is increasing
rapidly. I believe that today the concept of the taiko being a man's thing doesn't exist anymore. Gocoo has contributed its share in the fact that different ways of female taiko play are getting
more and more accepted. 

You have performed with the legendary Kodo
taiko ensemble. What was that like?

We performed with two members of Kodo, Ryutaro
and Tusbasa Hori. Since I have the feeling that both of them
belong to the "innovative wing" of Kodo, I think our session was quite different from how a performance
with all members of Kodo would have been. I have the feeling that if we mixed
Kodo's traditional style and Gocoo's style, spent more time together, created songs or shows together and
inspired each other in this way, there would have been very interesting
results. I very much would like to work together with them again.

You already mentioned your own taiko school,
Tawoo Taiko Dojo in Tokyo. What do you hope to achieve with the school?

Tawoo is a place where everyone, no matter how
old, male or female, can learn to play the taiko. The door is always open for
anybody, anytime. I want Tawoo to be a place where all of us can meet and
experience our own real strength (energy, ability, loveliness, health,
possibility, straightforwardness as a whole) through the taiko.

Is the main focus in the teachings at the
school also on less traditional, more free-spirited taiko music like that of

At Tawoo as well as with Gocoo I focus on an
unconventional drumming style. By allowing my students to play the taiko freely
and move their bodies freely, the restrictions which they have absorbed while growing
up begin to dissolve. In this way a mental liberation takes place, and their
real self appears. The amazing thing about the taiko is that we are able to
meet our self by playing it. And this leads us to face other people. We are
able to establish a deep communication with our self and with each other.

Do you have many female students?

70% to 80% of my students at Tawoo are female.

"We were able to meet
Juno Reactor because of a strong thunderstorm" – Kaoly Asano

In 2002 and 2003 you co-operated with Juno
Reactor, with whom you worked on the single Hotaka and later on
their CD Zwara EP. You also recorded the tunes "Tea
House" and "Tetsujin" with them for the soundtracks of The
Matrix Reloaded
and The Matrix Revolutions. How did the collaborations with
Juno Reactor come about?

We met Juno Reactor at the Hotaka-sai
festival in August 2001 where both of us were performing. Juno Reactor were
watching our show that day. A few days later they asked us to take part in a
recording session. We then spent three days recording at lake Yamanakako, close
to mount Fuji. A few songs were created with the recording material. One of
them is "Tea House" which was later used for Matrix Reloaded.
Actually, if Gocoo had performed at the Hotaka-sai festival as scheduled, it
would have been very unlikely that we had met Juno Reactor. Their show was
scheduled for the next day. But due to a strong
thunderstorm at the evening of our show, our performance was postponed to the
next day and we were able to meet Juno Reactor. To show that there is a
connection between our acquaintance and the Hotaka-Sai festival, Juno Reactor
named one of their pieces "Hotaka".

{mosimage}Do you have any future plans with Juno Reactor
or any other well-known artists?

We don't have any particular plans
right now, but we would love to work with them again one day. And not only to
record some tracks, but also to perform on stage with them. I liked Juno
Reactor's music before and we are fond of their productions
and arrangements. Gocoo's tunes, that were used for
songs like Hotaka, Zwara or Tea House, are
also very popular at our concerts. This year in October, we will work together
with Richard Yuen, a famous musician and music producer in Shanghai. In
Shanghai we are going to work together with Chinese musicians.

Your music also features on the soundtrack of
the popular role-play computer game Gothic 3. Are you yourself a game

I personally almost never play computer games.
But besides Gothic 3, Gocoo's music is also featured in
other computer games sold in Japan, such as Sengoku Basara. Usually the
soundtrack of computer games is also computer generated. So I am very happy
that some producers find it interesting to include the sound of real music
instruments into their games.

Can fans expect more collaborations from Gocoo
with well-known game manufacturers?

If we have a chance, we would love to work
together with other game manufacturers again in the future. 

"Taiko music can be
enjoyed just in the same way as rock or pop music" – Kaoly Asano

Since 2003 you have been on tour in Europe
every year. This year, for the first time, you will also perform in Finland.
What has performing in Europe been like for you?

Japan there are sometimes prejudices about taiko music. The taiko is often seen
as an instrument for traditional events, not suitable for popular music.
Although this prejudice recently became weaker, the idea emerged that only
taiko as a stage art is something that can be appreciated. 

I believe that taiko music can
be enjoyed just in the same way as rock or pop music. In Europe our audience
easily senses this and enjoys our music. The taiko is for sure a traditional
Japanese instrument. However its purpose is not only to keep traditions alive,
but to create good, modern music. To perform in Europe is a very exciting
experience for us.

Have you ever visited Finland privately?

Unfortunately not. This will be the first time.
Friends who have visited your country told me that Finland is a wonderful
place. I am very much looking forward to visiting it.


Wednesday 11.7, 7.30 pm

Thursday 12.7, 7.30 pm

Savoy Theatre, Kasarmikatu 46-48, Helsinki

Tickets: 38/35 e

Gocoo – Official website for Europe

Interviews Misc

Four decades of provocation

You were born in a small countryside town, Somero. How was it to grow up there?
During my first ten years I was often sick, and because of that my mother and I used to visit Helsinki very often. So I got a taste of the big city quite early. About my Somero years, I appreciate mostly my school time. Our headmaster was an exceptional person. He commanded fifteen languages, even though he claimed he could only speak Esperanto and Finnish. And that’s why Esperanto was compulsory in our school. Five years after the headmaster retired, the teaching Esperanto disappeared from Somero schools. It’s a pity because if Somero could have boasted of something, it would have been schoolboys speaking Esperanto. I have even written some songs in Esperanto, but I’m not an Esperantist: they’re so keen on their hobby, and that disturbs me a little bit.

At least two other very famous musicians have also come from Somero.

Right. Unto Mononen, the tango composer. I played in his orchestra. I got to know him when I was a student in Helsinki. I started to be interested in Finnish tango and in tangos by Mononen and he was so popular at the time. And the other one is Rauli “Badding” Somerjoki. We started collaborating and he sang on some of my albums. Then he asked me to produce his own rock single, which I did, and a rock album. Two weeks after releasing ‘Fiilaten ja höyläten’, it went to no.1 in the Finnish chart, where it stayed almost a year.

A year of turning point

It seems that 1966 was a very important year; a sort of turning point.
It was the important year of my provocations! At last I succeeded in provoking the whole of Finland by singing those sexual manuals at the Jyväskylä Summer Cultural Festival. This actually helped very much later when I wanted to do something else, and I started to sing classical music. I sang a song by Franz Schubert live on the Finnish TV: a shock. And it was exactly what I meant it to be.
Then I met the poet Markku Into and we started the Suomen Talvisota project. And in October that same year I was at the Turku Youth Festival, singing Wittgenstein’s “Tractatus”. The sixties are quite easy to remember but already the seventies are much more difficult: I was doing so many different things at the same time. Films, music, writing…

What was the common denominator?
The wish to provoke, of course.

So are you still into provoking the audience?
Of course. I provoke in a totally different way than earlier. I provoke my own friends and people my age. In the 60s I provoked old people and in the 21st century I still provoke old people. These are the same people who grew up with my provocations, and are themselves often quite good at provoking too. But then most of them are nowadays quite old fashioned and they think in an old fashioned, conservative way. I can provoke in many ways.

{mosimage}Stories of detectives and drunkards

You wrote two books whose titles sound quite curious: Etsivätoimisto Andrejev & Milton (Detective Agency Andreyev & Milton) and Baarien Mies (The Beer Bar Man).
The first is a detective story. I wrote it with Markku Into and it was ‘built’ in a very strange way: in the epistolary style. We were making fun of detective novels, and our own is very odd indeed. Suffice it to say that there’s no ending whatsoever.
Baarien mies has an interesting origin. In 1984 it was still forbidden to perform pop music during Easter time. I was in Sotkamo and could not perform. I stayed there some days and visited a bar several times. I became interested in this bar and the ‘way of life’ connected to it. I thought I would suggest the subject to a real sociologist. Then I thought he or she would never get enough money to travel around Finland and no scholarship would be available for such a drinking subject, so I chose myself to be the writer. My wife was with me: she was my driver but also my ‘memory’, as from time to time she had to remind me about the place and what had happened the evening before as I had drunk so much.

How are you planning to shock your audiences at the moment?
The first album in collaboration with DJ Sane will be released in May. It took three years as the material is so uncommercial: no dance, no pop, no rock. But it has very strong and heavy rhythms and sounds like it is from the rock and ambient world but not precisely from that. But I’ve other plans: the Swedish novel. And I’m composing a chamber music work about the Swedish domination that finished in 1909. It’s been commissioned for next year, 2008, so that it anticipates the centennial.

For a detailed biography of M.A. Numminen visit

M.A. Numminen will perform in Helsinki on 22 May at the Design Museum, Korkeavuorenkatu 23, Helsinki

Interviews Music

Another shot on the rocks

The second coming of rockers Hanoi Rocks has lasted already six years. That’s as long as the classic period of the band lasted in the eighties. Obviously, these last six years haven’t been as intense, but the new Hanoi Rocks almost has their third album ready since its rebirth to be release in September.

Like Jagger and Richards, The Muddy Twins are two very different characters: in a colourful pink jacket, Monroe speaks and moves fast and loud, whilst McCoy breathes deeply and mutters. One is the diva, the other, the gypsy. But both sound positive about the upcoming album: “it’s going to be a very strong record”, the singer says. “Now the band is perfectly balanced, which it was not before when we were still searching around”, the guitarist adds.

Former Electric Boys members, Swedes Conny Bloom (guitar) and Andy (AC) Christell (bass), brought the needed stability to the band in 2005. “It took until now to make the band into a strong unit”. This unity will be reflected on the new album. “For this record we have worked as a band from the start”, Monroe explains. “On the previous album we started recording just Andy, our drummer Lacu and me. It took a long time and there were lots of overdubs, so it was difficult to mix. Now we have the basics: drums, guitars, bass, vocals and some overdubs, but not much: just a few solos, some sax and percussion. And everybody has contributed to the song writing, even Lacu!”

"We haven’t changed! Only the ones with enough identity survive" – Andy McCoy

{mosimage}No matter what, every new step of Hanoi Rocks will be compared to its past. “We haven’t changed! Only the ones with enough identity survive”, says McCoy. For Mike Monroe, that’s the only way to go: “Trends come and go. We don’t try to follow anything and we do not compromise ourselves for money or anything. It’s essential to survive, even to sleep and look at yourself in the mirror. Some of those bands in the 80s took the easy way out. They made a lot of money then, but now they are worn out and miserable. They are stuck in the eighties and they look like parodies of themselves. That’s what happens when you sell your soul!”

After so many years in show business, the blonde singer knows that it is difficult to trust anyone: “More than 90% of the people in this business are crooks. In the first three years of the reunion we had a lot of people that were supposed to be managing the band but they were actually damaging the band. Big money was wasted. It was totally out of control. It’s not enough to have the greatest band in the world; one also needs a great team behind it. Now we are lucky and we have it”.

Hanoi N’ Roses

Hanoi Rocks was a great influence on Guns N’ Roses. Some even say that if they wouldn’t have split up 1985, the Finns would have been a stadium band as big as Guns N’ Roses was later on. Both bands collaborated with each other and Michael Monroe appeared on the epic Use Your Illusion albums playing sax and harmonica on one song, and also adding some vocals to Ain’t It Fun on The Spaghetti Incident?

But does Michael know when Chinese Democracy will be released? “No. Perhaps by the time there’s democracy in China. Axl Rose has always been nice to me and I wish him good luck, but I wish he had the old band today. Those guys had a great chemistry. It’s what happens when big money gets in the way. It’s what destroys bands. People start talking to each other through lawyers. I don’t envy Axl’s situation. Doing the same record for ten years is not normal anymore”.

The single Fashion is out now.

You can watch the video at

Interviews Music

A piece of Arctic Metal music

FREE! Magazine had a relaxed talk in a central hotel of Helsinki with Toni Kakko (vocals) and Henrik “Henkka” Klingenberg (keyboards), who kindly explained the story behind the band’s origins:

How was the music scene in Kemi, your native town, where you started?

Toni: There were a few metal bands. I am still living there, and it is a nice, quiet place. A couple of times a year, the youth organisations have concerts or competitions for new bands. This is the way we started as well.

You had curious names for the band at the beginning. The first one was Tricky Beans, and then you changed to Tricky Means…

Toni: Tricky Beans came into being in May 1996, when we had our first show. We did not have any name at that time. We had to come up with a name. We had this really stupid song called Tricky Beans, so we decided to take that name and then change it later, but the show went pretty well, and people got to know us in Kemi under that name, so we could not really change it. We got stuck with Tricky Beans: a weird name for a band. Then in 1997, we started rehearsing these Stratovarius songs, more of a metal type of music, and then we changed it to Tricky Means. Then in 1999, we got the recording contract and it was clear we needed a new and better name. A friend of us came up with the present name Sonata Arctica, and I think it suits us pretty well.

The band that changed their lives

Were you a fan of Stratovarius?

Toni: Yeah, absolutely! Stratovarius’ albums were a big hit for me. That was the time when I started singing and writing that kind of material.

Do you remember when you listened to them for first time?

Toni: It was Visions album, in the summer of 1997.I first heard it on TV. They had already 2 videos from that album, The Kiss of Judas and then Black Diamond: that was a “big bang” for me…I remember that I walked inside the music store, and I had Stratovarius album in one hand and this Hanson album in the other. I put the Stratovarius album back in the shelf and I bought the Hanson album. The next day I went to the store and I bought Stratovarius album as well.

You corrected the mistake!

Absolutely. I am very sorry about that, because I wouldn’t be here if I have not bought it.

And how was the tour with them after releasing your first album Ecliptica?

Who? It was very funny. We had just finished mastering the first album, and we just went to the Spinefarm office with the new album, and the boss said “hey guys, you have some warm up gigs”. I thought that maybe it was Helloween or something like that, and he said “7 weeks in Europe with Stratovarius and Rhapsody.” And I was like “Goddamn shit!” It was huge, it was really scary – it was like “oh god, this is it!”

And a bit later you were touring with Alice Cooper…

Toni: Yeah, two shows in Finland.

Did you have the chance to talk to him?

Toni: Not really. I was walking outside of Helsinki Hockey Arena, a bouncer stopped me, and I saw a tall man there…and it was Alice Cooper. He looked at me and I nodded and he nodded, and I was like “Guau, he can actually see me.” That was the closest I was to him. But Dio was very cool. He came to talk to us. He had nothing to prove. He was really great.

After all these years playing in so many places, where is the craziest audience at your shows?

Toni: I think in South America: Brazil, Chile… they have so hot blooded there!

{mosimage}The Finnish recruitment procedure

Henrik, when you entered the band, I read that the selection procedure was a bit “special”: basically consisting of getting drunk together with the band…

Henrik: I was at first like: “Are we playing something?” We drank for a while and talked, and we played a couple of songs, and they were filming trying to get me annoyed to see how I reacted. So, we played a bit and then we went back to the bar.

Toni: We knew he could play, that was not the question. We wanted to see his personality, since we were going to be spending a lot of time with this guy on the bus, in bars, etc. So, we wanted to see the reaction.

Did you have a hangover the next day?

Henrik: A little… Well, actually we got really drunk…

Toni: I did not participate in the bar session that time.

Hopefully you did not have to repeat the interview again and again…

Henrik: It was all right…

Toni: It gave us the chance to see how he is in real life: to be sure that he did not turn out be a real asshole.

I suppose many people have asked you about the Nightwish split, since you were playing with them the same night they gave their last gig. What is your opinion about what happened and all the polemic that surrounded it?

Toni: Well, shit happens really. If it is the only way to keep the band going, it has to be done.

Would you like to tour with them again soon?

Toni: Well, I have not met the new singer yet, but why not. I am friends with Tuomas mainly…

Henrik: We would still very happily tour with them, of course.

Toni: Absolutely. I mean, if I would have to choose one band to tour again with, it would probably be Nightwish.

Henrik: Yeah, apart from Metallica. The Tallinn concert last year was excellent. I have tickets for the show in Helsinki as well.

H.I.M. is going to be playing that night with them… feeling jealous?

Henrik: Good for them. It’s ok. I don’t care: I am going to see Metallica, anyway, so I don’t care who is supporting them.

You have quite a long tour ahead of you this year. Any special place you are particularly excited about visiting?

Toni: Australia.

Henrik: And for me personally, South America. I have not played there. But Australia is the place everybody in the band is waiting for, because nobody has ever been there.


Box of curiosities:

Sonata Arctica has a song called San Sebastian that was played for first time live in the year 2000 in the city of… San Sebastian.

Henrik used to train different martial arts and contact sports, such as boxing, but he had to quit because of the risk of hurting his hands. Since then, he has gained 13 kilograms.

Toni’s favourite cities to visit are New York and Salzburg.

Art Interviews

Las Meninas invade Esplanadi

FREE! Magazine was able to have a brief talk with Manolo about his impressions and feelings about his work, which has been placed in such an important location in the heart of Helsinki.

Manolo, why have you lived in New York so long?
Yes, I have lived there for 18 years. It is a city where I can learn a lot, that suits me very well, and nowadays I do not feel so far from my native Spain. Every day I can enjoy the Spanish press and by it takes only six hours to get here… Conditions are easier now.

Have you visited Finland before?
Yes, I have been here several times. Now conditions are very good because I have been  invited to many places and events and I can see the life-style from “inside the house”.

{mosimage}How did you come up with the idea of having this worldwide tour of Las Meninas?
Initially, they were made to be displayed in the Palais Royal in Paris, and then other cities got interested such as Düsseldorf, Beijing, etc… And of course I am very proud of having them for the whole summer in the centre of Helsinki. 

You have collaborated with the writer Mario Vargas Llosa. How was the experience?
It was very enriching. I made some sculptures and Mario wrote a poem about them. The idea was that the sculpture would be able to talk in first person: to mix sculpture and poetry into one artistic representation.

Do you have any new projects in mind for the near future?
I am preparing an exhibition of portraits and landscapes in New York, and another one in Miami. 

Interviews Music

Sitar lady

Although she is only 25, she has had a long career and has long since stopped being just Ravi Shankar’s daughter. Born in London, she is a sitar player and composer and started being taught by her father when she was nine. She gave her first public performance at the age of 13. Today she’s a well-known artist. In 2000, she was the first woman to perform at The Ramakrishna Centre in Calcutta. She was chosen by the Indian Television Academy and the newspaper India Times as one of four Women of the Year. Furthermore, she appeared three years ago in Time Magazine Asia as one of their twenty Asian heroes.

She still loves playing Indian classical music and doing concerts with her father, who is known all over the world as the one that brought classical Indian music onto the world stage, thanks to his association with The Beatles and his charisma. "Getting to perform with my father is one of the most amazing things I get to do, especially now that we are father-daughter, teacher-student, and also true collaborators after having performed together for over a decade", she said proudly.

But she is developing her own style. That’s why she created the Anoushka Shankar Project a couple of years ago, which was conceived "to differentiate between the classical career I had built over years, and the experimental direction I've gone in the last few years". Through this project she is able to work "outside of, but inspired by, classical Indian frameworks and compose for a combination of Indian and Western music and musicians".

{mosimage}This summer she will be playing a combination of new compositions of hers based on ragas (Indian classical melody forms) created by her father over the last few decades, and also some acoustic versions of material from her last album Rise. With her will be her long-time collaborator, the legendary tabla player Tanmoy Bose, brilliant Carnatic (South Indian) flutist Ravichandra Kulur, and two jazz musicians who study Indian music with her father: drummer Jesse Charnow, and pianist/saxophonist Leo Dombecki.

Shankar explains that "we are playing my compositions but I give the musicians a lot of room to improvise, and we have a great rapport and dynamic chemistry, which is something people like most about our shows".

This will by her first time in Finland –"though I saw the coast once from a boat I had taken from St. Petersburg! ". Anoushka told us that "more than anything I am excited to come to your country and play my music there for the first time. I don't have expectations necessarily, but I hope to have some time to explore, and I really hope that people appreciate the music". 

Anoushka ShankarTuesday 22 May, 7.30pm
Savoy Theatre, Kasarmikatu 46-48, Helsinki

Interviews Music

Interview with Ola Salo (The Ark)


{mosimage}Have you heard any song from the other competitors in Eurovision?
Yes I've heard all of them. 42 songs in a row! It was quite much to take in at the same time so I don't really remember much. But I’ve heard the Finnish song a couple of times and I think that has good possibilities of getting a good placing in the competition.

If The Ark wins, do you fear that it will be remembered as “the band that won Eurovision”?
It doesn't bother me. The people who really listen to our music know its qualities.


Your music was much darker at the beginning. What would you answer to people who think that you have soften your style?
That they probably don't get the bigger picture of what I'm doing. The lyrics of this last album are probably the darkest I've ever written. But the music is dancy, sunny, positive and energetic. That's how I like my music: a bitter pill wrapped in candy foil. You pay a lot of attention to fashion and design.

Do you like to have a lot of personal control on what you wear on stage?
Yeah, I design almost everything I wear myself.


You have sold out for 3 days at Tavastia in Helsinki. Which are your feelings when you come to play to Finland?  
Excitement! Our shows in Finland are always great and the audience is always fantastic. It's our second home country.


Tell us about the last books and films that you liked most.
The other day I saw Spike Jonze’s Adaptation again. I think it was the fourth time I saw it but it was even more amazing this time. It's been a long time ago since I finished a book. I start reading many but I only finish a few. Right now I'm reading The Picture of Dorian Gray -funnily enough I've never read it before!


What band on earth would you like to play with (alive or dead)?
Sly and the Family Stone, as they were around 68.


It is obvious that you attract a lot of fans, overall among teenage girls. How do you deal with fame? Is it stressful for you?
My life can be quite stressful, so I rent this cottage deep in the forest where there's no electricity, I go there as often as possible and I chop wood, cook food and take long walks in the woods.

Cinema Interviews

Commander Zero

Around the streets of Manugua, Edén Pastora carries a gun while driving a car brought from Mexico and speaks to the camera. It is the first sequence of the documentary Edén Pastora – Commander Zero (Eden Pastora – Komentaja Nolla). The film portrays one of the most intriguing characters of the revolution in Nicaragua and follows him in the municipal elections for mayor of Manuagua in 2006.

The documentary was made by Spanish filmmaker Álvaro Pardo, who has been living and working in Finland since 1979 when he decided to moved from Madrid to study cinema at the School of Motion Picture, Television and Production Design in Helsinki. “I didn't mean to stay this long in Finland. I was just a visiting student, trying to learn editing and cinema,” he remembers, “but then I started working, I got married and well, I'm still here.”


Why did you decide to make a documentary about Edén Pastora?

The idea came to my mind when I read an article that said that Edén Pastora was selling all his possessions because he didn't have any money to live. I was shocked because he had been such a great personality. We all also know that all the Sandinsta leaders are millionaires now, so I wanted to know why he was so poor.

How is possible that he didn't have the money?

He was considered a traitor, and a CIA agent, but he was only a guy who disagreed with the Sandinista regime. He received money from the CIA just to do something in which he believed, like he could have taken the money from any other source. He didn't have anything to do with the counter-revolution in Honduras.

{mosimage}Was it easy to get in touch with Edén?

Actually, it was. I got lucky. I didn't know much about Nicaragua and I didn't know anybody there. I contacted the author of an article I read that told good things about Edén. I contacted the journalist and he got me in touch with Edén. When I arrived there, Edén was in Mexico to get a car and nobody knew when he was coming back. After five or six days, he appeared. He's always very keen to be interviewed and I started the pre-production.

How was the filming?

It got a bit complicated because Edén never tells what he's planning to do the next day. It's a custom from his guerrilla days. Many people hate him there and would like to see him dead. I made two trips to Nicaragua. The first lasted around twenty days and then he decided to run for major, so I came back for another twenty days.

Is Managua a dangerous place?

Yes, it is. There's a lot of poverty and people have nothing to lose. Anything you have is more than they have.

What is your opinion about Edén now that you spent such a long time with him?

I always thought that many things he said in media were not true, but after spending time with him, everything he says is true. He is very optimistic and charismatic. One tends to like him so much that one is willing to do anything for him. On a bigger scale one might be able to fight and die for him.

Edén Pastora – Commander Zero will be show on YLE 2 on 8th May 2200

Interviews Music

Tender melodies

Sister Flo released their first album in 2001, through their own label. Since then the band has been one of Finland's pop secrets, continuously praised by critics. Their new album, The Healer, hits the note and will make people hum the melody of the first single "Hyvinkää". Sister Flo's music has a warm and tender quality, like coming from small Finnish village without making much noise. As humble and even shy, bassist Mikko Salonen and keyboard player Janne Lastumäki explain the secrets of Sister Flo.

How does it feel one week before your album comes out?

Mikko Salonen: Anxious at least! It's taken a long time. We started with the first demos almost two years ago.

Janne Lastumäki: So far there have been two good reviews of it. We're happy then.

Why did it take so long?

JL: It took a bit longer because Sama the singer made a solo album. I played in his solo live band and we played some shows in spring and summer, so that delayed working on the album. We didn't have any strict timeline. Nobody put on any pressure.

How different is it from your previous works?

MS: We're very happy with it. The songs are a natural development from our earlier albums. They are very diverse.

JL: On this album there are much faster songs, more similar to our live shows. Our previous works had a soft general sound and then our shows were much more direct and energetic. On The Healer there is a bit more of that rock side.

{mosimage}You seemed to work hard on the mood and the melodies of the songs? How is the mood of this album?

MS: I think it's a bit darker and a bit more mystical or fantasy like.

While recording and composing, do you pay attention to someone other band's music?

JL: Sometimes, yes. For example, in The Healer there is this song, "Spirit of Christmas". We talked about getting a dark atmosphere, like Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper".

Now you have a pretty intense tour ahead of you during May. What do you expect of it?

JL: Our first gig will be on the April 28th in Tavastia with Rubik and Matti Johannes Koivu. Starting in Tavastia is a luxurious start.

MS: This tour will be special. We are excited to play in new cities where we have never played, such as Vaasa and Rovaniemi.

Are you afraid of playing in small cities?

JL: It will be interesting to see how it goes. We've heard stories that in places like in Vaasa there might be only five people in the audience.

MS: We trust our music and ourselves, so even if there are only five people we won't feel depressed.

Sister Flo is different playing live on stage. The band is much more direct. Why is there this different?

JL: I thought about this and I came to the conclusion that in studio we can build these huge sound walls that it's very hard to replicate on stage. It feels natural to concentrate on the energy. It's rejoicing.

You have had some gigs abroad in cities such as Stockholm and London. Were they positive experiences?

JL: Absolutely. All the trips abroad have been very great and brought us together as a band and friends.

Where does the band's name come from?

MS: First we thought about being just Flo, because of the Norwegian football player, Tore André Flo. I don't know why. We just thought about it. Then we found out that there was a band with this band, so we had to find something else.

JL: Adding “sister” was a bit like a tribute to The Velvet Underground's song Sister Ray. Then we even noticed that there is a David Bowie song, "Queen Bitch", with the line, "He's down on the street / And he's trying hard /to pull sister Flo".

The Healer is available in all good record stores now.

Sister Flo's first out of print album, Boys of Cat, can be downloaded from the band's website:




Books Interviews

The perfect book to read in the toilet

What inspired you to write a book about shit?

The idea came at my daughter’s one-year birthday party. My family and friends was there, people from different ages, and everybody started to tell stories about that, so we realized the potential of publishing a book about…shit.

Paskakirja contains a great deal of research. How did you divide the work between Miika and yourself?

Basically, we first thought about what should be there. Then we expanded it. Most of the chapters are written by one of us and then the other one read through.

Swallow the Sun

Did you have to erase any part after talking to the editor?

No, actually there was one part we found that we should have included later, that is sex and shit. It is something that the editor said that should be there, but it was too late to be included.

How would you take it if somebody tells you that this book is shit? Would it be a compliment in this particular case?

Yeah, it depends upon the face they have when saying it – people make so many jokes about it…

It is also a very handy book when going to the toilet and some reading is needed…

It is designed for looking good in the bookshelves…and yeah….also for going to the toilet…

Why are people, in general, shy when talking about going to the toilet?

There is a chapter about it. It is a complicated issue. Philosophically, it is said that a human being is something that shit is not. And well, obviously shit is also disgusting. So the answer should be somewhere between there. I don’t know because there is not only one answer; different cultures have different opinions and approaches.

Did you find any group of people that adore shit?

Not like adoration. There is a chapter about people who “like” the shit, so that they talk about it a lot with their friends, and they have competitions to see who can expel the longest piece of shit…and that kind of stuff. Mostly males who gather many friends together and it is more a kind of a game.

Where did you find the sources for such a difficult topic to be researched?

We mostly made many interviews with doctors, psychologists and all kind of specialists. For example, a biologist was very excited explaining about her job. The other opposite side was the doctors, because no one wanted to be labeled for appearing in a book like this, talking about this topic. In the end we got a couple of doctors to collaborate.

Is there anything you discovered that shocked you while writing the book?

Most of things were not shocking, but kind of surprising. The most surprising thing was that shit has been used as a medical therapy, because some of the bacteria help to fight other bacteria inside the human body. The therapy is used even in Finland.

How did you get the paskatarinat (stories about shit) from people in the street?

Mostly they sent the stories through internet and then we also had a query about how long time they spent in toilet, for example. Eventually we gathered over 300 different stories.

Paskakirja authors

Was it complicated to get a balance between serious research and the funny side of the topic?

Both authors talked and thought a lot about it, so the title itself is so funny that we cannot underline it anymore. So we try to talk seriously about it, but then, when the stories come, they do not make the book look boring. So we found that we got a balance between giving good information and being entertaining.

Did you discover any different features in the habits of Finnish people when going to the toilet, compared with others?

It is difficult because for that, a similar research should be done in other countries. I have only this “Finnish” point of view, but I guess that there could be many differences with other countries like Russia and Sweden, but it would be a good topic for another book.

How likely that there will be sequel published in the future?

Well, there are some things we discovered later that were missed from the book, like sex and other stuff, plus it would be nice to compare with other places, but it is also very complicated to do.

Tell me more about the fact that, on average, men go to the toilet 7,000 more times than women each a year.

That is something that I found interesting myself. We made a query about that. There should not be any physiological reason. It could be that the men talk more about it, so they exaggerate it, or that women feel shy to talk about it. There is also quite big a difference about how long they stay in the toilet, so men stay much longer. It was a surprise that it was such a big difference.

You also include a special interview with Ari “Paska” Peltonen. What is the story behind that?

He is very popular in Finland; he writes and does a lot of stuff. He has had that nickname for many years. He told us that once he was in Russia and he was going to be interviewed by the national television, but when they heard about the literal translation of his nickname, they changed their minds.

And finally, you also investigated the music business…

Miika took care of that part more. We knew there were funny “shit stories” with HIM and The Rasmus, but the manager did not want them to talk about it. Not so glamorous…

Interviews Music

Ambassador of the Blues

First of all, what influence did Robert Johnson have on you as a musician?

I think the Robert Johnson influence on me has taken on the aspect that it made me more of an acoustic guitar player. I still think of myself as primarily an electric guitar player who plays acoustic guitar. You know, when you're a kid learning, everybody wants to be the lead player. Everybody wants to solo.

You played a show with HoneyBoy Edwards and Robert Lockwood JR, two musicians who actually knew and played with Robert Johnson in the 1930s. How important was it to you to earn their respect?

Incredibly!!! I can't tell you how important it was to earn their respect. Until Mr. Lockwood's untimely death, Mr. Lockwood and Mr. Edwards were as close as you could get to Robert Johnson being alive. They both knew and played with Robert Johnson. Mr. Lockwood received his first guitar from Robert Johnson for his 11th birthday. He lived in the same house as Robert Johnson. Robert Johnson was dating Mr. Lockwood's mother. After getting compliments from Mr. Edwards and Mr. Lockwood I thought I could retire and get a straight job. I had taken this as far as I could. The night of the show at The Fairfield Theatre in Connecticut, Mr. Lockwood said, "In all my 91 years, I've never seen anybody look or sound more like Robert Johnson than you. I'm about to adopt you!" My heart soared! It can't get any better for me.

{mosimage}Lay’sPotato Chips used your photoon the bags of their Memphis Barbecue flavoured potato chips.

They printed over one million bags! They were on the market for six months. It made me the first Black American blues musician to be on a national product in the history of America!! I'm very proud of that!

Any plans on performing in Finland in the future?

I'd love to play Finland. Anybody want me to come play Finland? Just call or e-mail me and I'll be on my way! I want to play every country that will have me. We all have the blues.

Photo by Erik Remec


Rocky Lawrence

Blues Guitar Player

New Haven, CT, USA


Interviews Music

The Jade groove

The four
members of the group started their musical careers more than ten years ago, but
the story of The Jade began in spring 2004. During their many years in London,
Pekko and Jann had played together in different projects, and once they landed
back in Helsinki they got to know Wille, who became a vocalist for the band.
Sirpa had also returned from London, and became the drummer once it was clear
that she could rock harder than a number of auditioned male candidates. "Very soon we noticed that this
line-up worked well, the four musicians describe their history together", they say. 


Not Just Rock but Roll

The Jade
has its musical roots deep in hard rock, old rock'n'roll, punk and 1960s and
-70s pop and rock. The music on their promo record
Slow Motions on the Fast Lanes, released in
November 2006, is melodic rock, played with a rather heavy sound at times.

“In order
to stay vital, the music has to be reinvented all the time, and our songs
change with us. We can offer our audience swing and groove – that is what makes
us different from many other Finnish rock bands that sing in English,” The Jade

to Pekko, hanging a glittery scarf on a microphone stand is not The Jade's
concept of rock'n'roll:

“As a rock band, one has to have a look that
corresponds to the sound. However, our choices of style are intuitive and have
taken place as a result of time and experiences. The Jade is not about looks
but about music that has been profoundly thought through”, The Jade points out. 


True Stories Written with passion

The lyrics
of The Jade create an image of life with subtle shades. The members' colourful
life experiences are seen in their texts.

“We do not sit down writing and
thinking whether it would be cool to make a story of something: homelessness,
love, very bad life style, death – there is an unlimited number of things in
the world one can write about. Even death can be described as it is – not in a
goth-like manner – and loving your neighbour may be more interesting than a
story of love between a man and a woman,” Pekko says.


“All our songs have an element of
something that we have experienced ourselves, and the Northern darkness (what
is Northern Darkness?) plays its role in them,” Jann adds.


Promo Record in demand

The witty
combination of energy, groove and sombreness has appealed to audiences around
the globe. The Jade has found its American, British, French, German, Hungarian,
Italian and Spanish fans among others through So far, fan sites
have been set up in Australia, Germany and Mexico. 

The crowd
supporting The Jade has mixed musical preferences, and both pop and metal fans
have demonstrated their enthusiasm for the band. Many have received their
copies of Slow Motions on the Fast Lanes
-promo record and spread the word and music in their surroundings. The record
has been played on many web radio stations, and so far the reviews have been

The Jade
will play gigs in Helsinki as well as in Western Finland during this spring.
They will keep looking for partners and a record deal, while their fans
volunteer to promote them. 

“Our drive is constant, we work hard and our
goals are set high,” Wille says.

 “We want to play our music to an audience as
wide as possible. We keep promoting Slow
Motions on the Fast Lanes
and, hopefully,
we will find good contacts this year. Playing together is simply great, and we
will continue doing that even if nothing else happens,” The Jade assures.


You can hear The Jade's Slow Motions on the
Fast Lanes-promo record as an Mp3 at

Interviews Music

Streching the limits

Pohjonen started his career at a very early
age: at 8 he was already playing folk music. After classical and folk music
studies at the Sibelius
Academy, he spent time in
and Argentina,
studying with local musicians. His musical history now spans over twenty years
and in genres as diverse as avant-garde, folk, improvisation, classical, and
dance music. Furthermore, he has collaborated with the likes of the Kronos
Quartet. He is currently touring Finland – and in March the States –
as a member of KTU: a group also comprising of Trey Gunn and Pat Mastelotto. As
almost any review of his performances states: Pohjonen is far from your typical
idea of an accordion player; from the most obvious of the details, his hair – a
sort of reinterpretation of the Mohawk – to his way of being on stage and
playing his instrument. He’s been named several times ‘musician of the year’ in
and won several awards: the Finnish Jussi award for best film score (for the
movie Jade Warrior) being the last.

Let’s start our talk with this Jussi award. Composing music for
movies – was it your first time with Jade Warrior?

Actually, I did have previous experience, but it was something
different: the score for a Russian movie called Majak (The Lighthouse). In the case of Jade
, when the director called in November 2005 and asked me if I was
interested in composing the score I was not so sure –  at the beginning. Then, at home, I sort of
realized that a tune was already there. And in the end, it became the main
musical theme of the movie.

Already there? Meaning you didn’t have any ‘visual prompts’ – any
image or cut from the movie when composing the score – only the director’s

Yeah. In that sense I can say that composing Jade Warrior’s score was not so different for me from my other
composing experiences. I don’t rely so much on images when I compose. And
anyway I was working with Samuli Kosminen…

{mosimage}Samuli Kosminen is one of the members of the KTU project: you’ve had
a number of different collaborators – all of them quite surprising and
interesting – how do you choose the musicians you’d like to work with?

Well, with Samuli, I just asked him. He’s a sort of a kindred soul:
he’s as experimentally inclined as I am. So it was quite natural to consider a
collaboration with him. In the case of the Kronos Quartet, I should say it was
not me who approached them… but rather, they approached my manager, Phillip
Page. You know, Phillip is definitely more than a manager and he’s been
instrumental in quite a lot of my collaborations with other artists: one of my
first projects was with Arto Järvelä, together we are the Pinnin Pojat; and one
of the main features of our collaboration is the freedom to improvise. The last
time we performed together, we rehearsed for a really short time and then just
went on stage: curious to see, and listen to, what would happen. And for
instance, the level of improvisation is 100% with Eric Echampard, the French

I understand that improvisation
is a keyword for you, but I’m just wondering how did it work with the Tapiola
Sinfonietta: you collaborated with them on your Kalmuk project some years ago.

I made it clear from the very beginning what I had in mind, so that
all those who were not at ease with the idea of playing without the score in
front of them or, say, having to run in circles while playing could quit before
the real thing got started. I wanted the musicians to play without the score so
that they could be more free to listen to each other: to move with the music…
of course at the beginning it was not easy: not even for those who had decided
to stay.

Freedom is another keyword for

My main concern is to explore – explore the sounds my instrument can
utter, with the support of sound machines, voice, etc. When I’m on stage, I
improvise and I usually go on playing without breaks – without pauses for the
clapping of hands. I definitely value the reaction of the audience, but on the
other hand I have this feeling that I need to keep myself free from an excess
of feedback: I’m on the stage to create something, an atmosphere, and I don’t
think I should be too much influenced by the reaction of the audience.

How have places influenced you?
You have spent time studying abroad…

I was in Tanzania for a
few months and in Argentina.
I guess that’s when I perceived my being a Finn. You know, my favourite time
for composing is winter: with the deep darkness, the snow. I come here to my
studio in the morning and it’s dark: I get out in the evening and it’s dark.
Then comes the spring and I just start feeling like doing something else:
spending time outside. Winter is my creative season.

One last question: in Italy there’s a
small town called Castelfidardo, which is known as the world capital of the
accordion industry. I was wondering if one of your accordions comes from there…

It might be. But by now I’ve made so many changes and modifications
that it hardly has any original part left. And look, the bellows are breaking