jeudi 4 juin 2015

Sammal : the interview

With Myrskyvaroitus, the finnish band Sammal released (with the excellent Svart records) the album that I listened to the more often this year up to now, and I'm sure I'll listen to it many times again. It has what I love in 70' psych / prog' rock, plus something else, because their not just a good retro band, they're not even a retro band in fact, they really have a strong personnality. their melodies, their sound, their songs are unique. well, I'm not gonna review it a second time, HERE is the review I did, but this post is about posting the answers to the questions I sent them by mail. Jura Salmi (guitars / keys), is the one who answered it and I thank him for that!

read the interview below :

-to start with, can you tell us how did you formed Sammal? what was the project as the start?
We had played in a band with Jan-Erik Kiviniemi almost 10 years prior to starting making songs in Finnish. We were just doing it for fun, recording songs with 8-track recorder, nothing ambitious in mind. Just making songs we enjoyed ourselves, after making music with the previous band in English. But even that band Resident 43 was started by the two of us back in 96. So that band kinda slowed down, and withered away, and at the same time we became more interested in all kinds of more obscure and mostly older music.

-what about Myrskyvaroitus? I think you managed to introduced more diversity of sound and mood in your music with this album, do you agree and if so was it something you especially tried to achieve when writing the songs?
I think it came naturally, because we´ve been a tight unit for last 3 years playing gigs, and recording our debut, and one EP. We made these songs as a unit too, experimenting more with keyboards and band chemistry that had developed, allowed us to jam and use our greatest asset, rhythm more.

-what is the typical writing process for Sammal?
It can start from a jam, but mostly on this record it was either me, or keyboardist Juhani Laine, coming up with the main parts for each song. But finally putting them together with the whole band. Normally music and vocal melodies come before Jan-Erik writes the lyrics.

-I think you manage to sound at the same time really influenced by the music created in the seventies and at the same time very unique. do you think it has something to do with the finnish kind of melodies you bring in?
Definitely, being born and raised here, we have that weird mixture of really having slavic melodies that have always been a part of Finnish music, but on the other hand, strong Swedish folk&jazz influences too in even mainstream music in Finland. Add to that US, UK, German, French musical impact etc. I think we´re not restricted to anything really. Finland in a way really is between east and west.

-which band influenced you the most?
I´ve normally mentioned Camel, Trettiåariga Kriget, but personally I would say that even nineties bands like Soundgarden, Faith No More, have had a strong impact on the way I personally see how music can be done. Not the style, but the freedom of creating space for our musical world. Keep in mind this is just my opinion. All of the guys in the band have a long list of favourites. Some stuff most of us like are stuff like the first Journey album, Kebnekajse, early Wishbone Ash, Finnish Topi Sorsakoski & Agents, Rauli Badding Somerjoki, Colosseum, Australian band Buffalo, Birth Control, Kingston Wall, all kinds of hip-hop, soul, blues.....the list could literally be endless.

-what about the lyrics?
Sorry really can´t say as the deadline of the interview is now. I would need our singer answering that. But I think it´s mostly really honest, about his life, about how he sees the world. He´s never mentioned anyone to be his influence on writing his lyrics.

-can you choose a song you especially like in the new album and comment on how it was written and about the lyrics?
I like the opener Storm Varning at the moment. The lyrics are in Swedish as an homage to Jan-Erik´s Swedish speaking side of the family. All of have strong ties to the Swedish speaking side of Finland as we are from the west coast and have family from the islands, or have worked in those parts. Musically too, it´s closer to Scandinavian jazz than maybe most our songs, and right now it really is the song I´m most fond of.

-psychedelia is often associated with, metaphorically speaking, opening gates and discovering new paths and territories, and as a musical movement coincided with questionning the dominant values and experimentating new ways of living. how do you relates to that and what does psychedelia means to you personnaly?
It means being open minded, and challenging the so called "truth" about how humans are and should be. It´s about trusting my own instincts and valuing my opinions just as much as any other person´s opinion. Think for yourself and try to see the world with other people´s eyes too. The world wouldn´t have to be such a mess. But we´re letting it be that way. I like that quote that keeps circulating on the internet all the time by Bertrand Russell: “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wise people so full of doubts.”

-if your music would be used as a movie soundtrack, what kind of movie would it be? do you like the idea?
It would be a dark melodrama with somewhat happy ending. It would be great to at least hear our music in some movie. And the idea of a soundtrack sounds intriguing....maybe in the future.

- Myrskyvaroitus being so good, have you any idea about how you could improve next time? are some new song already written?
We have some riffs and small parts in our back pocket. I don´t think it will be too difficult to improve. But I might be wrong, maybe this is our zenith! But time will tell. We´ll try our best I can assure you.

-do you think of something sound / interesting about Sammal or Myrskyvaroitus that is never mentionned in reviews or interviews?
On Herätkää! I play the opening keyboard with a crappy Roland synth. through my normal guitar pedals and amp&cabinet. And working with V.R. Studio owner Jussi Vuola isn´t mentioned enough. Great guy, and not sure if want to work with anyone else anymore. Absolutely fantastic working with him!!!

-how did you get in contact with Svart records at first?
There was an underground buzz going on about Sammal, and we already had recorded the debut. We approached them a few times but no reply. Then we already discussed with the Swedish Record Heaven that they could distribute our album, we were about to release it our self. But then people like Kimi Kärki and Mat McNerney said a good word for us, and suddenly Svart was ready to release it. Tomi Pulkki said something like, he must´ve had fever or been sick for having not paid attention to our music and emails earlier. If he had, he said they would´ve released it in a heartbeat!

-which evolution would you like to see for underground music in the future?
More expressive, not following trends, but doing what feels right to each individual artist or a band. And I love good melodies. I think it´s ok for UG bands too to have some catchy melodies
-what is planned for Sammal in the coming months?
This summer and fall playing quite a few gigs in Finland. So enjoying them and the Finnish short but beautiful summer.

-something to add?
Hoping to play some dates in rest of Europe in 2016, as Roadburn and Netherlands was so cool. But we´ll see...

-Jura Salmi/Sammal guitars, keys.

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