AARNI

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This internet interview with Markus Marjomaa of Aarni was done by Fjordi in February 2005.

Aarni is a band weird and eerie from Oulu, Finland, making original music and meaning a gust of fresh air into the doom scene. Psychedelic, meditative or reflective are adjectives which could fit in the description of Aarni´s last album "Bathos". Besides music, though, the concept and lyrics behind Aarni were interesting enough for Fjordi to carve, looking for some kind of revelations through Marjomaa´s words. This is what he said:

“Bathos” is a highly awaited event in your career as a musician, I presume. I would like to know what are the reactions taking part in the scene around the release, how is it selling, how do you feel after releasing your first full-length album...
Obviously I much anticipated the release of "Bathos", it being Aarni's debut album. I have read the majority of its reviews and been surprised by having received so much praise...so far the album seems to have sold very well: over 500 copies in just under three months. I guess I feel relieved...now I can concentrate on making what I believe to be better and more introverted music for the second Aarni album.

What are your thoughts when being put on the doom scene, although your music has just a few elements from that style?
No sir, I don't like it...but labelling things appears an inevitable evil in the music industry. On the other hand, a slow tempo and metal elements have so far been present in much of Aarni's material and probably even more so on the next album. I however want to make adult-oriented music, so elements which I consider immature or boring like self-pity and romanticised angst won't likely be featured in Aarni's material, although they seem to be generally held as characteristic of "doom metal". So, music journalists can label Aarni as anything they want - I trust music fans are able to think for themselves.

The music contained in the split CD with Umbra Nihil suggested me a description such as “meditative manifold doom”, whereas I would label “Bathos” –in an almost suicidal intent- as “alchemical telluric reflective music” (I know my description could result a bit flippant). Is the role of this “unnatural” element in the music so important for you, is it something nowadays is being understated or simply ignored by most of the bands?
Heh, I don't know what would be the telluric element on Bathos, but that's beside the point. To each his own... I believe Aarni's music to be very "natural", not "unnatural" - whatever those terms mean. I've based most of my material on inner reflection more or less directly. If somebody regards contemplation/intuition as something "unnatural" or frightening, that's their problem. I hope they get more courageous soon. Still, I don't think I or anyone else has any right to criticise other bands and people. They act as they see fit, like we all.

I had the chance to interview you (it was around 18 months ago, if I´m not wrong...) and there you said: “Aarni is the guardian of buried treasure, which is another allegory to the valuable hidden contents of your subconscious. Here's also the ´negative´ aspect of Aarni, as it represents the thing you must defeat in order to get the treasure”. Again, it is linked to the “V.I.T.R.I.O.L.” topic. After listening to the album properly, an accurate title could have been “V.I.T.R.I.O.L.”, I think. The sensations provided through the music are very alchemist-like and introspective. Just an opinion of my own, which I´d like you to speak about or reject... I must admit I´d like to delve into the subject. Did you pretend your music was kind of a soundtrack for an introspection of the listener, a visit of the inner Earth of the subsconscious?
I guess most if not all songs on the album deal with this inner trip. Many tracks use alchemical imagery to express it, while others feature concepts from Western & Eastern mysticism. Like the Finnish saying goes: "same man, different pants". Yes, I could have titled the album "V.I.T.R.I.O.L.", but maybe it would have been somewhat pretentious. Probably the record isn't that useful (except maybe the track "Kesäyö") as a soundtrack for introspection, at least I prefer music that feels more serene and spaced-out. I hope to make more balanced & lush material in the future...

Aarni is a band very concerned about the concept linked to music, the meaning behind the notes. Nowadays the bands are more fond of cliches when it comes to the words used to express the feelings. Which are the bands that have a solid concept hand in hand with the music, for you? Do you think lyrics and music are 50% and 50%, in importance?
Yes, I tend to think somewhat so. In my opinion there are many bands with good music and bad lyrics - and vice versa. Still, I suspect the quality of music is more important than the quality of lyrics in a song, because while listening I can ignore bad lyrics easier than bad songwriting. Unfortunately many bands appear to have bad music with bad lyrics...I believe using too many clichés is a sure way to ruin your lyrics, especially if you try to express feelings you've never actually had & only fantasise about. Mainstream culture seems to become more and more superficial all the time and this plague has also infected the underground. The term "media" itself implies "something which mediates", in other words is indirect and blocks the way of direct experience. With Aarni songs I usually try first to come up with a suitable theme and lyrics, and on that basis then compose/arrange the actual music. I guess my list of "solid concept" bands would include at least classic Candlemass, My Dying Bride, Camel and King Crimson.

Are you still unemployed and dedicated full-time to Aarni, or you have now a regular job that grabs you precious time to invest in the band?
I'm involved in various kinds of more-or-less pleasant freelance work as I don't approve of the common subhuman wage-slavery propaganda of the System. I wouldn't get myself in a situation where I wouldn't be able to vent my creative impulses adequately. Besides, making music can be much harder work than sitting at the office looking busy. So, I still have ample time for all the hard play with Aarni.

There is no doubt that the others “members” have taken part in a more active way during the making of “Bathos”. Speak about their role in composition and inspiration, I know they are quite weird beings... Is your “multi-individuality” (so to speak) something which should be taken into account when judging Aarni´s music, or it´s just one more detail of the whole?
I really don't have a clue...I leave you to draw your own conclusions. To my recollection most of the work on Bathos was done by me. I can however say that Count S-G will play a larger part on the next album.

A couple of curiosities around the layout of the album: firstly, that red flag USSR-like with the euro symbol and the words “Tehty Eurostoliitossa”. What does it mean? Secondly, I´ve been really surprised by that quiz in the booklet, I think it´s a good idea and it´s quite original and unexpected –the same unexpected as the cover art and the music itself-. It´s time for you to explain us something about these items (quiz, flag, artwork...).
The flag thing can be taken as a political statement on the EU, as a joke or both. The Finnish phrase translates as "Made in the Union of Euros", which is a pun on the similar-sounding Finnish words "Eurostoliitto" and "Neuvostoliitto(=USSR)". I intended the quiz as a source of reflection for people, to help them question and inspect the ideas & beliefs they might have and to point at the falseness of all human opinions. I selected the cover art because I enjoy psychedelic, surrealistic & absurd things. And also because I've become bored with all the ridiculous pseudo-gloomy death-imagery infecting most of the metal genre.

The pictures on the booklet are very occult and have “hidden” meanings as well... The ability of Aarni is to have different things even in the booklet. I´ve been thinking about that map where a line is drawn between the Christian cross in Jerusalem, another symbol –excuse my ignorance for I don´t know how it is called- in southern France (maybe Montségur?), and the inverted cross around Netherlands. Could you please unveil that picture?
This appears to be a favourite question of interviewers...the inverted cross is supposed to lie over Brussels, while the cross of Lorraine hovers on the village of Rennes-le-Château. All this refers to the alleged conspiracy made popular by the book "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" and recently also by "The Da Vinci Code". Some see this conspiracy as the "real" driving force behind the EU and its politics. So, the map & the song lyrics point to certain key aspects of this myth.

What bands do you think would fit in the “Square of Untrue Doom” (if this congregation really exists!)?
Simply any bands that want to fit in it. The Square is at least as real as the Circle, because it squares the circle.

What kind of interviews (or questions, I should say) do you prefer the most, and which ones you hate?
I believe I don't hate any questions, I just find some to be more interesting than others. Anything goes, really...maybe I prefer quirky questions over strictly music-related ones. I enjoy all questions & answers that reveal interesting things about their writers.

The future of Aarni shines... well, how do you see (and how you would like to see) Aarni in 2015? a) Reaching a Pink-Floyd Status in doom metal; b) become a cult band after releasing a couple of albums and three mini-CDs; c)you, ten years older, mature musically speaking in composition, considerably wiser and happy with your creations; d) Master Warjomaa involved in several musical projects without leaving the underground and without achieving a huge recognition.
Interesting...if I survive the events possibly globally culminating around 2012 ev, alternatives C and D seem the most probable. D takes place even now. Currently I'm definitely not looking towards Aarni becoming overrated.

What is the best album ever recorded by a Finnish band or artist, in your opinion? I´d also like to know which Finnish bands or artists you consider the most promising or interesting nowadays.
Many different names flash through my mind...I'll choose Amorphis' "Tales From The 1000 Lakes", I consider it pretty good with all its flaws. My favourite current artists include Nemesis, Circle, Kuusumun Profeetta, Nest, Tenhi, Jääportit and Umbra Nihil :)

Which entity is more inspiring to you: David Lynch, Jung, Lovecraft, the Kalevala...?
Hmm, two of those deal with primal fears, two with a more comprehensive picture and one with everything. Despite that I choose Jung.

“The Da Vinci Code” is a phenomenon you, as a person involved with his environment, will not be unaware of. What do you think of this trend of cheap books based on templars, cathars, myths around Jesus Christ mysteries and so on?
This kind of material caters to people looking for meaning in their lives - conspiracy theories seem similar to all other theories and ideas, which appear to clearly explain in simple terms one's existence and place in life. They also tell you who your enemies and friends are, so you don't have to find it out yourself. Most Westerners at least have a deep fear towards the delightful absurdity and amusing uncertainity of existence. You can profit by abusing their condition. I however think it's positive if questioning authority becomes popular (it never has before), it can lead to all kinds of improvements.

Last, I´d like to send you my congratulations for “Bathos” and also the great, witty, promo sheet that came along with the CD (by the way, who wrote it? Was it done by yourself, by Firebox staff members Rami or Janne-Pekka...?).
Thank you, but I'll accept congratulations only if I can some day make an album that I'm largely satisfied with... Yes, I wrote the promo sheet. I usually go through most of the sheets of Firebox releases.

Thanks a lot for answering these questions. I hope you haven´t had a bad time! Cast a last spell unto the souls reading this and take care of your world...
Thanks for the bantering opportunity! The time didn't feel bad. Some news on Aarni's current affairs: the song for a top secret project nears completion. After that I'll concentrate on the new album, which may be more entertaining than Bathos, with some Cthulhu material & added heaviness and blooming psychedelia. Fnord.



Links of interest:

Aarni
Firebox Records