TARTAREAN DESIRE WEBZINE
This interview with Vilho Rajala & Antti Ojanen of My Fate was done face to face by Maud on September 21st, 2005.
When Tampere's My Fate was formed a little over 5 years ago, its members were still in their late teens but possessed of considerable musical intelligence and ambition, as was apparent on their demos, "Bloodstains" (2000) and "Sinking" (2001). My Fate took their adventurous brand of aggressive, dark melodic metal to greater heights with their first full-length, "Happiness Is Fiction," released in 2003 through Firebox in Finland and globally on Crash Music in 2004. Their second album, "Kill the Light," came out in April 2005 on their own label, My Fate Music. Exhibiting the genre-bending-and-extending coolness of their debut album but in a more intense and complex form, "Kill the Light" shows the band's steady growth. On 21 September 2005, drummer Vilho Rajala and vocalist Antti Ojanen were kind enough to meet with me in Tampere (a very cool town!) for this interview. Anyone who's heard My Fate's music and therefore knows how tight and cohesive their playing is, won't be surprised to discover how mentally attuned the band's members (at least the two who participated in this interview) are to each other. Often one will start a thought and the other (usually Antti) will finish it. Not that they totally agree about everything. But in their interchanges and the reflections they shared with me about their music and the metal scene in Finland, these guys exude chemistry. That trait is among those noted in the band's bio as qualities they have sought to embody from the beginning, the others being talent, patience, and attitude. All of these are evident in My Fate's musical achievements and in the words you're about to read.
In an early version of the band bio, you stated that your intention was to play music that was "aggressive but also soulful and melodic." Would you say that is still the band's goal in terms of musical creation, or has that been changed or revised over the years?
Vilho: Originally it was our intention, but it was my description, you know. I wrote that bio, and it was my idea of what we sounded like. It was just my quick description of what we are doing here, and not actually a big goal or anything.
Antti: Nothing like that. Well, I don't think we even give the description any thought nowadays. It's just like - whatever comes up.
The category that you are most often listed as seems to be melodic death/thrash.
Antti: I wouldn't call us death/thrash, because the first band that comes to my mind is Deathchain, and we don't sound like that, not at all. I think we're more diverse.
Vilho: More diverse, definitely. I would say we are heavy metal.
Antti: Yes. We have influences from death and thrash, but we are not death/thrash.
Vilho: And "death/thrash" gives me a feeling of something we are not. But death and thrash separately are something that we do.
In addition to death metal and thrash, what are some of the other styles that you bring to your music.
Vilho: I always like to bring in speed metal because it's where I come from. Speed metal got me into music in the first place. Overall, I try always to bring in a certain groove. I like King's X and Helmet, and this simple, rhythmic beat. I like that kind of drumming very much.
Antti: In my field I pretty much [bring] more to the vocals, not just that one scream.
Vilho: And you know he's got something like five or six different voices, and this is one of the ideas we are trying to do. We don't sound always the same: one note and shouting the same intonation.
Antti: I don't like one-dimensional vocals myself, except in black metal, but that's a different thing.
One of the words you've used to describe your melodies is "sinister," which I thought was very interesting.
Vilho: I like that word very much.
What does "sinister" mean to you as a reflection of melody?
Antti: Mmmm, somewhat evil.
Vilho: "The Darkness Beckons" is a very good example of this. At the second part of the verse, when the other guitar starts to play this melodic thing, it's a sinister melody.
Antti: I think a lot of black metal melodies are very sinister, and that song is, I think, a little influenced by black metal.
Vilho: Yeah, and also old-school, '90's death metal, like Edge of Sanity and stuff like this.
I recently read a review of "Happiness Is Fiction" that mentioned suggestions of Katatonia in your music. Have any of you listened to Katatonia very much?
Antti: Yeah, I'm a big fan.
Vilho: I haven't listened to them very much; I have only two of their cd's, but I'm very much into it. I've seen them live twice.
I had never thought of Katatonia in connection to you until I read this review, and I think there's a certain truth to that, and probably it's in the melodies and the feel of them.
Antti: Very sad [melodies].
Vilho: And the working title for "Baneflow Cycle" [on "Kill the Light"] was "The Katatonia Song." Doesn't it have have a Katatonia-ish feeling?
Antti: Yeah, the main melody. But it's kind of funny because our guitar player Jaakko, who wrote most of the songs, hadn't really heard any of Katatonia when he wrote this. We couldn't believe it.
Vilho: Then he played that song, or a rough version of that song for us, and he [nodding in Antti's direction] started laughing and said "This is just like Katatonia." But it's really true.
That song has one of the most arresting melodies on the album, and there are other examples with a similar kind of feel. In addition to the "sinister," the word beauty comes up a lot [in descriptions of the melodies]
Vilho: And "melancholy."
Antti: I think it's a very scandinavian melody [in "Baneflow Cycle"]. Opeth has similar kinds of stuff.
Scandiavinavian melancholy is a phrase we hear all the time, of course, and Finnish melancholy in particular, perhaps. Do you think that is represented in your music more in the way the melodies feel and sound than in the lyrics, or is it both?
Antti: Well, more the melodies than the lyrics, I think.
Vilho: And what I really like is to combine this melancholic beauty we talked about with aggression, and to very ugly things. That combination is very effective.
The mixture of styles and also of structures is certainly one of the cool aspects of your music. Is that the kind of thing Jaakko is talking about in the press release that was circulated before "Kill the Light" came out, about the arrangements and structures being more challenging on it than on "Happiness Is Fiction"?
Vilho: Yeah, I think it was one of our goals, to make things more exciting.
Antti: More aggressive, more dark.
Vilho: And more diverse. And I think that's what we're going to do with the next one even more, that we are just breaking structures into pieces, and just trying to find -
Antti: New ways of making songs. Breaking the song structures and enhancing the elements that we find.
Vilho: And always challenging ourselves. I think that's what we're really going to do with the next one, now. It's going to be a painful process, but I'm really looking forward to it.
Antti: It always is.
I definitely want to hear more about that later on, in as much detail as you want to share. In addition to challenging yourselves, you also want to challenge the listener, I gather; one of the statements in the press release was about that. What kind of a challenge is presented by "Kill the Light."
Vilho: Well, I think there are many dimensions in the songs; to find all the layers there - now, that's a challenge, to go beneath the surface.
Antti: And we didn't want to make, you know, hit songs or anything like that. It's just not our style, and we don't like music like that.
Vilho [with an extra note of enthusiasm in his voice]: And we wanted to include elements that would not be present at the first listening, that would come up later. We wanted to do this more interesting and more dimensional sound.
Antti: 'Cause good records always require more times of listening.
Vilho: Jaakko always wants to surprise, in terms of adding some sort of rhythmic surprise.
Antti: "Dim the Light" is a good example. It starts off really fast and melodic, and goes into total doom in the middle and a different kind of thing in the end. And it never goes back to the beginning.
Vilho: And "Embody Me" goes into that atmospheric middle part, and then the end is, again, something completely new.
How did Jaakko get the idea to use congas on that song?
Vilho: I remember that me and Jaakko, just the two of us, were playing at the rehearsal place, and we were structuring that song, and we thought that we can't go back to the verse from this chorus. We have to come up with something new. And he just said, "play some kind of an African rhythm, something like that." I started playing this simple -
Antti: As if you know any African rhythms, or tribal rhythms or whatever.
Vilho: But, you know, the feeling of something like that. I started playing that, and then Jaakko started playing the melodies. And that's how it came. He just said we needed some congas in there, to get the atmospheric rhythm.
Jaakko is a really talented musician.
Antti: Yeah, definitely.
In addition to guitar, you've mentioned that he plays drums. And he also does the keyboards?
Vilho: He started out as a drummer and then he started to play guitar a couple of years later. He's the most talented musician overall, and he does everything.
Antti: Very productive.
Vilho: And you can hear that from the arrangements, that he doesn't just write riffs: he writes two guitar tracks, he writes a bass track, and sometimes even the drum track and vocal lines. And he can handle the whole thing. Many songwriters write just guitar riffs, and that's it. And then the other guitarist and the bassist play the same riff, and the
drummer plays a basic beat, and that's it.
In the press release for "Kill the Light," Jaakko said the hooks weren't going to be "so obvious." What did he mean by that?
Vilho: I just think it's the same thing, that you need to listen to the songs a few times before you can really get into the feeling.
Antti: It's like to fuck with people's heads with rhythms. When I first heard the song "Failure" [from "Happiness Is Fiction"] without the vocals or anything, I was like "what is this? I can't make anything out of this. It just bounces back and forth in every direction."
To me, "Failure" is the strongest song on "Happiness Is Fiction."
Antti: I pretty much agree - one of the best. We never really play much songs from the first album, but that's one of the songs we sometimes play.
You did say once that your approach to songwriting was to get good ideas and rehearse a lot, and that as a testament to that method, every song you'd ever written you played live at some point. But I guess with more new material, you have to phase out some songs?
Vilho: Yes we have, and I think it's a natural development.
Antti: From the first album it's "Spawns Within, "Failure," and "Sckness" that we usually play. The rest we haven't played in years.
Vilho: In the last couple of rehearsals we've played some of the other songs just to have fun. Because they are decent songs; they are just not anything we like to do in front of an audience. [turns to Antti] Like "Detoxify" was one of the songs you said you don't want to sing anymore.
Antti And "no" to "Circumstance."
Vilho: He HATES "Circumstance."
Do you hate it because you don't like singing it?
Antti: Well, basically because it was a real pain in the ass in the studio. The thing was half complete when we recorded it.
Was that one of the consequences of the rush you were in when recording?
Antti: Mmmm, you could say that.
Vilho: And we had never payed any special attention to vocals. You know, he handles them and that's it. We just payed attention to the songs and the music. Because we didn't know Antti before he joined the band. We all knew each other, but we didn't know him. And he was kind of a half-strange guy who came up to the rehearsal and sang.
Antti: And never said anything or criticized anything.
Vilho: And always quiet, just singing
Antti: I was too intimidated or whatever. And suddenly we were in the studio.
Vilho: And it wasn't before we were in the studio that we noticed that -
That he's an incredible singer, right?
Vilho: Yeah, and we need to pay more attention to the vocals. And I think we got so excited about the vocals on "Kill the Light" that now, on the next one, we'll try to pay attention to each instrument, at the same degree we did with vocals.
Antti: And of course I've improved as a singer since then.
Since "Kill the Light or - ?
Antti: Since "Happines Is Fiction."
Vilho: And it's also been soon a year since "Kill the Light" [was recorded]. And we improve all the time, because we rehearse on a weekly basis.
[to Antti] You're happier with the clean vocals on "Kill the Light" than on "Happiness Is Fiction"?
Antti: Yeah, I had thought about them more.
More sophisticated maybe?
Antti: Yeah, a little more stylistic.
Vilho: And you sound more sure of yourself. You sounded insecure on "Happines Is Fiction."
Antti: Yeah, I did, because I was. I really don't listen to "Happiness Is Fiction" anymore because of that.
Vilho: Well, I listen to it very rarely.
Antti: And mostly because I like different kinds of music myself than "Happiness Is Fiction" was. My own idols were people like Devin Townsend, so I really enjoy it if a person uses everything in his voice.
Can you describe any of the new techniques you're using now, since "Kill the Light"?
Antti: Well, I have rehearsed the death metal grunting a lot, and I think it's improved since the "Kill the Light" recordings. It's more powerful now.
Wow [thinking about how powerful it already was].
Antti: That's pretty much the biggest thing I have improved on. And I have worked on my technique more. That's really important when you do the songs live. If you sing wrong you're going to fuck up your voice and you can't sing the whole set through.
When you do the songs live, do you vary the way you sing them in relation to the recorded versions?
Antti: Yeah, I like to mess with things a lot, especially with the old songs from "Happiness Is Fiction." I don't sing them in the same way I sing them on the record, because I have more of a brutal style now.
How much of what you do is total spontaneity and how much is craft?
Antti: I'd say it's very spontaneous. Something sounds right, and I just do it. So I don't really think ahead that I can do this vocal in this part or this or this. I listen to it; if it sounds good I'll do it then, and so on.
Lyric writing has been pretty much divided between the two of you. But on "Kill the Light" more of the lyrics are by you Antti, whereas "Happiness Is Fiction is more half and half.
Antti: Yeah, because it was a kind of a collection of our old songs, and I wasn't in the band in the beginning.
Vilho: And I'm not going to write any lyrics anymore; I'll leave all that to Antti, because in that way I think we can get the next album to be a whole. And I didn't feel that my lyrics were satisfactory to any degree. I'm not a good lyric writer, so I just decided to give that up. [But] I have an urge to write - I study journalism and stuff like that. [Vilho is, in fact, on the editorial staff of the prestigious Finnish print mag "Inferno."]
Antti: You weren't producing as many lyrics for "Kill the Light" anyway.
Vilho: The three that are on "Kill the Light," "Distinction," "Embody Me," and "Totalitarian," I like them, but I don't like all my lyrics on "Happiness Is Fiction."
Antti: Well, me neither.
[to Antti] Are you more comfortable with writing lyrics now?
Antti: Definitely more comfortable, because I have more life experience, naturally.
Are lyrics an area in which you feel you're continuing to expand and evolve?
Antti: Yeah, well I kind of think "Kill the Light" came as some kind of part to an end. And now I'm gonna go to a different direction. And the new lyrics I've done are pretty much . . . they're kind of weird. I can't describe it. They're not so much like on "Kill the Light." They're dark too, but that's the only resemblance.
Are they dealing with different subjects?
Antti: Yeah. I was venting out different things on "Kill the Light," and certain life situations, but this time it's more about my personal ideology and opinions and stuff like that.
The theme of killing or dimming the light is represented visually in a striking way with the photography in the cd booklet, which you also use on your website. The band-member photos remind me of that well-known group of Tool photos that appeared in "Revolver" magazine, where the band was shot through some kind of cloudy film.
Antti: Well it was kind of a counter-reaction to the promo shots from the first album, because they were really flashy, and we just wanted to go to a direction where we are not the main picture.
Vilho: And we wanted to give the whole visual process to the hands of Ville Kaisla, the cover artist, because he's a very talented guy, and we knew that he had some great ideas and some great visions about what the cover art could be. He suggested that the band pictures should be behind something in some way, trying to come through something. That was the idea of the band pictures.
Antti: The whole theme of the album is about piercing through some kind of exterior and going to a different place.
Vilho: I really like the images in there. They're very strong pictures, and they capture the spirit of the album very well.
The shattering light bulb is really effective.
Vilho: That was his [Ville Kaisla's] favorite also; it was his idea. And he spent hours doing that with Photoshop.
Has he done work for other cd's?
Antti: Yeah, bands like Insomnium.
Vilho: And he's done the Rotting Sound website and a bunch of other websites too. And the Firebox netstore website [from which "Kill the Light" can be ordered] is done by him. [He's] very talented.
It was nice to see "Kill the Light" in the stores here [in Tampere].
Vilho: I'm very grateful to Firebox for being the distributor. It opened a lot of doors for us, that we get our albums in a decent distribution.
All over Finland?
Vilho: Yes. It's somewhere abroad also, in Denmark and in Hungary. Firebox has a lot of weird connections. If you search, you'll find it ["Kill the Light"] for sale in weird places.
How is it that I have seen so much less attention from the media after "Kill the Light" came out than before it did? The press release we were talking about earlier - I saw that all over the internet, but I haven't seen as much media attention since then, which kind of surprised me.
Vilho: It's because we don't have any kind of licence deal abroad anymore. In Finland, "Kill the Light" has gotten more media attention than "Happiness Is Fiction" ever did. It's just that "Kill the Light" is not yet internationally known. And that's because we haven't found -
Antti: A decent distributor.
Vilho: Someone who would offer us a decent licencing agreement for this cd, maybe with options for future albums, but mainly for "Kill the Light." And we are still trying to find some channel to get "Kill the Light" out there effectively. Just the other day I was thinking that I could do a full press tour in Europe and the United States, so I could send "Kill the Light" to magazines all over the world. So we could probably get some positive reviews and some interviews, and through that we could maybe attract the interest of some labels. I haven't done that yet, because I thought we could do that when we get the deal, but we haven't got any offers yet.
Sometimes that [media attention] leads to a deal and sometimes it's a benefit of a deal.
Vilho: Yeah, and it's a funny paradox, but it was because of Crash Music [the label on which "Happiness Is Fiction" was released globally] that we originally broke into international attention. It's a shame that they more or less ripped us off, but they really got us into the international metal spotlight.
Antti: It's just a shame that "Kill the Light" isn't out there, because it's a lot better than "Happiness Is Fiction."
Vilho: It's a lot stronger, and we are really working for it, so that we can get it out there. That's our goal.
There's a strange impression of My Fate being both known and unknown. I can walk into just about any cd store in the U.S. and buy "Happiness Is Fiction," yet I can't do that with many other European bands that might be better known over here [in Europe] and maybe over there [in North America] too, but don't have the distribution.
Antti: It's kind of funny because when you live in Finland and you don't go to the United States, you don't realize that a lot of these Finnish bands are [available] all over in Finland, and people can't get their cds in the United States.
Vilho: I know that "Happiness Is Fiction" is in every record store in the United States, but it was just too stupid to continue cooperation with Crash Music. We could have had "Kill the Light" in every store if we had continued with them, but we just didn't want to, because if we sell cds we should get some money for it. And at least we want to know how much our record has sold. We have absolutely no idea about the record sales [for "Happiness Is Fiction"].
Was there ever any effort on Crash's part to organize a U.S. tour?
Vilho: Some very careful inquiries about that did occur, but nothing serious. It goes without saying, but we really, really would like to play abroad. That would be the fulfillment of a lifetime dream.
You'll be able to get back the rights to "Happiness Is Fiction" in 2007?
Vilho: In July 2007, and hopefully by then at least we'll have some kind of a decent record deal with a decent company, so that we'll be able to re-release "Happiness Is Fiction" properly with a proper booklet and promotion. We made a 1000-copy pressing of it in Finland, and it has sold 150 - 200, something like that. It's funny that "Kill the Light" has been out only 6 months and now it has sold more than "Happiness Is Fiction" already in Finland.
That's very encouraging. What is your fanbase like?
Vilho: I think mostly Finnish, at least after the release of "Kill the Light."
Antti: Yeah, and people who see us live for the first time, and come over and compliment us.
Vilho: And I understand that because I think we are a very strong live band.
Antti: Yeah, we're better live.
Vilho: Usually when you go to see a band, you see 5 guys, 3 of which are somehow visible and charismatic, but we are trying to be a five piece where every one of us is moshing and trying to really perform, every one of us. That's the thing that we have tried to develop.
Antti: We don't have to pay attention to playing clock-sharp. We just give the audience a good headbanging. It's a real punky feel.
It wasn't until very recently that I was able to see any live pictures of you, and when I finally got to see them I was really impressed. There's a massive amount of energy projected in those photos.
The way the Finnish music industry is right now gives me, as an outsider, the impression that you don't have to be extremely mainstream to be successful.
Antti: Yeah, and that's the good thing about Finnish metal. People like all kinds of metal, bands like Deathchain, Mokoma, and Pain Confessor, and stuff like that. They're really popular even though they're not very radio-friendly.
Does it inspire you a lot to see that happening?
Antti: Of course. It shows that the scene is really strong for bands like us, that people really like aggressive metal.
Vilho: And also the bands [i.e., these aggressive metal bands have appreciation for other bands in the scene]. We had a little chat with Pain Confessor at the Jörisrock Festival where we were playing last July, and they were absolutely into us. We talked about possible warm-up gigs and stuff like that, and we hope we can do something with them in the future.
That would be a VERY nice pairing.
Have there been any bands or musicians who have been mentors to you?
Vilho: Not so much mentors, really, but I've had some friends. The Diablo drummer [Heikka Malmberg] has taught me a lot and shown me a lot of things concerning playing drums. And also a couple of other local drummers have been some sort of part-time teachers. The thing about drummers is that they are always talking about playing drums. Not mentors, really, but just very helpful friends.
I have heard from other drummers that they don't have any kind of petty sense of competition with each other -
And that it's much more of a supportive interaction, which you don't always see with other musicians.
Vilho: There are a thousand styles to play drums, and . . . you know, I recall a conversation with Heikka Malmberg awhile ago where we talked about snare sounds, and we came to the conclusion that if there would be a snare drum right here at the table, and each one of us [Vilho, Antti, me, the recorder-operator] had a drumstick, we
would get four different sounds. It's in the player; the style and the sound is in the player. And you can't compare drum players as easily as you can guitar players. And drums are not solo a instrument, and that's something that takes away the competition.
Do you want to tell me about the new material?
Vilho: We have jammed a few riffs and tried to find certain basic structures. A few very very good riffs and very good melodies, but nothing very final yet.
Antti: The structures are shaping up to be a lot different than before.
Vilho: And more challenging.
So the last album was more challenging than the first, and we're going to continue to see that development. Do you have any idea when you'll begin recording, or is that still a ways off?
Vilho: Well, no rush, but I could consider somewhere late 2006 would be a good time to go to the studio. But we'll see. We just talked about seeing how things go in the winter and then making decisions next spring, and just write songs and rehearse and do gigs now. And then we'll see if there's any response from any record labels or booking agencies, and in April or May decide if we're going to do a third album.
But you're prepared to release it on My Fate Music, if necessary?
Vilho: Well, if we have to; if nobody's interested, then we'll have to. But I wouldn't like to because, financially it's a very big . . . well, I don't like taking huge loans; I don't think anyone likes that.
The recording you have done before has always been with Henkka Wirsell. You seem to have a very good working relationship with him. Can you describe the way you intereact during the recording and mixing process?
Antti: Well, he doesn't talk that much.
Vilho: He just works. We have a weird understanding. Always when we enter the studio, he knows what we are searching for.
Antti: He takes care of all the little things.
Vilho: He finds the right sound for us, then lets us play, and then he finishes the thing off. He doesn't get involved with the songs too much--maybe little arrangements here and there, but nothing very big.
Antti: Very little compared to some things other bands do.
Vilho: I wouldn't call him a producer. He's a very great guy, because he has that touch to find a great guitar sound, for example. He just has that knowledge and that expertise.
That massive guitar sound. And I think you mentioned in your studio diary that you were amazed at what a huge bass sound he had found.
Vilho: That's because he initially knows what we want and then he just does it. We have worked with him for 5 years now, and we know each other. Sometimes he comes to do [sound for] our shows.
He's in a band too, right?
Antti: Not as heavy a style as us but he somehow understands the things that we want.
Vilho: And he has listened to his metal; he's grown up as a metal head.
[to Vilho] You and Jaakko have gradually gotten more involved with the technical side of things over time, is that right?
Antti: Moreso Jaakko.
Vilho: Jaakko handles the big picture, and I'm kind of a worker in the band. I just do all the stupid stuff: answering emails and updating the website.
Antti: All the stuff that other people don't want to do.
Vilho: And I'm handling the sending of cd's, paying the bills, billing Firebox for sales. And Jaakko just makes plans.
Antti [with a little laugh in his voice]: He has visions.
Vilho: He has visions about our future, and he gets ideas that we should do this and that.
Antti: Then we bring him back to earth.
Vilho: And I say, "Do you have any idea where we'll get the money to do that?" [laughter] Then we talk about it. At first when Jaakko told me that we should make a full-length album on our own, I was like, "you must be crazy." And he said, "Let's just do it and see if we can find the way, take a loan, and see what happens. And then that worked out ok. So we decided to do that another time and take twice as big a loan. Nowadays it's more and more me handling that side of things.
Antti: 'Cause no one else really knows how to do it.
Vilho: And you know, I really like it. It's always been my role.
Antti: And you've embraced it.
Vilho: And I enjoy it.
Antti [to Vilho]: You just have the urge to do it. None of us has ever even suggested that "I can do this and that."
Vilho: And I have not given up the dream to make a living with this [i.e. music]. I just want to always see progress, both musically and otherwise.
So even if there's not a lot of obvious progress in some areas [i.e. commercially], you probably feel you're doing something by making connections and -
Vilho: Yeah, and sending cd's. It's not necessarily visible. Right now we are planning to shoot a music video before the end of the year, and we haven't told that to anyone yet. But we will, as soon as we get some form of an official plan.
Antti: It's for "Dim the Light."
Vilho: We have a place reserved on an "Inferno" dvd, which is the biggest metal mag in Finland. They're going to release the dvd next February. Also the plan is that I will send the ["Kill the Light"] cd to the international press. When I do these kinds of things, people don't necessarily see any progress but I know that something's happening. And people in the business are sure talking about us, and that's important to me.
How did you guys hook up with Mika Jussila for mastering on "Sinking" and "Happiness Is Fiction"?
Vilho: Well, everybody knows that Finnvox is like "THE" studio in Finland.
And Mika Jussila himself is renowned, of course.
Vilho: Yeah. We wanted our music to sound as good as possible, so we thought that we should get the best people to do it. It was Jaakko's idea, of course.
One of his "visions"?
[chuckle from Antti]
Vilho: One of his visions, yes. And then we just called him. He did a great job, and we'll probably use him the next time also. We tried out this Svante Forsbäck [for "Kill the Light"], who is a very professional guy.
I noticed that Apocalyptica and Stratovarius were on the Recent Projects list at that studio [Chartmakers].
Vilho: He's a very talented guy, but I think Mika Jussila has more knowledge and expertise in metal.
But you're pretty happy with the work on "Kill the Light"?
Antti: Yes, of course.
Vilho: Yes, absolutely, no complaints. But maybe it is wiser to go to Finnvox.
Was it unususal for Mika Jussila to master a demo, as he did with "Sinking"?
Vilho: I think it was, back then. I wasn't present at the mastering; Jaakko was. And Jaakko told me that he [Mika Jussila] had talked about how sad it is that demo bands just don't have the courage to take their products there, because that's the way they can get the best out of their sound, and can really impress the record labels and all the people in the business.
Antti: Actually, I didn't know that we were going to be using him. I just found out and was kind of surprised that he really did master the demo.
Vilho: [There is] quite a big difference between the rough mix and the actual, final product, so he did a good job. And he's a very nice guy also, very sympathetic.
Many people are aware that there's a high rate of musical talent per capita in Finland. It's at the point that in reviews of metal albums coming out of Finland, people will say things like "Is it something in the water?" When I read the "Kill the Light" press release, the phrase "Finnish metallers" and the word "dark" were enough to make me want to check you out.
Vilho: It's in all the reviews, that when you see the word Finland it represents quality.
Antti: Although, like, ten years ago mags like "Metal Hammer" were making fun of Finnish bands like Sentenced.
Does having all this great talent in Finland create a sense of competition, rivalry?
Antti & Vilho: No.
Vilho: But if a band . . . sucks -
Antti: Everybody knows it.
Vilho: Surely. And everybody laughs at them.
Antti: But it's their own fault.
Vilho: But in the metal community . . . it's really a community, not a competition at all. And even at the demo stage, where bands are striving for success, bands seem to -
Antti: To really bond with and compliment each other.
Vilho: Many times if I see a new demo band live that I don't really like, if they are decent, I usually go and say something to -
Antti: Encourage them.
Vilho: Yeah, just to tell them, "good show."
Antti: Even if you don't mean it.
Vilho: Even if I don't mean it, yes, definitely [He says this firmly, while Antti makes dissenting noises.]. It's like, if the show sucks but the music is good and the musicians are good, and it's got potential, then -
Antti: A "potential" metal band is always better than a horrible pop band in Finland.
Vilho: And if they have potential, then all they need is encouraging.
Antti: We weren't any better when we were starting out, so -
Vilho: Definitely. Back in 2002, if someone came to us and said, "Hey, great show! Keep on doing what you're doing," that felt great. And still does, of course.
What about a live dvd? Do you have any plans for one?
Vilho: We have talked about it. I think we will. Sometime in the future we will do some kind of live recording, with 3 or 4 cameras, and with decent sound. It's difficult to find decent equipment and the right people to do it.
Antti: We have lots of footage from gigs, but the sound is so horrible.
Vilho: It's just one video camera. That's just for ourselves, so we can see -
Antti: What we can improve on.
To see a band live in any manner at all has such an effect on people, to get them further into a band.
Antti: Of course.
It's often an instantaneous increased interest. Even a simple, imperfect single-camera recording with decent sound is something lots of people would welcome immensely. But I understand why bands have higher standards and want videos to be more perfect than that.
Vilho: I really want to do it properly.
Antti: It's no use to do it if it's half-assed.
Vilho: And I think it won't be possible until we have some sort of a record label relationship. Releasing a dvd through our own label would be very expensive and very difficult.
Have you thought about having some individual live songs as downloadable vidoes?
Vilho: Yes, we've talked about that, and that's definitely going to happen. I think that will be some of our home video footage. We're definitely going to do that. When we get the recording that's good enough. We talked about that at our release gig last April. We had some nice footage of it. We shot it with two cameras, and the sound from the other camera was decent. But I don't know what happened.
Antti: It just went . . . away from us.
Vilho: Maybe we'll do it still. The only guy of us 5 who can deal with these kind of things is our bassist [Roope Lehtinen], and he's an extremely busy man, because he's a construction worker, and he's all day at work.
Antti: He was just doing these things in his spare time, and for pleasure mostly.
Vilho: He knows computers, and he can edit videos. Not perfectly, but he can do something. But his computer is always fucked up and filled with viruses and stuff. But we will. I am sure that at the end of the year we will have a downloadable live clip on the website. That's the least we can do. Because Jaakko has talked about it, how he
really wants people who come to our website to see that live impression is there, that it's not just live pictures. Because it's one of our strengths, the live performance, and we need to promote that. At least a downloadable clip. Maybe a whole song, maybe a couple of songs, something like that. I really want to do that.
That would be great.
Vilho: But also, the music video becomes downloadable, of course, once we get it done.
Antti: Because naturally "Inferno" doesn't go out to every country.
Are you still working on the concept for for the video?
Vilho: Yeah. I believe it will have something to do with the cover art [of "Kill the Light"] and the light bulb idea maybe, something like that.
To give people who don't know you more of an idea of what your music is like and how you want to be perceived, is there anything you'd like to say?
Antti: [with a little laugh] Well, we never say anything smart in this part. I don't know . . . metal up your ass, or whatever.
Vilho [who pauses for a moment, nodding to himself as if to say, "that sounds familiar"]: He's a master of these one-liners.
Antti: Yeah, so I'll keep my mouth shut now. [laughter; then to Vilho:] You can say something rational for a change.
Vilho: Well, first of all, I really hope that people [abroad] who have noticed our first cd don't forget the name My Fate, because we are really going to appear in the record stores again, and hopefully also in the live venues in the future.
Antti: And if you really want to hear what we sound like, get "Kill the Light." That's important.
That's the band you are today, but you are still proud of what you accomplished before.
Antti: Yeah, of course.
Vilho: And you know, everyone started some way. We've got "Bloodstains," and it's very, very -
Vilho: Well, not amusing, but it's rough. But it has all the elements.
Antti: I like "Violent State" [the opening track on "Bloodstains"].
Vilho: Yeah, we still play it sometimes; it's a nice song.
Antti: It's fun to play.
Vilho: We are the kind of band that . . . we are not running out of perseverance or patience. We have done this five years now.
Antti: And there's no reason to stop now.
Vilho: Absolutely no reason. I see us doing this five years from now, ten years from now, just as long as it's physically possible.
Antti: Because at the end of it, it's just fun for us.
Vilho: Yeah, this is not like -
Antti: We're desperate to make money or whatever.
Vilho: Yeah, [like] if this doesn't turn out to be successful -
Antti: Then we'll start playing pop or something.
Vilho: Yeah, nothing like that. We'll just grow where we like to grow and do what we like to do. And just try to grab people's attention, and if they like us . . . well, then, the better.
In your bio there's something about how your philosophy's always been to keep moving forward no matter what.
Vilho: That's the core of it, really.
Antti: You don't crawl into a corner and cry if everything doesn't work out like you planned.
Vilho: And we've had lots of misfortune, but we always just carried on. And lots of empty promises.
Which is something a lot of bands can relate to.
Antti: You could say we are dauntless.
Vilho: [We] always try to avoid repeating ourselves and to try to challenge ourselves, and to keep up the pace of the progress.
[Sounds like a good note on which to end the interview, as the 3 of us silently suggest and Antti confirms:] That's it.
Thank you very much.
Antti & Vilho: Thank you a lot too. We really appreciate this.
Since this interview was conducted, production on My Fate's video has begun. Featuring the band in performance mode, it will provide a taste of what their amazing live shows are like. If you're a fan of aggressive, dark melodic metal, check out My Fate. Don't be deterred if their albums aren't available at an outlet near you: ordering them is very easy, even if you live outside Finland.
Links of interest: