● Pekka Paavola (later PP): Drums
● Juho Hautaniemi (later JH): guitar and songwriting
● Lauri Annala (later LA): Vocals
Interview by Jessica Plumb
Let’s start from the beginning…how did you guys all first meet?
○ PP: I met Juho the first time when we were searching a guitarist to my other band Deathkin back in 2012. Also, our bass player Jarkko (Sillanpää) joined that band after a couple of years. We founded Väki after it became clear that we have a vision differing from the one of Deathkin. Lauri walked to an audition a little after when we started to search for a vocalist and Jere (Seppänen) is the latest addition to the group and was first met the same way.
○ JH: Jarkko and I actually go way back to middle school and have been playing together more or less ever since.
What is the meaning behind the band name?
○ JH: The name comes from Finnish pre-Christian folklore in which it means ambivalent, impersonal spirit or mana that everything, natural or other-worldly, possesses. People believed these spirits could be conjured either for their advantage or to bring harm upon others by performing various rites and spells. Since Kalman Väki, Spirit of the Dead, was considered a potent element in these rites they would often take place on sacred ground and involve grave robbery or vandalising religious items and property of the church. As Christianity became predominant, any doing seen as an attempt to summon these unholy spirits was considered a punishable act of blasphemous witchcraft or sorcery.
Have you been in bands previously?
○ PP: I’ve played in different bands since I was a teenager and what has it now been about 20 years. Many kinds of musical genres fit on that timeline black metal being the main thing only about half of that time. I have four active bands/projects at the moment, alongside Deathkin there is one deathgrind project and also an act where we reach to more chaotic levels of madness.
○ JH: Yes, Deathkin which I was a part of from 2012 to 2018 and Trollheims Grott whom I joined in 2018.
When did you first start getting into music and know you wanted to join a band?
○ PP: I started listening to rock music when I was five or six and found metal a couple of years later. I tried playing the drums the first time when I was eight and bought my first drums and joined my first band when I was 15. I was actually drawn to the band before I had even thought of such things and after that, I don’t remember any period of time with no band.
○ JH: I started playing the guitar at the age of 12 after my cousin had recently started learning and showed me a couple of riffs on my dad’s old acoustic. Weirdly enough, I hadn’t actually listened to much music of my own before that but mostly what my older brother used to listen to. Since I started playing I think it took maybe 3-4 years before we had a group that would resemble a band. We even recorded two songs in the analogue studio of our drummer’s father but unfortunately, those tapes are lost forever. I think I’ve been in a band of some sort ever since.
1) Vaisto – The Instinct
2) Kuihtuvan maan puoliso – The Consort of the Barren Earth
3) Ennustus – The Divination
4) Ikiuni – Eternal Sleep
5) Painajaisten syleilyssä – Embraced by Nightmares
6) Ikuisen kuoleman alttarille – To the Altar of Everlasting Death
After releasing your debut EP, ‘Kirous’, back in 2017 you’re releasing your first album ‘Kuolleen Maan Omaksi’ (Succumbed to the Dead Soil ). What is the concept behind the album?
○ PP: The main themes are quite the same as on Kirous, embracing and manifesting the most darkest aspects of life and the concept on this album is linking those themes to a more personal level of this character you can also see on the cover – on a journey to an inevitable ending, where the dead soil claims it’s own and the rot spreads from the inner core.
○ LA: Themes of the album are death, suffering and loss. Lyrics are written from a personal perspective of the character and the main approach is to draw from experiences that are otherworldly or painful and somehow challenge the worldview of the character. When we experience pain or when we are drawn towards mental states of madness or agony, we are brought to be awakened from our sleep. Maybe our perspective widens as we are challenged by the dark aspects of life. When we see that to live is also to die.
What was the procedure of producing the new album? Did you have a set way of doing things?
○ PP: Before this album, we used to work mostly together in rehearsals but on this album, we changed that. This time most arrangements were done separately on quite ready song drafts and we started playing together after everybody had already done most of their arrangements. I think this worked well and was quite an efficient way of working.
○ JH: Generally speaking the whole process from writing to recording was kept fairly flexible. Having written most of the songs so far, I don’t tend to aim for anything specific when I grab the guitar to write a new song because I believe what comes with intuition works best. It might not fit the project in hand at the time but then I’ll just put it in my archive for later use. The song ‘Kuihtuvan maan puoliso’ was actually originally written back in 2012 but it was brought back and re-worked to complete the album. I think not setting too much in stone allows us to achieve the best outcome possible.
How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it?
○ PP: I would describe it as black metal that has rich and carefully arranged entity consisting of lingering, deep atmospheres of agony and sorrow combined with exploding fury.
○ JH: Diverse black metal with bleak and melancholic atmosphere, deliberate bursts of fury and a hint of more experimental sound.
Who does your artwork? And is there anyone you’d like to collaborate with, be it an artist/photographer or producer? Etc
○ PP: We planned the visual side quite thoroughly and looked around for options and finally ended up with Adam Burke of Nightjar illustrations. This was because of his astonishing work on oil canvas. We are very happy with the results of Adam’s work and also on the album layout which was done mostly by Juho. The promo pics used on the album and press were shot by our good friend Anne-Mari Musturi.
There were plenty of artists that we had as options for the cover art so let’s see what happens in the future.
Do you have a favourite track from the new album? If so, why?
○ PP: I enjoy all the tracks still but maybe “Ikiuni” has the strongest effect on me with that enormous depth of agonal feelings.
Where do you draw your influences from when it comes to producing new music and writing lyrics?
○ PP: My inspiration to music and all the other things around it comes from a need to get in some kind of balance in this twisted, insane and on the other hand so beautiful entirety of being a part of the universe.
○ JH: I suppose everything I sense and experience leaves a mark in my subconsciousness. Sometimes I find myself subconsciously playing something similar to what I had recently listened to. Then again I often go long periods of time when I don’t listen to music much at all but write more of my own. I don’t try to seek for a certain influence and rather go with intuition.
○ LA: The sources of influence may vary, but for me in order for the writing process to be able to begin there needs to be an inspiration. This can be drawn from other art, but mostly the inspiration comes from my own experiences, spiritual, mental or physical. Inspirations that arise from those experiences act as the spine of the lyrics and the music. Meditation of death for me is one important source of inspiration. Contemplation of the darkness, loss and grief can give you an understanding of the beauty in those aspects of life but it can have a much deeper meaning. It may broaden your overall perspective of life and make you understand better what it means to live as a human being.
What is the music scene like where you are based in Finland and how has COVID-19 affect you personally as well as musically?
○ PP: We’re located in one of the major cities in Finland so obviously there is a somewhat diverse music scene here. Few notorious black metal or assimilated bands operating here are for example Horna, Behexen, Baptism and Oranssi Pazuzu. For me personally the pandemic hasn’t affected so much since I was working from home already before and I don’t have a need to run around in crowds. We are also able to continue writing music remotely.
○ JH: I don’t feel like the pandemic has had too big of an impact on me personally as I don’t really have the need to socialize much. One unfortunate thing the pandemic has done for us as a band is that without these special conditions we would have tried to plan a couple of shows around the time of the release.
Do you think image is important when being in a band?
○ PP: If you’re referring to band image, I think so yes – you should have certain respect towards black metal to be worth being part of it but I’m not into playing any roles to show off or fit in.
Are you guys looking to tour when the lockdown is over and if so, what are you most looking forward to?
○ PP: We’re a small and unknown band so we are depending on the opportunities given. Most probably a few gigs here in Finland would be realistic for the fall. Of course, it would be great to visit other countries too and that’s naturally one of our goals in the future.
Is there anyone or anywhere you would like to play and haven’t yet?
○ PP: Obviously we would be honoured to play with for example the bands mentioned earlier or at any well-organized event where our music and presence fits, for example, Steelfest or Steelchaos here in Finland. I have to mention also Turku Saatanalle since it’s also a very well executed black metal festival.
What genres of music do you like to listen to personally? Any new bands that have caught your attention recently?
○ PP: For me, black metal has been the most important genre for over 20 years but I have a really broad taste in music. There is something worth listening in almost any genre. I haven’t been very active lately on searching new bands, but I guess I could mention Andavald since their Undir skyggðarhaldi album really took me on a journey.
○ JH: Anything that sounds good to me. Recently that has happened to be black metal but sometimes I do go on a death metal streak. One interesting release that came out recently is Rzeczom by Odraza.
What advice would you give someone wanting to start a band?
○ PP: Concentrate to follow your own vision and ignore others trying to say what to do – and try not to look too much how other bands operate. Practice getting on the level your vision demands. There are way too many mediocre and futile bands releasing music. Realize that getting your band to higher levels requires a lot of hard work.
What are the pro’s/cons of being in a band?
○ PP: Pro’s would be of course endless amounts of women, alcohol and drugs! Con’s I don’t know any… Haha, seriously, I don’t think I could keep my sanity without having this possibility to express and explore the inner streams of my mind.
Do you think it’s important for a band to be signed to a label to be recognised in today’s society?
○ PP: It seems to have an effect on how the music is being received; probably because it is so easy to publish any kind of music and if there is a label behind the band, that could be seen as some kind of proof of quality. I have experienced some rejective attitude on self-published music in the past.
What do you like to do outside of music? Any hobbies?
○ PP: I also like to explore cold and hostile darkness on a physical level so my other big enthusiasm is cave diving.
○ JH: I’ve recently started getting into guitar building as a hobby. Still building my first one.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
○ PP: We will continue writing new music, we already have a few new songs for Väki. If the situation concerning the pandemic relieves, we will probably play a few gigs.
Thank you for your time, is there anything you’d like to say to our readers?
● PP: Thanks for the interest, go check the new album!