With the release of their new album “Woe Portrait” coming up, I caught up with Finnish Post-Metal act Atlases, to discuss the album and what the band has been up to.
Thank you so much for your time, let’s begin with the new album, is it a continuation of themes/topics from your other releases or something new?
Thank you for taking the time as well. On ”Woe Portrait” we didn’t set any particular tone or theme for the album, but rather just made music and watched where it would take us. When the writing of the music was somewhat done, Ville-Veikko (guitar) came up with the album title that suited the songs well. That may have steered the direction a little bit, subconsciously, but mostly it kind of created itself.
What can you tell us about the album’s artwork, who was involved, and what does it reflect?
I did the cover art on the album, as I did on our previous album ’HAAR’ as well. The guys also threw in some ideas and opinions. I think it reflects the music pretty well, and the album sounds as it looks like: Dark and heavy, but there’s still some light left. Eventually, it may fade, though. Or not? Initially, there wasn’t so much thought on how it should turn out, and I approached it in the same way we approached the music: just creating something and watching it unfold and come naturally.
When recording, had you worked with the studio or producer before?
I recorded, edited, and mixed the album at our band’s headquarters. Like I did the previous one! We produced the album ourselves, and we have done so since the beginning. Having collectively a pretty clear and evolving vision in mind it’s been pretty easy to do so. That doesn’t mean that we would not work with a producer outside of the band in the future if an opportunity would present itself! Never say never.
People have described your band’s music a ranging from melodic death metal to post-metal and blackgaze, is this how you would describe Atlases’ sound to new people?
Well, we have been calling Atlases modern post-metal and leaving it at that. Even though it’s a cliche, it does feel a bit restricting to label our music too specifically. I do understand that it’s easier to explain to people how it does sound by stating genres though. So in that sense, that melodic death-post-blackgaze description has been said by someone who has listened to our music, so there must be some truth in that!
Are all your songs written by one member of the band or do you all collectively contribute?
In the beginning, Ville-Veikko wrote all the songs. On HAAR we all started presenting ideas and played together, writing new stuff and arranging the songs as a unit. It varies a bit. Sometimes Ville-Veikko records a demo song that is practically ready. Sometimes I do that. Sometimes we all play together, and sometimes one of us has a little piece of a riff or such, and we go from there. It’s liberating to write music in all of these ways, and it always ends up sounding like Atlases, no matter how we do it.
You say that Finnish people have a ‘tendency to be melancholy’, can you elaborate on that for our readers?
Yeah, I guess it’s true. Typically, maybe it’s the long, cold, and dark seasons, and short summer. I don’t really know. But in addition to melancholy, in Finland, we also have this thing called ”vitutus” that can be added to the range of emotions we have, haha! It means ”pissed” but in its most ultimate form, and it’s considered swearing so there’s that. But all in all, we in Atlases are all pretty happy campers, laughing and joking and messing around all the time, so it’s not so serious all the time. Music is a great way to dive deeper and examine those not-so enjoyable feelings, and joyful feelings as well.
Would you say Finland and its culture is a huge influence on your music?
No, I would not. Maybe it plays a little part somewhere in the background, but it isn’t huge. I’d like to think our music is more universal, in terms of musical delivery. I personally do not get so inspired artistically by Finland or our culture. That does not mean that I don’t appreciate some of it, though, but it never spoke to me in the same sense as other things.
Is there anything that sets Atlases music aside from the rest of the Finnish metal scene?
I consider our music pretty unique, and to me, it has always sounded like us, Atlases. Perhaps it’s a bit hard to look at our brand as an outsider since we’re so deeply invested in it. Of course, there are noticeable influences, but I think we have found our own road that we are moving forward on, and we are evolving every step of the way. And that feels good.
What are the biggest non-metal influences on you: music, art, film, literature, etc?
Film is my great passion, alongside music. I do video production as my day job. For ’Woe Portrait’ we did 4 videos. I shot, directed, and edited them. We did the last music video for the track ’Marta’, the finale of the album. I’m pretty proud of it and it turned out exactly as I hoped. Thanks to Eilen Silva for the magnificent performance! Art in all of its forms, of course, can be inspiring. But for example, sometimes just a random sentence, in a book, a film, or casual conversation, can create the spark to create something.
How has Covid-19 affected you this year, did you have to cancel a lot of things?
Yeah, we had to cancel gigs to some degree, and it’s possible we have to do so in the future as well since things seem so uncertain at this time. It really sucks since we are now releasing our album so it would’ve been nice to tour it as extensively as possible. We do have a few things in store to kind of makeup for that, more info on that will follow when things develop a bit more. Even though the situation is fucked up for us in Atlases (and all other musicians and people in general as well), my heart also goes out to all small business owners and entrepreneurs that are struggling.
Do you have a country or festival you’d love to play once touring recommences?
Yes. Every single one of them.
What inspired the band at the beginning, and why did you name it Atlases?
Ville-Veikko had songs originally written for his previous band, but since his departure from the group, he decided to start something new with those songs. Those songs became our first release ’Penumbra EP’ and things picked up from there. ’Atlases’ as a name was Ville-Veikko’s idea, and I actually don’t even know where it originated from. Probably somewhere where most of our lyrics come from Ville-Veikko’s cryptic and abstract imagination, haha. I guess that our name has somewhat thematically anchored us to oceans, open water. Not limiting us in any way, but more of a foundation where we are building on top of.
What made you want to become a musician, is there anything that set your mind on that path?
Mainly, in the beginning, metal music. I was around 13-14 years old when I got my first guitar from my father, and from the first day, I started writing my own music. Not very good music, but music nevertheless, haha! That was always much more interesting to me than practicing. From there, I started playing the drums, and then I got into music technology and studied for a degree in it. Nowadays I listen to a lot of pop and electronic music and write songs in that genre as well. Music in all of its forms is very welcome to me.
What do you normally do for inspiration, do you like to visit places or read/watch things?
I don’t do anything specific for inspiration, it just strikes when it strikes. And that’s luckily pretty often.
When you’re not making music, what do you like to do for fun, do you have any pastimes?
Eating pizza and burgers, hanging out with friends, drinking, smoking, and watching movies. Sounds pretty damn bad actually when said out loud…haha!
Finally, do you have anything you’d like to say to our readers?
Thank you, Demitri for the interview, and for the readers, thank you for having an interest in Atlases. I hope you like ’Woe Portrait’ and I hope we get to meet as much of you as possible in the future when touring is a possibility once again! Having hope goes a long way.
Thanks so much for dropping by, I wish you all the best for the future.