Chrism (Simulacrum) – Dreaming big in science fiction

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Simulacrum is a very unique sounding band from Finland. I say unique because listening to them one can’t help but find an orderly chaos. An easy label would be progressive metal, but there’s definitely more than meets the eye! I managed to catch Chrism (keyboards and a bunch of other roles as you’ll read below)  for a Skype chat and this is what I found out:

 

I have seen that you have more than one role in the band. Could you tell us a bit about what other things you do except playing keyboards?

I also have a company called ‘Dark Noise Productions’ and I do all the production work,  recording demos and also I have been doing a lot of music videos lately for different bands.

 

The term Simulacrum is a representation or an imitation of a person or thing. When choosing it as a band name, did you get inspired by the science fiction use of the term?

Yeah, I was reading the ‘Conan the Barbarian’ novel. I was about 14 or 15 when I came upon the name and there was this word mention; there was this kind of replica of a key and the evil wizard made this simulacrum of his enemy and replaced him and nobody knew it was a simulacrum and the real king was in the dungeon. And then I got interested in the word and started googling it and finding out what it means, and at some point it ended up as the band name. It’s a little odd, I don’t know if it’s any good as a band name.

 

Well it’s an interesting name for a band, I mean I’ve never seen anyone with a similar name.

Yes, but it’s difficult to remember like if I meet someone and tell them the band name they probably wont remember.

 

Well you know uniqueness comes with a price

True!

 

Since you got inspired by science fiction with the name I was wondering to what extent do you use science fiction as an inspiration for the band?

Well for this album it was an inspiration. Me and the singer Niklas used to look up lots of science fiction movies and also play science fiction games so we wanted to do something that pays homage to our childhood influences.

 

And I understood you have a couple of other bands. Do you use science fiction as inspiration with the other projects?

Well I don’t know, maybe the next Simulacrum album will be science fiction, like we were thinking it could be something in the 1800’s in London, reaper style set or something like that. Now we have these ideas and I was thinking that maybe each album has its own entity. As far as the other bands, in Epicrenel I just play keyboards so I don’t have a say for the themes in the albums and Adamantra tackles just some fantasy, medieval but also some every-day life themes.

 

Speaking of Sky Divided, your new album, how was it received so far?

It’s been received very well. We’ve been getting steadily good reviews. And better reviews than some of the big bands that have been putting out albums around this time. Maybe not quite as good as I have expected; always when you put out an album you think it’s the best album in the world, but I’m really happy anyway. It’s all been between 8 and 9 but really encouraging texts. For me it is the best album I’ve ever done.

 

I saw you have planned a small tour around Finland but nothing outside the country. Are there any European dates coming soon?

Well we’ve been offered some slots but it’s so expensive for us right now. Because it’s difficult to get funding for such a small band, it all costs between 15.000 and 30.000 euros for one tour. There are all kinds of government funding you can apply for, but we don’t really know until after the tour if we’re going to be given money so it’s a big financial risk for us to go, and being under a small label we don’t know if we’ll get any funding from them.

 

That’s usually at the beginning with any band though, isn’t it?

Yeah so at some point we’ll take the risk and go on a tour but right now it’s not really an option

 

Where did you get the offers from?

There’s been a couple of shows we have been offered: we were an option for Halloween, or Stratovarius, or Symphony X who are also having a tour. So it’s an extensive European tour, 3 or 4 weeks long.

 

Oh I see, but that’s pretty cool, I mean apart from the funding thing, these bands have quite a big audience, so you’d get quite some people seeing you live.

Yes, they are big bands in our genre but it’s hard because then if we go on an 1 month tour our drummer, who has family and kids, would have to take one month off work and besides investing in the band, he would also lose all his money so it is really very critical to find the right time to do something like this.

 

That’s true but with anything like this it’s a good idea to balance the good and bad and see what comes out of it.

Yes, see, some of us in the band would have no problem to take off for one month like I could do it, but for the people who have steady jobs and families at home, it’s always difficult if they don’t even know if they’ll get paid for it.

 

That’s true! Going back to ‘Sky Divided’, the record has a couple of tracks which are quite long. Plenty of musicians choose to release EP’s instead of full length albums, have you considered doing the same? Like maybe releasing one of the long songs on an EP?

I have all kind of crazy ideas like one half an hour song and then shooting a movie for it and i don’t know how realistic this is but something like that could be something separate like a music video for Youtube.

 

It would definitely be a unique selling point for you guys!

Yes, it would be really cool, but we would need a proper budget for that, so it would be professional instead of just audio. I still study media production so I know a lot of film makers and it would be a possibility to make it. I would need maybe 10.000 euros for something like this.

 

But speaking of your long tracks, are you planning on performing some of them live?

We have already.

 

Really? How were they received?

People have actually liked them very much. We have been playing the album from the beginning to the end and that’s been our set-list.

 

That’s quite a lot! Isn’t it difficult to play the long ones live?

It has definitely taken a lot of practice hours to manage to play the whole album. There’s lots of stuff you have to remember but you can read some of the concert reviews online I think they have gone pretty well. We still have two shows in December in Jyvaskyla and Tampere.

 

Yes I might come to see you guys live, I live in Jyvaskyla.

Yeah, it’s in a bar called Katse. I’ve never played there before.

 

It’s a really nice bar to have a show in, it’s a cosy place you’ll be very close to the audience.

Okay, we’ll talk more then..

 

Of course! Which song was the hardest one to finalise? From the point of view of composition and overall creation.

The last song ‘A New Beginning’ has the longest time span, maybe 5 years that I composed at it. I added some pieces and maybe the first things I composed were 5 years ago, and then a few years I didn’t do anything with it, and then finished it for the album. It was very difficult to make it and it has a very interesting construction.

 

Yeah I’ve noticed that you like composing things that take years to finalise like your first record.  Looking back on it now, are there any things you would change from there?

Maybe like technical things, like I would maybe mix it a bit better. Niklas sings a bit better, so it’s also an age thing. When we recorded the first album he was like 24..now he’s 27 so there’s a bit more manliness in the voice and those kinds of things; but the songs were the type that at that point in life I was composing and was really happy with, so I wouldn’t change anything.

 

How do you challenge yourself?

I think everything I do is kind of a challenge. It was challenging to make this kind of music and then I mix everything and do everything myself and it really takes a lot of hours to do all the technical stuff before the artistic work. Like this is enough of a challenge for me. But then of course I challenge myself in other things in life like at the gym.

 

Do you find it helps with other things in life?

Yeah I’ve noticed that sport is very good for the morale. When I do sport I tend to be happier.

 

Speaking of your company ‘Dark Noise Productions’ that you mentioned earlier, where you do sound producing,  since you are involved in the music industry more than a simple musician, I was wondering how do you view the current situation of the Finnish scene?

Well I am sad that people aren’t so interested in live music anymore. 10 years ago people went way more to see gigs, like now in Turku this Klubi went bankrupt, it was the biggest live venue for 45000 people in the middle of the center. They do have somebody who can save it so that’s good but people don’t go to gigs that much anymore. Also, people tend to not challenge themselves music wise. That is something I can’t understand.

 

So you think they sort of stick to the safe zone?

Yeah and maybe they don’t know about any of this, because the radio mostly plays simple stuff. But it would be nice to hear on mainstream radio also something a little more risqué and dangerous, more artsy.

 

Therefore, with so many bands active how are you guys trying to make yourselves noticed?

The only thing we can do is make good albums, get good reviews, produce good music videos, and a lot of self marketing and social media stuff.

 

That’s true social media is very important nowadays!

Yes but we need to have a small budget for marketing. Nowadays with so many bands its kinda easy for everyone because of the internet but because of so many bands if they don’t have someone taking care of marketing they get lost in the internet. It’s best if the whole band is committed.

 

Is that the situation with you, is the whole band involved in social media?

Ah, no. I do everything. They do help if I ask. I also study marketing within media production, so I do some of the social media marketing, not as much as I should. And now it’s easy with all the reviews coming out because I can post them.

 

By the way, do you also have the problem with Facebook and their new policies with less reach in pages?

Well I guess so, we have over 5000 likes on our page and then when we post something without payment we only get a couple of likes but I’m sure that if everyone could see them we’d get a ton of likes. That’s what I mean that if you have a monthly marketing budget you can invest some money in it also.

 

What is your dream festival to play at?

I would say Tuska but I already played there.

 

Think bigger, for the whole world!

Then I would say Wacken, in Germany.

 

Thank you so much for your time! Do you have any last words for our readers?

Please try to be active in your local music scene and go see bands live and discover young talents. When you go to these gigs, buy their merch and albums. It’s not a lot of money nowadays, so it’s a bit of money for you but a lot for the band.

 

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