We are back from our Christmas-New Years holiday and we decided to start with an interview! Last Sunday I had a lovely Skype chat with the whole line-up of the Finnish band Escalane. The band is made out of 3 dudes and a dudette who just got their new album ‘The Days of Decay’ internationally released on January 22. It was fun getting to know them and you should check them out if you like pop and metal, as they define their genre by those terms. We discussed their first record and how it was brought to life, influences, hobbies and more. I’m looking forward to see them live! Link to their video below as well..enjoy!
Alexandra: First things first, could you please introduce yourselves and your role in the band?
Hanna: Singer and piano on the album
Juha: Songwriter and guitarist
Joonatan: Bassist and studio genius
Iiro: Drums and bad jokes
A: Haha it seems there’s a tradition with drummers being the group jokers!
Iiro: I do my best
A: Well someone needs to cheer everyone up, right? Your first album, ‘The days of decay’ is going to be released really soon internationally. I was wondering if you could tell me a bit about how this album came to be, when did you start working on it, how was the overall process?
Juha: I have been writing songs several years before this band and this is like a compilation and the final outcome of that process. We started recording the songs in the summer of 2014.
Joonatan: We decided to record, mix and produce the album by ourselves. It was both a painful and rewarding experience. I was responsible for recording and mixing, and the producing was done by all of us. Recordings were done in July 2014-August 2015. I mixed the album in September-October 2015.
Hanna: And here’s a fun fact for you: first we started playing together in a System of a Down tribute band (late 2013) where the band came together
A: Ooh so when did you decide you’d like to make the transition from tribute stuff to your original work?
Hanna: Juha had been writing the songs but he didn’t have the band together until the SOAD tribute band. Then he realised that these guys could be perfect for his music.
A: And speaking of you guys coming together and recording and mixing and producing everything yourselves: What was the most important thing you got out of it all?
Iiro: We got to do things in our way and in our own schedule. It was especially good when recording the vocals, so Hanna could record her own stuff without rush and give her best performance on the record. The vocals were also the only thing that were partially written during the recording process, so it was good to have a lot of time to experiment. Everything else was pretty much completely written when entering the studio.
A: Would you like to follow the same process for the next album? Of course with the knowledge you have received from doing this one!
Joonatan: Right now we feel that yes, this way of working works well for us. We learned a lot from the process and are hopefully capable of doing things in a more efficient way the next time. Of course we’re open for other options as well, so we’ll see when the time comes.
A: That sounds like a good plan! I wanted to ask about the artwork of the record, what was the idea behind it?
Juha: The artist Simo Heikkinen had some good artwork that he had done, and we asked him to create something similar for our cover art. We sent him the tracks and he did the artwork based on his feelings about the music. He did an awesome job!
A: I agree it looks very interesting and definitely something that when you see it you might think ‘I wonder what these guys are playing maybe I should check them out!’
Iiro: Cool! That’s what a good artwork should do in my opinion. It also needs to look good both in vinyl and in iTunes.
A: Absolutely and it’s definitely an important marketing technique especially nowadays when people care so much about how things look as well. You guys are going to release your album in a scene that is at the moment crowded with bands trying to make it out there. What is your opinion on the current state of the Finnish metal scene?
Iiro: The metal scene isn’t so mainstream as it was ten years ago. You can see this when looking at the line-ups of Finnish festivals: some years ago the headliners were all metal bands, now it’s mostly EDM or pop. This is both a good and a bad thing for us as a band. There’s a lot of bands trying to get shows and at the same time there are fewer gig offers for rock and metal bands. We just try to do our thing well and hope that it stands out in one way or another from all the other bands. At least our stuff is so fucking catchy that it might resonate with some non-metalheads as well!
A: Speaking of that I noticed on your FB page that you guys label your genre as Popmetal. What made you pick this particular label to characterise your music, instead of pop-rock for example?
Hanna: I demanded this! It used to say “alternative metal” but we decided that it really doesn’t describe our music at all. We just didn’t like the overall tone of the term. We also have lots of really heavy elements in our music, that’s why we use pop metal instead of pop rock.
Iiro: Pop metal is also provocative in some way and might irritate some die hard scene jerks and provoking people is always fun. Plus we really like pop music. And metal.
A: I agree with you what you’re playing is not really alternative this term fits you way better! And provoking people will make them remember you more than if you played a genre that millions of other bands have played before.
A: Since we were discussing the Finnish scene and all that I gotta ask, being a new band, did you find that you might be getting a different treatment than the more ‘seasoned’ musicians around?
Iiro: Established bands are able to book more and better gigs than a newcomer like us. This is the way it goes, you have to build your own reputation from scratch.
Joonatan: Except on our tour in China we were treated like superstars, haha. This is probably because of the hospitality of the Chinese people and the fact that they don’t have so many western bands touring there.
A: Oh cool you guys went to China! Tell me about that!
Hanna: We did a two week tour there in November-December 2014! Basically we did a lot of gigs, lots of travelling by train, lots of waiting, lots of spicy food, good people… We shot a short tour documentary on the trip if you wish to see/know more! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6gJOeHxQ1c
A: Awesome I’ll check it out! Was that an experience you’d like to repeat?
Hanna: Definitely not the getting sick part (you see more from the video), but everything else was just great!
Joonatan: And the weather could be better as it was pretty cold and windy. People who came to watch our shows were awesome and energetic but of course there could’ve been more of them.
A: You are Finnish you should be used to cold and windy!
Hanna: Yes we are but we weren’t prepared as well as we should’ve! You should never trust weather apps!
A: I learnt that when I was living in the Netherlands and the weather apps were like: oh its gonna be sunny and two seconds after it started to rain.
Hanna: Yeah exactly! I lived there 3 months last autumn.
A: Then you know what I’m talking about! I wanted to ask you guys what hobbies do you have apart from making music? What inspires you?
Juha: I don’t really have any other hobbies! Inspiration can come from anything really, from everyday life and just fooling around with instruments.
Joonatan: I try to keep myself updated about all new music technology stuff. I also love to play ice hockey and do some hardcore exercises in gym.
Hanna: I have a Finnish lapphund. He’s cute and funny! I also like watching tv-shows, playing board games such as Game of Thrones the board game and solving different kinds of puzzles. Newest favourite is definitely Japanese crosswords, how rock n’ roll!
Iiro: I watch a lot of ice hockey, I even work as an official in local hockey games. I also go to the gym every now and then, try a lot of different craft beers, and play some video games (especially JRPG, Final Fantasy VII is my favourite).
Joonatan: Boating is a lot of fun in the summer as well!
A: Alright guys I got one more question for you: If you could collaborate with a certain musician who would each of you collaborate with?
Iiro: Devin Townsend! He’s the king.
Juha: Definitely Bruce Dickinson, he’s probably my all time favorite singer
Hanna: Hmm… This is difficult one… Maybe Von Hertzen Brothers, Mikael Åkerfeldt or Serj Tankian and Daron Malakian or Samuli Putro…
Joonatan: This is not a musician, but I would really like to work with mixing engineer-producer Jacob Hansen. He has a killer tone in his works in my opinion. If I have to say a musician, I think it would be the Finnish artist Anssi Kela, he is a great overall musician, especially his slap bass skills are awesome.
As a band: any one of those ones would do! Other names that popped up: Ville Valo, Tuomas Holopainen, Floor Jansen, Hayley Williams, Elize Ryd etc…
A: Nice picks! Thank you so much for your time, do you have any last words for our readers?
Escalane: Thank you! Peace, love and Koskenkorva Valhalla!