- maybe this question will be like in all other interviews but... tell us something about your history, exactly about you.
I won't tell about my life in Tampere, Finland, because it's mostly boring, dull and depressing, but I got into electronic music and funk in the early 80s; I liked synthpop, Kraftwerk especially, and was a big fan of Prince. But I learned gradually to listen and like all kinds of music, also non-electronic. In 1996 I started the pHinnWeb music site to spread info on Finnish electronic music and labels. I was an alienated university student, and found I'm more useful in this area than with my studies. So I dropped out and decided this is something I want to do with my life.
I guess the Website was a root to all the other activities that followed afterwards, but it all started from being simply a music fan.
- how and why did u start a label?
I started it in May 2001 to release the material of our own act, Club Telex Noise Ensemble. My idea was to give a chance for all our local underground acts to release their music, who had been so far unable to find a recording contract. After CTNE I released an album from Virtalahde, which is very abrasive, violent noise; then Kohinatuotanto, a Mika Vainio-like project by my friend Mika Paju aka Noise Production. Mika is one reason I want to have this label, since the guy has made for a decade tons and tons music and is a real talent/tech whiz, but hasn't received a record contract so far. I want to make Mika a star! The next release should be a CTNE remix collection, and I hope you'll see some real surprise names there...
For budget reasons my releases are still home-burned CDRs with photocopied B/W sleeves (yes, very punk!), but my big dream is to have enough money one day to be able to release vinyls. I'm still looking for a distribution, so if anyone can give me a hand, please let me know!
u know i have that distro problem myself :) but from other site of that problem with burned cds is that today maybe it is not so important music to be on original cds or something than to be good enough. im listening a lots and lots music and all that is not on cds at all. it is more easier for me to put in winamp all i like
to hear at the moment from my hard disc and than manipulate, skip, and change. cds are more complicated for that occasion and u r obligated to listen only one album or comp. so it is better to put a lots of mp3s and listen different stuff. what do u think about this?
Yes, it's all great, but I'm very low-tech myself. I don't even have my own computer at home, so I have to do my e-mails, update my Website etc., with these public university computers, and you are not allowed to download/upload anything. So far I'm going to miss the MP3 culture, but I do think it does have so many advantages. I'll return to the current info overload question a bit later, though.
- whats the sound that your label treats, and why that sound?
Mostly it's experimental, but I might release more electro in the future if I get any suitable artists. The label reflects my own musical tastes, which are quite varied and eclectic. Basically I might release just anything: IDM, techno, postrock, avantgarde, but it has to have that certain "twist", just any other boring sound doesn't go. And my dream would be to find a Finnish female act just like Chicks on Speed, Miss Kittin or Peaches, and to release them! Any Finnish electrochicks out there?
- yeah releasing chicks is cool :)
More power to them, I'd say. There are already too many boring trainspotter/fanboys out there, it's good to have some new perspectives to this male-dominated musical culture. I've learned a lot of things from the Chicks, like how not to be a complete sexist pig in my ways of thinking and behaviour, but it's not always easy, with the current complexities and ambiguities of our culture and with prevailing masculine/female roles there are. But at least it's good to be aware of these problems to be able to change anything.
- finnish music scene has grown really rapidly in last more than 5 years... from panasonic that i can freely say mainstreamised experimental music till vladislav delay, plenty of very good musics and plenty projects appeared. maybe it is question about highly developed technology
Well, I think there are various reasons why those acts caught on. Not only technology, but also the local art and club scene, people got connected and so on. We've got only 5 million people here, so that's reflected on how your music gets distributed; you have to search for international contacts if you do anything just a bit different from mainstream. Mostly these acts find their own labels in Germany. It's a question of no-one being a prophet in their own country.
- thats main problem of small countries. underground is still underground and u cant make some simple dignified popularity with underground music there. so the only thing u can do is searching for international popularity and releasing/distributing outside. thats not so bad from other side cause for todays music it is not so important from where it comes. i can not tell from where vladislav delay is by listening his music. i ilke his music and thats enough. there is no particular sound from particular country. u can buy music on net, projects are made by people from diferent countries, labels are situated in diferent countries... it is all globalized
That's right. These days "globalization" is such a bad word, but people should always consider also the positive sides of international networking. If you're into any sort of marginal music/scene, you're not necessarily to find any like-minded people where your physical location is, but with the Net it's so much easier. The nationalities and national borders have lost their previous meanings, which I find quite interesting.
Because the people you can most identify with are not your immediate neighbours but the members of your own "tribe" that you may meet and interact with only virtually and who may actually be thousands of kilometres away from you.
On the other hand, I always want to emphasise the meaning of "glocalisation" too, i.e. "thinking globally, acting locally". What is that you can do to improve your own immediate surroundings, how can you make your own scene in your own homeplace better? That said, I don't think pHinnWeb would have grown this large, if I had been living in a more interesting town, with more all sorts of clubs and interesting events happening around me and taking my time.
You have to invent your own fun in a boring place like this. It's a pity, though, that we can't have clubs in virtual space yet, with people from all over the world attending. That's one technical breakthrough I'm looking forward to!
- how developed is club scene in finland? are there any good clubs and djs there?
Unfortunately most club culture is quite commercialised here, and I can't say much about clubs because I very rarely visit them. It seems people keep following closely the trends and fashions of Great Britain. Trance and all subgenres of house are very popular, but that style bores me, and I have nothing to do with those people. DJs? I don't know. Technically there's of course a lot of great home DJs you never hear about, but I can't name any Finnish "superstar" DJs. Marko Laine's early sets I liked but he got a bit too much into house for my own tastes. Jori Hulkkonen is very well known as a DJ and producer, but I think it's the same thing about house here... I guess I should check the club scene more often, but I get bored easily, and what I see and hear mostly around me, doesn't get me too excited.
My own contacts are mostly with electro and experimental people, but unfortunately it's quite hard to get anything organised for those styles club-wise. In Helsinki, there's been, for example, for electro Helsinki Turbo, Flash and Tuhtikerho; for experimental Dotcoma. Here in Tampere for postrock/psych/Kraut/jazz/folk etc. (I follow that scene a bit, though I can't understand their non-electronic bias sometimes) there's Mental Alaska; then I used to be a co-organiser of Club Telex (electro vs. experimental), but we had an argument about certain, ahem, visuals, so I quit. I wish the guys good luck anyway. There's the Avanto festival every November for experimental music in Helsinki; Koneisto electronic music festivals are more mainstream and commercial.
- yes Avanto i have heard one compilation released by that festival sachiko m, fennesz... sounds interesting
I think that what they're doing is really great, though I think it's quite hard to get into their inside circle if you're a musician and would like to play there. Avanto revolves mostly around Helsinki art circles, which means there are certain double-barriers of elitism. It's always the problem with capital cities, too. But people, Finland is more than Helsinki!
- u r playing as a dj in clubs. tell us something more about that
It's not a big deal, in fact, and I never get to play records as often as I would like. I guess my style tends to get too aggressive and depressing for many people, as far as the music I play and my own personality go (I'm a typical introvert, I'm not an ass-kisser and I don't know how to sweet-talk people; I'm nice just to those people I know very well, I've met too many bloodsuckers in my time). I spin mostly electro, which I prefer as dark, abrasive, distorted, dubby like Octagon Man, with some added synth trashpop elements. I champion all these female "electro punk" acts like Chicks on Speed, Peaches, Miss Kittin, Ping Pong Bitches, etc., so I try to feature them always in my sets. You can probably hear my Detroit and industrial roots there too.
Then I also do very rarely some experimental sets, consisting of minimal, glitch, ambient, dub, noise and whatever. I like it when it gets really fucked-up and weird, though there must be a certain twisted pop element in anything I do. I like to provoke people, there are too many mindless entertainers already, though I'm also glad when I get someone dance and enjoy it. I can't mix much so I call my style kommandomixing or electrotrash; fuck the beatmixing purists, it's the tracks that count! Anyway, please, give me more gigs, anyone!
- what are u listening most this period and what r u listening at all
At home I listen quite a lot of old, non-electronic music. Electro, techno etc. of course, but that has become like a job for me, and when you really want to chill out, you listen to something else.
This week I've been listening to Os Mutantes, which is late-60s psychedelic "tropicalia" pop from Brazil. They were wonderful: satirical lyrics, and had great productions too. Then Q65, a mid-60s R&B band from The Hague, with kind of existential
lyrics and a really personal style. Also The Monks, a US band from the same period; they were ex-US Army and therefore lived in Germany. They
had shaved heads like monks and performed in monks' robes. Their songs were too rough for US audiences: all about Vietnam, death and madness. Mark E. Smith made a tribute for them.
In general I like a lot mid-60s psychedelic garage rock, really twisted stuff, when the garage bands first found the psychedelic drugs and it had its influence on their music. It was nothing like Grateful Dead, it was more like early punk rock, with sometimes really gloomy and weird atmosphere. You can hear this stuff on compilations like 'Nuggets' and 'Pebbles'.
But in principle I listen to everything, depends on the day and my own mood: old soul and funk, psychedelia, film soundtracks (Lalo Schifrin, all this 70s "blaxploitation" stuff), jazz, 70s reggae dub, punk and new wave, early synthpop, indie, and of course all these 60s Britpop bands like The Who, Small Faces, Kinks, Zombies, Beatles, Stones, Yardbirds, Syd Barrett-era early Pink Floyd (Syd is my #1 hero), and so on, they're my mother's milk. I'm a big fan of Scott Walker: he made his famous solo albums in the late 60's, amazing lyrics and a great voice. And also Velvet Underground, Iggy Pop & The Stooges, Bowie, Suicide... you know, the usual punk hipster stuff, hurhur.
- im introduced with garage but i realy cant listen old music at all. 60s, 70s. i saw that u r listening a lots of old music. why old when there is so much and so much beautiful music that is produced today?
Well, someone else would think, why bother with new stuff when there is so much beautiful music that has already been made and which you don't know yet? But I can't think in either of these ways myself. You have to remember that I was born in 1968, so I'm old enough to having been exposed to rock music culture in my youth, and on the other hand, I'm young enough to have been able to witness the rave scene and contemporary electronic music myself. So, I don't have any biases to either direction. I always say that I occupy some sort of weird twilight zone between the rock and techno generations. Unfortunately, for many people it's either/or, but I don't care.
For me it's a question of finding variation. One gets bored if one has to eat same sort of food every day. For me, it's the same thing about music. Different sorts of music take me to different places, enable me to feel different moods, see different colours. It's like a time machine for me, or the Aleph of Jorge Luis Borges: being able to see at once all places there are.
It's good to know the roots and it's good to know what is happening now. For example, listening to the electronic music and musique concrete of the 40s, 50s and 60s, you can easily detect how shockingly similar that stuff is to what the laptop people and so are doing today. They say that those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it, but I see history as a recurring loop anyway, so I don't know... I'd say for me it's just fun to listen to music from all eras, and I can speak only for myself. I'd just say to everyone: explore, be open-minded, find your own thing that suits you best.
- yes but when u r open minded u cant be stuck in one style there r many things that will suit
Well, that was what I was trying to say here. Diversity is important. Sometimes I've found myself downright forced to learn to listen to some style which is new and alien to me. I'm thinking here some of the more avantgardistic sounds, maybe freejazz and so. First it may sound awful, but when you get deeper into it, you'll find what "the thing", the essence, the basic idea there is. And then it can be very rewarding, like "Eureka!", or a Zen Satori, enlightenment. Learning process is a life-long experience, there's always something new to hear and see, but you really have to be open, put your prejudices aside. That's just what I admire about people like John Cage, he taught the audience to listen in new ways, to analyze their listening experiences and the way itself they listen to the music.
- what do u think about todays contemporary experimental music that im describing as post global music where can fit styles
from post-rock through microsound to noise. it is spreading and developing so
fast. new fusions, divisions and styles are appearing every day...
Yes, it's so hard to keep up with everything. I read The Wire magazine to be able to keep the track, but as much great and interesting stuff there is, there's also your usual boring snobbism, academic elitism, and so on. You get a sort of counter-reaction and miss that music too that you might potentially like. It's getting harder to tell the really good stuff from that which is only trendy and disposable. Gladly there's Internet and all those mailing-lists but it's still so difficult to tell the wheat from the chaff. There's too much noise [sic] to the signal ratio. I see it all diversifying even more, though. There will be more these little music tribes, who speak the language only very few people can understand.
- if u like something and if u like it realy u cant miss it. mailing lists, sites, links, artists, labels, radio, tv... informations are
coming by themselves that what u r into will come itself to u. it is true that magazines are calculating with words and frases but thats the point of that medium. if u dont like to catch yr self reading categories search by labels and sounds. im listener from one side, label owner, musician and journalist from other side and i realy like to make those terms in what music fits, about music i like and music at all. it's all so complex, connected and wired between itself. but if u like glitch u cant dislike microsound or clicks&cuts so it is connected from that 'real' side too. i found my self this period thinking in categories, sounds, labels, styles, genres...
I'm merely thinking about the amount of info overload we are getting today. Journalists, critics and other opinion-formers work as some sort of filters there, but can we trust these filters? It's an age-old question of finding for yourself the categories of "good", "bad", "so-so" and so. Heh heh. I think every fashion will have its limited shelf-life, when it will eventually become redundant and it's time to move on to something else. But you can only get any sort of decent perspective with hindsight, i.e. you have to be far enough from it to be able to get the big picture. Though, that's what pHinnWeb's motto is: "accept chaos." You can't understand, comprehend it all, so you can either choose to happily surf on the crest of the wave of chaos, or you can drown in it. I always rely that if it's good, it's bound to find its way to me; in one way or another.
- u can just find one or more particular journalists from some medium (magazine or radio) that u can trust him. and u trust him cause u have similar tastes. u will know that he will play something that you will like and that album he has reviewed will be good
In some cases, yes, but what I'm talking about is a certain distrust of media, maybe in my case with a whiff of cynicism too. More than journalists, I trust certain people in the Net's mailing lists and so on, who are fellow fans and who are not as exposed to all that manipulation game which goes on between record companies and media. You know, free parties with free food and drink, mutual back-patting, ass-kissing and all that shit. Payola is alive and kicking. You have to understand that everyone in the game has vested interests, everyone are like parasites who feed on each other. The media are always anxious the find "The Next Big Thing", and after the hype is over, you usually find it's been just another case of Emperor's New Clothes.
If anyone's interested, I've written something about this media madness at: http://www.phinnweb.com/5HT/mediashit.html and perhaps this is bit related too: http://www.phinnweb.com/313ctr0/electroclash/ . Of course, it's all crude provocation again, and everyone's welcome to think I'm full of shit too, but I'd appreciate more any thought-out comments and constructive opinions.
- u know my opinion about dub revival in electronic music today that i sent on phinnweb mailing list. i have mentioned some labels and artists that are mixing dub influences with diferent kinds of music. and their number is growing apidly. ~scape, thinner, force tracks, basic channel, worship to name a few. and all they have different approach to dub. what do u think about that.
It's great, but as I said above, it's so hard to keep up with everything, and you only have a limited amount of money and time to spend on records. I'm very glad that dub is still very popular, though myself, I still tend to turn to that good old 70s sound, like King Tubby, Augustus Pablo, Lee "Scratch" Perry. There's something very hypnotic and organic-sounding in that stuff, and it's really amazing when you start to think about how primitive gear it was all created with. I don't know what exactly is happening in that genre now, but I checked Basic Channel/Chain Reaction/Maurizio's earlier stuff and I think what people like Pole or Vladislav Delay do clearly derives from that. I hope that stuff doesn't disappear up its own arse but keeps evolving. And I see Mika Vainio belonging in that soundscape too.
- yes we can just continue hopping. like i told everything is changing so fast in music today. so style life could be short. but if it is good enough we will remember about it in the future
Well, the old music and new music dilemma again. But for me it's important to remember. To be able to put everything happening now to its right time perspective. Though distortions can be interesting too; in some cases even very necessary.
- somebody can say: if wasnt that band or style, this style today wouldnt exist. but it is exists.
Well, I guess, then, I'm not satisfied with the times I find myself in, heh. I think mine is a typically romantic outsider position, the urge to be somewhere else, in some other era or some other country, some other culture. And music is my means of travelling in space and time. It's not pure this or pure that but a sort of a personal mix or a musical collage made of very different elements. I hate purism and I like to mess it all up.
I think a lot of music these days is so disposable; I've got loads of electronic albums from the 90's I haven't been listening since those days;
it seems those sounds get in most cases dated quite rapidly, sounding quite old-fashioned now. I won't mention any names, but let's say they were very fashionable artists in their time. Maybe there will be another retro fashion in fifteen years when those will be fashionable again, so I
guess I just have to keep those records in a time capsule, dig them up when the time is right and be the coolest DJ in my block! I think the best
music is timeless, but I wonder what is exactly that music today that we can listen even from fifty years from now, and will it still sound great then? You see, I'm all about time perspectives.
Anyway I think music's in general is a healthier sort of escapism than booze or drugs. But I accept the fact everyone's got their own opinions and personal tastes, and I'm not to argue that.
- can u name couple of labels that u trust to their choice and sound. to know that their new releas is good before listening to it.
I don't know, no-one runs forever, and it's hard to keep up your quality in the long run. For example, I tried to get everything Warp released, but that was years ago, and these days I very rarely purchase any of their new releases. But the labels I've been following myself lately have been Ersatz Audio (the label of Adult.), Suction, Mego and DC Recordings (the label of J Saul Kane aka Depth Charge aka Octagon Man - I'm a big fan!), maybe a bit from the Hague electro guys: Viewlexx, Bunker and that lot, though I'm not as excited about Italodisco as they are... and of course Chicks on Speed Records, for apparent reasons (I'm their unofficial official Webmasta, and those ladies are my muses and a big, big inspiration)! In Finland Rikos Records, Dum, Fonal, perhaps...
- warp were good but now im just writing bad critics about their new releases. it is fact that inventive music exists. but how time is passing new music become inventive and music that we use to call inventive is not that anymore. in that trap has fell warp. their latest releases aphex twin, plaid, boards of canada were less than ordinary in worst sense. only thing they can do at this point is to distribute good projects like tortoise and twine from other fresh labels. now on turn are ittle labels like bip-hop, ~scape, 12k, rastermusic, thinner and still maybe - already dinosaurs like force inc./mille plateaux
That's what they say, every dog has its day. It's always the problem when you get big enough; you can't necessarily re-invent yourself any more, and there are all these increasing pressures from media, audience and above all, music business. I'm glad underdogs -- to return to the canine metaphors -- like us exist, and I can't now really worry about becoming big myself one day... It's evolution, ongoing revolution. It's good. We grow up from children to bury our parents one day.
- can i bring conclusion from all this interview that finland is bouring, depresive, ordinary and openmindedless environment in some sort?
Well, of course I'm speaking only for myself and from my own experience, not for all Finnish people. Someone else's perspective might be totally different from mine. I'd say the potential is there, but on the other hand there's potential everywhere. It's just a different question how you fulfill that potential.
- at the end write your best albums ever list
David Bowie: Low / Heroes / The Lodger ("the Berlin Trilogy")
Can: Tago Mago / Ege Bamyasi
Chicks On Speed: The Un-Releases
Miles Davis: Bitches Brew
Herbie Hancock: Sextant
Meat Beat Manifesto: Satyricon
Augustus Pablo: Rockers Meet King Tubbys Inna Fire House
PIL: Metal Box
Pink Floyd (feat. Syd Barrett): Piper at the Gates of Dawn
Iggy Pop: The Idiot / Lust For Life
Primal Scream: Screamadelica
Prince and the Revolution: Around The World In A Day
Suomen Talvisota 1939-1940: Underground-Rock
V/A: Nuggets - Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era 1965-1968
Scott Walker: Scott 1-4 / Boychild (compilation) / Tilt
Sly and the Family Stone: Best of
Stooges: Stooges / Funhouse / Search & Destroy
Velvet Underground: VU & Nico
Yardbirds: Roger The Engineer
- and list for this year
Depth Charge: Robotomo (12") / Spill (2-LP)
Kemialliset Ystavat: Kellari Juniversumi (CD)
Niko Skorpio: Stainway To Heaven (CD-EP)
Nu Science: Return Back Space (mini-LP)
Skanfrom: Hand-Picked Fragments (12")
V/A: Canine Fragrance (Luumu Recordings)
V/A: Disco Not Disco 2
V/A: Misery Loves Company (Ersatz Audio)
V/A: On-Off (early Finnish electronic music)
V/A: We Still Kill The Old Way (Clone Records)
+ anything on Chicks on Speed & pHinnMilk labels, tee hee...
- also future releases or something like that
- Club Telex Noise Ensemble + V/A: CTNERMX (autumn/fall 2002) - I'm also waiting for 'Sell-Out' (or whatever they'll call it), the forthcoming CoS album, which should be there this year