Finland's own Nemesis have been plumbing the depths of space (inner and outer) for two decades now. Foxy Digitalis speaks with founding member, Ami Hassinen.
The basic philosphy was simply to make our own favourite music ourselves! Jyrki and me got to know each other at school, so we didn´t think very deeply about the reasons at the time. I was playing music in some local rock outfits and wanted to make something different for a change, Jyrki was more like the typical non-musician in the Enoesque sense - not much knowledge about traditional music playing and theory, but great ideas and very original instruments: he used to dismantle old radios and connect them in his own way... to make strange sounds, finally blowing the radios up! It was a "destructive period" for him.
I had bought a synth (Micromoog) and based on that we got to know each other. Jyrki had also Commodore 64, so we went on from there...
Yes it was. It was a very rare hobby to make electronic music at the time...especially in a small town in Finland. The good point was that old synths were very cheap and available at the time. Nowadays we would not be able to amass a studio like we have, the prices for old gear have sky-rocketed, provided they´re for sale in the first place.
In a way, no. The main development has been the addition of Joni Virtanen to the line up in the 2001. The original philosophy and the ways of making the music have not really changed so much since the beginning. This is because we base our stuff on collective improvisation. It is a sort of never-ending well of inspiration. Only the level of developing the ideas further has changed from time to time. But basically the fun is still derived from the same musical things now as in 1987.
Stylewise, there was a time in the mid 90´s when we tried to adapt more techno influences into our sound... but it didn´t last long. We felt that we did not need to impress fashionable people if we did
not want to...
Yes, that is true. We have a huge amount of recordings from the 1987 onwards. Actually I record almost all our work and many bits have found their way to the future tracks later. Most of the recordings are more or less unfinished, so basically we take the bits that are OK for the project we are currently working on and start from that. And of course we make new stuff all the time... So new album is always a combination of old, updated bits and all new material. It is just a question of finding the right tracks for the album´s mood.
I think the best example of this is Xtempora-album. I personaly regard it probably the best showcase of all things we like to do. It sounds most truthful for the essence of what we are and do... The exception for the method was Cyberiad. Jyrki and I recorded it in two months from blank tape to the finished product... it was actually quite fun and we will do another album that way someday...
Mostly OK... when everything flows, it takes the music to a higher level. On the other hand, the details blur and sound quality is often compromised... so it is a different thing to studio work also in the philosophical way. In some sense the pleasure of playing live comes from different things than playing in the studio... the noise and lights give a definite boost to the physical side, but usually the mental side is a bit numbed. Energy level is rather similar, but the scale is different.
It is just ourselves releasing our music when and how we like it. It´s also perhaps the only way to release music like this in Finland. The major record companies and most of the smaller ones crave for heavy metal export miracles like Nightwish, HIM, etc. So EM is not too fashionable at this time. We have also thought of making music officially available thru web, but more about that later...
OK, thanks! We have the first archive release out called "Audio Archeology - live achive vol 1 1995-2001." There will be a vol 2 early 2007. Hopefully there will be a new studio album before Xmas 2006. We already mixed and mastered "Gigaherz", but at the last moment decided not to send it around to labels as we were not entirely happy with it. It is over-prodced and too dense. So we will have another, all-new, better album ready soonish.
We have also a new website almost ready and it will be published for Xmas 2006 if not earlier...
RMI and Redshift are great groups, Redshift is probably the best retro-group there is. Nemesis has quite often been described as a retro group, but even more often as a group that is not actually retro, but making music with same philosophy as the 70´s groups. I like that definition very much, as we have no agenda to make retro music... we just like the instruments and the musical philosophy of those times - if the music sounds retroish, it´s a bonus for those who want to hear retro sounds - but I think our music is valid also outside the retro realm. We got our meagre international recognition with Cyberiad and Sky Archeology. They happen to be our most retroish albums (Cyberiad by design, SA more or less as an after effect of Cyberiad sessions), so I understand very well if someone regards us as retro. But personally, Music for Earports and especially Xtempora are the real Nemesis, which is more open-minded and eclectic. We would make this kind of music, regardless had there been a retro fad or not.
Yes, many good groups are active nowadays. Rihmasto is a great ambient/drone band and good friends with us. Sigma is a very cool band from Helsinki as is Ozone Player - a really original prog/dada/electro/whateveryouliketomention band. Siniaalto is also a good band that makes music in the 70´s EM style, highly effectively.
NEUM is also a excellent band in that area, they are the true forefathers of the finnish electro scene. On more avantgarde level, there´s P. Kuljuntausta, whose experiments and compositions are very interesting. Jukka Hautamäki from Turku is working in the same area as PK.
There´s also great postrock/Kraut-bands from Pori for whom I feel great affinity even if I do not know them in person. Circle and Magyar Posse are probably the most well-known.
Radio-broadcasted gigs in 1997 and 2006 were a great thrill. I also regard the first time when our music (from a cassette demo) was broadcasted in YLE Radiomafia, Avaruusromua by the great Jukka Mikkola, a life changing experience in 1993. After that everything has been downhil. Haha. Well, that was partly a joke, but only partly.... it´s strange how some things lose their sheen as they are repeated: making an album, playing a gig, hearing your music on the radio, giving an interview..... but that is life and one must try to find new goals from time to time!
Well, for myself I can say that I mostly have been listening to German Kraut rock and very soft ambient lately. Namely Kraan, Amon Duul II, Cluster, Steve Roach, Robert Rich, Rihmasto etc... I also like Godspeed You! Black Emperor very much!
The all-time favourites must be in the realm of 70´s Tangerine Dream and Pink Floyd, Kraftwerk, Hawkwind...
I also have found that I like some classical music very much, especially music from the middle ages, Hortus Musicus is great! Also Pärt and Rautavaara rule...
Keep your eyes to the skies!Photos by Antti Hassinen, Katja Kivistö & Kristiina Kastman
Thanks for reading and try to find time to visit our new web site as soon as it is announced!
Thanks a zillion!!!!
-- Jani Hellén (9 October, 2006)