Grazy Mama & The SideKixx STALKERs Fresh Act – July 2008
Mothers are quite a particular species. In the past STALKER already encountered concert promoter Mama Trash and Uebermutter Luci van Org, now Grazy Mama shares some motherly advice and wisdom. Whether as an acoustic project with guitarist Daddy Ritchie or with a whole band (The SideKixx) Grazy Mama commands a broad musical spectrum with influences from the last 5 decades of music history. The catchy but also melancholic songs do have, however, only one goal: to save, at least Finnish, rock´n´roll. STALKER met Tatta aka Grazy Mama on Suomenlinna, an island fortress off Helsinki, on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
First let´s start with your name, Grazy Mama, where does it come from?
In Grazy Mama we use the letter “G” because in Finland we have this very famous band who did just everything for the feeling - “The Hurriganes” and there´s the “G”. And also the “G” is because you can be “grazy”, it´s different. You can be very calm and talk about things that you feel, that you really want and you can just be “crazy” but you can still understand things. It doesn´t meant that you´re out of line but the “G” in that name is like you can break through.
What about the “Mama” part?
Yeah, it´s like, I was 8 years old and I have a younger sister and brother and one older brother but we all know that when you´re the older brother you´re not always like the big brother so I was always like “little mama”. And when I was 14 I had my first band and that “grazy mama” thing comes from there, it was this rockabilly thing, so I was “Grazy Mama”.
But you´re not a mother or are you?
I am. I have a six year old son.
So would you say you´re more “grazy” or more “mama”?
I´m more “mama” but I´m “grazy” indeed. I love to be crazy because I think in Finland people are just too… They are looking in the future but they are not really feeling things. It´s like, at the same time you can be a Mom or a Dad and you can do work but also you should do what you´re made for. You should live the way that feels good. If you live like you´re just doing everything else, you´re not alive.
Let´s talk about your songwriting, does being a mom influence your way of writing?
I think that there are more levels, more feelings. I never decided that I´m going to be a musician, perform and dedicate all my life to music but it just was. It was what I was made to be. So when I first started to write I didn´t even know how to keep a pen in the hand but the songs are just coming and I think that we all have a certain kind of destiny so we should be and do what we are made for. And when you have a child maybe there are some kind of feelings that you can´t get when you don´t have children. Me and my child we have the same birthday and just before my child was born my very young friend died so in what other way could life show to you that it is about something more than just that you are here and live through. There´s some meaning and maybe I do what I do so that my child has something more to give in the future than me.
There´s also a band involved, The SideKixx, so who is in the band and how did you all come together?
It started in 2005, this guitarist from Raahe called me and said that he wanted to do some new music with some different kind of band. He asked some unknown musicians all around Finland to do three songs that are on the first record “Throw me up”. So in the band there is on the bass Ari Savilampi, on drums there is Pete Nash, on the guitar is Daddy Ritchie, also known as Riku Keränen. They asked me to do the lyrics for the three songs so I did it and the songs were all from a different genre, so there was hard rock´n´roll and also one ballad. And so I did it, at first in English and then in Finnish. The first time I met Daddy Ritchie was in 2004, I was singing in a rockabilly band then, in Pori and Riku was from Raahe and there are like 500km between those two cities. So he just saw me because I was supposed to have a gig in one place in Pori and our guitarist in that band broke his hand so we couldn´t do that gig. At 9 the same night I felt like I have to go to that place just to see what´s going on and went there and then I met Riku. Riku was just with another band in there, they were coming from far away and we talked like two hours about music. Then they left and Riku said “I can find you again” and I didn´t believe it. And I didn´t even use internet at that time, never, I´m just a humble musician. It was just so funny, it was like this game “broken telephone” when you say to friends, to friends, to friends if somebody hears something. And Riku exactly phoned me again and he asked to come and do those songs and I went there in 2005 and we did the record “Throw me up”.
What was your motivation to form the band and do music?
The motivation for me is that I love music and when I´m talking about music I don´t really put it into different kind of genres because I love almost everything. Like 70s or 80s are so close to my heart. I do music because I feel like it, it´s emotion, I have a passion for music. I love music.
What would you be if you weren´t a musician?
I think I wouldn´t be at all. If I wouldn´t have music I wouldn´t be. I wouldn´t be alive even.
When playing live you have acoustic gigs as well as gigs with the whole band. What do you enjoy more?
I love doing both but of course I like it when we get a whole band together. It´s like coming together everybody. I love that and I think that no booze or anything can get me as drunk as music. When I´m singing I get the main point to the lyrics, I feel like I have to say something. And I enjoy that when there´s a whole band and we´re playing together. Then there´s something magic. It´s like a magic carpet ride! (laughs)
How does the songwriting work?
It works like “Awake the lightning”. So when the song is about to come I just hear it. I don´t write anything if I feel like I have to or if someone says “write about this”. The lyrics just come and it´s like a few minutes and they come and they are whole. And I don´t wanna leave anything out or put anything in after that. But of course if you perform the songs live then there are some kind of changes and you get some more passion in the songs.
Some of your songs are in English and some in Finnish, are the Finnish ones maybe more melancholic?
Maybe. Those songs that are in English, they get into people like that. It´s easier to say like “Hey, come on in”. When you say that in Finnish it´s like “Hei, tuu mukaa”. It doesn´t sound so good. So maybe when there are songs that aren´t so rock-y it´s better in Finnish because Finnish people are melancholic. So it works better to get the point of the lyrics. And I also try to write in Finnish because in Finland there are just a few people nowadays who write in Finnish, something else than “Iskelma” or some pop/rock but nobody writes rock´n´roll in Finnish. It´s sad, I´m just trying to save something. (laughs)
What are your major musical influences or what´s your inspiration?
That´s a difficult kind of question because it´s so big. I love all blues music and some of jazz also. Then I love these Finnish singer-songwriters like Juice Leskinen who did pass away but he was like a very big influence for me. Then I also love Janis Joplin, she´s great. Then I also have this other side, I love this old rock´n´roll and my first love was Elvis Presley. And I also love Hanoi Rocks, I love Mike Monroe´s attitude.
You had a gig at a School Fair here in Helsinki but not many people showed up and others were busy at the stands there. Is it difficult to play a gig when people are not really paying attention?
It was a lunch break (laughs). No, it´s not because it was an outdoor happening and I didn´t really expect that in Finland there would be so many people there at that time. All the time when we are at a gig it´s like that at 9 o´ clock Finnish people aren´t so much into it because they are not drunk enough (laughs). So in Finland you should play at 11 or 12 pm and then everything is so different. A couple of months ago we were in Joensuu and people were dancing there, it was great. That´s what I love and this is what rock´n´roll is about.
What other things are you doing besides the band, how do you earn your living?
I´m doing almost everything. I´m 24 now and I have done seven different jobs so that tells a lot. I don´t really think about what I´m going to be when I grow up (smiles) because I´m so into music and I want to make music all my life. So I just do everything else so I can do music, I do cleaning and some kind of marketing thing. The Stray Cats have this song “Ain´t got enough money to pay the rent” so that´s every day for me. I just try a little bit harder to do everything. (laughs). Money is a good motivation but not a very good point.
I read on your myspace page that your on Mama & Daddy Records, is it your own label
We kind of have our own label. We had this situation that we got a recording deal from Helsinki and then one person from this company died and he was the person who dealt with all the money. So this company doesn´t exist anymore so we had to start from scratch And we sold our gigs ourselves and then we did a video and also some new material.
So is there an album coming in the near future?
It´s going to be out in 2009. The songs are already ready but it´s the studio thing.
One of your songs is “Punk Girl”, what is the song about?
This song is dedicated to my little sister. She´s very much a punk girl. It´s kind of a personality song and I think that in everybody of us lives a little punk person. The meaning of the songs is like, “years are going to roll you under, so where´s your attitude”. I just want to tell those people to keep doing what they do and never lose your attitude.
What´s your own favourite song that you have written?
Well, it´s maybe this Finnish song, I haven´t translated it but it is “Suru Ansa”. The lyrics are something deeper. It doesn´t sound at the moment like it´s the greatest song in the world but the meaning is the greatest.
And what IS the meaning?
There are some hidden meanings between the sentences, you can understand it in two ways. But the main point is that when you are at some kind of crossing point and then you want to make somebody to understand, too, where you are. You´re struggling with your own life and you don´t exactly know at the moment where you are. “Suru Ansa” means something like “to carry your sadness away” but you are strong enough to carry your sadness.
Do you want that people come up with their own interpretation of your songs or are you comfortable with explaining them like you did now?
Not always, most of the people get the songs just like that but sometimes I get those questions “what do you want to say with this sentence?” because there so many different kind of metaphors and if they don´t understand it, it´s ok. With the Finnish language everybody is saying that “you got to find some new lyrics” and then when somebody is doing it it´s also like “what does that mean?”. Those are the people who are in the marketing side of the music but the people who are listening to the music they are like “Yes, I got it, this is great, this is new” but then the older artists they are just like counting every word, they don´t really listen and I think they don´t even want to understand.
Last question, what is your top three of most annoying bands?
Top annoying bands? Oh my God, I don´t want to dis anybody. I won´t say any names but I hate bands who are just doing something because somebody else told them to or bands get together with different kind of well known musicians and then they just want to do this one tribute to somebody because that sucks, that´s for money. That´s not for honor or anything. In Finland we had this tribute to everybody, well my tribute is for the world, not for the artist.
Believe in yourself and be what you were made to be!
Author: text + photos: Kathleen Gransalke Date: 2008-06-30