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Fresh Act of July 2014
Aberrant Vascular is avant-garde metal, but even then you wonít know what to expect. There is metal, and opera, and classic elements, and then hints of Japanese visual kei along with something distortedÖ Good soundtrack to your nightmares, blindfolded, without any idea what is coming up next. It is completely indefinable will keep you on tour tip-toes. As the band itself, it is a mystery. They have no face and no definition. Yet you will not forget them if you hear it once. Aberrant Vascular will become this annoying toothache in your soul, making you come back and listen to them over again. Good luck if you will try to figure out.
The band has already a few demos out, and one full-length record, all available for free download via they homepage. Nowadays they donít play live very often, but this is a band with a plan, and a major potential.
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Please introduce yourselves, what is this band and who are the band members? Tell something about yourselves and your background.
Heikki: The band consists of myself, Lumi and Asa. Both of them have a formal training in music and have been doing it at least at a semi-professional level as Iím more self-imposed in that way.
Asa: I play 7 and 8string guitar, point microphones at loud things and spend my allowance on music gear.
Lumi: My background in music is primarily classical.
How did you meet each other, and when and why did you form this band?
Lumi: I met Heikki in a bar, many years ago. Both had the idea and passion to start an avantgarde project. This would, a few months later, be the birth of Aberrant Vascular.
Heikki and myself are original members. There were changes in the line-up, primarily because of relocation. Asa joined us for Pelopia, and has shown himself to be the final link of the free-thinking, experimental, trinity, that the band is, and always was meant to be.
Heikki: Me and Lumi met by a chance in 2003 and ended up starting the band because of overlapping interests and ideas. The primary reason was to kind of begin a band we would have been fond of ourselves.
Asa: I joined the band in 2007 after Heikki contacted me on a Finnish musicianís forum. I actually didnít meet Lumi until the first gig we played with the new lineup.
How would you describe your musical style, and how did this style develop until now? What are your musical roots and influences? What musical background do you come from? What music and bands do you listen to?
Heikki: We havenít been describing our style too much any more. The idea behind the band has always been to combine different styles and genres together, and the overall style has always been reflecting what kind of music we have been interested in at the moment. In that way the style has been developing together with the general preferences without any quintessential change. The influences have thus been more or less situation-dependent.
As a ďmusicianĒ Iím self-taught and have been moving from keyboards to more general software-based way of making music during the years. When listening to music Iím interested in electronic music, neoclassical, drone, ambient, industrial, noise and soundtracks preferring the more experimental variations of the genres.
Asa: Well, the first release I was on was Pelopia, so I canít speak for the material before that. After Pelopia though, there has been quite a bit of evolution in our sound. I feel like the most considerable change is between Aeghistus and the new material weíre now starting to wrap up. As for my musical background, I played classical guitar for over ten years until my main focus finally shifted into electric guitar and music technology, which I also have a degree in.
Musically speaking my influences are quite wide; these days Iím quite into unconventional rock, experimental electronic stuff and other noisy things.
Lumi: My music roots are primarily classic. But I am interested in all styles of singing, which perhaps can be heard in my versatile lyrics in the band. In AV I call myself narrator, not singer. I am the words, the story, in the music. I am one of the whole. Never separate.
Influences are the unique. Such as Freddie Mercury, Klaus Nomi, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Hansi KŁrsch. People who live and breathe the art. And in whose eyes, one can see the flame of true individualized life. I listen mostly to Jazz and classical music. From Mozart to Cab Calloway to Joe Cocker.
In which bands have you played before or play now? What other projects are you involved in?
Lumi: I have two bands. Aberrant Vascular and the industrial post-apocalyptic Severnaja.
Severnajaīs newly released full album can be found at severnaja.com. For a time I was also a singer in the talented power metal band Thaurorod, but it is now a few years already since we parted ways.
Asa: Iíve been in a few bands, such as the post-rock band Svetogorsk, but currently Iím only involved in one other band besides Aberrant Vascular. Itís called Systsem and we play mathy progressive metal. Our first EP will be out this year.
Heikki: Iím not involved in any other bands at the moment. Thereís been an idea about an ambient/noise project with a friend of mine, but itís still in the talks. Iíve been in couple of bands before AV, but theyíre better off left in the past where they belong.
If the band already existed for some years, how come you have not found a record company yet?
Heikki: We havenít been actively looking for one, since it hasnít been compulsory. Today itís easy to work as a do-it-yourself band and for us thus far itís been also practical. We spent about 300Ä making Aegisthus and released it solely on electronic format on purpose, so conducting and releasing albums nowadays doesnít necessarily require a company to back you up. Weíre not against working with companies and itís not a question of principle, it just hasnít happened.
On your website it mentions that some members already left the band. What happened?
Heikki: ďAlreadyĒ is maybe not a suitable term since the bandís been going over ten years. In the very beginning there was some short-time people involved. Then we had to form a new line-up when we relocated the band to Helsinki in 2006 so line-up changes havenít been anything special. The current consistence with three of us has been the most stable of them all and itís been so for several years.
Lumi: The line-up changed mostly because of the bandīs relocation from one city to another. One also has to be willing to look beyond borders to feel at home in the band.
How do you write your music and lyrics? How does your creative process go? Who is responsible for what? Is it a team effort or one leader rules them all?
Heikki: Normally the process goes so that I make the basics, which is drums, keys, samples etc. and everybody starts building their stuff on top of that. We havenít had rehearsals in years, but instead we record all the time and gather together to discuss what works and what doesnít and which direction things should take. Itís a team effort in a way that everyone has his own area of responsibility and I think it also makes the end result more interesting.
Lumi: Heikki rules us all with an iron fist and a coffee in his other hand. Haha.. No, but he is definitely the mastermind, the dynamo behind the band. He creates something, and Asa and I build upon what he creates. Myself, I write the lyrics and create most of the vocal melodies.
Asa: Heikki writes the main ďskeletonĒ of a song, then I usually mess around on the guitar and record the ideas I come up with. Then we usually listen to the stuff together and decide on whatís good and whatís crap. Occasionally some of my ideas will inspire Heikki and heíll then come up with new things. Iím a fan of unorthodox guitar techniques, and on the new songs that stuff is more prominent. Thereís some sampled guitar, playing the guitar with a screwdriver and Iím also using an 8-string.
Are the lyrics personal or fictional? And why always in so many languages?
Lumi: The lyrics are an enigma. And I will leave them like this. Lyrics should be for each and everyone to interpret in their own way. I can however promise that the lyrics for the new album will be more enigmatic than ever before. To understand them, try to look beyond what is. To start to see what actually is.
Heikki: Iíve always seen the usage of different languages as a natural companion to versatile music.
Is there a particular philosophy behind your works? Is there a special mission and a message you carry? Is there a strict concept or what?
Heikki: Thereís not any general philosophy behind the band. There can be a concept concerning an album, but not anything stretching over everything, excluding the continuum in release names. Thereís going to be a musical and lyrical subject in the next album though, but like said itís in respect of that album only.
Lumi: If I give you the answers they will be just words in your mind. Real answers are experienced and felt, because you are open to the possibility.
Where do you get your inspiration from? Generally speaking, what is inspiration?
Asa: Iím most inspired by the music I listen to, and I often become inspired from reading books too. I also find that I often get inspired from doing stuff ďwrongĒ intentionally, and then trying to mold that into something useful. Improvisation definitely plays the biggest role in my creative process. Iím not sure if itís odd or not, but emotion has never really been a big inspiration to me, musically speaking.
Lumi: From nature. From what is natural. From the energy of life and the universe.
Heikki: I usually get inspired simply by different kinds of music, literature and films that give me ideas about what kind of elements we could incorporate ourselves. The actual inspiration for me is a flow state where pieces start fitting together and where itís easy to do a lot in a short period, getting really absorbed by it.
How did you come up with the band name Ė is there a story behind it? The logo also has a hint of black metal in it, is it on purpose? And why is it surrounded by mathematical symbols (on your www) ?
Heikki: The name is a character metaphor. In the beginning we felt that the band should have a specific logo, and have seen no reason not to keep using it. The logo has some black metal aesthetics in it, at least in the way of symmetry, but itís not a black metal logo per se. The mathematical background in the web page is a unit circle, i.e. a circle with a radius of one, and thatís all I want to say about it.
What are your goals, dreams, what do you want to achieve with your music?
Heikki: We havenít had any specific goals with the band in addition to making music that can be somehow considered original. At least for me the thought about an ideal band or a musical group has been evolving over the years. When I was younger my idea about a band that I would like having was closer to traditional band in a functional way with rehearsals and gigs and it has since moved slowly towards more electronic, volatile and collaborative approach. We never set any frames for Aberrant Vascular, so the band has been able to develop alongside.
Asa: I hope that our music invokes things in our listeners - be it emotion, intellectual inspiration or something negative. Personally, Iíd also like to inspire people to evolve and express themselves freely - be it in art or life in general -, and not limit themselves just because theyíve decided on something beforehand; probably even unconsciously. An idea I occasionally think about too is our music being featured in a movie soundtrack or a video game.
Your latest record, Aegisthus, how pleased are you with it? How was the working process on it? Did you have many difficulties? In what way is it better or different to the record before?
Heikki: With Aegisthus we had pretty much all the difficulties there can be. We had to record almost everything twice and we also mixed the album two times and had four different covers before getting the thing out. There was hardware wreckage and all other kind of unanticipated drawbacks so thatís why the whole process took so long. In the end weíre actually quite content with the result, thereís things that couldíve been better, but we can still stand behind the album. The only thing about it is that that the material it contains is nowadays already a bit old and doesnít represent very inclusively what weíve done since. The most distinctive way itís better compared with the earlier releases is that itís more of an integrality.
You can fit a much better wholeness to 45 minutes than in 15.
Lumi: We had many difficulties with Aegisthus. Personally though, I am very pleased with it. I still, and always will, remember, all three of us listening to the album together when it was done. For me, it definitely was a feeling of accomplishment. Truth be told however, Aegisthus was the last leaf of a withering tree. With winter blew new winds that brought us into a no manīs land, where we had never before dared. This no-manīs land, far beyond earlier horizons, is explored in our new and coming release.
What is planned for the next record and how far along are you with it? What can we expect from it and when?
Heikki: The next record will be entitled Clytemnestra and itís already in pretty good shape. At the time of writing all the basics, i.e. drums, keys, samples and other electronic stuff are ready and almost everything else is at least demoed so weíll start recording guitars and vocals soon, hoping to get the thing done within this year. The album itself will contain much more variation than Aegisthus and it will be more experimental in styles. It will feature guitars, but itís not going to be a metal album. Not a complete change of direction, but rather a step forwards. Also everything in it has been made with that album in mind so thereís not any leftovers from previous eras.
Asa: I canít really say what you should expect, because itís quite different from the material weíve done before. The only time we did anything remotely similar was when we played a one-off electronic gig together with Heikki. I can certainly say that my guitar parts wonít be very metal though. Besides the ďplaying guitar with a screwdriverĒ experimentation, I have some other ideas I want to try out when I start tracking the guitars that will be on the album.
Are you looking for a record company or would you prefer to stay in the DoItYourself mode? And why?
Heikki: When we got Aegisthus done we didnít want to spend any more time trying to sell it to anybody since the whole process of making it took so long. We just wanted to get it out of the way and start focusing on new material. Weíre going to at least record the next album ourselves like the previous one, but we shall see what we should do with the releasing when thatís topical. Having a record deal is not a silver bullet. Among the pros about it would be the promotion, but a label that would have been interested in for example Aegisthus would not necessarily feel the same with the next one since itís not going to be that straight-forward.
Working independently we donít have to make any compromises and like I said earlier, financial support is not absolutely mandatory just to record and release albums.
Lumi: As long as the creative process would be ours, we wouldnít be against it though.
What should an ideal record company for you be like, and do for you? Is there specific label or person youíd like to work with?
Asa: Well, thereís all kinds of hard working indie labels around that are more realistic with the way things work these days. I guess an ideal label would just pretty much focus on handling the distribution etc. of our material, and perhaps get involved in financially supporting us. Currently we pay for everything from our own pocket that we cannot do by ourselves.
Heikki: Itís also so that today much bigger bands than us work independently and release their stuff solely in the electronic format, so the actual need to have a record deal is quite different than it used to be 10 or 20 years ago.
How do you differentiate commercial success and music as art? All bands had to deal with it one or another, and compromise. Do you think it is possible to have both?
Heikki: Commercial success and art donít rule themselves out. If the artefact is something to begin with, it doesnít change to something else if it happens to sell along the way. Thereís a lot of examples of musicians who make distinct and interesting stuff that can be labelled as art and still make their living out of it, so being able to sell stuff isnít automatically the same thing as making trivial radio songs. For us commercial success hasnít been a goal in any point, but being uncommercial is not an absolute value either, more like an inevitable outcome of certain overall style.
Asa: Itís definitely possible to have both - I have many friends that do that. Still from my point of view, our focus is more on releasing music we are personally pleased with, so our efforts are almost completely focused on artistic aspects. If we were more bothered with the commercial success aspects, Iím sure weíd have potential in that field as well.
Being a heavy band in Finland must be a real challenge by now, so many very known bands and artists came from there already. How do you differentiate yourself and what makes you unique among everyone else?
Asa: A bit of a funny question to be honest. For a long time I havenít considered our music ďmetalĒ but rather ďmetal influencedĒ, and the new material is even less metal. I donít think weíre really competing with anyone either; weíre doing our thing, and doing that well is pretty much what is interesting to us. As for our background being Finland, I donít think where you come from matters that much these days, with the internet making the distances between people of different nationalities smaller and all.
Heikki: We donít consider ourselves as a metal band anymore. Aegisthus had still a metal sound in some parts, but in practise itís 50% electronically made and the next album will be something different. We donít think too much about categorising the band, and we donít liken ourselves to metal bands, be them from Finland or elsewhere.
What would be the ultimate success for Aberrant Vascular, that you can say would really mean that you made it in the music industry. What is it for you? What is success measured in?
Lumi: First one has to establish; what is success? AV is not a mainstream band, and it will most likely never be. I am happy if people like our music, but I do not expect us to become the new black.
Heikki: We havenít at any point tried to ďmake it in the music industryĒ. We havenít been paying too much attention to who will like our stuff and who wonít nor havenít tried to please anyone. For us the goal has always been in making music that we have been finding interesting and not in any kind of recognition. At the beginning we had a sole attempt to make something fresh and I think thatís what weíve done. If we quit the band here and now, I would think it went ok.
Asa: For me, I think the movie or video game I mentioned earlier would be pretty cool. Iíve always felt our music has a ďcinematicĒ feel, and that would be quite the expansion to that idea. If we again decide to put together a live act of some sort, Iíd love to gig overseas and meet some of our listeners in the flesh. Itís kind of disjointed now, since you never really meet anyone that knows our band, although you know theyíre there. Just nations apart.
What are your live shows like? Whatīs the perfect venue and performance style for you? An arena, or a club, or a festival, etc.?
Heikki: Few years ago we made a conscious decision to quit playing live for the moment. There was always too much problems with arranging the shows and in the end it felt like wasted time where most effort went to all kind of external hassle instead of working on the music itself. We have been keeping an option to play live again if thereís a good enough occasion, but itís not topical at the moment. The thing is also that we donít work like a typical band anymore. We donít have rehearsals and preparing a gig would require quite lot of completely separate work, so itís too much trouble if itís not really worth it. Back in the days we used to have somewhat androgynous and introvert shows, today it would be something different. Antti and me actually played a short, completely electronic set made out of AV material few years back, but it was more like a fun thing to do instead of something to put too much work into.
Asa: Live shows are kind of a hassle these days, so we havenít played any recently. Weíd like to do something different, thatís for sure. Visuals, theatrics etc. and a show thatís less focused on us just playing our instruments. I personally love performing live, but to be honest, with Aberrant itís just so different that a normal concert would be mostly lame. From the acts Iíve seen live recently, I think Ulver and Nine Inch Nails had shows that had many of the aspects Iíd like our shows to feature too, when and if we decide to perform live again.
Do you have a weird /absurd story to tell, e.g. about mishaps at a concert or tour?
Heikki: One of the more interesting gigs we played was at the party of a local S/M club, but since it was a private event itís better left without too much description.
Asa: At the S/M gig we did - which was quite an absurd adventure overall - I almost fell off the stage. I had this leather skirt (we had quite a bit of costume stuff going on at that concert) and although Iíve worn some unpractical clothes in my life, it was harder to move around in it than I expected. Then there was this one gig that, as we arrived, turned out to be a ďyouth versus drugs & alcoholĒ type eventÖ
A few more comments on your band members, you can tell about each other: whatís the weirdest thing about Asa? Whatís the cutest thing about Heikki? And whatís the most annoying thing about Lumi?
Asa: For Heikki, definitely the cats he has and how he treats them. And for Lumi, well, itís how good his ass looks when heís wearing womens clothing. Iím so jealous.
Heikki: Me and Antti are embodiments of cuteness and oddity, respectively. The most annoying thing in Lumi is that heís a singer, you know what theyíre like.
Lumi: Asa usually has his hair different every time I see him. Heikki is simply just, all of him, cute. I am very annoying, singerīs usually are.
If you could freely choose a band to tour and play with, who would it be, and why? Do you have ďidolsĒ so-to-say among other artists who you admire and look up to?
Asa: This is a hard one. I think perhaps something along the lines of Godflesh and Merzbow, or maybe Sunn O))), The Body or Ryoji Ikeda. Ulver would be a cool one too. For idols, Iím inspired by artists like Mike Patton, Reggie Watts, Ryuichi Sakamoto, downy and Shutoku Mukai. Thereís also this Norwegian guy called Cuckoo whose music Iíve been really into recently.
Heikki: Iím very tempted to say G.G. AllinÖ Instead of regular gigs some kind of collaboration would be more interesting, maybe with some kind of noise act? Thereís a lot of interesting artists that I look up to, but I wouldnít go as far as to call it idolatry. Iím more into the end result than the persons behind it.
Lumi: Malice Mizer or MUCC, but thatís for me personally. A person I look up to is Serj Tankian.
The internet, a curse as well as a blessing Ė what are your favorite (promotional) websites (to present the band, e.g. FB, youtube), which others do you think are rather not recommendable to other bands (they cannot keep their promises, it costs a lot but does not do anything etc)?
Heikki: Today we use Facebook like everyone else and we have a Bandcamp page but thatís it. Aegisthus is also in Spotify if you can count that as one. Facebook is good in a way that practically everything and everyone is there instead of only people interested in music and Spotify has become also a default place to have your music in, though it has its faults.
Aegisthus was published in Spotify through Record Union which worked smoothly, but besides that we havenít been using a wide range of promotional sites so thereís really not much to say about those. About the Internet itself, I see it solely as a positive thing and opposing it as a nostalgic delusion.
Asa: Facebook is kind of a hit & miss due to how they charge for the updates to be visible to all fans and so on. Youtube is definitely great, but I donít think it would work for us due to us being so ďsecretiveĒ with it all. Twitter is not very big here, but Iíve heard itís a pretty important way to network in e.g. the US. Itís probably a good idea to mention your band at the internet forums you frequent, too.
What are your plans and hopes for the (near) future?
Asa: Well, our recent plans are mostly on working on the new album until itís finished. After that, itís hard to say really. Weíve discussed some ideas for the new material that comes after that with Heikki, but what itís exactly going to be like is anyoneís guess. As for my personal plans, Iím mixing an album for the band Ever Circling Wolves thatís almost done, and I intend to start some new recording gigs after that. Then thereís the Systsem EP that weíre halfway done with.
Heikki: The primary focus is on the forthcoming album that we hope got get out during this year. When we get that one done, weíll see in which direction to take the band after that. This is not an endpoint, and weíre going to develop Aberrant Vascular forwards.
Author: Marina Minkler, tansl. K.Weber Photos by Askar Ibragimov
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