With Walls Of Arctica having new music out this week on Sound Avenue we catch up with them for the latest episode of 12 Questions.
1. How old are you, where are you living and how long have you been producing and Djing?
Antti: I’m 32 and living in Helsinki, Finland. I started to play with music when I was 15 but maybe I shall call it producing for last 10 years. Never been into DJing that much for some reason, maybe it doesn’t hit my creativity spot like producing.
Mika: I’m 28 years old and living in Helsinki. I have been playing and producing music in a few bands about 10 years I guess.
2. Where do your musical roots lie, what are your first memories of electronic music and when did you know you wanted to pursue it seriously? Are there any particular productions or artists from the past that really made you think to yourself ‘this is what I want to do.”
Antti: First memories are from my uncle’s eurodance cassettes, haha good times. I can pretty much name every eurodance song from that time. My roots lie in progressive trance and house 1998 – 2003. I have never been into that uplifting stuff, liked artists such as John Creamer & Stephane K, Satoshi Tomiie, Sasha, Push, Oliver Lieb.
Mika: I have always listened various types of music genres since a child, I don’t even remember my first memories of electronic music. Tweaking synthesizers and some deep atmospheric downtempo records inspired me to start writing it.
3. How difficult was learning to produce for you in the beginning? Did you take any Audio Engineering programs or production courses to help you out or are you pretty much self taught? And did anyone give any advice early on that really helped?
Antti: I’m pretty much self taught. I come from small city and never really knew anybody else who would share the same taste of music At the time there were no Youtube, so it was basically more or less beating your head against the wall, that haven’t changed much.
Mika: Hmm. I guess our difficulty in the beginning was to keep the balance with all the stuff we wanted to have in our songs. Me and Antti have been working with audio recording and sequencers quite long time so you could say “self taught”, but we both have done some studies with audio techniques.
4. What parts of the production process do you find the most difficult and what comes easiest for you? When you do hit a creative block what helps you through it?
Antti: I find it most difficult to keep it simple. It’s much easier to layer things over layers rather than work with few elements. I’ve been working on it for a while now and admire people who can do it. Melodies are the easiest part, always been. When the creative block strikes I just have to take few days off and do totally different things. I’m pretty slow producer and can work only with one project at time. I have to finish one thing before moving to other.
Mika: I think they are usually different kinds of blocks on each song. Maybe mixing the bass lines together… For me the most important thing in the song is always some kind of “wire” through the whole song that can be manipulated but still be identified. It’s like the soul of the song…hahaha.
5. You have a new track out on Sound Avenue’s ‘Spring Sampler’ this week; a groovy, atmospheric piece entitled ‘Lonely Nights’. Tell us how you approached writing the track, how the relationship with Sound Avenue began and what’s coming later this year from you guys?
Antti: ‘Lonely Nights’ started with the groovy bassline and stab sample I found. It was supposed to be more chilled and deeper at the first place, but turned out to be melodic and funky. This is how we work, everything is possible and we never decide beforehand how the final track should sound. Sound Avenue is label I’ve been following for quite a while now, nothing but quality releases and cool vibe going on. It was our first choice to release this track, great honor to see our name on the label. We have few new tracks more or less finished, just have to decide what and when we’ll do something with them. Some crazy wonky stuff and maybe more deeper coming up, you will definitely hear us later from this year, that’s for sure!
6. Apart from electronic music what other genres do you listen to and who are your favourite artists outside of electronic? and do these genres or artists have a direct effect on your own productions?
Antti: I do listen almost all kind of music, mostly hardcore/punk outside electronic. Maybe not direct effect to our music, but I like to keep that in-your-face attitude in my mind. Everything is possible for us without limitations and sometimes you can expect the unexpected.
Mika: There is so many artists. Lately I have been listening some Finnish hip hop music like Gracias, Asa and Eevil Stöö. Also I have listened much bands like Sigur Ros, The Knife, Moderat, A Perfect Circle.
7. What was the first and last physical (CD, Vinyl, Cassette etc) piece of music you bought?
Antti: I stopped buying CD’s few years ago but have started to get some vinyls from second hand stores, albums I consider to be classics . Last album was ‘Vespertine’ from Björk.
Mika: ‘Surrender’ by Chemical Brothers from second hand store. Amazing classic!
8. Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people?
Antti: I played quite a few years in death metal band and now there is new project coming up with some of my friends. It actually surprises people more when they figure out I do electronic music most of the time.
Mika: I also like punk because the raw and aggressive sound. I’m quite systematic person but sometimes I have no idea what I’m doing or getting into. Good example from here is when we started to work with Walls of Arctica, we were supposed to do dark and minimal techno but It turned out to be something totally different and I’m happy with it. Sometimes I hate everyday life planning and sometimes can’t live without it. I go from extreme to other.
9. What’s a normal day like for you? Do you have a job outside of electronic music? And what do you like to do when you’re not working on music?
Antti: Still waiting for the big moneys from music business , so I have a regular office based day job on IT-support, haha. I train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, It keeps my mind and body in balance. At home there is relationship and two dogs cheering my day, most of the time.
Mika: I study sound and lighting technology and do various jobs around it when possible, It have been two years like this now. Otherwise I just like to hang around and see my friends.
10. Which producers consistently inspire you? And where else does your inspiration come from?
Antti: Hard to name any producers but maybe at the moment: Guy J, Tale Of Us, DJ Koze. Most of my inspiration comes from the music I listen whether it’s electronic or not, people around me, environment, nature.
Mika: Lately I have listened artist called ‘Lorn’ who have some nice soundscapes. Usually all music inspires me if it touches me on some level.
11. There are countless producers out there trying to find their way and create their own unique sound, what advice do you have for them?
Antti: Somebody is always better on producing, mixing or mastering but nobody will ever sound like you, just put your heart on what you do.
12. If the final DJ/live set of your career was next week what would your last track be?
Antti: It would also be our first one, I hope we don’t suck that much. So, see you next time! 😀
‘Lonely Nights’ is out now on Sound Avenue, you can purchase the release: here