siinai interview

photo: Katja

So what to say about SIINAI?
This mostly instrumental, massive sounding post-rock-conceptual band that keeps itself out from the highlights and barely plays live (at least in Finland) but still their albums get superlative reviews worldwide in such medias as Times Magazine, Pitchfork, NME, Financial Times, MOJO, Time Out, The Quietus and of course all kinds of smaller publications as well. Not to mention that they have been touring both in USA and around Europe already and obviously there is more to come from them.
Not many Finnish bands have raised such interest in foreign media. Somehow this band has reached a great balance between being a ”mystery” while being popular at the same time.
SIINAI just released their second album earlier this year. It is called SUPERMARKET. The first album was OLYMPIC GAMES (2011) and after that one they made an album with MOONFACE (Spencer Krug from Wolf Parade) called: Moonface with Siinai: Heartbreaking bravery (2012, Jagjaguwar).
While the Heartbreaking bravery is an album with 10 songs and vocals, Olympic Games and Supermarket can both be called ”instrumental concept-albums” while they go through certain themes as whole. You can read more about the "Olympic Games" from here and more about the "Supermarket" from here.

SIINAI gigs are full of mystical energy, hypnotic chaos, repetition and revealing sounds. No words needed. Just being in the same space with the sound is enough to make you a new person. All your sins shall be forgiven.
So what to say except that they’re obviously doing their shit just right? Good job boys? Keep up the good work?
Maybe there’s no words needed here either, except a simple thank you. Being big and universally understood you have to make music that speaks for itself. The rest is just politics and politics most likely sucks.
SIINAI is supported by Splendour and Kaikustudios, and as can be seen from this interview (below), these guys still have their feet on the ground even though their sound floats like Lucy in the sky with diamonds.
So here’s a little interview we did with the guys while they stopped by at the CTRL studio to pick up some fresh clothes before heading out to their EUROPEAN gigs.

THE SIINAI INTERVIEW

SIINAI is often called a ”consept-based band” mostly because of your albums ”Olympic Games” and ”Supermarket”. Both of them are theme-albums. What do you think about these descriptions?
It's fine for us, we don't care that much what people call us or how they describe our music, as long as they don't bluntly call us "shit" etc. That would probably make us a little bit sad.

When, how and where was SIINAI born? Was there any ”conseptual” thinking and desicions before music or did things just ”happen”?
Siinai was born in 2010 when me, Matti Ahopelto(bass) and Markus Joensuu(drums) started to jam together. Then we decided to ask a guy that I knew a little bit (at least I knew he had a lot of synths) to join our jam sessions. He was Saku Kämäräinen and it made sense from the first chords that we played together and we realized that we had a full band. Music that we made was instrumental so we gravitated towards the idea that we could make a conceptual record. So I guess you could say that it just "happened". It's really chicken and egg - type of a thing. Songs that we made for the first album fit to the theme about olympics and we felt it would be a fun theme to explore through our music.
Later on we asked a drummer (Jussi Peevo) to fill in for Markus for some gigs in Scandinavia. I had seen him playing many times with Kap Kap around Helsinki and was really impressed by his drumming and the way he totally seemed like he was in a trance on stage. Jussi became our second drummer, percussionist, spiritual-leader and important part of our live-setup.

Is there a leader in the band or is it all pure democracy when it comes to composing new songs and planning new albums?
It's a democracy but usually someone of us takes more role to push things forward. There's always weird chemistry in bands but best thing about our band is that we really get a long. No kidding.

If SIINAI was a movie, what movie would it be (or what kind of a movie)?
We hope it would be a blockbuster movie that would make us all filthy rich but more likely we are a no-budget movie that only few nerds know about and sometimes mention to their friends after few beers.

Any bands that you look up to in the sense of your own band and it’s ambitions?
Yes, there are many. List would be too long to write here and I would forget too many that I would like to mention.

How often does Siinai practise?
Not often enough. Usually only when we are in the "active/jam phase" of making a new album or before gigs. Miraculously, it always feels that we practice too often when we really get to the jam space.

How many other bands are there ”in the band”?
Matti Ahopelto plays in Zebra&Snake, I play in Antero Lindgren's band, Saku plays in Äänijännite and he has his own solo projects, Jussi plays in Kap Kap, Cold Pupu Sauna and Koivuniemen herrat and probably hundred more. And then there's of course Moonface with Siinai, which is Matti, Saku, me and Spencer Krug.

-You had three drummers in your live set in this year’s Flow Festival show and normally you play with at least two drum sets. What’s the reason for these massive drum sounds?
Since we don't have traditional singer, it has been fun to explore rhythm more. After our latest record, Supermarket, we have had almost all of the visitors that played on the record on few of our shows. Biggest band we had on Flow and H2Ö-festival when we were 8 in total. This keeps at least us on our toes. We can't do the same tricks show after show. And it's been great to play with so many talented people, it's a huge inspiration.

You play long, repetitive and non-vocal songs with sounds that float somewhere far above ”natural”. This brings a strong ”transcendental” vibe to your music purely because it helps one to leave on a trip only by listening to your music.
Do you feel this same thing when you play? Is this aspect made on purpose?

We do sometimes. Isn't it basically what all music tries to do somehow?

What happens in a typical Siinai backstage?
Usually really bad jokes, stretching and smell of sweat.

When not playing music, what do you do?
Working to make money to make music.

Any great gigs you have seen recently?
I don’t really go to gigs anymore. It's sad but true. When we played this summer at H2Ö-festival, I was really impressed by the line-up. So many good bands but so little time to check them out. Liimanarina was dangerous in the way that I like. Jarse sounded good too.

What have been the best and the worst thing to happen for SIINAI so far?
One of the great things has been the opportunity to tour in North America with Spencer. Also most of the gigs abroad have been great fun and good memories. Last summer we all got norovirus from contaminated water when we played a festival in Norway. That was pretty bad.

What would be the best thing to happen for SIINAI in the future?
If Werner Herzog or Gaspar Noe called us and asked if we would be interested to make a soundtrack to their upcoming movie. They'd said that they already talked with Brian Eno and he is eager to record and produce the stuff. Vangelis has also promised to play some synths here and there and David Bowie would do a little singing. We would record this music in Conny Plank's old studio in Cologne and win a Grammy.
Either that or we would just get one of our songs in the new commercial by some big car company. Money would make music-making so much more easier.

Any plans how you’re going to reach this (the best thing to happen)?
At least we tried to be quite commercial in Siinai-standards in the new record. But a car company or big movie director has not yet reached for us, sadly.

What is the best festival / gig memory you have?
There's many but it was great to play in New York at sold out Bowery Ballroom, or St. Petersburg at this soviet time big wooden movie theater. Playing in Iceland was great and exotic to be at. Playing in Poland, Krakow at this one festival is one great memory, we played at a courtyard and by the time we were finished people were still really into it and they said that they would block the door and keep the police away (since we were on overtime) and asked us to play one more song.

What are the best festivals you’ve been playing at? What is your favourite festival?
H2ö-festival and Flow-festival are great. Otherwise, to be honest, I'm not really a big festival goer.

Do you have some vision as a band and what is it? What is your philosophy as a band and how is it visible in your music?
We have a rule that there are no-rules. From the beginning it was clear that we would do anything that felt good to us, and Siinai won’t be too attached to a certain kind of sound or music-style. We would explore as much as it would feel good to us, and not explore if we don't feel like it.

Do you want to take a stand for something with your music?
Only that music is free, there’s no right or wrong in it and that everyone should do whatever feels good to them regardless of their skills or lack of them.

If Siinai would be a supermaket, what kind of supermarket it would be? (Like Wholefood, organic and ethical food? Fancy foodstore? Prisma? Alepa? Valintatalo? Harrods? Waitrose? Tesco? ICA? )
Definitely a hypermarket like Prisma. They are totally odd places.

How is the feng shui at your practise-place?
It's a mess. Someone should clean in there and quick.

How was the collaboration with Moonface? How it differed from your own way of making music and playing/ playing gigs?
Well the songs are made around lyrics and melodies that Spencer(Moonface) sings. First album we did together was made so that we made first demoes and sent them to Spencer. He then loosely arranged the songs and made lyrics and then we arranged them together to a final state when he came to Finland. And we did quite a lot of jamming together too and made songs that way too. First record was finished also quite fast in two weeks.

With who you would like to collaborate in the future?
Brian Eno would be great.

Chanel transformed its AW14 catwalk show into a high-end supermarket in Paris last spring. Models carried shopping baskets and pushed trollies around the 'supermarket' as they were doing their grocery shoppings. Could you imagine playing in this kind of environment or transforming your gig into grocery shopping experience at Supermarket?
Yeah we could, if we'd have someone who would be into making us a supermarket to play in. And of course the usual deal: we don't have any money to pay for it.

What do you often buy from supermarket?
Yoghurt(bulgarian), frozen berries, almonds and muesli.

If you could buy anything from supermarket what would it be? (Love? Peace? Friends? Mindfullness? Power? Fame? Riches?..)
Considering the world and news that we are surrounded everyday, people would definitely need to buy peace, love and understanding in a bottle or in any other suitable form.

Video: "Munich 1972"