lunedì 23 febbraio 2015

The Cyber Emperor Jaani Peuhu Interview

Good things come to those who wait!
I have to admit it: for this interview I had to wait a very long time, but since I'm so stubborn, here it is. 
Jaani Peuhu is a songwriter, leader of finnish dark wave band Iconcrash, producer and composer. On the 26 January he released his first solo album Tear Catcher.

LFdM: Let’s start from the end ... Jaani Vs Iconcrash. A lot of artists, when they try a solo career, try to play a totally different sound compared to the one of their own band. 
As for you, in which way you feel more free to express yourself?
Jaani: Not much has really changed. Iconcrash started as my solo project, and after I’d finished the Nude album, I began touring with my musicians and it started to feel like we were a band.  
I decided in my mind that OK, Iconcrash is a band now, but in the end it has always been pretty much like a dictatorship. Running bands can be very much about the democracy and being friends, etc, and in the end that’s often not a good thing for the music. Someone might have a very special vision and then there are 4 more guys who are cleaning up all the personality from the original idea.
Thankfully that was never the case with Iconcrash. I have always been very blessed to work with very talented musicians who have fully respected my vision. 
With Tear Catcher - my vision was to do the music with synths, drum machines and acoustic guitars, so there would not have been much for the Iconcrash guys to do in studio – haha! 
The guys themselves also wanted to do other projects, so it all just felt right this way. 
I always need to have a very detailed idea about the albums' sound and feeling and can't really do anything before I can kind of "feel" the album. Slowly I have started to get ideas about the next Iconcrash album, but let's see if it’s going to be 2015 or 2050 when I  hit the studio with that stuff!

LFdM: Before Tear Catcher, the last december you released the new single "No Regrets" with a wonderful video. Despite there are mostly dark wave atmospheres, the sound is more floating and light. Can you tell me something about this song?
J: This song has travelled with me for ages. I wrote it for the Iconcrash “Nude” Japan edition 10 years ago, but then it never came out. I then revisited it for both the 2nd and the 3rd Iconcrash albums, but I was never happy with the versions. Finally I realised how I should do it in the Tear Catcher pre-production sessions in London. 

LFdM: Your sound comes from the European dark wave scene; sometimes, when I listen to your songs, the oldest Cure or Cocteau Twins come to my mind. You are a very good songwriter, what do you think when people compare you with these great bands?
J: I am very honored if you find any similarities to their material or overall feeling. 
For me The Cure and Cocteau Twins are sacred things. I don't even know what dark wave is to be honest. For some reason some people have just labeled my music that way. I love pop music but in some countries pop is like a bad word. I would call my music dark pop if you asked me. 

LFdM: I was born with 80s songs and I think it’s really great to see you being presented in this context like a new electronic group. What's your position about this? 
J: I absolutely love music written in the 80s and 90s.  A lot of the gear I am using is from the 80’s era, and a lot of the music I listen too also, so yes it does affect my music a lot. I can't operate at all with the fashions in music that seem to come and go. There is no way I could have dub step sounds for instance in any project I am working with, because in the next year that stuff could sound outdated already. I’d rather try to do music that does not sound like a particular year. I think I have done a pretty good job with that, with the Iconcrash albums, because they all sound very different compared to each other, but aren't tied into any movement that was affecting music making during that period. I think my solo album is closest to the first Iconcrash album "Nude" style wise, but of course the production sounds different because I have learned lot of different production tricks in the 10 years or so since the ‘Nude” album was made. 

LFdM: Listening to your songs it seems the dark soul is always inside you. Do you have a special feeling with the darkness?
J: Yes I have had a special relationship with darkness my whole life (and I’m not talking about ‘Darkness’ the band), in a spiritual way but also in real life.  I like to put my darker feelings into music, so when I’m not making music I can be all "happy-happy-joy-joy". I find it really hard to connect with my sunnier side when it comes to making music or art in generally. 

LFdM: Where does the desire to create a song come from? 
J: From my real life 100%. If I feel hurt somehow, or somebody who I care for is hurt, it all transfers into my songs. I have in the past made songs for my fans also, if they are going through something hard. For example I wrote a song called "When The Lights Go Out" for a young girl who was suffering from cancer.  
I sent it on CD straight to her hospital to cheer her up. To cut a long story short, her family later contacted me and asked if they could play the song at her funeral. But yes music has always been my way to communicate. I’d rather send a song in an email if I want to say something, than write a letter. Some of the songs on the album are actually letters to somebody.

LFdM: Sometimes I am fascinated by the pics that you posted. How is important the visual presentation in your music or in your life? 
J: I am the son of a photographer so I have been raised in front of and behind the camera. If one day I no longer felt like making music, I would go and start studying photography or video stuff. I have always been very involved with my videos, even shooting footage for them, and that is something I would love to learn more about.

LFdM: You played with many different bands, is there a collaboration you are especially proud of?
J: And all of them! I really enjoy producing, and for me it is so cool to be able to turn some average sounding song into something very beautiful.  Then I get to share that proud feeling with the band I am working with. I find songs as a challenge I need to solve or crack. Like a damn puzzle. And if I can nail it then it will be released. I have maybe 300 unsolved problem songs waiting for the right idea to manifest. 
At the present moment I am producing Rain Diary's second album, and oh I love this project. Their songs are so cool,  and the band have 100% trust in my vision about the albums sound- so working together feels almost like a dance. We are dancing into a noisy and fuzzy light together.  I'm also waiting for a mix from UK - the first single from pretty special new band I am very involved with. I can't tell you more now but you will hear about it pretty soon.

LFdM: From the producer’s perspective, what's your favorite instrument to mix up? And as a musician? 
J: The studio is my instrument. I don't really favor any one instrument. I just follow my intuition. If I find some instruments in the studio then I take it as a hint and use them somehow, or if someone visits me there he will probably end up playing something on a song or two. I play all kinds of instruments myself but in the album I often asked for help with guitars because I am pretty crappy with guitar. I have my own style and I master that well but if I need to record something more technical I’d rather ask someone better to play it, rather than waste hours practicing, cursing and editing! Why do that when you can just check out who is in the same studio, or even online these days?  Why record a crappy track when Timo Tolkki is around? That’s why there are often cameos on my albums. I have no ego as a musician. The songs are my babies, not the guitar parts.

LFdM: Many bands have the “insane” (grant me the term) dream to break the American wall, while others prefer to stay in a smaller space with less fans… What do you think about it? What is, in your opinion, the best way to share your music? 
J: I want people to hear my music, so yes I have loved to play in ice halls, etc, where I can connect with thousands of people at the same time. With my solo stuff I will not be touring in every village in Finland. I will focus on touring internationally. Here music of my genre is very underground, but for example when I have been there in Italy, where you live I could hear Depeche Mode, Cure and Placebo on the radio all the time. Finland is all about Metal and Rap. 

LFdM: Which are your plans for the future? A little bird told me you’re coming in Italy...   
Now we are working with international releases of my album, and planning the future tours.
We are working on it, next may .... We should see pretty soon if things will go ahead as planned.

Thanks a lot Jaani for this chat, we'll see you in the backstage next may! 

Interview by Michela

Here our  review of Tear Catcher

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