Interview by Michela (Anesthesia)
Editing by Margherita (MEG)
photo Credits by Tim Martindale
LFdM: AURI! It's a pretty unusual name for a band. Did you take it from the book “The Name Of The Wind” written by Patrick Rothfuss? How did you come up with it?
Johanna Kurkela: Hi Michela! And thank you for your questions! The name of the band wasn't decided until last year, when we started delving deeper into the album making and realised we needed a name for our band. We tossed around with ideas, and finally thought of Auri, which felt like the perfect name. Deriving from the word "aura", meaning, golden, emanation, atmosphere, a soft breeze. It is used in Finland as a girl's name. And, it also happens to be the name of a character in Patrick Rothfuss' books which we love, a character who lives in her own world, almost in another dimension compared to the rest of the world, for the way she perceives life and keeps to herself, only to come out at moonlight to sit on the rooftops of the world. She is a deep deep mystery, and an achingly beautiful and infinitely intriguing one at that. Just like the magic of music.
LFdM:When did you start to think to form this band?
JK: In essence, the band Auri was born out of the sheer desire to hear music still missing from the world. We've all been close friends for years now, and fans of each other's music from the very first note we heard, collaborating on each others musical projects on many occasions in the past. In that sense, the spirit of collaboration has been ever present. Throughout the years it just developed into this shared dream of a unique, fearless, infinite open world of music, which we three might be able to bring to life together. I guess one could say, this band is, in effect, our friendship translated into music. An audible assortment of things we feel strongly about.
LFdM: Everyone knows who Tuomas Holopainen is in symphonic and metal scene, so I don't want to talk about him. I would like to know instead: if you should introduce and explain the new record to a totally profane kind of audience, having the opportunity to choose only one song to do it, which track would you pick up?
JK: To me this album is such an entity that whenever I listen to it, I always do it from start to finish, as one would watch a film or read a book. For anyone yet to enter the world of Auri, rather than to visit just one continent, I'd definitely recommend to go for the whole nine yards. Otherwise, any song, I'm sure, would serve nicely to yield a little glimpse.
Even to this day, it's hard for me to categorize the music of Auri. We didn't really have any particular genres or languages in mind making the music, quite the opposite. Overall, I think we were all just instinctively following the paths of music that felt right to us, not really caring if it was orthodox or not to combine things the way we did. It felt very liberating, working in this mind set, not having any pressure or expectations to confine us, not caring at all what other people might think or how they might feel about the final result. We didn't have a concept, no main songwriter, no producer. The only thing we strived to do was to make music which made us three go completely ecstatic over, and have massive fun at it. And that's exactly what we did.
LFdM: How important are the lyrics in your kind of music, made for the live dimension?
JK: In Auri, one can most certainly hear many influences, but rather than try to pinpoint them all, we'd prefer the listener to just shut the mind, and let one's heart listen instead. For me, the magic of music has never been something that can be generalized or captured with only words. It's always a very personal journey, a coloring book, the outlines of a scenery to be filled with each listener's own emotions. There is no right or wrong in interpreting a song, if it jerks out something profound, beautiful and renewing inside the listener. For me the oceans of music are all connected. If it were up to me, I'd rather not categorize Auri at all, or any other music for that matter, but if need be, "Celestial Metal" as Troy playfully put it, or “World Music”, would do nicely.
LFdM: Is there any particular message that you’re trying to delivery with your songs?
JK: Skillful use of words, clever poetry and insightful lyrics are things I'm sure we all find joy and comfort in. However, words alone are often prone to unfortunate misunderstandings and misinterpretations. This is probably one of the reasons I enjoy wordless music so much, such as film score soundtracks for instance, where instead of using our minds to follow the words, one can be whisked off on a more subconscious journey, to let one's own story and emotional scenery unravel onto the waves of sounds. Still, words can be powerful tools in conveying things more specific. For me, whenever there are lyrics in music, it's paramount that both elements support and complement one another in service of the song. This is often times a very delicate art, but always an infinitely rewarding one after you happen to stumble upon the perfect balance.
LFdM: Where does the inspiration to write such emotional music come from? You’re really unique, compared to other metal acts in the world, what's the moving force here?
JK: In Auri, I feel like I've finally found my home as an artist, a perfect outlet for my creativity, being able to record and edit my own vocals independently, feeling completely at home in the music, finding such likeminded people to work with, and an environment without pressure or judgement, that you don't have to hold anything back or make compromises, which usually, naturally occurs when working alongside other people with different opinions and goals. Being able to work seamlessly together, while being completely open and channeling your deepest emotions through music, has been one the most life changing things for me to discover in Auri. A sort of altruistic connectedness, which hopefully is something others listening to this music can also tap into.
LFdM: Do you think you will continue with this project in the future?
JK: When we headed out on this marvellous adventure of Auri, we didn't really have any expectations or plans for the future, other than just to release an album and see what happens. But pretty quickly, as things started to evolve, and due to the immense fun we had while making this album, it soon became obvious, that instead of being just a one album project, Auri was becoming a real band. In the future, we're definitely hoping to carry on making more albums for Auri and even head out on a tour at some point. But for now, on the immediate horizon, there are other more pressing matters keeping us all busy for the next approaching years. Still, luckily for us, we're not in a hurry, time is just an illusion, and already, ideas for the next Auri album are starting to gently take form in our heads.