Music is always a kind of Magic, and folk/ambient music particularly - just because the roots of this music lie deep at an ancient incantation, shaman rituals, some archetypical sounds. Could you spread this opinion upon NEST? What kind of magic your music is?
A.T.: Well, first and foremost it's quite the selfish kind, because everything stems from me just attempting to do something that I enjoy. Still, I hope it will bring enjoyment to other people too, and I'm not excluding any other living thing either. Magic or not, this I deem worthy.
To develop previous question: in your opinion, NEST mostly ‘belongs’ to your own creative abilities, or in a greater degree it’s just an attempt to ‘catch’ some eternal, natural harmonies? Who is a real ‘author’: your human fantasy or Nature itself? ;)
A.T.: Some things are better left a mystery. I don't really even spend too much though on where this music comes from. I don't care if it comes from my abilities or from somewhere else. I'm just very thankful that it does come, no matter what hidden recess is its origin. I also feel over-analyzing things is a great way to kill them, and I have not the heart to kill Nest just yet.
NEST seems to be so distant from ‘modern’, industrial civilization and its destructive culture. Music is so pure, natural, harmonic… How you manage to abstract your mind from ‘real life’ so well? What can you advice to those who wants to feel Nature the same way?
A.T.: I spend a lot of time in my imagination and away from modern surroundings. I love wandering around in nature, and luckily I live in a place where I can easily do that. I don't really have any special tricks. This is just what I do and want to do. If I wanted to do something else, then I would do that. On a related note, I feel that there are only two things worth doing in life: that what is enjoyable and that what aids someone.
As I know, you’re fond of computers, web-design and so on… How does it correlate with the primordial spirit of NEST? Are there any contradictions?
A.T.: As peculiar as it might sound, there are no contradictions. Both computers and natural things are close to my heart, and I enjoy spending time in/with them. I even make music with the methods and tools that originate from of the old computer scene. One doesn't have to live as a hermit in the middle of nowhere with only bear skins for clothing and raw fish to eat to be able to appreciate such an existence and gain inspiration from it. I strive for simple joys, and I guess in that sense I'm close to the mindset of old even if I reap the benefits of modern things, but I don't see “old” better than “modern” or vice versa just because it is “old” or “modern”.
What’s your opinion about regenerated interest to paganism, heathen religion/ideology? You know, there are some people who leave the cities to resettle in woods (or just villages) and live ‘in harmony with Nature’ – what do you think about them?
A.T.: I'm not really interested in ideologies, and Nest exists solely for the music, so I'm afraid I don't really have much to say about this subject. Nevertheless I see it as a positive things that people pursue their passions, no matter how peculiar they might seem. Even to myself. And speaking of myself, I wouldn't mind living more closely to nature either. Cities can be so discomforting.
What are your favorite wild places in Finland? Can you describe them?
A.T.: There are many, but I'll share with you the most worthwhile. My family's cottage is a special place away from the modern society. Amidst great pine and spruce woods and by a windswept lake. I love going there, and just spending time in peace and quiet whenever I can. Sadly it's a great distance away, and I can only go there a couple of times a year. Another place is this great old watchtower overlooking a breathtaking rivers and woodlands vista in a nearby town. I'm able to visit this place more often, even daily if I wish. Also, this town I live in is surrounded by great rural landscapes, even a lake or two if you take time to hike over there, and I do. As often as I can.
Do you know something about my land, Belarus? It’s someway similar to Finland: almost the same climate, territory, and a great number of lakes & woods… And may be some associations with Russian/Belarusian/Ukrainian musical scenes?
A.T.: I'm sorry, I know very little about your country, but the lakes, woods, and climate sound like something I would like. I also haven't followed any music scenes for a long time, because all my time is spent in my numerous projects. But good music is always good music, and I'm interested in hearing such stuff from all corners of the earth.
You play the music of pure Nature, while the cleanness of this Nature is dying. With regard to ecological problems, in some time there will be no such enchanting woods and places you’re fascinated with. How will it influence on the human soul, in your opinion?..
A.T.: I believe it will result in a part of humanity dying too. I, for one, would take losing nature very hard, but I fear the majority of the population have bigger personal issues to worry about or don't realize this until it has happened. Like the old cliché goes “You never know what you have until you have lost it”, and I hope we never come to that point. I definitely don't like the way people are playing God, just exploiting and trying to alter nature and the surroundings as much as they do.
Well… let’s return to music. Please name 5-6 the most inspiring and intimate bands for you, and describe slightly how you feel their music.
A.T.: Ok, here goes. The big three in my musical life are Amorphis. Skepticism, and The Third and the Mortal. I always have at least one of their albums with me when I take music with me on my travels. Amorphis is the band that got me into heavier stuff, and the traditional Finnish thematic is very enjoyable. Skepticism is simply masterful monolithic doom, that never fails to evoke deep emotions in me. The Third and the Mortal is something unique, and I've never come across anything that combines so many brilliant elements into one package. In addition to those three I often listen to Dark Tranquillity, and Raison d¨Être too. Dark Tranquillity always makes me feel good, and Raison d¨Être is perfect for sinking into deeper moods.
NEST is rather well-known on metal-scene; you’ve had split-releases with ISAFJORD and AGALLOCH. Have you ever tried to play metal music by yourself? Tell about your and T.S. projects besides NEST.
A.T.: Yes, I have indeed tried playing metal. I grew up with metal, and composed metal tunes for many years before Nest was born. Well, since I was still learning, many of those songs are more or less below-par, but making them and learning in the process was real fun. When it comes to my other other metal-related activities, I have played with Shape of Despair (a Finnish funeral doom metal band), and I have joined The Mist and the Morning Dew. And I must mention that I like to inject metal elements into some Nest tunes as well, even though I like to keep its essence acoustic. T.S. doesn't have many other projects that I know of, but he has played with a couple of cover bands, etc. He was also the man who taught me to make music in the first place.
Please, tell about the music of the new NEST album. Are there any surprises or noticeable changes of sound in comparison with ‘Woodsmoke’ album?
A.T.: Now this is a difficult question for me, because I don't pay much attention to differences and similarities when I'm making music. I like to go where inspiration takes me. On this new album I deliberately wanted to avoid imposing any rules on what I composed. I just did what came naturally. Nevertheless, there are a couple of things that are probably easy to notice. Many of the new songs are longer than anything I've done before with Nest, and with length also comes variety. There are more ambient parts now, but on the other hand there is also more rhythmic stuff with many of the songs having more chord strumming than ever before. The drum department also changed. We only use a hand played Lapland drum now, but there are more places where we use it in than before, with any other drum or percussion. An last, but not least, there is also a lot more variety in the vocals, with talking rivers and animals, deathly growling, etc., even though we still don't use much vocals.
Are there any plans for future NEST live shows? What’s your opinion about concert performance of this music in general?
A.T.: I haven't thought about live performances lately, and I doubt Nest will play live often. It's a bit too hard for us to get a workable live setting going on, especially with the new songs. There's way too much going on in them for us to reproduce in a live setting without a good number of session people, and I don't know enough musicians playing the kind of stuff we would need. I'm not much of a live person anyway, and seldom go to see bands on gigs. There's nothing wrong with gigs, and I do go to see my favorite bands from time to time, but I prefer listening to albums by myself.
What are the horizons of your dreams – in connection with NEST and you personally?
A.T.: I have simple dreams. I want to live in peace and be happy. I want to spend my time doing what brings me enjoyment. Music, visual stuff, wander in nature, twiddle with computers, etc. With Nest I want to explore the horizons of inspiration and just see where the journey takes me. Naturally I also want to become better at the things I like doing, but improving my skills is definitely not why I do them.
Thank you for this interview. All the best to you.