Late summer 2000
1. I know that Nest was formed back in '99
with the idea of making acoustic and ambient music to reflect
the world of old fables, and folk tales. Between 1999 and 2000
many songs were written; four of these were recorded and released
in Nest's first demo "Fabled Lore". Would you introduce this work
to the readers?
Certainly. Let's start by digging a little further into Nest's
origin. I started out making music, mainly metal, with the aid
of a computer in '89. I was very young and didn't know anything
about making music then, but I didn't care. After I had done this
for about six years, and learned how to actually make music in
the process, I thought it was the time to start playing a real
instrument. I chose the kantele because I wanted to play something
a bit different, and as the kantele was also a traditional Finnish
folk instrument, it was perfect. From this point on I started
composing music that made more use of acoustic and synthetic soundscapes.
Four years later in the spring of '99 it struck me. I should do
music that was purely acoustic and ambient. And such music that
would reflect fantasy and fables exclusively. Thus Nest was born.
My initial plan was to spread Fabled Lore as a tape and only to
some friends, but it turned out so good, at least in my own ears,
that I decided to spread it around on a larger scale. I had also
bought a CD writer recently, and thought it would be better to
spread the demo as a CD to maintain the best possible sound quality.
The songs and actually the whole demo can be seen as a kind of
an introduction to a larger scheme. More on this subject after
the next question.
2. Lyrically speaking, I know you are deeply
inspired by some writers such as Grimm and Tolkien as well as
old folk and animal tales. So we'd say "Fantasy"-music, a product
of imagination exclusively. Seen that the demo's booklet doesn't
enclose any lyrics, would you share with us about the lyrics and
the whole concept of "Fabled Lore"?
Yes, fantasy-music would be the term that most precicely describes
Nest. Actually the lyrics for "Land behind the mist" are the verses
printed on the sheet just above the greetings. The other songs
have no lyrics, because I thought they didn't need any. There
will not be too much lyrics in the future either, although more
than on the demo. I think music plays the most important role
in Nest. And speaking of consepts, the songs on "Fabled Lore"
are actually part of a bigger scheme that could be seen as a sort
of "world". Every song I have created for Nest sheds light on
an aspect of this world either by telling a story, portraying
its inhabitants, evoking feelings, etc. I will not reveal too
much here, because that is up to the songs, lyrics, artwork, etc.
to do. Also, I do not want to lay down "rules" on what the world
is like. I want everyone to experience the music, and of course
take pleasure in it, in their own individual way.
3. Summer is going to finish now, so we're
waiting for an other long autumn and winter-time. How much the
seasons' atmosphere influences Nest as man and musician? How much
the the cold Finnish landscapes and passages do it?
Seasons do have a great effect on me, and therefore on the music
I create. The influence of winter is immeasurable as I adore the
scenery of the frozen lakes, the snow-covered forests surrounding
them, and vast white fields. I also gain great pleasure from spring
and summer as the things I mentioned are beautifull to behold
during those times too. Fall is the only season I dislike. In
fall the rain just pours down from a stale gray sky here almost
all the time, but when the winter comes, and the rain turns to
snow, my spirit is lifted once more. "An oaken citadel" is a perfect
example of the stuff I create in winter whereas "The elk king's
daughter" is mostly the product of spring. I'm still glad I live
in a part of the world where there are four distinctive seasons.
It is the variety that I find refreshing. Living amidst the beauty
of a constant winter or summer would get boring after some time.
4. Musically speaking, your music remembers
me a lot of some Finnish bands as Tenhi and Jääportit. Do you
see your songs influenced by any ambient/folk/goth bands?
I think all music I listen to influences my music in a way. I
find both Tenhi and Jääportit very captivating and suitable for
different moods, but I do not intentionally want to make Nest
sound as either. If you want to compare Nest to the aforementioned
two, I would say that it falls somewhere in between. It has more
synths than Tenhi, but is still based on the sound of an acoustic
instrument, which Jääportit is not. Nest is also more straightforward
than either of them. I would say that from the folk/ambient fields
Enya, and especially the Watermark era, has had the greatest impact
on me. I don't listen to gothic music too much, but if I would
name the bands I think have had the most influence on me, I would
say Amorhis, The 3rd and the Mortal, Skepticism, and the already
5. The core of Nest's music is the kantele,
a traditional Finnish string instrument that originates from over
2000 years ago. How is born the idea to use it? Can you describe
that wonderfull instrument to the readers?
As I briefly mentioned, I wanted to play an instrument that was
a bit different from the usual guitar, bass, drums, synth, etc.
Not that I have anything against those. I also wanted to play
something acoustic and traditional. A friend of mine had a 5-stringed
kantele, which many Finnish people own for decoration nowadays.
I played with it for a few months before I decided I should acquire
a 10-stringed one and start playing it seriously. Kantele and
it's relatives have been the traditional instruments of Finland,
North West of Russia and the Baltic States. The instrument is
played by holding it horizontally on the player's lap or on top
of a table or similar. In the 10-stringed version, which I play,
each string can only produce a single tone determined by the length
of the string. There are versions with 30 or more strings that
can also swiftly change their tuning with switches, but their
sound is not as rough as the traditional models. The strings were
originally made of the hairs of a horse's tail, but are nowadays
usually steel or sometimes bronze. In elder times the kantele
was an instrument of every adult man, who had also made it himself.
It has been speculated that making a kantele was a sign of maturity
then. The kantele was also mostly used to entertain small groups
or only the player himself. Also, Kantele is one of the central
objects of the Finnish epic saga, Kalevala. In Kalevala the first
kantele was made by Väinämõinen, a sage and a poem-singer, out
of a pike's jawbone. His playing brought joy to every living thing
on the earth. Mammals, birds, fish, even the sun, the moon, the
nymphs and gods of water and forests come to marvel it.
6. Between your demo's greeting you named as
first person "you lord", so I suppose this has something to do
with your creeds and inner beliefs, is it true? Would you share
with us about your relationships with religions and cults? What
about your ideologies in general.
Yes it is true. I wanted to thank the one responsible for me being
here and being able to perform music among other things. But as
I don't want to force my ideologies or anyone and as Nest deals
with fantasy, I find talking about them extranous in this context.
7. Music influences the people in many strange
ways, hoe do you think/try to influence the listener with Nest's
Music, as all art, has indeed a strong influence to both the maker
and the listener. As I mentioned somewhere above, I want the listener
to enjoy Nest's music in his or her individual way. I make the
music reflect the things important to myself, but the listener
is invited to form his or her own images. If one thinks this music
suits a beach party, he/she is welcome to use it in one. A bit
far fetched, I know, but still...
8. Which are the last books of fantasy and
folk-tales that you've read in the last months? Which instead
the last CDs or LPs bought?
I recently read all the Conan books by R. E. Howard that had been
published in finnish. I hadn't read them before, which might sound
peculiar for a guy interested in fantasy, but after reading them
I was convinced that he was a genius. No other author has succeeded
in making such diverse tales from such a simple starting point.
I have also read Michael Moorcock's Elric -tales. He too is a
brilliant writer, and I would recommend his work to all friends
of original (dark) fantasy. The latest folk-tales I read were
the Thousand and One Nights, which I have read two times before,
and a bunch of old russian fables I found on the net. The latter
were short and done in a traditional way with more or less emphasis
on a moral. Some might call them naive, but they nevertheless
hold an atmoshere with I find enchanting. I haven't bought too
many CDs this year. The latest were the excellent Haven by Dark
Tranquillity, Furthest Shore's Chronicles of Hethenesse Book I
and Vordven's Woodland Passage. I have also listened to Kamelot
and Edge of Sanity a lot lately.
9. Your music creates an incredible dark-atmosphere
embracing the listener during all the demo's playing-time. How
a Nest's song borns like?
To me Nest's music doesn't portray darkness, except in some few
songs there might be a romantic reference to it. I'm not the most
cheerfull of men, so this might lead to it sounding dark in other
people's ears. Nevertheless, it is always intersting to hear what
different people can get from my music. There are basicly two
ways how an average Nest tune is formed. Usually I just sit down
with the kantele and start playing for my own pleasure. Sometimes
I stumble upon a riff, melody, whatever, that I see as worthy
to put into a song. It is backed up with a second and a third
riff before I go to my computer and take the note sequence down
for future use. Then I start building the song up by adding lines
for synths, drums, percussions, and sometimes bass or vocals.
An interesting thing is that usually right after I get a song
finished, I pick up the kantele in an attemp to play just to relax,
and come up with a riff that just has to go to a song. This leads
to that I will go take the note sequence down. Then I will start
adding the other parts, and before I know it, I'm in the midst
of making a new song. This happened a lot this summer. The second
and less common way is that I have a theme I want to make into
a song, and I start either by playing the kantele trying to find
suitable riffs and melodies or trying to come up with suitable
synth or other lines that suit the theme. At the moment I'm working
on one such theme that portrays hunting.
10. I know that you A. Tolonen are the sole
member of Nest. You play the kantele, make all the compositions,
arrangements, lyrics and visual art. How is born the idea of being
a one-man band? What your demo's artwork represents to you?
There are several reasons why Nest is a one-man band. First of
all I don't have to do any compromises regarding the music when
working alone. This is the best thing of having a one man band.
I also have a lot more time to actually compose and play songs
when I don't have to schedule practises with a band. Also, I'm
not a very social person, so this works quite naturally. I do,
however, invite friends to do session stuff from time to time.
My new release will have one song with clean guitars courtesy
of A. Idman (of Agoria) and another song where T. Saxell, a long
time friend, does some vocal-parts. To me the demo's artwork represents
nature that has roots in fantasy and is also without the ruin
brought by humans. It has a strong connection to the overall scheme
I was talking about earlier.
11. What are your hobbies and passions when
you don't play music? Would you share with us your private life,
job, age, etc.? What do you usually do in Riihimäki?
Well, I was born in March '79, so you can count my age from that.
At the moment I study data processing in Helsinki Business Polytechnic.
I also studied visual art in the Art School of Hyvinkää for a
year, but had to cease because of the Polytech. I also have many
years of experience in the glorious fields of delivering morning
newspapers. My passions revolve around all that has something
to do with visual and musical art. I've done logos and also some
cover artwork for various bands. Try to guess which two of them
appeared in Bylec-Tum #7. My other interests include reading,
some movies, venturing around the coutryside, and last but definitely
not least my better half, also referred to as the girlfriend,
who takes all the time, and usually much more, from the other
12. Do you like metal and its extreme forms
of music? Which are your favourite groups?
Most of the stuff I listen to is metal. I'm not sure how extreme
you would describe the band's I listen to, but I'll reveal some
bands and you can judge for yourself. Amorhis, Dark Tranquillity,
Skepticism and The 3rd and the Mortal are my all-time favourites.
I'm mostly into doom/death in it's slowest (Skepticism, Thergothon,
Esoteric) and most atmospheric (Amorphis, Yearning) form. Folk/Fantasy
metal (Furthest Shore, Summoning) and some softer metal (Anathema,
Decoryah)is also close to my heart.
13. I know that at the moment you're going
to record new songs and that you have quite alot of new material
composed too. Which are your future plans?
I have now recorded and mixed enough material for a split release
with Isafjord. Thundra Records from Poland will release the thing.
Nest's part will have a duration of about 24 minutes and will
include 3 new songs and improved versions of Land Behind the Mist
and An Oaken Citadel. All artwork on the CD will also be done
by me. After this project has been completed I'll continue composing
new songs, and recording/mixing the songs I already have ready.
14. It's the end. .. Last words from the cold
My appreciation for this interview. All the best to you and the
'zine. For those of you who have access to the net feel free to
visit Nest at www.bigfoot.com/~atolonen/nest (Expired address!
please use < http://iki.fi/atolonen/nest > -Nest). You can also find
news about the split there when it is due.
"Jos ei soitto Suomen kansan vasta vaikuta ilolle
eli uuvuta unehen, maku'usen maanittele,
niin vetehen visko'otte, aaltoihin upottaotte,
tahi vieköhön takaisin, soitto tuonne saattaotte
miehen tehnehen käsille, sormille sovittelijan!"
(Kalevala, poem 40)