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interview - M Magazine

First half of 2003

Let's probably begin with the latest happenings in your small "camp". What are you doing nowdays? Do you take part in promoting "Woodsmoke" or, maybe, this part of show-business doesn't interest you at all?
Greetings to ye. This be A.T. of Nest writing. The latest tidings from the camp surrounding the nest are that we have just released the new album entitled 'Woodsmoke'. It is our first full-length release, and therefore a milestone in our lives and musical hobbies. To celebrate the release, we performed live in front of a sold out crowd in Turku Finland at February 8th 2003. The fact that we performed as an opening act for Tenhi probably had nothing to do with the gig being sold out, eh :) It was also our first ever live gig too. Lots of "first ever" occurances have been going on around us lately.

I'm happy to tell you that a good friend of mine, T. Saxell, played bass with Nest's live show. I have been luring him into joining Nest as a permanent member, seeing that he already has contributed quite a lot of vocals to the previous releases. I am very confident that he will crack and join Nest anytime now…

At the moment there isn't much else going on. Only the promotion of the new album, which is mainly handled by the label Corvus Records. Emil of Corvus is a swell guy, who has done a great job with releasing and promoting the new album. My part in the promoting has consisted of answering to some interviews and sending promotional copies to worthwhile 'zines in Finland. I enjoy answering interviews, but it is good to have a label to handle distribution and promotion. I doubt I would have enough energy to handle these things properly. I also redesigned the Nest web site. It was time to lay the old one to rest.

What does the word "nest" symbolize for you, what does it mean for you personally?
I must congratulate you. You are the first person to ask me this question. I was wondering when someone would. I applaud ye. From the first moment on, when I started to think of a good name for a band, I wanted one that would bring forth images of comfort, solace, warmth, peace, etc. And the most fitting thing I could think of was synonymous to "home" - the plase of love and shelter. So there you have it. For me Nest stands for home, and home stands for the things already mentioned.

Do you consider music just a mere hobby of yours or is it something more serious? What part of your life, of your personality does it take? It might be just one of the ways of self-expression for somebody and the whole life, the only reason to live for somebody else…
Well, I mostly think of music as a hobby, but I do take it very seriously. It is a facet of life which brings me great joy and meaning. It is not my only reason to live, but one of the most important ones. Although I'm self-taught and have only been involved with music for about a dozen years I couldn't imagine my life without it. It is indeed self-expression, but I try not to be too selfish about it. I am aware of people who enjoy this type of music and I enjoy hearing from and talking to them. Regarding my personality, I want to do my own small part in increasing the amount of joy in this realm, so that is what I try to do with Nest.

What does Finnish folklore mean to you? What books would you recommend not only to your country-mates but to all people in the world to learn more about this great culture? Do you like the way AMORPHIS presented some myths and legends of the Suomi's past?
I'm very much fond of Finnish folklore. The Kalevala and the Kanteletar are naturally the most important written works on the subject, and they are the ones I would recommend to everyone interested in taking the first dive into Finnish folklore. It's hard for me to recommend other written works to non-Finnish people, because I mostly know folk material written in Finnish. But see if you can find "Boreaksen Lapset" (The children of Boreas) by Anu Holopainen. It be an excellent wintry tale. I also like old animal, hunting and other various folk tales. One particular field I enjoy are the tales passed on by families of their ancestors and their escapades. These tales which are passed on by word of mouth through generations, are unfortunately quite scarce nowadays. The story telling tradition is not what it used to be.

Amorphis is one of my all-time favorite bands, and their "Tales From the Thousand Lakes" album is an absolute classic in my ears. I think they did an excellent job in incorporating Finnish folklore and traditional folk melodies into metal during their folk period. I do enjoy all of their stuff, but the most memorable were their folk stuff.

Your attitude to… paganism?
I am not in any way affiliated with paganism. I am interested in knowing what kind of mythos old folks, like the Vikings, ancient Finns, the Greek people, etc. had, but I'm not in any way interested to make their beliefs my own.

What are the main emotions you'd like to express in your music, the feelings you'd like the listeners to feel and the thoughts to come to their heads? How do you personally perceive your music, what does it feels like for you?
I wish that the listeners of Nest's stuff experience the music in their own individual way. I encourage everyone to use their imagination when listening to our music. The emotions I get from and use as inspiration for the songs circle around tranquility, solemnity, peace, solace, fantastic vistas, and the like. Depending on the individual song, of course. I also tend to listen to this kind of music (not my own, but music similar to this style) when going to bed. It relaxes me nicely before I fall asleep.

Do you see the point where fields of visual and aural art coincide? Have you ever crossed the borders between these two forms?
Oh, absolutely. I think these two forms complement each other very nicely. Good visual artwork can bring a whole lot of depth to music, and I would also like to see an art exhibit where you could listen to music or similar while admiring the visuals. But as we are focusing on music now, visuals can also lead your mind from the themes of the music. I don't think this can be avoided, so I don't tend to worry about it too much. When I listen to an album whose visual appearance is nothing like the image I get from the music I just leave the visuals be and concentrate on the images brought from the music. When I produce visuals for Nest I always intend on reflecting the music in them and vice versa. I couldn't even do it any other way. In Nest these two fields are woven together so closely that I would feel something was missing if I didn't do my best with both of them.

Do you spend much time in front of the computer? It's really hard to believe that this kind of NATURAL music can be born by the means of "dead" keyboard… :)
Oh yes, way too much time. And my wrists can testify this. One of my main hobbies is twiddling about with a computer. I use it to a varied degree in music, visual art, programming, etc. My profession and studies are also computer related, so I won't be getting away from "old gray" for long periods of time.

Sometimes I too doubt that this kind of naturalistic music could be made with the aid of a computer, but it seems possible enough. I just take the best of both worlds. The base of Nest's songs are always composed and played live with the Kantele. The computer is used to record the music and compose the background sounds, do the effects, etc. I've also recently taken a shine to crafting my own synthetic sounds and sound effects. The future holds more than just predefined factory synths from now on. In contrast to this I have also brought aboard new traditional drums, such as a traditional drum from Lapland and a Bodhran. So the natural elements certainly won't be diminished.

Do you have some kind of regular job? And… what's that if it's not a secret?… Something connected with web-design?
At the moment I don't have a job, but I've been mainly working with computers in the past. I had a job where I programmed with Java, managed databases, did web-designing and other graphical stuff, etc. I enjoy this kind of work, because it touches my creative nerve just the way I would want work to do. And it didn't get boring because I had many different tasks to perform. Now I'm studying all things computer related, and I'm going to graduate in about half a year's time, so after that it's time to look for a job once more. I have also done some logos and cover artwork for my friends' bands, but things have been quiet in this front for quite some time now. And the last, but not least, work I have done has been delivering morning newspapers. It's good physical exercise, I tell you.

Could you describe an ideal situation for listening to your music? (surroundings, time, etc… what would you recommend to your listeners?) What time of the day do you feel your music's closer to: morning, daytime, evening or night? Any, by the way, what are your associations with each of the four? (Something that comes to you mind first when you think about them…?)
The ideal situation for listening to Nest's music varies with each person listening to it. Once again I'm advising people to find the surroundings that suit them the best. But when speaking for myself, I would very much like to play some songs during a summer evening at a thing we Finns call a "Laavu". It is a sort of a half-tent with logs to sit on and a fire in front of the seats. It would be great to have people listening to the playing, having something to drink and eat, and generally having a good evening among friends.

I think Nest's stuff suits all times of day, depending on the song in question. For example, a Winternight Visage is definitely a song for the night or nightfall, whereas I think that By the Healing waters could suit morning and day. I personally like all times of the day, the favorites being sunrise and sunset. The world of color is simply spectacular during a wintry sunrise or a summer sunset. The day is for work and play, and the night is for rest - either sleeping or otherwise.

As far as I can see, your favorite way of time-spending is wandering in the forests, swaying in the hazy moor or heath mysticism… How much time do you usually dedicate to these poetically inspiring walks? Do you prefer to be there in solitude or in somebody else's company (your girlfriend's, for example)? Have you seen the scenes, the sights you were especially impressed by, some exquisite Nature's wonders you can never forget, something that touched your heart in it's very deep, if you know what I mean……?
Yes, I do enjoy roaming about in nature, and I spend quite a lot of time doing so depending on the season. In the late spring and summer I walk and also ride a bike approximately 3 hours a day, but during the autumn and winter I mainly walk and not so often. When walking I do it both in solitude and with my better half (the girlfriend), and when I'm riding, I prefer to do it alone. I generally enjoy picking a random direction and just going as far as I care to, and then finding another way back. These ventures have brought me many delightful sound and sights - very fond memories.

The most memorable scenes I've seen include most of Lapland and the lake-filled areas of Finland. Some especially fantastic places that have left their image perpetually in my soul are a certain small lake some 10 km from my home and one lake formed into a split hill, between two steep rock cliffs about 50 meters high in central Finland. The small lake is an embodiment of tranquility, with enchanting coniferous forest hills circling it. The lake in the split hill is an unbelievably majestic place. It's a humbling experience to think what force has been at work to split a hill in two and form a lake in the bottom. I would really like to go there again to play and just soak up the atmosphere, but It's quite hard to reach from where I live.

Do you consider yourself a happy person? What's happiness for you, by the way?
I'm not as happy as I would like to be, but I have nothing against being happy. I have been known to be very happy at times, but there are also times when I'm "not so cheerful". For me happiness means being able to enjoy life, friends, activities and generally being content with what I've got. I also gain joy from producing music, visuals and other stuff that may bring joy into other people's lives.

Your favorite styles of metal-music? Your favorite bands in…
My favorite styles of metal are Doom, Melodic Death, and folk influenced stuff. I tried to list my favorite bands by genres, but I noticed that it was quite difficult, as I don't know what to call certain bands. Well, here goes… My favorite "Doom metal" bands include Skepticism, Shape of Despair, Agalloch, Ashen Mortality, Yearning and The 3rd and the Mortal. My fave "Death metal" bands include Amorphis, Dark Tranquillity, Orphaned Land and Ensiferum. I don't listen to Thrash, Heavy/power, Black or Gothic metal too much, but my faves in "Thrash metal" are old Metallica, in "Heavy/power" Blind Guardian, Rhapsody and Grave Digger, in "Black metal" Summoning, Catamenia and Rakoth, and in "Gothic metal" old Theatre of Tragedy.

Have you ever heard the band EMPYRIUM? What's your opinion on it?
It is a good band, with some excellent songs. I especially enjoy 'Where at Night the Wood Grouse Plays' and certain songs from Weiland. It is a shame that we won't be hearing more of their stuff. I hope they have new equally impressive projects planned.

Do you know anything about Russian folk-music? Ever heard something like that?
I Haven't heard too much Russian folk music, but I'm always interested in hearing new stuff. One name 'Moon Far Away' comes to mind. I don't know if it is actual Russian folk music, but it is great nevertheless. Russian music is quite rare even here in Finland that is right next to Russia. It's a shame because from what I've heard I know there is lots more quality stuff there that I have yet to hear.

Your TOP 5 of the latest releases, please…
I haven't been paying much attention to the latest releases, so my list includes albums from quite a wide time-span. Tenhi's Väre is an excellent new progressive folk album. They also performed the new song very good live. Agalloch's The Mantle is an excellent combination of dark/doom metal, acoustics and atmosphere. Skepticism's The Process of Farmakon is a formidable piece of funeral doom and promises great things for the new album. Dark Tranquillity's Damage Done is once again a successful melodic death metal offering. These guys don't seem to be able to produce bad or even mediocre albums. And last, but definitely not least Ensiferum's self titled debut album is the greatest piece of folk influenced melodic death metal since Amorphis' Tales from the Thousand Lakes. Ain't I predictable ;)

That's probably all… (if you wanna add something, please, feel free to do it. I could have forgotten something really important…) And… Thanxxx for your answers - I hope this interview wasn't too boring…
Yours,
Anastasiya

Thank ye very much for this interview. It was a pleasure to answer to it, not boring at all. All the best to ye and yer publication. Before I go, I wish to invite everyone reading this to stop by at Nest's www site at < http://iki.fi/atolonen/nest >.

All the best to all ye out there. -A.T. & Nest