Interview: Finnish electro/noise artist Säröllä

Finland – not exactly what a noise fan might think of as the center-point of the genre.  So, we were intrigued and a bit surprised when we initially found Finnish artist Säröllä and his release Lopussa 1-8.

As it turns out, we uncovered with his second release Kuumeuni that we have here a genre and style-defying artist who continues to create his own voice and dive into other areas that border on electo/ebm.  Given that and the fact that our reviews of his work did very well, we felt it appropriate to dive deeper and do an interview.  So, we’d like to thank Säröllä for taking the time to answer our questions.

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Your first release, “Lopussa 1-8” was basically  harsh noise.  The 2 more recent releases employ more of a electro sound.  Why the decision in the shift and what else have you “got up your sleeve” in terms of styles?

Its quite funny how my first album got created. One day I saw that The Rita and Pudern were going on tour, so I asked if they would want to come to Finland. After a quick discussion with Pudern he asked me if I make any noise. I sent him one of my demo’s and he said he loved it. After this we made a deal that if they decided to come to Helsinki, I would open for them. So I made the album, because I wanted to have some material out before the show. That is not to say that any of my releases were the sort of ”i just made them”.

The decision to shift towards electronic music was not quite radical in my opinion. I believe that when you are an Avant-Garde artist you have the freedom to release anything you like. When something sounds good (or bad), it doesn’t matter if you’re a noise artist or a techno -producer. That’s why I love acts who don’t fall under one category but remain open to new ideas. I still believe that I will include harsh noise elements in my future projects. One good example of this method is my latest song release Katarsis. 

I’m going to keep on experimenting with other genres with my future projects.

What about your influences, musically in and outside of those two genres?

I take a lot of inspiration from other Finnish underground artists. The electro/techno -style comes from my love towards Pan Sonic and Tähtiportti (a Finnish techno act). In noise my main influences are artists such as Grunt and Encepalophonic. Outside of those genres I’m a big fan of synthesizer music. Anything with analog equipment goes basically. I also love industrial music and early electronic music such as Einstürzende Neubaten, Throbbing Gristle and Cosey Fanni Tutti’s solo work. I’m also a massive techno fan, I love repetitive patterns in music. 

In the beginning, you seemed to be more reclusive.  Like may artists, you just wanted your work to speak for itself.  While this is understandable, why the decision to open up a bit now?

The decision to open up actually came to me when I started to think what was different in my own sound compared to something else that is already made. I thought it was time to open up a little about the themes I find interesting and meaningful in my music. 

I believe every artist has their own manifesto and their personalities give a lot of insight into their music. This manifesto is the driving force behind everyone who makes music. If you have no manifesto, your music lacks personality. Sometimes it’s more apparent what the manifesto is, and other times it isn’t. I have many things to say with my music, so I believe that my later work will tell its story without any need for me to disclosure them with words.

In listening to your releases, it appears that you do a lot of variations upon a central theme or pattern.  Is that accurate?

Short answer: Yes.

Longer answer: the theme always happens naturally, it isn’t something I purely decide to do. As I said in a previous question, I’m a big fan of repetitive patterns and drone- music. I drive towards minimal changes in my songs without making it too boring to listen to. It drives you into a trance and because there isn’t a lot of change, you can listen to it without any surprises disturbing your peace.

So to sum it up, the themes happen naturally.

Are you involved with any other projects?  Perhaps one that uses lyrics?

I have one ambient project under construction and I’m working with one great poet to write some lyrics to my songs. I don’t have any active projects with any releases, but every now and then I post some random stuff I make that doesn’t get released to my secret soundcloud account haha.

Your album titles are in Finnish.  Could you give us some idea of what they mean and the ideas behind them?

I use Finnish language because it’s so natural, beautiful and descriptive. 

I don’t have any specific logic to my song names. Most songs are named by an adjective that first comes to my mind when I think of the creative process behind it and the theme in it.
There is still a heavy weight on how I name them. 

What plans do you have for releases in 2018 and do you think you will do albums that are available on CD, vinyl or cassette?  Also, I think you mentioned something about a possible tour?

My plans for 2018 is to keep diving deeper into the depths of avant-garde. I believe that in my generation there is lots of things waiting to change in terms of culture and music.

I’m now trying to construct a live -set so the next album is a bit delayed. After I’ve gotten that sorted out I can start to focus on my next album Katarsis.
I’m also going to press a small batch of casettes of Tekninen Häiriö and Lopussa 1-8 at some point of this year, so be on the lookout for that.

The tour is something I cannot talk about right now.

What do you think that the differences are in the reasons why people listen to harsh noise as apposed to why they listen to electro/industrial/ebm?

For me personally, there is no difference. 

For other people, some might not find the same kind of escapism and hedonism in harsh noise and rather find those things in the ”danceability” of electro.

If I was in charge of the general mainstream culture, I would make every type of music easily available, so everyone would know everything there is in terms of music genres so they could be more open to this type of music.

You noted “starting to organize events for other artists and keeping the avant-garde scene alive in Helsinki.”  Can you elaborate a little on that?

Yes. Säröllä is just what I make myself, the higher goal is to make avant-garde more heard.

I’m currently trying to start a movement in Helsinki that is more open to people who just love what they make. Luckily there are people who think the same so I’ve got people supporting me and sharing my interests. I’m so thankful to those who help me to achieve my goals.

To answer your question more directly, I’m currently working on to organize my first mini-festivals and the thought behind it is that I know for sure I’m not the only one who has a word to say. I absolutely love the feeling of passion that thrives me personally and that’s why I want to help people to show their own passions like I do.

How has the culture of Finland and your upbringing shaped what you do musically?

The culture of Helsinki is more accurate than the culture of Finland. Helsinki is the biggest city so there is lots of underground events happening all the time. These events have shaped me into the culture loving being that I am.

In Finland, its quite well known that we have the tendency to be dark and even depressed. That’s why we love to party and rave to balance that part out.

The parties in Helsinki are the best. You see the most introvert people turn into the most outgoing people who just have so much to say, and that’s why I absolutely love Helsinki. If you get to the right places, you never meet more authentic people than you do in here.

This introvertism has shaped my music to be more minimalistic and if you listen closely and focus, you know that it has things to say.

Situation:

You are presented with an opportunity (and a large sum of money) to compose a soundtrack for an object which otherwise has no sound.  Ex: painting, sculpture, silent film.  For what project would you like to work and what tools would you use to create this piece?

I would love to make a soundtrack to films like Neon Demon. As I said I love synthesizers, so those movies with the right atmosphere comes to me naturally. 

Many many years down the road, a very distant relative locates a small box in the attic of an old home.  In that box they find an album labeled, “Sarolla.”  What would you like this person to know about your legacy simply from listening to your work?

You have to believe in bad sounds. Don’t believe in genres. You have the power to make the change to those rules that make the music in radio. Someone always has to be the first one to make the change. 

I believe in culture and I admire everyone who has the will and power to continue what they do. My passion is not to make myself heard rather than to give other artists the courage to keep doing what they do.

https://sarolla.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/lopussa

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