VELVET OCEAN, a fresh metal act from Oulu, are going to release their debut album “Purposes and Promises” on 7 February 2020. We had a chance to talk to the band about their upcoming release. Read the entire interview below.
Hi there! Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. You are soon releasing your new album, how are you feeling about the release?
Hi! Thank you very much for this opportunity! We’ve been working on the album for several years already so naturally, the release will be a much anticipated moment for us. We are very happy with the album and we think that we were able to musically accomplish something that we were originally after. However, there is also some level of excitement involved regarding how people will welcome the album and will they really like it as we hope of course.
Could you introduce VELVET OCEAN to those who haven’t yet heard about your band?
VELVET OCEAN is just a few years old melodic metal band from Oulu, Northern Finland. Our style is perhaps a mix of different styles of metal but we are also adding influences from other music genres outside metal. VELVET OCEAN was originally put together a couple of years ago by the lead singer Riitu and guitarist Jake. The whole project began as a writing project and at that point, we didn’t have the live band so much in focus. There were musicians joining us for studio sessions including the Oulu Symphonic Orchestra cello player Arto Alikoski and keyboard player Marco Sneck (POISONBLACK etc). Marco, with his experience, was a great help to us in shaping our style and giving fresh ideas for the arrangements. After the album was handed out to the studio we started to focus more on putting together the live ensemble with 7 members in the band now. Our “specialty”, live acoustic cello, sounds really cool in the band setting we think.
You were introduced to our magazine as the “Within Temptation of Finland.” How do you find that comparison? What other influences does your music have?
Well… for starters we must say that WITHIN TEMPTATION is a great band so we are naturally honored if somebody wants to compare us with them in any aspect. The original idea behind our music was that we didn’t really want to restrict ourselves to any particular genre or copy any particular band’s style. I think you can also hear that in the album because there are songs that are not exactly cut from the same cloth. In this case, we think that this approach worked to our advantage because we were able to experiment and find out what works for us. When you’re making music everything that you have ever heard affects what you’re doing if you don’t deliberately limit yourself. Just to mention a few great bands among many let’s say EVANESCENCE, MUSE, AMORPHIS, 30 SECONDS TO MARS, DREAM THEATER, METALLICA, QUEEN, LED ZEPPELIN, RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, etc.
The title of your debut album is “Purposes and Promises.” What does the title stand for?
This is going to be deep. It’s a very big problem in a person’s life, of course, if you think that the purpose of life is somehow missing. Many people don’t really have time to ponder those kinds of questions because they are just doing the stuff they need to do. Also for some people, it’s clear that they focus on something and stay happy with that. When we started to plan the album it’s safe to say that something seemed to be missing in our lives spiritually. It also seemed that despite many earlier “projects” we hadn’t been able to say the things that we wanted through music. This way the album project gave us a “purpose”. However, as with all great endeavors, there was an element of uncertainty and doubt involved whether we would ever be able to pull this thing off. A promise was however sealed and here we are now just a few weeks from the promise becoming a reality!
Is there an overarching theme present on the album? If not, what sorts of themes are present in the lyrics?
Again, we don’t think any particular theme was planned neither is the album meant to be conceptual but many of the songs ended up involving the processing of some kind of existential crisis. There are a lot of themes circling death and desperation but we still don’t think the album is that bleak altogether. There is always some element of hope or a blink of light present. There are also other elements involving problematic relationships and so on.
What was the writing process like for “Purposes and Promises”? Was it a collaborative effort, or is there one main songwriter? Who does what?
Basically the main framework for all the songs was put together by Riitu and Jake before the actual arranging and recording started. There are many songs that have been co-written but that process was, in the beginning, quite complicated. It took a couple of wrestling matches before we started speaking the same language. Riitu’s writing is very spontaneous and impulsive and she can pull off a song from start to finish in an hour. After that, it’s endless fiddling with the fine details. She doesn’t exactly play any instrument but she’s been heavily involved in production-like stuff including additional synths and programming as well and is clearly responsible for the main vision of VELVET OCEAN’s music. Other people were seriously involved in shaping the sound and the style of the songs as well, of course.
What was the recording process like? Any crazy stories from the time you spent in the studio?
The process was pretty typical actually. We quickly pre-demoed the songs first with basic instruments and drum machine and then recorded the songs one at a time starting with the drums. Of course, it took an enormous amount of time. The mixing and mastering was done in Fascination Street Studios in Sweden so that involved a lot of emails. Our recording space was in a cellar and there was once a really heavy thunderstorm that got the streets flooding and the roof of the studio was leaking to the exact place where the recording computer was just a while ago. We weren’t there when this happened so it was a close disaster. It certainly taught us to keep backups in a safe place if nothing else. In a song called “Salvation,” we wanted to get some kind of “street band” sound in the mix. There we were trying to find all sorts of stuff to “play” in the recording studio. On the track, you can hear a CRC-can, a bucket, pliers and other things in addition to a Chinese instrument called Erhu. Recording those was actually hilarious.
Is there something that you have learnt from writing this first album that you will take into account when writing the next release?
There are actually quite many songs that have already been written or demoed but weren’t decided to be taken into the album so we think it’s very easy to start from there again. In the beginning, we didn’t really have any idea what style of music we will be actually making. In that sense, we think the style of the band will refine even further with the next album. Of course, many things and especially many practical things will be easier and faster now that we have a proven procedure on how to get things done. On the other hand, it might also be interesting to try using an outside producer just to try what else we could do with our music. In the writing process, we noticed that it’s a good idea to write down or record all possible ideas even the ones that seem totally crazy. After a while, they might start sounding completely different and you may never know where you might find use for them. It’s a good idea to let everybody say their ideas and process everything before making any final decisions. The practical things like album covers and that sort of things are better to get done early because, in the end, you will be in a hurry anyway.
What are your next plans as a band? Do you have any plans for the upcoming year, or can we expect some shows around Finland?
There are a few things to start with. We have actually at least two more music videos in production so those should be finished at some point. If the album release catches some attention hopefully there will be demand for live gigs which we would like to do everywhere. There are a couple of gigs coming up but there could certainly be more. The next album is already in planning so there definitely isn’t a problem with too much time on our hands.
Any last thoughts that you want to share with our readers before we wrap up this interview?
Please, go check out our music! You might find something you weren’t expecting! Let’s make metal great again! We hope to see everyone at gigs soon!