Instrumental guitar virtuoso Samuli Federley from Espoo released “Lifestream” July 20th through Inverse Records. We had the opportunity to have a chat with Samuli to talk about the EP and his work in general.
Hi Samuli! Thanks for making the time, can you give a brief history of your project?
Samuli: I’ve been playing guitar for about 27 years. I currently live in Espoo, Finland. I’ve been playing in many bands in the past, of which the main project would be Reversion. We played progressive metal and released two albums and two EPs. Then there have been many other bands and projects. My playing can be heard over on ten albums and actually one of them sold gold here in Finland [Moottörin Jyrinä, On Aika Mennä Nukkumaan-EP]. In 2012 I decided to make a solo album [Quest For Remedy] and I also released a music video with it [Colonoscopy]. To my surprise, people took it very well and it sold out. I also got to tour in Finland, China, and Germany as a solo artist so it definitely was a right choice to make. So it’s a one man band and I make all the music all by myself.
You recently released a new album “Lifestream”. Can you talk a little bit more about that?
Samuli: In 2018 I released my second album called “Lifestream” which is a 4 song EP. I call my music visual metal and it has elements from classical to electro played in a metal style. It has strong atmospheric sounds and the listener is supposed to see stories with their minds’ eyes while listening to the songs. I’m really into movie soundtracks so I’m sure you’ll hear these elements in the music. I also wanted to make interesting music and not to solo all the time. The songs break the normal structures of songs and you need to have an open mind for my music. They are like movies where the story evolves and they also need to have surprises. The songs go hand in hand with my music videos and there is already one video released called “Guitar Kungfu”. The second video is being made at the moment for a song called “Lifestream” from my EP.
Looking forward! What inspires you in general to write music?
Samuli: Basically anything can be inspiring. I’ve never had a lack of ideas for songs and there’s something cooking all the time in my mind. I have demo material for several albums and sometimes I use these old ideas but usually, I like to create new music from scratch. Movies and, especially, movie scores are really inspiring. I get fresh ideas from other musical styles than metal and combine these ideas with more aggressive touch. Sometimes a cool band can be inspiring but usually, I can hear my songs in my head and I give them time and let them build by themselves. Then I start to demo them on to my computer and at this point, they are pretty much ready but they might need a lot of arranging. This is easier to do when I can hear them from the speakers.
How did the creative process of “Lifestream” go?
Samuli: It’s really hard to remember the creative process since all the songs were pretty much composed in my head for one year and a half. I concentrated on one song at a time and I was pretty manic with them. When the new song starts to build in my head it pretty much takes all my attention. With “Guitar Kungfu” the overall process took almost one year. I had an idea for the story in the song where basically good and evil are having a battle inside of our minds and finally combining forces. At some point, I felt the composing a little bit hard so I gave it time. I didn’t want to push it and after a few weeks or months, it started to move forward. There weren’t any particular difficulties during the whole process. The composing and recording was a normal experience for me but the biggest challenge was the mixing. I did that by myself and at the same time, it was a learning process. I’m happy how it turned out and will keep studying more mixing in the future. In “Waves of Sound”, I had for guest soloist from China so that was very interesting to hear what they do. All of them play classical Chinese instruments like erhu so the mixing of these acoustic instruments was a bit challenging.
So, let’s talk a little bit more about the songwriting. Can you talk a bit more about that?
Samuli: I make all the music by myself. I use the first song “Red Horizon” as an intro for my shows so I wanted it to open this album as well. With this song, it feels like the sun is rising and the day will bring a battle. I consider “Guitar Kungfu” as an epic action movie. “Lifestream” is more like a drama and the upcoming video will underline that. Waves of Sound is more like a modern instrument (my guitar) is having a conversation with the ancient instruments. My next release will deliver two more visual metal songs and one of the themes will be a horror movie in a song!
Can you tell us a bit more about the cover art of “Lifestream”?
Samuli: My friend Arktinen Lapsi made the artwork. The cover art is leaning towards the story in “Guitar Kungfu”. It has two sides of my face, the other being kind of good and the other evil. So it’s kinda a Yin and Yang thing and it’s in space which isn’t placed into any particular place but more like into a universal setting. Inside the booklet is a very cool photo which took four people to make happen. We took it during filming the “Guitar Kungfu” video. There are sparks flying all around me and we used this light painting method to capture the moment.
How do you feel your surroundings are inspiring you in your music?
Samuli: I’m from Espoo which right next to Helsinki. I love nature and the ocean and we have both of those in here. It’s very inspiring just to walk in the forest where you can actually hear your thoughts. That’s where a lot of my music is being composed. The metal scene in Helsinki is good but it’s not as good as it used to be in early 2000. There’s lots of metal bands and gigs and some cool venues. I perform pretty much in here and all over Finland in general. The Finns take my music pretty well. I feel it doesn’t restrict me but Finland is a small country so the majority of my fans are from abroad.
What are the challenges you had to overcome so far? How did that change you?
Samuli: I feel that by traveling as a one-man-band, there are fewer challenges than with a normal band. I might take guests to my gigs and I even used to have a backing band but the guys are just too busy like, for example, Rolf Pilve, who is playing in Stratovarius and Wintersun. Then I thought it’s easier to do it alone and it has gone really well. I wanted to be logistically independent so I needed to get my own PA and lighting so that was the biggest obstacle. Now I feel that side is ok and I also got a booking agent so I can focus more on music.
What are your future plans? Can we expect some shows in Finland?
Samuli: My plans are to make lots of new music and videos. I want to get better all the time with playing, composing, mixing and arranging so lots of epicness is about to come. I want to make my new material from point 0 so there’s nothing yet but when I start the process it’ll come. There are plenty of ideas already for new music though. I’m doing shows all the time. I’ve played this year in Finland, Czech Republic, and Sweden. I’m also gonna tour in Romania in September. There are also a few festivals coming up so all this is very interesting to me.
Any last words for our readers?
Samuli: Thank you for support! Get my CDs, see you on the road and keep doing what you love!