INTERVIEWS

Interview with Spiritraiser — “You should just go ahead, if you’re all the time scared, you will not be able to live, you will not be able to enjoy any of these beautiful things that we have in this world.”

Spiritraiser releases their debut album “Inspiral” on 28 September 2018. The band has a unique atmospheric sound that feels almost indescribable. The band is now releasing their debut album “Inspiral” on 28 September 2018. 

We had the chance to catch up with singer Jules and guitarist Uula to talk about the band and the upcoming release. 

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© Pete Voutilainen

Thank you guys for making the time! Are you ready to roll?

Jules: Uula, how’s your hair?

Uula: I think it’s good.

Jules: I shaved his head today. (laughs)

Looking good! (laughs) So, you guys are releasing your debut album “Inspiral” end of September. Can you give a brief history of the band?

Uula: Well, we started I would say about 15 years ago. A lot of things have changed. We used to play different music then. We started out as this stoner rockish eighties metal band because our singer was into that. He moved to the USA and now he’s in London. He’s the singer of Diamond Black, check that band out. After that, we were an instrumental band for four years until Jules came along.

Jules: Was it 2014?

Uula: Sounds about right to me.

Jules: I heard that these guys were still playing. We tried to collaborate before, around 2011. I got to know Uula and their band and I really liked what they were doing those days. I offered to try out something together, but we never had the time to do something serious. In 2013 I came to Finland because of recordings. During the sessions, I spoke to my friend and asked her if these guys still have a band. She told me that they have a show downstairs at Nosturi. I asked her who their vocalist is at the moment. She told me that there is none, they’re gonna play an instrumental show. I called Uula and told him that if they’re having a show, I should sing for in it. Apparently, he thought it was a good idea. We did that, it was our first show with the new Spiritraiser. That was in 2013.

Uula: We immediately started talking about releasing an album. I also have to mention that this dude, contacted us about two months before the show. He didn’t have anything, no lyrics, nothing. We only had two rehearsals before that. We clicked. He improvised most of the lyrics.

Jules: At the set. But it was supposed to be an instrumental show anyway, so who says I can’t improvise. (laughs)

Uula: I love improvising music, that’s what I live for. Then there’s this guy who wants to improvise vocals during our show… I immediately was like can I have this dude in our band, guys?

Jules: It was a good start.

Uula: It was a really good start!

Do you still do that a lot… Improvising?

Jules: We do improvise a lot in the rehearsal room, whenever we are together. We start jamming something together. We use that tool still to write our songs.

Uula: The main element of writing songs for us is by improvising something. We record that and then we check what’s a good part and what’s not. We start to build from there.

Is it difficult to figure things out again from what you improvised?

Jules: Actually, I can tell you about a session we did at our summer place. We were there to relax and the whole band was there. The guys came along with some recording equipment so we started jam around some ideas. They already had a lot of ideas with riffs and all those things so we listened to those. After a while, I just started to sing something and recorded some of it so that we would remember them after the sessions. (laughs) Based on those sessions we are now going to start recording an EP at some point. It’s a very fruitful thing whenever we come together and start making something.

Uula: It feels really easy too.

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Do you come together a lot? Since you live in Brazil, Jules, I guess it’s not so easy?

Jules: Whenever we can. (laughs) At the moment we have a good week going on, we can do a lot of these things, for example, and we can spend a lot of time in the practice room as well. We try to get as much out of it as possible. At the moment I will be in Finland for some months. So, before I go again I think we are able to at least demo the songs in a form that we can start planning the recordings. We are pretty effective when it comes to having to do something. We can’t say the process of this album has been effective though. It took us four years to come to this point.

Oh, so it’s from back when you had the show?

Jules: Yeah, exactly!

How has the creative process been otherwise?

Jules: We can talk about the process of our debut album. I think we recorded everything kind of fast. But post-production took a long time. Now we are finally the point where we can put it out for people to listen to, so we’re really excited about that but it took so much time to come to this point. Everyone was already going forward to start writing new songs. We already have a lot of new material but we want to make good songs. We wanna be sure that the next recording we’re gonna make, and we’re talking about an EP, will be really class A. No desktop songs that we would never use. It’s all coming together again, I think we will be much more effective now.

Uula: The process of making those songs has been more professional. We really looked into the songs. They’re not that much based on improvisation, but more on what comes from the improvisation.

Jules: We have a lot of different elements such as synthesizers, ambient sounds in the background. A lot of things are always changing. When we do something at first, it might turn into something completely different. That’s why we need to test around a lot of ideas to see what will work and what won’t work and then we go for the best ones.

I always find this kind of music, genre, so extremely difficult to write songs cause it’s so spacey. As a listener, I feel like I lose attention a bit, but in a good way, kind of going up in the music, losing yourself. How is that for you guys, when you play live? Do you kind of lose focus or…?

Uula: I wouldn’t say lose focus, but I would say that I lose myself in a way in the music. Because the songs are not that tight, there’s a lot of room to do stuff and to do it a bit differently. So, I lose myself in the music in a good way, but the focus is really intense.

Jules: What we are looking for when we are throwing around some ideas in the rehearsal room is that it needs to have that kind of a feeling of wow. We found something and it can be very atmospheric, it can be the general feeling of how the music is but it needs to be a collective kind of feeling with everybody watching each other like wow this is going to be amazing. I think that was the case with the songs that are coming out now, but this is also the way we are continuing to make the new songs. For me, it’s a new challenge to be in a band like this. This is very much my music, but it’s a different process of also entering the music, the riffs and trying to understand how I can help to make it better, what I can do. That lines up the songs for me. I know where my parts are. I know what I’m going to do and what sums up the song for me. These guys might be throwing around 100 ideas and get 4 or 5 good things to use in a song. It’s a big process in a way.

I was gonna ask you as well Profane Omen is a very different vocal style, how do you feel about combining those, is there any kind of vocal styles you still want to explore?

Jules: I think I’ve always been a singer in the first place. The whole shouting and growling thing came to me later in my life. I’ve always considered myself as a singer mainly, so Spiritraiser gives me the chance to explore those limits as much as possible. I can also blend in some aggressive stuff here and there and for me, this works really great. I always wanted to sing as many different things as possible so I’m in a very good situation where I can explore myself with Spiritraiser and I can explore myself with Profane Omen.

Uula: I have to say that in this music, his way of singing is really natural. When we start to play heavier, he starts to sing heavier. The whole package. It’s almost going by itself. It feels like this is the way it should be, it doesn’t feel like forced that now you should growl or you should shout or anything it just goes with how the music should go and how the vocals should go. It just flows. Which is nice.

Jules: It’s nice. (laughs)

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So, we already talked about how improvisation is an important part of the creative process. Is there another secret that makes it different from a traditional heavy metal band?

Uula: Well I would say the other secret is our drummer. His musical background is in electronic music and he also makes this kind of psychedelic trance which I also like. He brings these elements in this traditional form of metal music in some way. It totally changes the song and also the process of making it. It’s a really big part of the music. We just do small things with guitar or bass but he blends the electronics and it builds up as a big experience, which is not as traditional as it might be without those elements.

Jules: He creates another kind of world with electronics in our music. When we started a song, the outcome can be completely different and wow. Kristian is fantastic at creating these ambient sounds and also electronics. So, this is a huge part of our music.

Uula: He’s a musical genius.

What about the rest, do you have similar music taste or do you all have different backgrounds?

Uula: I think there are a couple of big bands that unite us and we all love and like. Otherwise, me, the drummer Kristian and the bassist Anssi have a similar taste. We listen to a lot of the same music. I think Jules is probably more into the more traditional rock, heavier.

Jules: Might be, might be.

Uula: Toto.

Jules: I like Toto. Toto is one of my favorite bands. I saw them last summer in Joensuu and it blew my mind, it was the first time I saw them live. These guys are always giving me a hard time whenever I play the Toto songs they are like not Toto again. But they’re kinda also getting into it. So, it’s a slow process of getting those guys to understand the band. It’s a great band.

I’ve heard this before though, one of my friends is also a Toto fan and the rest of his band don’t like them all too much.

Jules: You have to kind of find out the ‘geniusness’ yourself from the music.

Uula: I wouldn’t listen to it at home (laughs). Alone. But when he’s at our place or vice versa if he plays it, it’s okay. It’s a good band.

Jules: I also listen to other bands than Toto, you know. (laughs) For me, Toto is one of those bands that I try to practice along with because they are fantastic singers. Bobby Kimball and Joseph Williams, and also Steve Lukather in some songs, they’re amazing. So, I try to practice along with their music and if I notice that this is not an easy song to sing and I can sing it, then I can tell myself I reached another kind of level of knowing how to sing these kinds of things. It’s a humbling experience to try to practice Toto.

Uula: In the end, we love the same kind of music. The genre is not that most important thing. What is important is how the music is made. If you can hear that the music is made with love and with passion then there is no need for a genre. The main thing is that you can hear that the music is made with a big heart and a lot of soul.

All your lyrics are improvised, but are there any kind of stories or themes in the album?

Jules: I would like to believe there are. Basically, the one thing I was thinking about all the time when I wrote the lyrics for the songs is to find hope. We’re kind of in hopeless times. I don’t know anyone, not in my close circle, not in my wider circle of friends who would like to destroy this planet for example. Everyone I know is nice, they want to continue seeing this planet going strong ahead. I don’t know what is going on that makes us feel as if we’re going to lose this all. So, I wanted to point out in a way that maybe it’s not too late yet. Of course, I wrote all the lyrics back in 2014 and I had been living for 2 years in Brazil. A lot of the lyrics came out from the feeling of love that I wanted to share. “Venus Sky” is about the feeling I had when I felt like I’m falling in love with my wife and I wanted to share that in a way. Of course, I couldn’t put it into words. But I could try, I could tell a story about the situation what happened so that’s what I tried to do there. “Fusion” is about the confusion that I felt by changing my environment to a completely different one, trying to embrace it in a way that everything is new, I like some things, but I may not like everything. It’s a feeling I had to have. I needed to go along with it, I needed to trust I was doing the right thing. I needed to trust my own instincts even though some parts of it might say this might be a step into something that you’re not sure of. I needed to confirm it to myself also in a way that I needed to trust in what I’m doing and that it’s gonna lead me to something that I will be very happy about. “Fusion” is very much about that, and those kinds of unknown feelings that you might have, like for instance fears. I’ve always been fighting against fear, that’s one of the main things that I point out in many of the lyrics. You should just go ahead, if you’re all the time scared, you will not be able to live, you will not be able to enjoy any of these beautiful things that we have in this world. Many of the songs are battling against fear and not giving up. You can respect the feeling, but you should not give in to it.

Especially when you talk about hope, now 4 years later, it seems even more relevant to the situation we’re all living in.

Jules: I think the most people in the world realize that we’re at a point where we need to start doing something. We’re just waiting for the people who actually make the decisions to realize the same thing. I don’t know if they actually see how critical the situation is, something needs to be done. Most of the people want the change of starting to make decisions that are actually saving this planet instead of trying to suck it dry of all its resources. We’re here, let’s start making something out of it.

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Now that we covered the themes, let’s talk a bit about your sound. How would you guys describe your sound to someone who hasn’t heard your music?

Uula: I’ve been trying that. (laughs)

Jules: Me too. (laughs)

Uula: I would say that… It’s really good. (laughs) It’s music that comes out of the feeling of universal love. Usually, I throw in some names of bands that we may sound like. But it usually doesn’t mean anything. I just tell people to listen to it. Maybe to enjoy it as much as we do. It’s difficult, I actually gave up trying. Let the music speak for itself.

Jules: I think Uula is right when he says that we can throw out some names of the bands, that could be in some way assimilated to the music, but none of those are right. You can find many different ideas from our songs this a riff could come from this band or that could be a melody of that band or something like that. But it’s not a good idea to throw around any of those names. It’s an atmospheric experience of beautiful music. Actually, one of the best feedback that I’ve gotten is that when we played a live set, someone came to me after the show and told me that we made him feel really good today. I think that’s one of the greatest feedbacks you can get, from a person who comes to see your show and leaves the show with a smile on his face.

The reason why I asked is that I have been listening to your album and I have been thinking about how I should review it. The sound is really difficult to describe for me, so I was wondering how you personally feel about it. I guess you’re also struggling with it then. (laughs)

Uula: Well, I wouldn’t say struggling! (laughs)

Jules: It’s just that there’s no word for it.

Uula: But this is a good situation.

Yeah, it really is. Because that means you’re doing something unique.

Jules: For record labels and music business, it’s just easier to know if a band plays thrash metal or if it’s traditional metal. So that they can put a stamp on it. but you can’t really put a stamp on music that gets a lot of influences from different things. It’s impossible. It’s just good music.

Uula: And what is the point?

I feel that it used to be more clear, there used to be boxes but nowadays everyone takes influences from everywhere. I guess new genres are forming but we just don’t have any names for them yet.

Jules: Good, let’s not figure out any names for them! (laughs)

Well, I suppose that will happen anyway. It’s also kind of for marketing reasons.

Jules: Of course, at some point, someone will come up with a really savvy name and everyone is going to be like oh they finally found out what it was.

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So let’s talk a bit about your plans. Are you guys planning to do some shows while you’re here?

Jules: Yeah, we’ll definitely do a couple of shows. I think we can already talk about the show we are planning to be a big one.

Uula: First Tampere.

Jules: We will play in Lost In Music in Tampere. The music media festival, we will play in Jack The Rooster, we also have the official record publishing show. 17th of October we will play in Nosturi. That’s gonna be a big one.

Uula: Lost In Music is…

Jules: 6th of October. The record publishing show is gonna be big, we’ll make a lot of production to make it really interesting. It’ll be a huge kind of artistic setup, musically, artistically and visually. We will make a big effort for it.

So, that more artsy side? Is that the other side of your band?

Uula: It’s gonna be a three-hour experience.

Jules: It’s gonna be huge.

Uula: We’re maybe gonna play more than one hour. But there’s other stuff happening as well.

That sounds cool. I’m guessing you can’t tell me what?

Uula: Uhm, no. (laughs)

Jules: You will have to come there. (laughs)

Uula: It’s a work in progress. But I recommend highly.

Well, that seems logical. It’s your band, of course, you’d recommend it! (laughs)

Uula: Yeah, well maybe. But even if it was not my band, I would recommend it.

Well, you work there. Again. It makes sense. (laughs)

Uula: Well that too. (laughs) But even if I wouldn’t work there, or it wouldn’t be my band playing, I would still recommend it. (laughs)

Jules: Besides those shows, we are also planning to do a couple of more. We don’t have any booked dates yet, so we’re kinda waiting to get them confirmed.

Are you planning to have any shows in Brazil?

Jules: Hopefully someday. It’s a really good idea. I’m pretty sure maybe it will happen.

The metal scene is also quite big there, Brazilian fans seem to come from everywhere to festivals and shows with so much passion.

Jules: Yes, they do. And the scene there is completely different. People love to go out to see shows, especially if it’s the international bands playing. But they’re also very much into different genres, there are groups for black metal, there are groups for death metal. In some ways, it feels like there is a growing audience for people who like to hear crossover bands that are mixing different styles. It’s still a work in progress. They are all the time searching for new music and searching for new metal definitely, especially everything that comes out of Europe, from Finland is very interesting to Brazilians. They also like to get the best next thing and they are very actively listening to music. Also, Spotify started working there a couple of years back so many people are listening to music from Spotify now. That’s also a good tool for us to spread our music. People don’t have to buy an album to listen to it and it’s free for everybody. For a new band like us, it’s critically important that people get to hear the songs. I’m pretty sure that we will cook something up for Brazil. We need to get started with the album and then start planning the next recordings. Hopefully next recordings, we will have some backup also, with some label for example. Now we’re putting this one out by ourselves, we’re trying to promote it by ourselves, which is also a big challenge for newcomer bands. We’ve felt that this is the way we’re gonna do it now. Maybe we’ll create something interesting that wakes up somebody from somewhere, maybe a label that gets interested. Let’s see how everything goes.

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Do you have any other future plans?

Jules: We are releasing a music video soon. That’s in the near future. We will put out a new song, a single basically, plus the video and we are super excited about the video. We were talking about the visual side of this band earlier and I think that the video will show a lot of great ideas of what we would like to have our shows look like. We want to share the visual experience with our music because they work together very well. We did a video without the band, so there’s a story in the video. And we’re super excited about it because I think all of the bands already made these play through videos where the band is playing and they’re in some factory hall or something. That type of video everyone probably has seen millions of times so we’re really excited about this video, how it will go and how people will like it.

Looking forward to it! It seems like I’m all out of questions. Do you have any last thoughts to share with our readers?

Jules: Be intelligent, Uula.

Uula: I’ll try. (laughs) I wish all of you to listen to our music and hope that you will like it. Maybe it brings something out in you from us, from you. Just be passionate about music, and empathize with every human being, and with animals, with everything on this planet. Lots of love.

 

Links
http://www.spiritraiser.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Spiritraiserband/

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