If hazy Gothic mystique and fantasy interest you both in stories and music, LOST IN GREY should be included in your music collection, without a doubt. Setting the scene with “The Grey Realms“ in 2017, the story continued in 2019 with its sequel, “The Waste Land,” where listeners revisit some familiar characters in Lillian, Patrick, and Odessa. Naturally, we wanted to know what the sequel was about, so we met up once again with Harri Koskela and Anne Lill Rajala to talk about the story behind “The Waste Land.”
The first album set the scene as a hazy liminal space wherein Lillian has ended up while trying to escape the cruelties of the world. There, Lillian meets Patrick and Odessa, the rulers of this strange place. She is offered lofty promises, however, Lillian soon realizes that it’s not the utopia she originally thought it would be. “The Waste Land” goes back in time from the first album, showing listeners some of the many issues Lillian had tried to run from and what led her to the Grey Realms.
Lillian (Anne Lill): the protagonist, who gets lost in the Grey Realms. Idealistic and naïve, yet with a good heart, on this album, Lillian finally reveals many of the issues with which she has become so exasperated and from what she was originally trying to escape.
Odessa (Emily Leone): the queen of the Grey Realms. She is a proud, beautiful ruler, but has her own insecurities and wounds, keeping walls up to hide her own vulnerability, though a bit more of this can be seen when compared to the first album.
Patrick (Harri Koskela): the demon king or, perhaps, merely a trickster, a lover of tea parties, and a complete troll. He is the type who will gleefully roast marshmallows in the flames as the world around him burns.
Maria (Nele Messerschmidt): another lost soul within the Grey Realms.
Aviator (Andi Kravljaca): the narrator, viewing the story from a broader perspective.
The Trolls of the Waste Land (“Wolves of the Wasteland”): creatures that do not speak any comprehensible language, born of repressed thoughts and unresolved issues, forming looming entities.
Although the Grey Realms may seem like a fantasy world, one may ask, is it simply fantasy, or does it reflect “the real world,” and how?
Now that you’ve gotten an idea where the material came from, let’s look at the songs:
1. “The Waste Land”
Once again, the intro track acts as an introduction to the album and to set the scene, as the group choir introduce the setting. The Waste Land itself represents a barren place where repressed thoughts and emotions dwell. All the songs that follow may be seen as echoes or whispers of those repressed thoughts and emotions that Lillian couldn’t find an outlet for before, or perhaps act as a commentary on the world we live in.
This track was largely centered around the idea of a duet, containing a message about how expectations and prejudices limit people’s lives. This track is not limited to simply a feminist perspective, but includes the line from Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, suggesting that we should remember that we are all human beings, which is far more important than gender or other individual differences.
3. “Unohdukseen katoaa”
This Finnish track is meant to be hopeful, indicating a light at the end of the tunnel of all of the sorrow and pain that people undergo in their lives. In his mischievous style, Patrick hints that we may merely experience some moments of calmness in the eye of an storm before the shit hits the fan… again.
This is a song about people who have “wasted their lives,” so to speak. It is also about how death, or how the loss of someone important or close to us forces us to reflect our own lives.
5. “Far Beyond and Further”
This track contains a lot of disillusionment with how we treat our world and how we use and abuse our planet, how we “shit where we eat” and then look to the stars and beyond to expand (and likely exploit) further, rather than cleaning up our messes that we’ve left behind.
6. “Wolves Among Men”
Stemming from the Latin phrase “homo homini lupus,” this is the Disney-villain track on the album where Patrick’s personality shines through as someone seeking personal gain at all cost, indifferent to any casualties or the suffering of others. Odessa’s point of view is perhaps that of someone who thinks she has done what needs to be done in order to survive, but she may have some regrets or struggles slightly with the guilt.
7. “Prelude for Emptiness”
An interlude to allow for some breathing room before the grand finale.
8. “Drifting in the Universe”
The grand finale of the album. As people, do we have any control of our lives, or are we merely drifting in the universe like snowflakes in a windy storm? The most vivid “scene” in the track is the image of Odessa trying to direct snowflakes like a ballet teacher, as she plays at being the wind controlling the snowflakes, telling them where to go. Ultimately, the song is seeking peace in the same way that Lillian is reflecting on the world and being fed up with it, wondering why things are the way they are and why it is so hard to change.
What made you decide to put one song title in Finnish?
Ultimately, some songs and their meanings end up feeling better in different languages. This was meant to be a fast or party -styled song, but Harri‘s interpretation of this was to become so fast that it came back around to being slower. The chorus came almost in a gospel church-choir format, mixed with some influence from Sibelius, so it ended up feeling more natural in Finnish; the rest of the song followed from there. Additionally, there are references to a traditional Finnish Christmas song, in which Santa’s little helpers are told to jump around happily because life is short and very gloomy.
Is there a reason you aren’t in character in “1992”?
This song, particularly, is sung from outside of the perspectives of the characters, as Patrick would have very different opinions of things than Harri, or Anne Lill and Emily from Lillian and Odessa respectively. In this sense, all three vocalists can be considered part of the “entourage” or “choir,” much in the same way you’d find in concept albums like “The Source“ by AYREON, which has its “crew” who sing as the choir in many tracks.