The Lumi Experiment EP 2010
Helsinki Minute – autumn 2011
Hi Harri, how are you?
Feeling great, thanks for asking. The new EP has aroused plenty of interest so there´s a great fuzz going on at the moment.
Would you mind introducing us to your band members?
At the moment I´m doing this thing pretty much on my own. I write, play, mix and produce the tunes by myself. So it´s a one man project excluding mastering and playing live. The very first tracks I finished sounded like it was played by a band so I thought it would be wise to come out as a band too. It´s not typical singer-songwriter material if you know what I mean. When playing live, I have some friends playing with me, but at some point I need an arrangement that´s more stable. Whether it´s going to be a proper live band or enlarging this project to a real band or something entirely different. We´ll see when the album is out.
How did you come up with the band name?
There´s no bigger magic or story behind the name except that the word lumi means snow in finnish and we have had some serious lumi experiment up here in Finland during this winter. I´ve heard you´ve had your share of snow this winter as well. But basically I just liked the way it sounded. At first I was planning to use just the name “Lumi”, but I found out that Jori Hulkkonen has a project named similarly or at least he had at some point.
How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t yet heard you?
First of all it´s usually described as being Indie pop or rock, but you can hear a clear overtone of folk, funk and even jazz maybe. The way I see it it´s acoustic guitar mixed with strong beats and basses that makes it sound The Lumi Experiment.
What music did you listen to while growing up?
Oh, all kinds of music. Everything from jazz to metal and dance to some serious punk rock. When I was younger I was always trying to find new interesting artists and songs. I read all the music magazines I could get in my hands and listened to radio for hours just to discover something new. Nowadays I´m too busy and a way too lazy to do that and I come up with something new rarely.
Which artist or track inspired you to want to make music yourself?
When was the ‘I want to do that!’ moment?
I can´t recall any exact moment. I have wanted to be a musician as long as I can remember. We had a piano and guitar in my parents’ house and I used to play them quite a lot. I didn´t know how to play them properly, but that didn´t stop me trying. I just remembered that when I was nine we had a “band“ with the boys in my class. Someone´s dad built us a total drum set and two guitars and a bass out of cardboard and painted them with black and silver. We put some Hanoi Rocks in stereo and started to act like we were playing. We even did a gig for our class at some point. And we had cool costumes and wigs and stuff…ha ha. I learned to play guitar soon after that, so maybe that was the moment.
What was the last music you put on your ipod or mp3 player?
That must have been April Uprising by The John Butler Trio and We are Born by Sia Furler. I also have Sublime always on heavy rotation on my ipod.
What have you been up to recently?
I´ve been in the studio a lot lately. The EP got so many people interested that I need to get the full-length album out as soon as possible. All the songs are written, but recording them takes some time since I´m playing all the instruments by myself. I´ve got most of the drums and basses done by now, but there´s still a lot of work to do before the album is ready.
What can your fans look forward to in the next 12 months?
Well, the new album for starters! That´s a promise. And when it´s out I finally get more time to play gigs. There are also some plans about making a music video, but nothing has been decided yet.
What is your current equipment?
I play Fender guitars and I also use Korg Triton Workstation and Ableton Live software when recording.
If you had an unlimited equipment budget what would be on your shopping list?
In that case I would build up a professional recording studio and start recording and mixing some other interesting acts. That would be cool!
Do you try to capture your ‘live’ sound on recordings or do you think that the ‘live’ sound and recorded sound should be different experiences for your fans?
I´m not sure if they should be different experiences but they most certainly are! First of all I use a lot of samples and pads when making the tunes. In a live set we don´t use them at all. Secondly when playing live I want each band member to play with his own unique sound and touch. So the songs are the same and yet they sound different. I prefer rawer sound and more improvisation in a certain limits when playing live. That´s why you never know what to expect when we are on stage and that´s what makes it interesting.
Is the production side of things something you’d like to get involved more in the future, maybe working with other artists?
Sure it is! Producing is a whole wide world of it´s own with it´s own tricks and rules. I´ve been producing The Lumi Experiment and my previous project Bristol Supernova for several years now and I´m still learning new methods and ways to create better sound. So I guess it´s a never ending learning process and I love it. I´ve promised to produce a few songs for another Finnish act when the album is done and I´m really looking forward to it. I just can´t wait to get my hands on someone else’s material for a change.
Do you find the process of recording enjoyable and does it get easier the more you do?
I enjoy it very much. At first you just have an acoustic singer-songwriter version of the song and you start adding instruments one by one and hear how the song develops and finally comes alive. It´s awesome. Sometimes it might get a little frustrating though. You know, when you are playing the riff for 20 times and you still can´t get it the way you imagined it in your head. But on the other hand when you finally play and record it perfectly, it feels so much better than if you just took the first or second take and use it even though you know it´s not the perfect take. I guess it gets easier by time, but at the same time your standards rise up to the higher level and you expect more from yourself.
Who are your favourite songwriters?
That´s a tough one because there are so many. But I think it´s obvious that Bradley Nowell has been a great influence for me. I just love the way he mixed different styles of music, you know, how he made a mellow reggae song turn into hardcore punk and then back to reggae again and how he managed to make the changes sound totally natural. I guess I have to mention artists like Jack Johnson, Amos Lee, Badly Drawn Boy and Gruff Rhys as well. I have always admired their ability to write such catchy melodies. I have learned a lot from them just by listening to their music. And you can´t forget the great ones like Lennon, Dylan, Zappa and Hendrix either.
Do you have a set routine when recording or does it depend on each track and the inspiration?
I usually start recording process by making a demo track. That means I sing the song through with acoustic guitar and record it with one or sometimes two microphones. Then I make drum and bass tracks based on the demo track. When drums and bass are ready the demo track has done it´s job and I delete it. That far I have a routine, but after that I go with the current feeling. I may start with piano or guitar or even with vocals. Sometimes I find myself in the point where some elements doesn´t fit in and I´m forced to delete some of the recordings, but I never change the drum and bass tracks. Those two are the basic elements of the song and changing them would mean that I have to start the whole process all over again.
Do you have a method for writing songs? (lyrics first, music first, etc)
I normally just grab my guitar and start playing some chords or riff and humming the melody and with any luck it comes out as a song. At that stage I use any lyrics that come in to my mind and they usually make no sense. I write the actual lyrics afterwards. Song writing is really sensitive thing and you really can´t push it too much. Sometimes you just have to admit that it´s not leading anywhere and in that case it´s better to leave it there and try again later.
Do you find song writing easy or difficult?
Well, it depends. When I´m on the right mood the song may come out so easily, it´s almost illegal. But there are also times when I just can´t get anything done no matter how hard or long I try. I never start actually writing a song, because it hardly ever works. All the good songs seem to come out nearly by accident.
Is there anyone who you would like to collaborate with on writing songs or performing?
I´m open minded and always ready to write a song with or to some other artists, but no specific names come to mind right now.
Would you sign with a major record company?
To be a true indie rocker I should probably say no. But of course I would and so would any other indie act in a real situation. Big companies have massive resources, great connections and distribution channels and they really can get your music out there. But to be honest my music hardly has that economical potential that major record companies are looking for. And I wouldn´t change it a bit just to get them interested. So I would sign, but I won´t, ha ha.
Which countries have you gigged in?
Only Finland so far, but that may change pretty soon.
Which countries would be at the top of your list to tour?
Touring UK and the rest of the Europe would be cool. Of course US tour would be a dream come true, but honestly it would get way too expensive. For a new touring band it´s important that venues are not too far away from each other.
Who would you like to tour with?
Hmm…is Lady Gaga touring at the moment? That would be interesting! But seriously, touring with some new rising foreign band would be the best choice for me.
How do you promote your music and get your music out to new fans?
First of all I try to keep my Facebook, Myspace and Twitter sites up to date and let the fans know what´s going on. It´s important to keep the fans up to date and courage them to spread the word around. Airplay is also a great way to get heard. Drunk By Noon has been played by more than twenty radio stations around the world by now. The EP is still rather new and the amount of the stations is rising all the time. Also reviews and interviews like this give me and my music great publicity so I thank you for that.
Which music promotion websites do you use and do you have a favourite?
I think MySpace is still the one for the band promotion though the potential listeners are using more and more Facebook and Twitter nowadays. It´s just that those two are not offering appropriate tools for independent artists to promote their thing. The smaller sites like ReverbNation and SoundCloud are pretty cool too, but they are mostly used by the bands and musicians. Average music fans haven´t found them yet.
Do you think such sites and the internet are good tools for independent and unsigned artists?
Yes and no. What is cool is that everyone has an opportunity to get his or hers music heard nowadays, but on the other hand everyone wants to get heard. So we have millions of artists in the net, but no one will ever find them there. How ironic is that?
What is your opinion on ‘battle of the bands’ competitions?
I think it´s a great concept which gives unsigned bands a great opportunity to play for the big audiences and winning the competition opens many important doors. Thumbs up for that!
What's your best/worst experience at a gig?
Well it wasn´t an actual gig, but last December we were meant to play Drunk By Noon for a Belgian film group in a small bar in Helsinki. They weren´t familiar with the local legislation so they were very surprised when the bartender didn't let us film inside the bar. We were told that filming in a bar requires official permission from certain authority. In the end we managed to film the song in a meeting room which bar supervisor kindly arranged for us. Playing live is always awesome and I can´t pick any exact gig to be somehow better than others, but I hope the best one is yet to come.
Do you get nervous before a gig? How do you calm down?
Yeah, I get really nervous before a gig no matter how big or small event it is. I might look very calm outside, but somewhere deep inside I´m having multiple nervous breakdowns, ha ha. But it all disappears in the very moment I get into the stage. I just concentrate on a gig and give my best shot and I´m way too busy to get nervous.
Has your music been used on any film soundtracks?
My tunes have been used in multiple television productions and short films, but not yet in actual film soundtracks. Earlier this week I got information, that a production company would like to use one of my songs in some stunt riding dvd. I get offers like this pretty often and I usually accept them.
Is composing for film or tv something you’d like to get involved in if the opportunity came along?
Sure. That´s a great way to get my music heard, but it´s not something I´m aiming for.
Is there anything you'd like to add?
I enjoyed doing this interview with you very much and I´m wishing you and your readers a warm and sunny time.