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Kai Leikola, Aapelo Kivimaki (Soulfallen)

Interview with Kai Leikola, Aapelo Kivimaki from Soulfallen
by Dimitris Kar. at 09 September 2009, 10:49 PM

SOULFALLEN is one of those bands that you feel lucky to know them, although new to the Metal scene they have given us an album that boasts a professional ability that is unique. With the release of Grave New World we had a chance to speak with them and here is what they have to say.

Interview with: Kai Leikola and Aapelo Kivimaki

 Hails from METAL TEMPLE webzine and congratulations on your second full length album. Please let our readers know about the band, who are SOULFALLEN? How did you come up with name?

Kai Leikola: Thank you. SOULFALLEN is a dark Metal band hailing from the arctic wastelands also known as Finland. The band was formed in 2003 and our debut album World Expiration came out in 2007 and the new album Grave New World on March 2009. The origins of the name? I am sorry to say there is no great story behind it. It was something that came to me back then, a kind of a old-fashion one-word band name that carries more meaning than just one - since it can be interpreted in many ways. And I think it carries the desolated atmosphere of our music quite well.

 So, the album is out for a while; what is the feedback so far? How do you react on negative reviews? (if any)

Kai Leikola: The album has been out now for 5 months and feedback has been very positive so far. In almost all the medias the album has been praised, but unfortunately this has not been visible in all the grades. There have been some occasions where the review text is only positive words & praise and then it is given three points out of five. Which I find to be somewhat strange. The feedback from the fans has been on the other hand just mind-blowing. Also people that have not liked our music before, or even listen to this kind of music, have come to me explain how much they love the new album and can't stop listening to it.

Of course, there are some people that find the first album to be better and there's nothing wrong with that either. About the negative reviews, well we try to read all the reviews that we find about the album - not just the good ones - but so far there hasn't any too negative reviews about the new album at least. We don't try to block the negative ones out of sight and mind. If there is content in the review whether they are good or bad we hope to take the advice and think if there is something we can do better next time.

 The new album Grave New World is an example of good music crafting; I wonder whether you faced any difficulties on the recording process?

Kai Leikola: Thank you. I think Aapeli can answer this question better since he was very much in charge of the recordings and of trying to keep all strings in our hands.

Aapelo Kivimaki:  I think we faced most of the difficulties with Grave New World already in the pre-production phase. To finish all the songwriting took quite a lot more time than we thought it would, and we ended up ramming all the deadlines. We finished the last song just the day before entering Studio Watercastle. So, there wasn't any time to rehearse it, we just kept our fingers crossed and hoped everyone knew what they were supposed to play. What comes to the actual recording process, I think we managed to avoid all major cock-ups. We have been working with the sound engineer, Arttu Sarvanne, so many times before that there were no unpleasant surprises coming our way.

 Who is responsible for cover art of the album? Did the artist listened to your music before starting designing?

Kai Leikola: The cover art on the album was done by a Finnish artist called Jarno Lahti also known as Kaamos. He wasn't able to listen to the finished songs since they were being recorded at the same time as the artwork was being crafted, but we sent demo versions of the songs for him to listen and draw inspiration from and also explained to him the lyrical concept of the album. Altogether we were and are still very content with the outcome and feel that it fits atmosphere of the music perfectly.

 Can you name the band's influences? Do all the band members share the same taste in music?

Kai Leikola: I don't think any particular influences, or bands that we want to sound like and I believe this comes from the fact that we all have somewhat different tastes in music. But on the other hand I think we do have a very similar vision of what kind of music we want to make. I also think it is because of this that we don't sound exactly like any other band out there. We do not intend to.

 Who is responsible for the lyrics and who for the music? And what does come first?

Kai Leikola: The working order in our band is quite clear. As the vocalist I am the one in charge of the lyrics and the music is something that we all contribute to. The marching order is that the music always comes first and then I make the lyrics and vocal lines on top of the song. Of course, I write down ideas, lines, etc. whenever they to mind or I feel inspired, but I don't finish the lyrics before I know to which song they will be attached to. This way I can make them 'fit' the song more perfectly. Also the musical atmosphere of the song is very important to take into account, and usually after hearing the song a couple of times I get some idea of what the song could be about. And maybe even more importantly, what it shouldn't be about. And I think this method has worked for us extremely well. No complaints.

 Did you have in mind the musical direction before you started writing the new album? And do you think of the fans when you are writing music?

Kai Leikola: I don't think we had a very specific musical direction in mind, but naturally we listened to the first album in terms of what worked great on it and what could have worked better. And then tried to do things better this time around. When we write music I don't think we think about the fans very consciously and what they would want us to do, and just try to do music we ourselves enjoy and hopefully they will enjoy it as well. Of course, we think about the fans in that sense that we don't want to rip them off by doing a crappy album and want to give them our best, but we don't write the music directly just for the fans.

 Expanding the above question do you believe that a band should stay focused on a certain music genre or it should evolve/change in every album?

Kai Leikola: I think there is no one right answer to that question, except that the band should do what feel right for them. You cannot make music just for the fans, you have to do it for yourself first. Otherwise there is a great danger that the music becomes soulless and pretentious. If the music doesn't feel right to you, how can you expect someone else to appreciate or like it? Some bands feel the need to evolve more others less - or even none at all - but as long as its feels right for the band. But with this artistic freedom comes also the responsibility to take the shit from the fans if they feel that your music has evolved to a direction they do not appreciate any more. You cannot choose your fans, they choose you.

 Are you planning to re-release the first two demos under the new record label?

Kai Leikola: Wow! Never thought about that before. But no. Let sleeping dogs lie. Those who have them can treasure them, but I don't think the big audience would benefit that much of their re-release. At least for the time being.

 How difficult was to find a record deal taking also into consideration the current economical crisis?

Kai Leikola: Well, we actually found our record deal before the crisis, but I think we'll find out soon enough since our 2-album deal is now finished and we're looking for a new deal. I seriously doubt that this crisis will make it any easier.

Aapelo Kivimaki:  We are lucky in a way to already have two albums released. I think it might be a bit easier in the current economical situation to find a new deal when you don't have to build everything from a scratch. I believe the crisis will hit the yet-unsigned bands the hardest.

 Generally speaking, what are the major difficulties that a new band faces nowadays?

Kai Leikola: I think standing out from the masses. There are just so many bands out there and unfortunately all those great new bands don't get the attention and appreciation that they would deserve. But that's how it goes. Life's not fair. But despite this, I believe that if you do great music long enough it will get noticed eventually. It's a matter of chance how soon this happens. So don't give up. But how to know if the music you do 'is' good enough, is another story.

  How difficult is it to make music in Finland, given that northern Europe is the mother of your music genre and that there are a lot of bands with similar music styles?

Kai Leikola: Well like I said, there is A LOT of bands that fit the genre broadly speaking, but narrowed down I haven't come across any band would sound exactly or too much like us. It's like you said, we live in the cradle of this type of music so this kind of dark melancholic sound is quite natural for us, it's the standing out and getting attention is the hard part. We don't expect to rise to the top of the genre in one night - like those pathetic Idols stars in the pop genre - but to keep working slowly and surely one gig, interview and album at a time and hopefully continue moving forward.

 Now that the new album is out, what comes next? Any tour plans ahead?

Aapelo Kivimaki:  We simply try to play as many gigs as possible. Also going abroad is part of our plan. In June we visited Latvia and played two gigs with another band, MANUFACTURER'S PRIDE. Second trip to Russia is also being arranged, well see what comes up!

 Will there be a chance in seeing you here in Greece for a concert?

Aapelo Kivimaki:  It would be great to come to Greece one day. Hopefully we don't have to wait too long for that to happen!

Kai Leikola: So if any Greek promoters are reading this, feel free to contact us!

 Thanks for your time. Feel free to add anything I forgot to ask!

Aapelo Kivimaki:  Thanks.

Kai Leikola: Thank you. Just wanted to say to all the people out there, that you like depressing dark melodic melancholic metal with aggressive vocals and world burying lyrics give us a try at www.myspace.com/SOULFALLEN! Hope to see you live soon! Stay heavy!



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