Interview with Sumuposauttaja

SUMUPOSA_officialSamples, the sound of a keyboard and strange but fascinating rhythms, this is what Sumuposauttaja’s release “Puhdistuskasetti I” is all about. In order to understand the band and the music a bit better, it seemed appropriate to get in touch with them and ask some questions.

Where are you from?

I’m from Finland. Finn lad, so to speak. My hometown is Oulu, a northern city of 150 000 residents. I’ve been living in Jyväskylä (Central Finland) for five years now, and it’s the spiritual home of SUMUPOSAUTTAJA.

Why do you make music?

I’ve been listening to music & playing instruments all my life, so making music is a very spontaneous way of being for me. I guess I could say that I exist because I make music. My first instrument was and will always be drums. When I moved to Jyväskylä I didn’t have any place to play them (it’s hard to play a drum kit in apartment in an apartment building), so I started playing with organ and old synthetisators. I’ve always considered myself as a musician, a player in a band, but when I spent the first year in new town mostly by myself cycling between library & home, I needed to also fill my playing desires, and since there was no one to play with at home, I started to make my own music (with no rules). So I guess I sort of have this inner need for making music. What a cliche! I’ve been recording silly songs to tapes since I was a kid.

What is music (to you, in general … )?

Music, for me, is sounds in space, an effective way of moving & exchanging moods & thoughts, a channel of self expression and just about the best thing for celebrating & feel sad about life.

What has music been and what is music now?

Tough question. I don’t think the basics of music has changed. The effects on a human mind, the social aspects. I think the core of music is in the social gatherings and after the recording technology it has also become a more private thing.

How would you explain your band name to a stranger?

People have asked where does it come from and if I remember this dull story correctly, I was surfing in internet some day few years ago and at some point, propably after several hours of surfing, I was reading a Wikipedia article about skyquakes. One English name for this phenomenom is “mistpouffer” that is “sumuposahtaja” in Finnish. So I wrote it down ’cause I kind of liked the word, and also this quite mystical phenomenom that had a lot to do with sound, and I actually had not heard the word in Finnish before. After some time I was looking for a name for my new musical project and scanning through my scetch book and there I found it again. The word “sumuposahtaja” didn’t quite satisfy me as an artist name, so I changed it a bit to this more catchy form “sumuposauttaja”. In Finnish “sumuposauttaja” has more active meaning than “sumuposahtaja”. However, it’s just a name that has already become a little bit boring to myself. It’s actually quite hard to pronounce even in Finnish. Maybe I’ll change it to shorter form, SP.

How would you describe your music?

My music is originally born from my own need to fill my home with cosy sounds to hang out with. So first it was music to myself, not to others ears. But of course now it’s also about sharing. Usually I describe my music as loop music, but I also “invented” my own musical style “heart beat” to expose a little more about its behaviour & intimacy. Maybe one could also include words ‘meditative’ & ‘chill’ to my music.

How do you fit into your hometown’s the local scene?

Quite good. I share the same spirit of doing things (working) as many others, although musically, no one else is doing this kind of sound.

What is your music compared to “ordinary” mainstream music?

Underground music, I guess. ‘Different’ could also be one word. My mother would probably use the expression ‘out of the ordinary’. But I think that many people who wouldn’t enjoy SUMUPOSAUTTAJA music from records (it being too weird or smthng), they could possibly enjoy it at a gig if they’d only let loose.

What is it that someone could find in your music?

A place to be easy and a room for thoughts OR non-active thinking. Nice rhythms.

Would you agree that there is something playful in your music and that it is not overtly serious? Somehow the cover artwork of “Puhdistuskasetti I” – whatever this name translates to – appears to fall into the same category.

Absolutely! I think I’m a playful person (don’t we all?) and that really is a very huge part of playing music being so important & fun for me. There is no need to hide this. On stage I’m quite still & focused on playing the instrument but I don’t want underline the playfulness too much. The artwork is made by Saphy Vong (except the cover & inner photo), the guy who releases the cassette, and maybe he has recognized the same thing as you! I also like to introduce myself in a ridiculous context sometimes. Some sort of focused playfulness. The name “Puhdistuskasetti” means “Cleansing tape” in English (you know these tapes that you put in to the deck to clean the tape heads & controllers) but it also has a double meaning; ‘puhdistus’ means ‘purification’ in English. I like to play with words.

Is “Puhdistuskasetti I“ your first and only release so far? If not would you mind to write a bit about these?

Basically, yes. It’s my first official release. I made this tape called “Ikiviihdettä” (roughly translated “Eternal Entertainment”) a year ago and that was my first whole album as SUMUPOSAUTTAJA. It’s uploaded to my Soundcloud page. I also have about ten cassettes entitled “Live @ Yokatu”. They include recordings from my living-room studio and they are the foundation of “Puhdistuskasetti I” & “II” (which will be released later this year, I hope. I’m working on it at the moment).Sorbus_galleria

Is “Atom heart mato” a reference to Pink Floyd’s “Atom Heart Mother”?

Well, yes. And another word play. The Pink Floyd’s album is not that special for me, or at least I have not listened to it very much (“Dark Side Of The Moon” & Wish You Were Here” are more close). That sentence had been in my head for awhile and then I’d done this one jam & recorded it, so I had to put a name on it, and I chose this one. Quite intuitively. Song names are important since I don’t use a lot of words in my music, and usually some word or sentence just fits in with the atmosphere of the song . And sometimes it doesn’t.

Why do you use such a considerable amount of samples in your music? What role do they play and are they some kind of commentary on the melody or is it the other way around?

My music is often based on a loop that’s based on a mood or feeling that I get while playing. It’s all very spontaneous. I don’t prepare my record sessions that much; I just start to play and see what comes out. Of course, when composing or compiling an album, I have to think & try different combinations, but when playing, It’s often very random. So basically, it’s all just loops & samples mixed together with a way that satisfies my emotions. Oh, did you mean speech loops? They are usually taken from found cassettes where the previous owners have recorded Finnish radio programs (produced by legends like Kansanradio, Radioateljee etc.) or something. I also have few tapes left from my childhood and they include pretty authentic & usable material too. Often some randomly picked sentence just fits in perfectly, or at least it feels good enough. So, the speech loops don’t necessarily have to make a commentary on the melody, but if they do, that’s fine. And sometimes I just have to include some fine sentence I’ve found to a song. Well, anyway, intuition is the cornerstone of my working methods.

As you have played live concerts as well, it would be interesting to know how you deal with your music on stage. Do you play it strictly and perform the music as it appears on the album(s) or do you re-interpret your own material?

The insrtument I usually use on concerts is Yamaha PSR-48. It’s been used as a basic instrument on many of the albums songs. So some of the material is the same but I try to make it somehow different. I change tempos and sounds for example. I try to jam with myself. I don’t want to play the music strictly as it appears on album. I don’t think I even could. I try to make every new live show a bit different than the previous one.

Do visual aspects play a role as well?

Yes they do. I like costumes & make-up but they are not always included. My friend has done me some very nice outfits to few shows, but she’s not always available. Colours are also important. I could use a lighting person or a visualist but haven’t found one yet. Overhead projector person would be really nice, for example. I think the music is also visual. Instrumental music gives space to inner visualizations.

What kind of people attend your concerts? Do you prefer the intimacy of a small room or do you prefer larger venues?

I’d like to think that there are no certain kind of people who attend to my concerts, but I guess usually it’s been friends & their friends & couple of other. Hopefully I’m doing more & more shows in different kind of places so the audience expands. I prefer the intimacy of a small room but there are other good aspects in larger venues.

What kind of equipment do you use and how has this changed over the years? What had been the first gadget or instrument with which you have made music?

I use old (and usually used) synthetisators (Yamaha, Ca sio, Hohner). I use preset song & sound banks and mix them with a looper (Akai Head Rush). And then there is Delay/Echo (Ibanez) in between. That’s basically it. I’ve done SUMUPOSAUTTAJA sound for real for about three or four years now and those equipmets have been there since. There is also this one Yamaha organ at home that I’ve been using. Then I use tapes with speech or sound effects. All of the “Puhdistuskasetti I” & “II” materials are recorded live with this old Phillips cassette recorder (D 6410) & its internal mic. I don’t have a lot of money so all my equipments are borrowed or cheap. My dearest instrument is a drum set. I’ve been playing it since four year old and my first ever recordings are me playing drums & singing made up “English” words.

Well … any plans for the future? Any concerts forthcoming?

I hope “Puhdistuskasetti II” will still be released this year. Or in the beginning of 2015. More gigs, of course. Couple of coming this year. I have other musical & artistic projects too, so I’m not doing SP all the time. It would be really nice to do an exhausting tour abroad.

Closing comments if you like

You can find SP from the internet behind these links: soundcloud.com/sumuposauttaja & facebook.com/sumuposauttaja. Make contact!

For you to listen to and to buy:
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