The fascination of Long-SAM’s latest album derives from its level of things that it appears to consist of and what the listener might anticipate that it should contain as well. And how the tapes opens … that sounds strangely familiar… Questions over questions and the band shared some thoughts on them.
Who are you and why do you make music?
My name is Sami Toroi and I would assume that I make music for reasons that make any artist do what he or she does, for reasons that are impossible to fully comprehend. As a kid I enjoyed listening to music and eventually ended up making music. Someone has to. I guess I did. You could call it a duty.
Can you write a bit about your band name? Is this a reference to some form of missile?
The name Long-Sam was first introduced on a seven inch ep I made together with my colleague Jaakko Eino Kalevi in 2001. The name derives from somewhat pointless conversations we had back then. The missile reference could be a little far fetched since the name has never had any particular meaning. It’s just a surface covering a void, but I could still add that the word “långsam” means slow in Swedish.
When has the band Long-Sam been founded? Why was it started?
Like I mentioned in the previous answer, the name Long-Sam came to life in 2001. When I was making my first solo record in 2009 I continued using the name. So far it has never been a band, just a name that I use as an artist. Although the idea of turning Long-Sam into a performing group has never been excluded from my mind, it would still be a one man’s vision if it ever took place.
How would you describe your music?
Surreal and often electronic.
How many albums have you released so far?
I’ve released two solo albums and a bunch of albums, singles and eps as a member of different bands and also as a producer
Is this the sound of a game of Breakout that opens your album “Shout”?
After reading this question I actually had to check what the game Breakout is. I couldn’t remember a game with that name. So the answer is no, it really has nothing to do with the game but I admit there’s a resemblance. And yes, it turned out to be a game that I was familiar with.
How does the cover play into this? How has been responsible for it?
I made the cover for the cd version of the album, which looks like the Black Square painted by Kazimir Malevich. The cover for the cassette version was made by Saphy Vong. I would be the wrong person to tell too much you about that since it’s Saphy’s vision. The tension within the black square has certainly exploded there. On both versions you can see a parallel between the abstract visual style and the music.
Why is this album called shout when there is never any shout to begin with?
This is probably a very subjective experience but I felt that the album’s energy flow was similar to Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Howl”. Of course, my energy came out in a different way and in a different time, so Howl was altered to be Shout, a more controlled and less primitive expression. There is no audible shout because “Shout” doesn’t include a shout, it is a shout.
Has this sound to do with the basic structure and the idea behind this album? Even old games like Asteroids for instance have a certain kind of story line and I wonder whether you try to create something similar as well?
It’s more about scenes than a story. Human emotions tend to be just passages that glide from one to another and by rationalizing that movement we call it a story. In that sense you could call this album a story too since it’s my attempt to arrange an emotional chaos and confusing circumstances into audible and sequenced form, but eventually a story a merely a tool to make individual experiences seem logical and acceptable. It eases our confusion. I really didn’t have anything specific in mind while making this album. The basic idea was just to let one sound lead to another, trusting that the subconscious would take wheel, and it did. Another concrete idea was that the album should not be much longer than thirty minutes. So I just started experimenting with different sounds and putting them together, layer by layer, without knowing where this would lead.
Your music on “Shout” appears connected and separated at the same time. Can you write a bit this piece of music and the sounds it contains?
I wanted to make album that didn’t have pauses but I didn’t just want to make a half-hour song. Also the idea of a song in it’s traditional form seemed kind of narrow-minded or at least at that point there was on urge to make them. “Shout” would probably find it’s counterparts from cinema or symphonies, where different emotional states and landscapes are connected. The imagery that takes place in one’s consciousness, subconsciousness and unconsciousness is endless and irrational. There are no pauses. This album reflects that.
What kind of equipment did you use for it? Do you use a Theremin?
I used my mixer as an instrument and created some feedback and distortion effects which became integral to the recording. Synths were mostly hardware and analogue synthesizers. The Theremin-like sounds come from analogue synths too. They were played without a keyboard, using the glide to control the pitch and lfos were applied to create vibrato. Those reasons make them sound like a theremin. I also used a Korg monotron which creates a similar effect. All in all the emphasis was on hardware equipment and the recording software was used mainly for mixing.
Why does the last track break out of the general routine of the album? More intense, comparably beat-driven and less playful than the other ones it ends “Shout” quite strangely.
It’s a question of dynamics and juxtaposition. There was a need for a punchy ending to contrast the stillness preceding it. The shift between the last two tracks is just an elevation in dynamics and loudness.
How have the feedbacks been so far?
They’ve been mostly good but sometimes people seem to need a little time to find the right kind of listening approach, which is not a bad thing. I think you have to listen to the album a couple of times before you realize what it’s all about.
What are your plans for the future?
Right now I”m working on a new album and I’m trying to get it out as soon as possible. Some of my works as producer are on their way too. I’ll be keeping it busy.