8-BIT ROCKERS / BANGKOK IMPACT: Arctic Funk
Interview by Erkki Rautio / pHinnWeb
10 April 2003 -- Sami Liuski of Rovaniemi (that's in Finnish Lappland for you not keeping awake at your geography lessons) is a master of many guises. 8-Bit Rockers is grimy electro. Bangkok Impact is lush neo-disco. Then there's Lolita Sträp (don't ask me where he gets these names), Red Loafen, and all other new projects he's coming up at the very time you're reading this! Records for Holland's Bunker, Crème Organization and Clone, Germany's Raummusik and Traum (and a cool remix for pHinnMilk's CTNERMX compilation)... gigs in Europe and a forthcoming US tour... praised by NME and Jockey Slut magazines... what a guy. Mr. Liuski talked to pHinnWeb via e-mail.
- So what's now happening in the life of Sami Liuski, any news?
I'm living very busy times. I'm trying to finish my studies while music is taking more and more time. In about two weeks I'm leaving to US tour with Crème Organization (DJ TLR, Legowelt, Orque Electronique and Kassen).
How did you start making music in the beginning?
I got into making music after my parents bought me an Amiga 500 computer. I got some tracker programs for it and started toying around with them. I was quite active in the so called 'tracker scene' back in the days. I also played guitar (I still do sometimes) with some bands but it wasn't really my thing. I was getting more and more interested in electronic sounds and I wanted to try creating them myself.
- How would you describe your style of music?
I do a variety of styles under different pseudonyms but I guess my main thing is deep electronic disco with a perverted twist and lots of references to other music [smiles].
- Are there any role models or influential artists for you?
I respect a lot of artists and I get influences from everywhere. From the old blokes I could mention Giorgio Moroder, Gino Soccio, Bobby O., Patrick Cowley, Claudio Simonetti, Space, etc.
- And any current acts which would particularly impress you, or you feel are on the same wavelength with you?
Legowelt, those crazy swedes Eargoggle & Rutherford, Orgue Electronique, Kassen, DJ TLR, Metro Area and of course the Finns Imatran Voima, Polytron, Mr. Velcro Fastener... There's much good music (and also great personalities behind the music) that is made straight from the heart.
- What kind of equipment you create your music with?
I have a couple of synthesizers, guitar pedals and other toys. I use computer a lot too. If I buy a new synth it has to be analogue since in my opinion you can do pretty much this virtual analogue stuff on computer software anyway.
- How did you get together with Bunker label, and how has it been working with them? Also, your experiences with other labels you have been publishing on?
I sent a demo of my 8-bit Rockers stuff a few years ago to Bunker Records. Guy of Bunker liked it and soon my first ep on Bunker was released. Meantime I got to know DJ TLR since he was closely connected with Bunker and maintained both the Bunker site and his own great electro Website http://www.globaldarkness.com. We e-mailed a bit and I sent him some disco tracks I had been working on. He liked my stuff and actually wanted to release them. He then started his own label Crème Organization.
It has been great working with Bunker/Crème. They are very honest with the music. I've released on a couple of other labels like Clone (also Dutch), Raummusik and Traum (Germany). It all has been fine.
- And what about these Dutch people, anyway? A bunch of characters, aren't they? Do you think too that the Dutch have a certain penchance for a sarcastic sense of humour, or is it just me...?
They're all great personalities and I can't help loving them [smiles]. I really like and am amazed by their attitude and humour.
- What are the differences between your different aliases: 8-Bit Rockers, Bangkok Impact and Lolita Sträp?
8-bit Rockers is clearly more electro-orientated project while Bangkok Impact and Lolita Sträp are, um, different [smiles]. I like to play with names...
- Tell also something about those other people you have been creating your records with?
I've this new project, Putsch '79, with Pauli Jylhänkangas. He actually lives in Tampere. He hasn't released anything before but he has been doing some of his own stuff for Klakson. Most of the time for the other projects I work alone. I might get some help for live instruments and vocals from other people. For the Traveller LP I had my friend Ilkka doing some singing guitar playing.
I was invited to do some tracks at the CEM Studios in Amsterdam. It was nice opportunity since I was in Holland anyway at that time. I went there with Kassen for a couple of days and we spent the time effectively just twiddling the knobs of those analogue beasts they had there, without washing or brushing our teeth. The tracks will be released in acouple of months on the CEM Studios' own label, Vynalogica.
When I'm playing live I play with Kassen who is helping me with mixing and effects while I can concentrate on the sequencer and playing the keyboards. He also brings about half of the gear to our live set-up.
- Is it difficult to create your music and get it published all the way from Rovaniemi?
Not really. Internet helps a lot in keeping in touch with labels. I think I live in very inspiring surroundings. It's great to compose music here. I get more annoyed by travelling to gigs. Rovaniemi is so far away from everywhere and plane tickets are very expensive from here but as long as I don't have to buy them myself, it's fine [wags his tongue].
- What's your connection with the rest of the Finnish music scene?
I don't really have one and that has been bothering me for a while.
- As a Finnish artist, how do you get received around the world, and do people have any prejudices or any funny ideas about Finland, as they sometimes seem to have...?
So far everyone has been nice to me, they already know that Finns don't talk and consume far too much alcohol and coffee [smiles]. Everybody thinks that there are polar bears walking around in the streets of Rovaniemi but apart from that the people I've met didn't really have any prejudices that are worth telling [smiles]. Maybe if you ask this after I've been to USA I might have some...
- What about your live performances, and any interesting anecdotes about them? What have been the best and worst places to play, for example?
As I mentioned before I play live with Kassen from Holland. It works really well that way, we have definitely a special chemistry between us.
The best place has definitely been Antwerpen in our last Holland/Belgium tour. We had so many problems before the gig: the sequencer was resetting itself all the time, my keyboard didn't stay in tune and acted really weird, etc. It was a problem with voltages or something and in the end we ran the electricity from the kitchen to our gear. Everything worked fine then and it turned out to be our best gig so far.
Worst must be London just a couple of weeks ago. There were some problems with the PA and we couldn't get it loud enough. And then I made some stupid mistakes with sequencer playing totally wrong patterns. It wasn't that bad, though, since we just said "fuck it" and jammed along with Kassen doing some tricky stuff with delays which worked out quite nice after all. What made the trip even worse was that I lost all my adapters of my gear in a shady taxi we took back home from the venue [frowns].
- Your own Top Ten for the moment/all-time?
Not in any specific order, right now I'm listening to:
01. Catnip - Don't Excercise the Bird
02. My Mine - Hypnotic Tango
03. Dopplereffekt - Linear Accelerator
04. Kassen - Coaster
05. Sylvester - Stars
06. Chicken Lips - Extended Play
07. Luke Eargoggle - Audio Warrior
08. Los Angeles TF - Magical Body
09. Kelley Polar Quartet - Audition
10. Squadra Blanco - Night of the Illuminati
- It seems you're at the moment getting quite popular in international electro circles. What kind of feedback have you received so far, and can you describe your typical fan?
There has been quite nice media coverage on Traveller LP. It was even chosen as the album of the month in Jockey Slut recently. There has been mentions in NME, interviews in different magazines etc. On the other hand it shows that the promotion Clone has been doing works. Do I even have any fans? If there are people who are touched by my music; that's enough!
- What do you think of the current musical fashions or trends like electroclash and so on?
I don't care about that and I don't want to be a part of it, though I don't know if it's in my hands. I can't stop making music I love! It's all about media anyway...
- Your own future plans now?
Just trying to survive in these arctic conditions.
- Your favourite question they never ask in interviews?
Q: Are you a pervert?
A: We all have things bubbling under...
Copyright © (for the text) pHinnWeb 2003.
interview @ Capsite