Interview & translation from Finnish by Erkki Rautio / pHinnWeb
November 5, 2001 - Sami Koivikko is the latest Finnish artist to release his music on a non-domestic record label. As so many times before with Finnish electronic music, also now the publisher was found in Germany; with a larger market area even for experimentation, unlike here in frosty Finland, where rock music is traditionally preferred to the marginal bleeps. The label in question is the innovatively named Shitkatapult, known for its more left-field and eclectic releases.
pHinnWeb changed a few words with Sami Koivikko at the Beatformers party of Yo-Talo, the popular student union club in the post-industrial working class town of Tampere - where both the artist and your humble correspondent are currently based - and also later on via e-mail.
- As far as I've understood you're originally from the north of Finland, but have ended up in Tampere, the south of this country. How did this come about?
Indeed, I come from Oulainen and have lived a couple of years in Oulu (both in Northern Finland). There were several reasons as to why I moved to Tampere, but Oulu wasn't such a bad place either. I guess I don't like cold.
- How did you start making music?
My musical interests started, when I was at the primary school and played clarinet, which I switched to oboe later on. Then, at the junior high school, I got fed up with classical music. I was playing synths in a band, sometimes also bass guitar. I got really excited about it, when I got the first synth of my own and some music software for my computer.
- How would you describe your own musical style?
Sometimes I do electro and more experimental stuff, but maybe not that much lately. Usually I try to get together for a track some soft soundscapes, such sounds that would be somehow original, and nice clonks and clanks, but keeping the whole of it simple enough, so the track would be at least somehow danceable.
- Can you mention any people, who have specifically influenced you, or your stylistic precursors or idols?
A list of all people, who have influenced me would be quite lengthy, but maybe the biggest of them are Robert Hood, Wolfgang Voigt and Mika Vainio. Any precursors? I don't think there are any.
- And which contemporary artists you appreciate the most?
Markus Nikolai, Thomas Brinkmann, Sascha Funke, Anthony Rother, Mathias Schaffhäuser, Dub Taylor, Wolfgang and Reinhard Voigt...
- How did you obtain a recording contract from Shitkatapult?
I didn't really know Shitkatapult's releases or their musical agenda, but I thought I'd give it a try and find out how they would like my tracks, and I sent a demo. Soon I received an answer, and they were asking if I wanted to release material on Shitkatapult.
- Have you performed live so far, or are you planning that later on?
I have never played live, and actually, I'm not too interested in doing live PA's. Maybe some time later, if I can invent something new and different for a live performance. I'm not going to do any typical knob-twiddling onstage. We've seen enough of those, and I think those kind of electronic music live shows are extremely boring. Maybe Pan sonic would be an exception to that, though - they make it work fine. As to more dance-style techno, I'd rather hear those tracks from vinyl, spinned by a good DJ.
- Your current/all-time top ten?
Making an all-time top ten would be too much work, because you wouldn't have room for all the good records, but at the moment my favourites are:
-Donnacha Costello: Growing Up In Public (Force Inc)
-John Tejada: Timebomb (7th City)
-Atlon Inc: Main Things (Force Inc)
-Wasserman: W.I.R. (Profan)
-Markus Nikolai: Back (Perlon)
-Closer Musik: Closer Musik (Kompakt)
-Ellen Allien: Stadtkind (BPitch Control)
-Fischerspooner: Fischerspooner (International Deejay Gigolos)
-Dub Taylor: Forms And Figures (Raum...Musik)
-SCSI 9: Silkcome (Trapez)
- And how about your future plans?
I haven't made any bigger plans. I continue making music, whether those tracks end up on a record or not.
- How would you comment the contemporary music scene in Finland?
I haven't had much time to get acquainted with the scene here in Tampere, but lately there has been some good records and artists from Finland, who really do something like their own thing.
- Do you have any idea to which direction electronic music and its scene will develop in the future?
It's hard to guess how music will develop, and certainly there won't be one particular direction. Probably there will always be people, who do this thing for money, but fortunately also those, who prefer other things. It's also interesting to keep following in the long run, how the arrival of MP3 and other new technologies will effect DJ culture and the so called music business in general.
- Your favourite question they never ask in interviews?
"Kumpi on omena vai kampi?"
- Uh, so with this untranslatable Finnish wordplay we end our interview.
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