Nu Science

nu science talks

March 1998

This interview is compiled from the conversations I've had with Mikko Ojanen, the uglier half of Nu Science, when lying on Mikko's sofa and also by phone and via E-mail. Hopefully it still makes some sense.

OS (the journalist): What are the origins of Nu Science? In other words, how's the prehistory of the band?

MO (the organist): Well, that's quite a long a story. Henri [Tani] was crashing on my sofa quite often in summer 1996, since he had such a long way home and buses to Sipoo, where he lived, were quite infrequent. Well, I had some sound experiments going and Henri, who was into Mo' Wax, was interested to participate. From that summer on we kept talking that we ought to record some tracks.

I happened to own some gear, so it was some time during October and November, when we got the first tracks on tape ('Transmission', 'Filter' and a yet-to-be-published 5 minute recording). While I was on a trip to England in Christmas '96, Henri had churned out a couple tracks more at my place ('Macho Star', 'Airport'). Finally (at least I think so) everything locked together in February and March, when we wrote together 'Way Out'. It was somehow -- at least in those days -- our first really constructed and composed track.

At that stage we didn't have any names, not for the band nor the tracks. We got them only in autumn '97 after a "creative pause", when Henri was fiddling with a couple of ideas for record sleeves and some possible names and titles. In October we were recording again ('Mir') and in November, just before we printed the CD, 'Essence' was recorded. The rest of it is in the hands of other people, I think.

OS: Your music is pretty eccentric, but are there any predecessors for your music? Or just tell me, what kind of stuff you're listening to yourselves.

MO:I can't really speak for Henri, expect for that Mo' Wax and hip hop/electro experimental stuff. As for me, I can mention some names I've been listening to in this area of music. Of course, Pan sonic is lurking somewhere in the background; not that we'd like to make stuff like that ourselves, but anyway. Maybe more direct influences come from ISDN by FSOL, Jimi Tenor's -- especially -- Europa, Star Wars soundtrack, Aphex Twin... Of course, I have to mention such old prog rock and Krautrock bands as Gong and Can.

It's quite hard to point out what kind of stuff exactly we'd like to do with this ensemble or moniker, and what are entirely other things then. There's supposed to be, for example, just some pure bossa-jazz piano in 'Mir', and we do have more that sort of material, but I just think it was more as an accident than purposefully that it would come out with this act. Besides, it's also the track conflicting a bit with this band's "sample free" principle.

OS: I was thinking quietly in my mind when I saw your gig that an apt point of comparison would be those 60's Helsinki happenings people like Otto Donner were organising, with experimental films of Eino Ruutsalo, music of Erkki Kurenniemi and so on.

MO: Well, it's quite interesting that you should mention Erkki Kurenniemi. I just visited the University of Helsinki's Electronic Music Studio at the Department of Musicology to ask for the archived recordings of Kurenniemi. Assistant Laine promised that he'd play them for me some time, and it seems they both have the original versions and listening copies of Kurenniemi's material. M.A. Numminen has obviously taken sähkökvartetti ["electric quartet", one of the early synthesizers designed and built by Kurenniemi for Numminen, THE Finnish underground man of the 60's] away with him, and it hasn't been together as one instrument in ages. On the other hand, some Kurenniemi's DIMI synthesizers might still be found somewhere. It's possible that we could get something created in the studio, but now we have to think about it and find some time for that.

OS: What do you think about that I somehow felt your music as quite picturesque?

MO: It's pretty funny, since before we printed the CD and just at the time we recorded 'Mir', we specifically intended to make a soundtrack album for Henri's films. For me at least, instrumental music is always something that conjures up images -- in some form. But if we think about something like what Kurenniemi was doing, our music is somehow more concrete (HEH HEH, musique concrète). Or at least, it will create more comfortable mental images. Anyway, at least partially we've composed those tracks to be used in the background of images, so in that sense the mental images are important.

OS: What's in store for the future? On your gig you had as new elements didgeridoo and some rhythm tracks.

MO: I think we discussed this some time. More lounge organs, pianos and thematically that kind of stuff but still on our old style cut-and-paste backgrounds. I'd personally like to compose also clearly ambient-style stuff ('Entré'). It's been said of our music that it's not any music but more like organised sound. Well, that doesn't bother me because I do like sounds and creating them.

Just this morning I was thinking about what kind of gear we ought to have and pondered about obtaining another analogue synth and drum machine. Oh well, those are just dreams, but I got interested in building instruments again, when I was reading Ovalk's interview. And we did have at our gig that Neuro Muscular Exerciser. HEH HEH...

OS: Do you have more recorded material coming?

MO: It's quite possible. As far as I know, we've got the sleeve of our next record ready, and also the titles for the next two releases. I won't reveal them yet, so there's something to tell in the next interview too. But we should still have also music for them. Or could Nu Science just sell record sleeves and blank CD's?

OS: How did you get the deal with Function Recordings? ('Filter' by Nu Science will be found on the Funktio 2 compilation coming out from Function this spring.)

MO: We got it through Spinefarm Records. I'm not sure how and why we were contacted from Spine, but they wanted to get our records to be sold at their store. So we took them some and suddenly they asked us for their compilation. I was just laughing quietly by myself, when I first thought them wrestling with the problem whether to publish us on their collection or not, and of course I really wished that they would. Finally I found out that they were just pondering which track to use there, 'Filter' or 'Airport'.

OS: OK, that's it for now. Thanks for the interview.

MO:Thanks to yourself. But, hey, now you've drunk all my orange juice...

After this interview I heard from Mikko that the recordings for the next release have already begun. These are some interesting times we are living.

Copyright © 1998 Olli Sotamaa / pHinnWeb. Translation by ER.

[This interview in Finnish]