1. mixside.com Listening to “Errare Machinale Est” is easy to think that you like a lot “the machines” when you are making your productions, ¿What do you prefer, When you are creating, hardware or software or maybe a balance between these elements?
Jori Hullkkonen – I’m definitely a hardware man. When I started producing music 1988 it was all about finding the right machines and working with hardware. You wouldn’t have a computer in the studio, except maybe an atari or an amiga for sequencing. So for me the natural environment is hardware. I have this very romantic notion about electronic music where you are alone in a dark room with machines; synths with blinking lights, knobs, cables…. all very much removed from the traditional sense of making music in a band. For me this was a revolutionary idea in the 80’s. That you could make music alone, without being in a band or without being a musician and having to make no compromise at all with other people, that you were the only person in charge of what the outcome was.
In 2003 I did get a computer in the studio as I wanted to work more with vocals and also I wanted to incorporate guitars and other more traditional instruments in my music and it’s a lot easier with a computer than a hardware harddiscrecorder or a sampler. So i do run everything around cubase sx3 now, but all the audio still originates from my collection of vintage (and some not so vintage) machines. I am a product of the time I grew up in. Software is amazing these days, as we all know. So if I was starting today I would probably be a laptopman.
2.mixside.com One of the first impressions that I feel when I listen your last album is that I think that is a record with a lot of personality and evocative of past times. Could we think that this LP is a tribute to the styles that have been an important influence in your musical career for example: pop, Synth-pop…etc…?
Jori Hullkkonen – When I started working on the album one of the ideas I had for the concept was creating a musical autobiography; starting with John Carpenter style soundtracks to Kraftwerk to synthpop, to more dance-oriented stuff and finishing off with more arty alternative pop/singer-songwriter stuff which I’ve really enjoyed recently. The album didn’t turn out like that excactly, but your question proves that some of those ideas remained there for the listeners to capture too.
I didn’t want to make just a pastiche record however, but on each track that hints to my past it had to have some even stronger connection to today as well. It’s all about disguising ideas and influences ; i want to make albums that sound as timeless as possible but at the same time I want them to sound very now. It’s a paradox I really enjoy.
3. mixside.com John Foxx collaborated with you in “Dualizm “(F.com 2005) with “Dislocated” and now he collaborates with you once again in the third track of the lp “Never Been Here Before “. How was the reunion with one of your teachers?. How was the process of the production of this track?
Jori Hullkkonen – Working with John has been really a great priviledge. What he created musically in 1980 with his album Metamatic really changed the rules of the game. The album sounded so much ahead of its time, if it was released today it would still sound futuristic. On that album he summarized what electronic pop music can be -and the album remains in many ways unsurpassed. So I didn’t take it too lightly when the chance opened to work with someone who I appreciate this highly. With Dislocated it was a song I wrote especially for John to sing; I wrote the lyrics and John just resang it from the demo I gave him. It was very much an homage to the sound of Metamatic, although slightly updated. With Never Been Here Before, it was more of a traditional collaboration. I had an instrumental I knew would need a strong vocal to compliment it, and gave it to John, who then came up with the vocals and lyrics. Working with him has been very easy as there seems to be a strong musical connection between us and we both know how a John & Jori track should sound like. We plan to extend our collaborations in the future.
4. mixside.com “Forgive Me Father For I Have Synth” … the title of the fourth track is very curious, could you explain us how did arise the idea for this title?
Jori Hullkkonen – It’s just a wordplay, something I do a lot but often disguise it. Here I left it in the open to see what the reaction is. Obviously it does refer to a prayer, and the lyrics bridge the title to what the song is dealing about; which is confronting the fact of your parents getting older. Not such a popular subject in pop music, I admit.
5. mixside.com You have been producing for 13 years for various labels as for example, F.communications How is the experience with this label during all this time?
Jori Hullkkonen – I was very fortunate to come across them so early in my career. Obviously, I have been very happy with the label and the way they have treated me. Basically what they have done is given me a total artistic freedom with no other expectations than to see me evolve musically, something that I see as my primary goal in music anyway. On each Jori Hulkkonen album I feel I need to achieve musically some things that I couldn’t do on the previous one. When I started making music 20 years ago I knew absolutely nothing. I had never played any instrument, never had studied music. Everything I’ve learned I’ve learned by trial and error, and that really is the motivation for everything I do. I need to feel I am moving forward in terms of songwriter, producer, engineer…
6. mixside.com As I guess you’ll know, the situation of the production of electronic music in our country has advanced little by little. We had some unknown artists time ago, but now we have many artists and labels with a high quality production, at least this is the opinion of many people specialized in electronic music. Are you interested in any label or spanish artist?
Jori Hullkkonen – What has happened in electronic music in the past ten years would make an excellent case study for someone’s thesis on globalization. It has become utterly meaningless where the music comes from, or where the artist comes from. The days of labels and distributors are almost gone while the digital revolution blurs the market.
What’s interesting though is that Spain has had a very vivid clubbing scene for such a long time, but it took relatively long for artists and labels to pop up. One could argue that it’s the opposite of Sweden where the scene was very frustrated in the 90’s by the lack of clubs and the tight attitudes from officials that made organizing parties very tricky, but eventually the frustration was channeled through artistic creativity; the musical vacuum needed to be filled in and so the swedish techno scene was born, not as clubs, but as strong artists and labels.
So maybe in Spain it took a while for new generation to grow up to a new situation where they would have a different starting point altogether.
7. mixside.com ¿How is the situation of the electronic music in Finland?
Jori Hullkkonen – It’s ok, but it’s certainly not great. We are a small country, only 5 million people. We have a couple of excellent clubs in Helsinki with ambition. We have a few good DJs. We have quite a few good producers. Just a couple of labels.
The problem is that the cultural environment in Finland is very conservative. You might not expect that from the hi-tech image we’re trying to give but that’s how it is. First of all most the music consumed in Finland is domestic, made by Finns for Finns, which is fine I guess. Most of this music, however, is either easylistening pop meant for people in their late forties, or heavymetal.
Every time I have foreign friends coming over they are amazed by the amount of heavymetal and goths in the streets. I have no explanation where this comes from. What I do know though is that in Finland electronic music and/or clubmusic never even really had a chance. In the late 90’s when most of the world was clubbing finland tried to get into it, festivals had their little dancetents and everybody wanted to be a DJ, but when dance went out of fashion soon after the turn of the century, it was time to go back to the musical dark ages of 80’s hairmetal.
Also Finland has no history whatsoever in going out. In the winter when it’s dark you sit out the cold and dark at home, or you drink it out in a pub. In the summer when the sun never sets you party while you can. But the culture has never been about going out, socialising, dancing. So clubculture has never really fitted the mentality here.
What electronic music did came out from finland was always a bit odd; Jimi Tenor, Pan Sonic, Vladislav Delay… never really any straightforward house or techno acts. Because of the lack of this culture especially in the 80’s and early 90’s people venturing in electronic music had to struggle to find the records. As a default you would not make electronic music because it was nowhere to be heard. You would start a rockband. So for the first wave of finnish electronic producers (and I am intentionally ignoring the 50’s 60’s and 70’s experimentalists, as it is a different scene altogether) It was a choice you would have to justify somehow, and that usually added an edge to the music.
Me, however, grew up near the Swedish border so I had always access to Swedish tv and radio so for me electronic music and club culture was a lot more familiar.
Later we obviously have caught up with rest of the world to some degree as there’s a new wave of producers coming from a totally different cultural starting point, people such as Roberto Rodriguez or JP Parikka.
But it’s still not so great.
8.mixside.com We are forgetting more and more the vinyl and the plates…Are the mp3 and laptops the guilty of this? Which is your opinion as a Dj?
Jori Hullkkonen – The problem is that it’s too easy to become a DJ or a producer these days. All you need is a laptop. Whereas ideologically I am all for this, in practice it seems to be killing the industry itself. There are too many people trying to ‘make it’, thinking very egocentrically, ripping mp3s from blogs, playing them and getting paid for it. There is already a generation of DJs who have never paid for music. This I see as the biggest challenge artists are facing in terms of being able to make a living out of their work right now. Whereas the format itself is secondary, I have to say I do prefer vinyl, as files, mp3s, CDs, it’s all very vulnerable.
9. djsanroman.com I have a curiosity… Do you remember the first vinyl that you bought?, Do you continue buying vinyls? Do you continue liking the ritual of getting dirty your hands searching for vinyls? or maybe…with the time you have been leaving it? Tell us too, what kinf of artists do you consider that are marking trends nowadays?
Jori Hullkkonen -I remember going to recordshops as a kid and buying stuff with my dad already in the late 70’s.. so I can’t really say what was the first record I bought, although a country/americana record by Freddy Fender was probably one of the first; he had a cowboyhat and looked pretty cool on the cover. One fond memory is I remember getting ‘some great reward’ by depeche mode from my brother as birthday present .
But yes, I do still buy vinyl, although a big part of the music I play as a DJ I buy digital. Apart from that I’m a music addict, I buy records constantly, I’m obsessed with new music. I buy a lot of alternative rock, pop, experimental… whatever. And as much of it as possible on vinyl.
Regarding trendsetters, it’s very tricky now. For a long time the scene was dominated by the english music journalism, but in the past maybe 8 years that has changed, again mainly because of the internet. Everything changes a lot faster now. Right now I guess all eyes are still on Berlin, but even that seems to be showing signs of wearing. So what happens next and who will be the next trendsetters remains to be seen. I do know it won’t be me though.
Jori Hullkkonen -The thing is when you start writing lyrics you are faced with a choice. In dancemusic content has never really been an issue lyrics-wise. Move your body, shake your ass, let the beat take control, crowd get ready to be jammed… while it’s often about having fun on the dancefloor it’s also about switching off your brain, it’s escapism, so it’s all good. Then of course you can always write lovesongs. That’s not what I wanted to do though. So I tried to write about things that I find interesting, moving and important for me at the time of doing the album. So eventhough musically I see all my albums as very personal affairs, tracknames very much included, now I thought I open up a little more, and not just throw in themes, but give a bit more insight on how I perceive things without trying to be too obvious. Music needs to challenge the listener just as I find getting the whole thing together challenging, and it needs to leave room for your own thoughts as well. That’s how you build a career rather than just make records. And meanwhile you make music that hopefully stands the test of time -or end up coming up with pseudoartistic crap, but it’s a risk that needs to be taken, both as an artist and as a music consumer. And I rather do things my way and take risks than play it safe.
11. mixside.com “Synthetic Ballad Of Charles Darwin”… I think that this track is excellent and very well elaborated. Jimi Tenor has collaborated in this track. Could you explain how was the experience of collaborating with him?, and how was the process of the production of this track?
Jori Hullkkonen -I’ve known Jimi for more than ten years, we are good friends and been meaning work together for ages. We’ve actually recorded a bunch of songs but they still remain unfinished. I was determined to have him on this album one way or another, so I set out to write a track with Jimi’s fantastic falcetto in mind (another theme for the album was to have all male falcetto line up, that never came thru totally, either). The track came about very easy, I recorded a demo with just an 808 and a piano with myself singing… it only took maybe an hour to finish writing the song, lyrics, everything. And i was convinced it was good, so I sent the demo mp3 to Jimi the same night. Couple of days later he sent me his vocals he had resung, and i finished off the production. The only problem was that this song could’ve gone in so many different directions. The version on the album is the one that fitted in best , but there are other, alternative versions with more dancefloor oriented approach.
12. mixside.com Your lives last one hour and your sets 2 or 3 hours. We know that both things are totally different, but please, explain us what do your lives give different, what is the added value of your lives in comparison with the majority of the artists?
Jori Hullkkonen – I’ve always had a problem with electronic music and lives. Or livesets in general. For me music is best when heard from a record. Most artists spend months, if not years perfecting the songs that end up on a record, but very few can perform them live in a sense that compliments the original recording or gives any added value. Especially in pop, rock and electronic music. And electronic music is not that interesting visually. So I try to focus my performances to DJsets where you can showcase your influences, your current favourites in addition to your own music. And DJing is all about having fun with music, it’s about interacting with the audience.
Live, on the other hand, is deadserious. If the people don’t like it, it’s personal. Live sets are more like short bursts that offer a personal view on my own work, that should persuade the listener to go and dig deeper. Then there’s always the technology. As i said before I’m a hardware person, and inorder to do the kind of live I’d really like to do I’d need to have my whole studio onstage (mind you, I did that once, a couple of years ago). So live is always a compromise.
Having said all that, there’s no greater rush than playing live your own material and getting a positive feedback from the audience.
13. mixside.com You have been before in A Coruña and you come back this year to the club “Super Club” On August 30. Do you feel that your life is a little bit enslaved of the flights and the hotels, specially for you due to bad connections from Finland?
Jori Hullkkonen – Not at all. I feel very lucky to be doing what I do for a living; I like travelling, I like getting out of boring old Finland to see and hear what’s going on elsewhere…. the fact that I spend so much time travelling and in clubs and big cities balances the fact that the weeks I spend in Finland are a bit boring. But I always like coming back home. I do feel increasingly guilty about flying so much though, as I try to be ecologically aware. Also, I’d love to spend more time in the studio making new music as that’s the motivation behind everything I do.
14. mixside.com Finally, we want to thank you for giving us a simply “different” record from the rest that we can find today in the musical market. An original album, nostalgic and with many class. And of course, we want to thank you for granting this interview to.
Jori Hullkkonen – best jori
Oficial Site Jori Hulkkonen
Interview By Jordi Ares