Finnish alternative rock band Sara released their latest “Pimeys” album on Friday 21st of January. The band held an hour long livestream about the album in collaboration with Kaaoszine in Thursday describing a bit more in detail the writing and recording process of the album as well as opened some individual tracks from it. You can read the transcription of the livestream below:
Today we have as guests Marko and Joa from the band Sara, how are you doing?
Marko Kivelä: Hi and also hi to everybody there in the stream.
Joa Korhonen: Good evening.
Marko Kivelä: A bit nervous in the moment when the camera switched on, exciting.
Joa Korhonen: It feels good, finally we can present Sara´s album to the people and today we will listen to some songs that haven’t been published yet.
“Pimeys” (Darkness) will be published tomorrow, let’s go straight to the process of the album. How was it? now in these peculiar times where we have been already two years.
Joa Korhonen: “Solus”, “Summa” and “Pimeys” have had the same kind of process. Prepared for a long time and the home studio, so in that way the world situation has not influenced it at all. We have followed the same formula as before. Also in Pimeys Arto Tuunela has been involved in the production in the same way that in Summa. So I mixed the songs for a long time, or as long as I could, and then I sent them to Arto for him to continue.
Marko Kivelä: As a timeline maybe it has been really long, because the first songs ready for this album “Se osa joka rikkoo” (The part that breaks) and “Mun ihminen” (my person), were already done at the same time when we were still touring with “Summa”. Long making process, also influenced by the fact that we had to postpone the release of the album for autumn to now, January. Now we get to release it and it feels very good when finally it is out for people to listen to it.
The album is quite heavy, like “Summa”. Was it clear that you will continue in the same heavy lines with “Pimeys”?
Joa Korhonen: Yes, somehow it feels like the guitar starts to come back, already did it while Summa, it feels like the guitars are our instrument. The band looks stronger and more confident in live situations when their own instruments are there. It was a natural continuation and the band is stronger when the music is heavier.
Talking about the lyrics, how are they in this album?
Joa Korhonen: It is always like the state of the world and my own life, and all the things that happen come to my mind tangled up in such an abstract way of thinking, and then they create the song. Se osa joka rikkoo is written straight from my own experience, but then there are also things that get mixed in my own mind and from those glimpses, the songs come. I wanted to create a very strong feeling for the songs, but the lyrics do not necessarily have to tell a story. It has been like that for us for a long while now. So, not so big changes in that way.
During this stream we will listen to the four songs that haven’t been yet released. The first song is “Taivas” (Sky), and in this song JUN-HIS from Oranssi Pazuzu, how did he end up in the album?
Joa Korhonen: When the song started to be ready, I remember that I wanted the verse doubled. The first versions didn’t go so well, then at some point we moved his part into the middle of the song and it worked. He sang his part again in the right position. But it was about the song missing more darkness and deepness.
What can you tell us about the lyrics?
Joa Korhonen: “Taivas” is like, how can I explain it? seeing the world situation there are people who are terribly afraid of changes. People are so scared that you can not even talk about it. It is like a bit of a vision of where this world is going, some wonderful world it became.
Let’s continue with the songs, and the next song that we are playing is “Olla liikkumatta” (stay still) that starts with a beautiful piano melody. Do you open up a bit of the songwriting process?
Joa Korhonen: This song is very much influenced by the Netflix series “Dark” which I hugged myself. The great atmosphere of the series influenced a lot, and I wanted to bring to the album those strong atmospheres. The piano is born there and also the lyrics, which are very rhetorical, bring more feeling to the song than when it is only about the story. Maybe it is how the song starts, it is time to recognize the act that we are moving to another place. So move from where we are with the lyrics.
Marko Kivelä: Yes, about the piano I like it a lot, it is amazing to play it. The riff sounds like it is all noise, the song has that feeling, you know? that something is wrong, a bit as if you were dreaming.
I realized when I listened to the album for the first time, it came to my mind that there is something distinctive from there.
Joa Korhonen: That song has a high contrast in the verse. It is very machine-like where the whole band is involved.
The third song that we listen to today is Lautta (Raft) . Would you tell us about how it was born?
Joa Korhonen: “Lautta” belongs together with the previous song “Olla liikkumatta“. In this song we have already moved on and we see the world from the other side. This song brings me Korn vibes, there is something with the riff (…) It is a very heavy song.
Marko Kivelä: This is the song where we moved the parts from one place to another. The parts remain but we looked for the right structure. And then Arto, the producer, did the rest of the work. And the really funny thing is the Korn reference, because for me it doesn’t sound like it at all. For me it sounds more like David Bowie‘s last album, like that skewed feeling.
Joa Korhonen: I also remember that there was something related with the drums or something that was a very big thing in the song in the beginning. I remember that you listened to it and the first thing that you asked was if that has to be in the song.
Marko Kivelä: : laughs
Joa Korhonen: And then I replied that yes, it has to be because it is my favorite thing from the whole song, but then after going deep through the song I also realized that it doesn’t really need it. And that is something cool, that the thing from the song was born, it was not included in the last version. That I am able to let those things go.
The live stream continues and let´s go with the fourth song, the last one in the album “Syklit” (Cycles). What does the last song of the album mean to you?
Joa Korhonen: It is very important to me, you need to settle the feeling of wanting more. I think the same for the gigs, that I want to end up preferably with big applause and the feeling that people want more. So, the same in the album, it has to be an interesting song.
Marko Kivelä: Yes, I agree. The dramatic arc is very important, so what is also very important is the order of the songs. It was very clear from the beginning that “Syklit” would be the last song of the album.
Joa Korhonen: At some point it was also a song that almost falls for the album, we thought about if this song fits. But then somehow I wanted to fight, I liked it. It is a bit like a loop, back to the beginning with “Mun Ihminen“. Luckily it was included.
Marko Kivelä: It was me the one wanting it out, but sometimes it is ok to be wrong, and it is great that finally it was included.
At what point was the song written? Was it written at the end?
Marko Kivelä: This was the last song, we went to rehearse the three of us, Joa, Kristian and me, and it was born from the riff. As I remember, it was the last one.
Joa Korhonen: And it is also funny, that the guitar grabbing comes from a song that I played acoustic live, a version for Ethän vielä kuole. I did a version of it and the guitar went like that. I liked it so much that I wanted to include it in the song. Funny that I make a cover of my own song, and from that new version comes a new song. Funny process.
What does your future look like?
Marko Kivelä: The album is released tomorrow, that is the next big step. In April we start touring, and we would like to play as many gigs as possible, also festivals during the summer.
Joa Korhonen: Of course for me, I already started to have some ideas about the new album and about how it may be done. The last 3 albums have been done in the same way and produced all by Arto, so it feels that I might want to test something else. Maybe we could try that I wouldn’t punch the songs at home so much so there is more happening at the rehearsal place. So I would record the riffs and the songs on my phone and then the band plays them more together. It may still change along the way, but there is the idea that it may work. But it may change if a song starts to come at home, it makes no sense to stop it. So these are the kinds of thoughts I have.
Are you planning acoustic gigs? The acoustic version of “Se osa joka rikkoo” is amazing.
Joa Korhonen: No, I don’t think so, at least not now. We will concentrate now on the album version gigs.
Marko Kivelä: But is not a resounding no, it could be something special, at some point, but not now.
Is the album going to include more electronic songs? Where does the theme of the album come from?
Joa Korhonen: The theme comes from the Dark series and from its atmosphere. And also from all the things happening in the world.
And about the electronic songs, “Pimeys“, I mean “Lautta” (in the beginning its name was “Pimeys“) and “Olla liikkumatta” have some electronics. Those belong to Sara´s sound.
Marko Kivelä: Natural sound.
You have a very long career, where do you find the inspiration for writing new songs and what difference there is between now and 20 years ago?
Joa Korhonen: Yes, sometimes when the album is ready I ask myself if there is still something more coming. I hate to leave things undone, so when I have something completed I straight start to think about the next one.
Marko Kivelä: The inspiration can come from very different places, like now for example from a tv series, but it also comes from a good album, you feel that you have to try if. So music is also important.
Joa Korhonen: Yes, like I just want that too. And about the other question, when we got our first deal for the first album, and we went into the studio it was amazing “It is all happening”, we became a rock band. But I think that after all there are still the same guys, but grown up.
If you could add anything to your music, what would it be?
Marko Kivelä: I have some jokes, like it could be for example some percussion, or a capella singing… (Laughs)
Joa Korhonen: The band playing, if we put everything together a bit different than before and see what comes from the band. If there is still something to be found there.
This question is for Joa. How do the paintings and the music inspire each other? are they two different worlds or do they have anything in common?
Joa Korhonen: I outline the songs and I outline the paintings yes, but they go in different stages, in different cycles. Sometimes I am more concentrated in music and at some point it changes, and the paintings are in the foreground. So far it has gone well, in a good rhythm.
What things have been more challenging during the “Pimeys” process and what things have you enjoyed the most?
Marko Kivelä: I enjoy the most in the making process when Joa is coming with a new song for us to listen to. So then I can process it in my head and we give him our feedback and we comment about what we can do. I like all that process a lot, but I don’t know what to say about challenges.
Joa Korhonen: For me the challenge is when I send the tracks to be mixed, and when they come back too, if there is something in them that is not working in my opinion. If I dare to share my ideas and start it. Cos I trust in our producer’s professionalism, but still it starts there, and it can still be a bit challenging. And of course, I tell Arto the thing and he also explains why the things have to be done in that way, there is a discussion. And sometimes it also happens that I find out that Arto justifies the matter right and I listen to it again, and at some point we agree.
Have you ever thought about doing an acoustic gig or tour?
Marko Kivelä: About tours yes we have, but about gigs being made or performed… We thought at some point about doing them acoustic or completely electronic, in a way like a side project to the band gigs.
Joa Korhonen: Now that I have some acoustic versions of some of the songs, it could be interesting if an orchestra would be involved. It could be an interesting small tour with acoustic versions, but for now we concentrate on the future.
What is your favorite gig place?
Marko Kivelä: I think about my home, Rytmikorjaamo. If I have to say something else, then Lutakko. It is very nice, with a great reception, a very similar spirit to Rytmikorjaamo.
Joa Korhonen: I would bet that Olympia in Tampere, and of course Rytmikorjaamo.
Bonus question. What kind of feelings do you have about the gasoline price? (laughs)
Marko Kivelä: It doesn’t affect the local elections. Let’s leave the politics out. (laughs)
What is the most important album to you before “Summa” and why?
Marko Kivelä: I could say that when I was not in the band yet, and I was a true fan from the very beginning, maybe “Narupasaat”. It was very important because the band became known. But “He kutsuivat luokseen” was from the first listen, a high quality album. Maybe it is still my favorite, Sara’s production remains my favorite national record ever.
Joa Korhonen: I would have wanted to say that the two last ones, “Summa” and “Pimeys”. But “Veden äärelle” was in terms of career a very important album. It was like the right place and the right time.
Why will the vinyl be released before summer? just when there is very sunny weather for this kind of music.
Marko Kivelä: We apologize for it. The delay is due to the printing schedule. It will come out as soon as we have it.
Are the setlists always the same or do they depend on the feeling?
Marko Kivelä: Before every gig we decide the order of the songs. In every gig we see when we play each day, what it feels like. As in the albums, the whole arc is a very important thing, it has to be a clear start and a clear end. The arc determines the setlist like nothing else.
Joa Korhonen: Yes and we can change also, if we have played a song and we see that it doesn’t work, for some reason. So we look a bit for the setlist, but the frame remains the same.
Who is the know-it-all from the band?
Marko Kivelä: Can I say that myself?
Joa Korhonen: I thought the same.
You can check out the entire live stream (in Finnish) here.
You can listen to the entire “Pimeys” album below: