Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a recording or album that's particularly dear to you, please? Where did the ideas come from, how were they transformed in your mind, what did you start with and how do you refine these beginnings into the finished work of art?
All the works that I have published are close to my heart. It is a matter of the heart for me.
If I now spontaneously pull one out of my heart, there is a tree in Finland in front of me. This tree stood in front of the kitchen window of a residency in Alarjarvi, Central Finland. Outside, extreme early summer storms were raging and I watched this tree dance every morning. Of course there were many more trees. Quite a lot, of course. A round dance. Since I lived in the forest, so to speak, I decided to take the opportunity to make an acoustic portrait of this tree, these trees. Trees have very different meanings in different cultures. For me they have always been companions, since the first moment I became aware of them as a little boy. The rooting and the stretching of the branches, the connection with the sun, the soil and the seasons, the interconnectedness under the earth with other trees of its kind. All this was and is close to me.
So close that I wanted and still want to approach it acoustically. So I started early to record the small still young leaves in the wind. Since I would be on the spot for a longer time, I had the idea to record the process of growing leaves acoustically. Furthermore I was interested in the tree as a body. So I examined it with a stethoscope to listen to the sap extraction. In a storm this and every tree has its own sphere of sound due to the architecture, structure and density of the branches, the location and the wind force. I recorded these conditions for hours a day.
I fixed the contact microphones close to the outer bark with plasticine. I stowed the recorder in a backpack on the ground. I did this for days on end. After a few weeks of daily accompaniment, I created a material that concentrated on the inner life of the tree and the outer signals of the crown. I decided to shorten the shots and not to edit them decisively, sorted them by trunk and crown of the tree and intuitively searched for the highlights. Thus a conceptual album about the inside and outside was created. At the time I sent it to Dale Lloyd in the USA and after some time I got an answer. We worked on the album and it was released with the title: One Hour As Trees In Finland in 2016 on his label and/OAR.
Later I went back to the place at other times of the year and started recording at minus 20 degrees and colder. Under such temperatures the trees crack especially. The fibers seem to react under this cold.
Even the infestation of pests can be brought into the audible range with the right sensors and contact microphones and thus indicate the change of habitat and environment.
Today I start to examine different trees in the ultrasonic range. For a few years the different possibilities to record the situations and circumstances of the trees in different ways are more and more discussed. For example, the dry seasons and their effects. So it develops further and further. Like the growth and decay of such a tree. So in this case one could speak of an open project, in which formats are created again and again, which try to present the essence of the tree in different ways. An open work of art, if you like ...
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are istractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
I would say that when we come in an ideal state of mind, nothing can distract us. For example, I can concentrate well when I'm distracted. When there are movements and reactions from all directions, I often become quite calm, concentrate on the essential. Before I start drifting off into thought states again, I quickly leave the studio and sweep the yard for a while or sit down in the shade of the hazelnut trees. So I do something completely different. The transformation of the aggregate state.
If I can manage it, then I take a lot of little breaks. So on the one hand I can concentrate very well while working and on the other hand this energy of the omnipresent is in the doing.
How is recording in the field and editing the music in the studio connected? What do you achieve and draw from each experience personally? How do you see the relationship between improvisation and composition in this regard?
The places and their attentions are connected through me with memory and expectation. The experience of the place is very decisive for me. It helps to access the material in a new and often different way in the studio.
The material speaks to you when you listen. From within yourself. That is something completely different in the studio compared to the recording process in the field. Both forces, the energy in the field and the one with spatial and emotional distance in the studio often form a connection. In areas of sound recording in the field, I often start from a composition. The planning, the realization are in relation to what is supposed to happen in the field and finally happens. When situations change, which they almost always do, then I'll use improvisation. The first take of the recordings is changed or even broken off. This process is transferred with the material into the next state. Often another mixture of impro and concept.
I think it has to do with the openness and unity of the situations. If we give ourselves completely to change, we can improvise with the composition.
How do you see the relationship between the 'sound' aspects of music and the 'composition' aspects? How do you work with sound and timbre to meet certain production ideas and in which way can certain sounds already take on compositional qualities?
I personally try to work without categorising sounds into noise and music. Our perception of them is in constant change through the open ear of the recipient. The material speaks holistically and the more we preserve this wholeness, the more it gives us the power to keep the quality on the surface. This makes it easier for others to hear.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work? What happens to sound at its outermost borders?
Especially when working in the field, almost all or better even all senses play a decisive role. We are in the here and now and drive up the perception with all senses. Of course you can practice this or practice yourself, if there are such situations.
In addition to the acoustics, shapes, movement and scent play a major role. We cannot record everything with the microphones. Therefore we should continue to rely on our ears. So I take off the headphones more often. Move away, come back, lie down, sit … Temperature, humidity and e.g. air pressure all these conditions give us information about the situation, bring us even closer to the now.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
For me, art or the kind of art in which I move is a form of being in oneself, connecting with the outside world, being part of the world. Depending on the receiving station, the art of sound, especially the handling of environmental sounds, can take on and/or assume social and political roles.
I see the actual task as an invitation to the recipients to become a part of things themselves. To remember, to move. To move something. I believe in dialogue through art. The art of dialogue. To create a magic, an interest, an ear note. To the world. Because all we really need is a place in this world. We are part of it. Therefore, we should connect and take responsibility. The responsibility to respect and preserve the world in our own few small environment. As artists we can be emphatic and generate empathy. Empathy with the isteners creates the emotions needed to regain access to the world. Then we can also be a part of it and become active.
It is remarkable, in a way, that we have arrived in the 21st century with the basic concept of music still intact. Do you have a vision of music, an idea of what music could be beyond its current form?
Perhaps when music is no longer just a tool, but becomes part of your life. To resonate with every movement, every attitude, every opinion. Swing. A communication of vibrations, which could be dissonant and harmonious to equal. Good and bad cancelling out. To feel time not as something running, disappearing, but as a moment. Like, for example, the moment in which we love, are in love. Time is suspended. Another time is experienced. There could be only love left until dissolution.