How strictly do you separate improvising and composing?
Because I have no history with any instrument, improvising was never really my thing, it was all about programming. I think it was only when I started performing live with analogue gear a little more in the past 10 years, I’ve learned the beauty of it. But I still feel improvisation rarely produces the kind of results I appreciate as a recording artist. The live performance and the studiowork I feel have become more separated than what they used to be, which I guess is a bit strange.
How do you see the relationship between sound, space and composition and what are some of your strategies and approaches of working with them?
As I said before, I try to find different ways to get inspired; sometimes it’s all about the song, the melody, sometimes the structure, and sometimes it’s all about the sound, or the groove. But that’s all just the starting point. Then you start developing the idea and try not to get lost in the details. I always keep a “version1” of tracks I work on, kind of a demo, that has the original, driving idea of what I’m working on. And I keep referring back that version, and keep in mind I don’t loose that original idea.
What's your perspective on the relationship between music and other forms of art – painting, video art and cinema, for example – and for you and your work, how does music relate to other senses than hearing alone?
I’ve always been very centered upon music. It’s been only in the past few years I’ve become interested in mixing things up. Last year I made a silent science fiction film with Jimi Tenor, called "NUNTIUS", and we wrote a score for it. The idea is that film is not released, and we don’t even record the soundtrack; we perform it live when the film is being screened, and even then it’s kind of improvised. It’s kind of our way of fighting the download culture. But that was the first time I worked more extensively with both visuals and music, and it’s been actually a lot of fun.
What's your view on the role and function of music as well as the (e.g. political/social/creative) tasks of artists today - and how do you try to meet these goals in your work?
Mixed feelings about this. I guess it all comes down to to how well it’s done. Music CAN be very powerful in terms of relaying social or political views. But it can also be super annoying and pretentious, and usually is. I’ve never been lyric-centered, neither as an artist nor a music lover. With my other band, Processory, we actually made pretty ambitious songs dealing with politics, economics, science etc, but it can quickly come pretty heavy on the listener.
With my new album Oh But I Am, one of the rules I had was to not write lyrics down at all. I basically just improvised vocals, recorded when I felt I came up with a good phrase, and then worked with that. Most of the classic house and disco records I love are about nothing else than love and dancing – the essentials of life.
Listening is also an active, rather than just a passive process. How do you see the role of the listener in the musical communication process?
Great point. Personally I like to leave a lot of responsibility to the listener. I love giving clues, but never being too obvious or straight forward. I think the key to a successful record – whatever that may mean –is that it resonates with different people in different ways. And the key is doing something that’s vague enough in a strong kind of way, and at the same time reaches across a lot of people.
Reaching audiences usually involves reaching out to the press and possibly working with a PR company. What's your perspective on the promo system? In which way do music journalism and PR companies change the way music is perceived by the public?
I think they affect the consumer a lot less these days, than when I started 20 years ago. To be honest, I don’t have that high of an opinion about music journalism in 2015, and hence don’t really care about reviews. It’s kind of like the music itself; there’s just so much more competition these days also in journalism, and people unfortunately tend to take the easy way out. For example, with my new album I’ve seen so many blogs just copy-pasting the one-sheet we sent with the album, and posting it as their own news item. It’s just so lazy.
I think it’s up to the artist themselves to be active and offer their views; and I do like interviews where you get to a bit deeper. The question is, how many people actually have the time and interest to read all the items popping up online everyday.
Do you have a musical vision that you haven't been able to realise for technical or financial reasons – or an idea of what music itself could be beyond its current form?
I’m very curious about what’s happening in the world of virtual reality right now. Oculus Rift, for example. I’d love to do something in that realm. Excactly what it could be, I’m not sure yet.
You can stay up to date on the releases and tour dates of Jori Hulkkonen by visiting his website.