Friday, December 14, 2007

Interview with Nest

Greetings Tolonen. How are you these days?
Greetings, mon. I'm quite good, but very busy – as always. I always tend to hoard so many projects that I keep struggling to do them all at the same time.

What’s up with the Nest at the moment?

The Skepticism tribute album with the Nest cover of 'The Gallant Crow' has just been released. All the participating bands did a good job with some really interesting versions of Skepticism's songs, and it was an honor covering Skepticism who are one of my all-time favorite bands. Otherwise, at the moment I'm composing new songs and just going forward at a relaxed pace. This is the part of making music I enjoy the most so I'm doing it with the sole intention of having fun. I can't really tell much else at the moment, because I'm still in such an early stage.

7 months passed since the “Trail of the Unwary” was released. What was the reaction of the media and press been so far?

As usual, the response varies from good to not interesting, but I'd imagine that happens with just about any band. Those that liked the old material generally liked the new one too, even though they are quite different, and many of those thought the new one was better than ever. Some people have even said to me that the new album is some of the most solemn pieces of music they've ever heard, and I'm naturally very taken by such comments.

How would you describe the sound of new Nest album for someone who didn’t heard it yet?
I'd probably describe it like I've always done with our music. It's a mixture of acoustic and ambient elements, but the ambience and slowly mutating atmospheres are even more dominant on this album than before. I'd naturally mention that we use the kantele, a traditional Finnish string instrument, and throw in some metal seasonings in a couple of songs. Actually, this album contains the most metal Nest song to date, Hunt. We also have more varied vocals and synth work this time around, and a couple of surprises that I don't have the heart to reveal before you actually listen to the album.

What was your inspiration for this album, and how you started to create “Trail of the Unwary”?
I'm very much inspired by nature, animal life, and the like, but I like to handle these themes slightly differently than the normal romanticizing and whatnot. I wanted to capture the essence of, for example, the hunt for what it really means to those who depend on it for survival. Sort of, how a wolf would explain it if it could explain it in the language and terms humans understand.

I started composing stuff like I always do – just for fun. I didn't have any rules or guidelines where I forced the music to go, and on this new album I deliberately wanted to avoid any rules, and just do what I felt like, now matter what the result would be. For example, I didn't want to limit the song lengths to about 4-5 minutes, like I did with most of Nest's previous songs. Still, the composing process was similar to the early stuff. I just took the kantele, started playing it, and wrote down all stuff I liked. After that it was the usual arranging of synths, drums, etc. on top of the kantele stuff. The vocals and most of the lyrics always come into the picture last. I make them to serve the songs, not the other way around. After everything was complete, or at least nearly complete, I started making the visuals to reflect the themes of the music. Everything, the music, the texts, the visuals, etc. has always been closely connected in Nest, and this didn't change now either.

On album can be heard some whispering vocals and narrations. Who was responsible for this and can you tell something about the lyrics?
This time we had 5 different vocalists contributing their talent. Why so many, even though we have so few vocals/lyrics in general? We approach the subject of vocals from a voice acting standpoint. There are many roles, or speakers if you will, in the stories and they need to have as unique voices as possible. Naturally, having many people performing their own parts yields a much richer outcome than one single vocalist trying to do them all. I handle whispering and the low storyteller voice in most songs and growl on Hunt, T.S. uses his natural voice and does some whispers in most songs too, P.A. does some strong commanding lines with his natural voice on Kontio, J.H. Sings on Kontio and snarls/shrieks on Hunt and Claw and Fang, and last but definitely not least L-A.H. Does spoken word in her charming voice on Across the Waters. I think it all worked out great, even better than I had hoped. I must also mention that all of the guys (and gal) are good friends of mine, and it was very enjoyably for me to work with friends, especially ones who have so much talent.

How and where you did a recording part? Also, I would like to ask which programs (and how) for recording you used?
I do all recording at home, except for the vocals of the people living in the U.S., who naturally recorded their stuff where they wanted. I like doing recording, mixing, mastering, etc. at home. I doesn't cost me anything and I don't have to worry about deadlines. I use Buzz for all my music making and recording needs. It's not a well-known piece of software outside the computer music people, but it's excellent for my needs. It takes very little processor time, and it let's me do just about anything I want when it comes to sounds. I also use Soundforge and CoolEdit for some sample editing stuff, but that's only a small part of my music making.

Album is truly briliant, full of beautiful sound spheres and atmospheric/ambient sound-scapes. But, is everything played by real instruments or you use samples sometimes?
Thank ye very much. I spent 2 years of my life to make it exactly like I wanted, and I feel I succeeded. Therefore I'm glad to hear you and others enjoy it too. All the kantele, bass, and lapland drum were played with real instruments, and the voices are naturally real too. The synths are done with softsynths instead of a keyboard. The softsynths I have are so versatile that I actually like using them better than keyboards. I have programmed all of their sounds myself too, so I haven't really taken any shortcuts even in the computer department. I do use samples, but that's for all the sound effects, nature and sounds, etc.

Did you played some new live gigs and do you have in plan some gigs?
Nest hasn't played any gigs in years, and we don't have any lined up either. The new material would be quite hard to play live too. To fully reproduce the album sounds we'd need 2 kantele players, 1 bassist, 2 drummers versed in the Lapland drum, 3 synth players who used computers because no keyboard contains the synth sounds I've made for the album, and all 5 vocalists. We could get passable results with only one of each, but I still only know only one person who would be interested in playing live with us – he's T.S. and he already plays with us. I don't even really like playing live. I do like letting people hear our music live, but I get little enjoyment from it personally. Nevertheless, I would like to play live in somewhat different settings, like in a campfire situation, in old places like castles, ruins, etc. But I probably don't even have to explain why organizing such a thing would be hard.

Are some of your very rare concerts possible to find on some divx/dvd bootleg?
It's possible if someone recorded either of the two gigs we did, but I haven't come across any recordings, and I doubt they exist. I doubt it would even be that interesting visually, because the limitations imposed by the kantele I have to practically sit still while playing it. Maybe I should compose simpler stuff so I could move while playing :) Nah, not gonna happen.

What about Nest merch? Does something like that exists?
Not at the moment, although I have some ideas. I'd just need to clear my busy schedule to make them happen. I'd love to make something more personal, but I won't reveal anything specific before I actually get something done. The ideas are somewhat peculiar, and I can't guarantee I can make them work well enough.

Is still possible to find new Nest album and it’s limited – double pack edition?
All my copies are gone already, but one could always browse through distros or ask Corvus Records directly. Limited to 99 copies tends to go, and go fast.

Who was responsible for Trail of the Unaware cover?

I did all the visuals once again with colored pencils. There's some color tweaking done on the computer afterwards to make everything fit together better, though. The originals are hanging on my wall at the moment. I also tweaked the logo a bit, to reflect the evolution in the music but still keeping the original base. I think it reflected both the new and the familiar quite nicely. I like doing all the visual stuff myself. Not only do I get the exact results I want, but I see the visuals as such a big part of Nest that I need to do them myself. They're as important to me as any of the songs, and I wouldn't have any third party making a song for Nest, so I wouldn't have any such party doing the visuals either.

Do you have some plans for Nest in some near future?

Nothing has been cast into stone, and little ever is when I'm composing new stuff. I just go where the tide takes me. I've been meaning to experiment more with distortion and metal elements, and I'm also eager to feature the Finnish language more. The new stuff will probably shape up to be a concoction of all the best elements of the old stuff with a good doze new seasonings thrown in. Wasn't that vague?

Thank you very much for an interview. Wish you many luck in future work!

No problem, mon. I thank ye for the support and wish all the best to ye and yer projects.

Interview done by Monarch (03.12.2007.)

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