Lowlife Philosophers: Vitun Hankalaa!

A journey on a surface of hope and joy…and beneath the surface?…well, dig in and find out!

Lowlife Philosophers new album “Same Revolution Twice” is made out of billions of microscopical particles of music and music genres that you think you have heard somewhere already but once those particles start coming together piece by piece you will experience something unique like a flower that blooms once every 100 years..

(video by Kai Johansson)

Let’s start with the classic question. How did Lowlife Philosophers come together as a band?

Mikko: The exact answer would be really long, but to make it short: we were brought together by luck, coincidence, sheer fortune. The stars (and we) were at the right place at the right time, I guess.

Noora: In 2002 the guys used to study in the same school and they formed the band there. I joined about a year later, when one of the founding members, Mikko Elo, asked if I was interested. I was about 20 and looking for a band. Mikko hadn’t heard me singing so I think I gave him a cassette tape of my songs I had recorded at home and he thought I was alright. During these 13 years we have had some changes in band members, since the original drummer and bassist quit. Now our band consists of Mikko Elo on baritone guitar, Tero Fagerström on keyboards, Daniel Finley on drums and Ilona Jokinen on bass. Earlier I mostly sung, but lately I’ve also played electric guitar on our songs. And rhythm egg… Mikko and Ilona also sing with me more than before on our songs.

Photo by Lauri Hannus

Photo by Lauri Hannus

Do you all have some sort of common background and/or taste music wise?

Mikko: We have very different and varied backgrounds in music, and that’s the beauty of the whole thing. What we have in common is the will to experiment and try new things, as well as the ability to listen to and to be inspired by each other.

Noora: I think all of us share a mutual taste in music in some way. At least I know that Tero and Daniel both highly appreciate Porcupine Tree. Mikko and I both love Kate Bush and Bat For Lashes. Ilona andI both like Die Antwoord. Daniel and I listen to old Alice in Chains. At least these kind of similarities in our favorite bands I can think of.

How would you describe the music of the record?

Mikko: The music, as well as the lyrics on the album is based on contrast of different emotions. There are moments of beauty clashed by moments of insanity, and moments of joy juxtaposed with moments of loss. The music is so rich and multi-layered that I would definitely not describe it with any musical term.

Noora: It’s quite usual us, like a mixture of a lot of things. Not one particular genre I think. Some rock, some pop and some progressiveness I guess.

Photo by Leena Finley

Photo by Leena Finley

Brand new album “Same Revolution Twice” just came out, very exciting! This is your 4th album, are you as excited about this release as the debut and does this album in any way stand out from the previous recordings?

Mikko: To be honest with you, I’m more excited about this album than almost any of the previous I’ve been involved with, because of two things: 1) The album is so good, 2) The wait was so long. 

I feel that the album sort of builds on the music of our previous albums but digs deeper and deeper in almost every direction.

Noora: It’s always a very wonderful thing to be able to publish your work and this one took five years to be born so all the more happy I am about it, finally it’s in our hands.

You changed name this year from Lowlife Rock’n’Roll Philosophers to just Lowlife Philosophers, why is that?

Mikko: The name was perfect for us and our biggest fans, but we noticed that it was too long for journalists, casual listeners, etc. We decided that the best way to shorten it was by cutting the neutral middle word out and leave the extremes ”Lowlife” and ”Philosophers” – the bookends, so to speak.

Noora: We got bored with that middle word I think…

Photo by Daniel Finley

Photo by Daniel Finley

Personal fave song on the new album?

Mikko: The ultimate cliché answer: ”They’re all my favorites”…blah, I’m not going to let myself out so easily. This is a really hard one, because every song has its own role on the album. On the spur of this moment I would name the bookend tracks ”I Met God” and ”Two Jupiters (A Suicide Note)”, because they are both very exceptional songs with a truly unique character. There is a special reason why they are the first and the last song on the album, both musically and lyric-wise.

Noora: I guess Doomed or Railroad Take Me Away.

Noora, you are the beautiful voice behind the lyrics sung. Are you writing the lyrics and if so what inspires you to write?

Mikko: I guess I should answer on this one too, since I’ve written a greater deal of the lyrics on this album.
 I would call myself a curious absorber of everything in life. Everything I absorb mixes up inside me and sometimes something comes out in a form of a lyrical idea. On this album, most of my lyrics have a deeply personal core, but they do not always appear like that to a listener, because on surface they may sound like something else.

Writing lyrics often begins as a really intuitive process, but putting down the last lines is sometimes like solving a crossword puzzle. The lyrics have to flow perfectly with the melody, and I tend to set up the bar very high. Noora is also a great inspiration for me, because when I write lyrics for Lowlife Philosophers, I often hear the voice of Noora in my head, and this helps in finding a perfect line. We have so much common background and so similar attitude towards life, that even people close to us usually have no clue which lyrics are written by me and which are written by Noora.

Noora: I write lyrics and Mikko writes too. Sometimes we collaborate. I mostly write some kind of diary entry -type of lyrics. The best inspiration to me are strong emotions caused by real life, books, movies or some revelations in life. Writing and composing are good ways to deal with things… Sometimes the music comes first and the idea for lyrics comes from the feel of the song. Now that I’m getting older, I’ve tried to challenge myself to spend more time on word choices and sometimes try to do more poetry-like lyrics and expand the subjects on which I write. It can get boring to write about how shitty and hurtful relationships are, but I guess I had to go through that phase.

Photo by Daniel Finley

Photo by Daniel Finley

Mikko your background can be found by reading or re-reading the Mama Longhorn feature posted earlier here on sseennsseess:


So this one is for you Noora. How and when did you begin to sing and what/who inspired you?

Noora: I always wanted to be a singer because my dad is a singer and I thought it was absolutely super cool. Also I have always loved music and listened to it a lot. I like to play different instruments, like guitar, piano and bass. Sometimes I play drums just for the fun and therapeutic kick of it… My first favorite band when I was about 7 years old was Guns n’ Roses. Then the next big musical crushes were Björk, PJ Harvey and Tori Amos. I started to practise more and more and write more songs because I got this strength from listening to those three women. Then I tried to listen to as much music as I could, as many genres and styles as possible so that I knew all the possible ways you could approach song-writing, playing, singing and performing. To this day I got these certain songs and albums I always want to get back to, they are sort of energizing and comforting.

Before we go personal. Try to write a poetic ‘sales message’ as to why people should buy your new album, started by Mikko and finished by Noora.

Mikko: Here’s our punch, please buy yours – let’s be each other’s lightning rods!

Noora: …buy it!

(editor comment: ??? 😉 )

Photo by Leena Finley

Photo by Leena Finley

We all know what Pori stands for in terms of music. We also know they offer beautiful beaches during the summer and good beer all time of the year. What else does Pori offer?

Mikko: Pori is a fascinating, multi-layered town. On the surface it appears as a bit rude, but you can find all kinds of distinctive culture under the surface – not only music, but also performance arts, theatre, combinations of different artforms, etc. Welcome to Pori, everyone!

Noora: Surely! I’m not sure what to answer but in the summer time they keep these alpacas in this kind of park called Kirjurinluoto. I think they are kind of weird and cute.

Courtesy of Kirjurinluoto.fi

Courtesy of Kirjurinluoto.fi

In my opinion Finland is one of the most unique and original countries when it comes to creating the art form known as music. Just as you think that you’ve heard it all, a new band constellation turns up and mindblows you. Please explain why that is?

Mikko: I have no idea, to be honest with you. Maybe it is the isolated location, sparse population density and quite young culture in general that gives the Finnish people a natural opportunity to create something unique. But believe me, we have our share of awful bands and artists, too!

Noora: I have no idea about the reasons…is it easier to do it since someone already showed you the way? I mean, when I was a teenager I went to see Circle, Kuusumun Profeetta/Moonfog Prophet, Magyar Posse and Sweetheart, bands like these, play live. I liked that kind of music. So I guess I saw that okay, you can do this here and you don’t have to be a boring and unoriginal asshole. You can be yourself and there’s always someone who might just like what you’re doing.

Name two Finnish albums and two non-Finnish albums you are listening to in this period?

Mikko: Of Finnish records I would say the new album “ISI” by our good friend Ville Leinonen and the album “Pepe & Saimaa” by Pepe Willberg. Both are quite remarkable.
For non-Finnish: Twilight by The Handsome Family and Where Greater Men Have Fallen by Primordial.

Noora: I haven’t been listening to any Finnish albums lately but I did listen to Circle a while ago from their Soundcloud page…of non-Finnish ones, lately I’ve been listening a lot to Dinosaur Jr.’s newest album, “I Bet On Sky”.

Fave Finnish artist and why?

Mikko: Mads, you actually force me to name ONE? Have you gone Mad or something even worse: Mads? …ok, I’ll trick you back on this one and name Noora Tommila because she’s an exceptional singer and I love to work with her.

Noora: It’s very difficult to name one…but I am proud of a lot of Finnish musicians.

How would a perfectly inspirational morning start and how would a perfectly disastrous morning start?

Mikko: An inspirational morning starts with a big cup of coffee. A disastrous morning starts without a cup of coffee.

Noora: Probably the same way! Or not…something like accidentally walking under a bus on my way to work would be disastrous. Mornings are inspirational when you get to wake up when you want and maybe the sun is shining and your mind is calm and you can just enjoy doing nothing in particular. That’s what usually stirs up my imagination when I do or think of nothing and aren’t pushed to do something. Then my mind starts to create.

Photo by Daniel Finley

Photo by Daniel Finley

Name one thing that you have postponed until forever?

Mikko: I’m quite an impatient person, so I don’t like to postpone things. There are some things stuck in my mind that I try to postpone until forever, because making them actually happen would probably ruin my life.

Noora: Washing dishes…they smell horrible.

Are you organized?

Mikko: I don’t feel very organized, but when I compare my way to function with many other people, I notice that I’m quite organized in comparison.

Noora: I’m organized and have certain patterns that I need in life or I lose it… Like when practising or playing a gig. I can be neurotic even with some little silly details, that don’t possibly even show to other people… I’m highly unorganized with paying bills, cleaning the house and other adult things like that.

What is missing in your life that would make it just right in this moment?

Mikko: I have lately been a very lucky man and don’t feel that I’m missing anything particularly important. Oh, wait… TIME! If I had more time, everything would be just right!

Noora: I’d like a lot of money…

Ever made a decision that felt wrong and is still haunting you till this day?

Mikko: When I look back, one of my worst decisions was to sell most of my thrash metal vinyl’s in the early 90’s when my taste in music started to expand. I would really love to have all those albums in my vinyl collection now.

Noora: Surely but it’s no use to think of past mistakes, not at least to dwell on them for too long. There’s a time and place for thinking things over but it can drain you to get stuck in your past. I’ve quite efficiently learned to deal with my silly doings and try to learn from them. See them as part of the deal.

Name one bad habit you can’t seem to get rid off?

Mikko: Impatience. I have been getting slightly more patient, but not even close to being patient enough.

Noora: Smoking cigarettes is my worst habit.

Fave season of a year and why?

Mikko: I like all seasons for different reasons, but the days when spring turns to summer are something special. There is this unnamed feeling of elation on the first warm, sunny days.

Noora: I like them all in a way. Spring comes in need and it’s sort of hopeful after dark and dull winter. Autumn is kind of inspirational and magical with all the colourful trees.

What do you believe in and what don’t you believe in?

Mikko: I believe in people dearest to me, and I believe in doing the things that I feel are right. I don’t believe in close-mindedness, borders and limitations.

Noora: I’m not sure what I believe in. But I don’t believe in ghosts.

Why would someone create a personal email address called and I quote “fucking difficult” and what is it that is so difficult. Noora perhaps you could answer this question?

Mikko: 😀 😀 😀 Nice one, Mads – your Finnish is getting better and better 😉 😉 😉

Noora: Well I was trying to create myself a Gmail-account. It wouldn’t take any of my suggestions for my email-address. Like noora.tommila and its variations. Then I got really frustrated and wrote vitun.hankalaa (= fucking.difficult) and it accepted that one.

Motto of today and dreams for tomorrow?

Mikko: Motto of today: Do what you feel is right. Dreams for tomorrow: Follow the ”Motto of today” every day – also tomorrow!

Noora: First motto that comes to mind now is “don’t be bitter, be better”. It’s quite good. And for the dreams, I hope to keep in good health and be able to do things I enjoy doing!

Photo by Lauri Hannus

Photo by Lauri Hannus


Visit the home of: Lowlife Philosopher

..or the label: Karkia Mistika


The Courettes – for the love of rock!

A fabulous new Danish/Brazilian duo, consisting of Martin and Flavinha aka Flavia!

It’s Aalborg vs Rio. A tropical shitstorm over the North Sea ready to hit your love nest when you least expect it!

Take some magic moments, mix them up with a bit of courage and shake it with determination and you will get a highly explosive cocktail of love’n’fun and that my dear friends is the essence of The Courettes!

Put a wide smile on and repeat after me: Real garage, REAL garage, REAL GARAGE!!

New album out in June! Get yourself one, it sure will be refreshing on em hot summer nights!

The Courettes (all rights reserved)

The Courettes (all rights reserved)

A Danish-Brazilian combo is quite unique. Is rock’n’roll universal or does this cultural mix have some sort of impact on your songs?

F: One thing I discovered is that rock’n’roll is the real universal music and universal language and that people everywhere in the world want the same things: to love, to have fun and to be happy. The world is smaller than we think and the cultural diferences are not so many as we once thought.

M: We dig the same records, bands etc so yeah it must be universal to some point. Scandinavian garage approach meeting jungle selvagem!

Who wrote the lyrics and what are they about?

M: Flavinha is thee song’n’lyricist wiz’!

F: I wrote all the songs and lyrics but Martin has a very important role saying “this is a good idea” or “this sucks”. Actually he’s the one who decides wich ideas will become songs, so we work on them and we build the arrangements together. My lyrics talk basically about love. But also about life, people’s relationships, society… and partying!

Martin you come from a background with Thee Attacks and Columbian Neckties. Flavia you come from a long-term marriage with the Autoramas. What are you bringing into The Courettes from these bands if any of course?

F: Experience.

M: I bring loud rhythms!

The Courettes (all rights reserved)

The Courettes (all rights reserved)

Besides the bands and music in general what are your backgrounds?

M: I do movie artwork and freelance design at We Don’t Like Art.

F: I always worked with music. Besides playing I was once a music teacher in a school in my early 20s.

What will be the bands firmest trademark?

M: Real Garage!
F: Real Garage!

Are we going to have any tropical feel to the band?

M: Perhaps a Cachaça on stage. Otherwise no!

F: My tropical skin tan!

Flavia & Martin (private photo, all rights reserved)

Flavia & Martin aka The Courettes (private photo, all rights reserved)

What can we expect from the record and what can we expect from your live performances?

M: Real Garage!
F: Real Garage! And fun!

Flavia (photo by Anders Hede)

Flavia (photo by Anders Hede)

Since you are both now living in Denmark, this question goes to you Flavia. Moving from a major tropical city like Rio also known as “a cidade maravilhosa” to a, in comparance, small and weather wise colder city like Aalborg. How have you experienced this change so far?

F: Rio de Janeiro, my hometown, is the most beautiful city in the world. No doubt. But every big city like Rio has a lot of problems like traffic jams, violence, social problems… and living in Rio in the last years has become impossible to afford. I like Aalborg and the peace of smaller towns, and you can always find a parking spot! I’m enjoying the different seasons too. In Brazil we only have like the warm season and the super warm season. The winter is a little hard but the coming of spring, with flowers and smiles blooming, is very touchy.

Flavia, you just recently officially left Autoramas, a band you have been with for so many years. A band with a name both in Brazil as well as in Europe. Was it difficult to let go?

F: Yes, of course, it was really hard! But I think we have to have the sensibility to aknowledge when a cycle has ended in our life and happily welcome the next. You have to have the courage to take chances, to let it go and be opened for what’s new. I like to give my full heart and soul to my bands/projects, to really mean it on stage with all my guts, and with Autoramas it was not real anymore.
I couldn’t have made a better decision. I am so happy now, both in my personal and in my professional life! The Courettes are doing very well, getting a lot of offers for concerts, good reviews and good reception of the audiences. Our first album is already in the factory and will be released by the cool German label Sounds of Subterrania in the summer. It was recorded, produced and mixed by Kim Kix of Powersolo because he saw us live, liked us, and invited us. We made some great gigs in Germany early this month, last Friday we played at the SPOT Festival in Aarhus – where we had an amazing feed back of the audience and a great review in Gaffa. In the summer will be at the Nibe Festival and in London for the first time. And I just came back from a tour in Holland and Belgium last week with one of my favourite Danish bands, Powersolo, as a guest bass player. It was a pleasure and a lot of fun! If you have the courage to take chances, life smiles right back to you!

Martin you have been to Brazil a couple of times by now. Could you imagine a future life in Brazil?

M: I dig Brazil! Amazingly beautiful!..but now Aalborg got amazingly beautiful! Let’s see! An otium in Friburgo could be lovely though!

Martin in your opinion what are the major pros and cons between Aalborg and Rio?

M: Rio has this all year round vacation feel to it! I love that!..and the nature is so stunning. Flavia’s family is the best thing about Rio though! Such a great bunch of good hearts! That’s hard to find! The traffic though makes me pass out all the time! I don’t dig stress! Aalborg is improving a lot! The city develops in a great way! More culture, more cool bands! I like when people don’t just flee to Copenhagen, but stay trying to make this place greater and cooler!

Martin why is Aalborg able to remain at the title as rock city no. 1 in Denmark?

M: Didn’t know it was?

Martin (photo by Anders Hede)

Martin (photo by Anders Hede)

Passions besides music?

M: Flavinha, kiddo, collecting space age stuff!
F: Martin, good books and good films.

You are both creative and positive people, is there a limit to making dreams come true?

M: No!

F: I prefer thinking there are no limits as long as you have dreams!

Flavia & Martin aka The Courettes in Rio (private photo, all rights reserved)

Flavia & Martin aka The Courettes in Rio (private photo, all rights reserved)

What are your dreams for the future?

M: A good life!

F: A happy life with Martin and a lot of inspiration for making more and better Courettes songs.

Biggest regret in life up until now?

F & M: Not listening to universe signs.

Why are you two a good match as a couple?

M: Love!

F: Love!

Martin & Flavia (private photo, all rights reserved)

Martin & Flavia (private photo, all rights reserved)

Why are you a good match playing together in the band?

M: Love!
F: Love and musical affinities!

The Courettes (photo by Hjördís Jónsdóttir)

The Courettes (photo by Hjördís Jónsdóttir)

Do you believe in destiny?

M: Now I do!
F: Totally, no doubt about it.

Craziest place either of you have ever played?

M: Dont remember the name. It’s in Germany. on top of a hill. That’s always so crazy there! Love that venue!
F: Lanzarote Island, in the Canarian Islands, Spain. I played there with Autoramas. The stage was nearby an active vulcano and the whole place looks like moon’s surface!

Most beautiful place you have ever seen?

M: The tour van in Brazil. Shit o’ clock in the morning. February 2013. There she was! Wow! Blew my mind!

F: Rio, my hometown.

Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro (photo by me, go ahead and rip it off)

Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro (photo by me, go ahead and rip it off)

Best food ever eaten?

M: Brigadeiros!
F: Brigadeiros!

Brigadeiros (courtesy of http://comofazerpra.com.br)

Brigadeiros (courtesy of comofazerpra.com.br)

Fave beer?

M: Not a fan of fancy, expensive beers. Give me an Astra or Stella Artois… That’ll do!
F: Jeg elsker alle øl!



If you were standing in Aalborg Tårnet right now, looking over the city what would you shout out to the people?

M: Peace!
F: Follow your heart!

What records do you listen to right now?

M: A lot of Girls In the Garage!
F: Headcoatees, Shangri-las, Delmonas, Ronettes and obscure girl bands.

All time fave records?

M: Here are The Sonics
F: Stones’ Between the Buttons, Beatles’ Revolver, Kinks’ Something else by the Kinks, Mutantes’ Mutantes.

Do you ever listen to something completely different than rock music?

M: We like sunday mornings with the Man In Black!
F: Some old Bessie Smith blues but blues is rock music to me.

Fave book?

M: L’utopie du tout plastique
F: Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

When is a day a good day and when is a day a bad day?

M: A good day is waking up. A bad day is the opposite!

F: It’s all in your mind, if you want a good day, you’ll have a good day. If you want a bad day, that’s what you gonna get, even if you are in the most amazing place.

Worst trouble you’ve ever made?

M: Cant remember!
F: I only make trouble when I’m too drunk, so the memories are a little foggy.

Do you manage to make life fun as it was meant to be?

M: Send more cash!
F: Really can’t say my life isn’t fun! It’s a privilege to work with what I love the most, and I’m so thankful for that.

Martin & Flavinha aka The Courettes (privat photo, all rights reserved)

Martin & Flavinha aka The Courettes (privat photo, all rights reserved)

What’s the meaning with life?

M: Reproducing! Socrates go home!
F: The meaning of life is the meaning you give to life: mine is love and music.

Have you ever lost faith in someone or something?

M: Yes!
F: Unfortunately, yes.

What does faith mean to you?

M: Not losing it!

F: Knowing it’s gonna be alright. So have faith in your intuition and keep a positive attitude towards people and life.

Are you sensitive if yes, how?..if, not why? 

M: Yes! I get less sensitive after morning coffee!
F: Yes! I think it’s a part of being an artist, things reach you in a more intense way. You cry more, you sense people’s mood, you perceive little details…some times it’s great, sometimes it’s a little embarassing.

If you had to write a short poetic verse that talks about love, how would that go?

M: The fab’ four wrote it very well.
F: Love is all you need!..but I guess someone wrote that before.


Pay your dues to The Courettes here and follow their sounds here

This fine couple is currently planning a full tour once the album is out but before that you can catch them at the following venues:

May 23rd – Beat Circus Festival – Copenhagen, DK
July 2nd & 3rd – Nibe Festival – Nibe, DK
July 25th – Weirdsville – London, UK

..and a splendid review after their show at the Spot Festival:

Gaffa (original review in Danish)

A brief translation:

* * * * Gaffa
“Under the clattering and dirty garage surface one could hear that The Courettes have full control of the anatomy of a good popsong”.
“The band has a refreshing live energy and eccentric entertainment value that immediately position them as one of the most promising new Danish live bands.”
“The style was so stark naked, the couple almost got the two-man band The Black Keys sound like a polished, radio-friendly and calculated pop rock band. The Courettes played raw, minimalistic and energetic rock’n’roll that woke nostalgic memories of the 1960s garagerock protopunkbands like The Kinks, The Shadows of Knight and The Sonics, as well as 2000’s undisputed garage rock ambassadors, The White Stripes.”
“All of the concert songs were delivered with a noticeable energy that obviously rubbed off on the dancing audience.”