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Lowlife Philosophers: Vitun Hankalaa!

May 23, 2015 11:55 am

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

Courtesy of

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


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