Lau Nau: A trip down magicville

In today’s world we are surrounded by a lot negative influences and constantly under attack by media and large corporations telling us what to do, what to fear and what to take. Life is a beautiful thing if you allow it to be and the world isn’t such a bad place after all. Want my advise?…no? what do you mean no?…tough luck, gonna give it to you anyway!

To those of you struggling, don’t go to your doctor who already has a pre-filled prescription on happy pills ready for you, instead try a Lau Nau record!

For those of you not struggling?….easy! Try a Lau Nau record!

It is difficult to imagine a magic world as in a fantasy where you can free your mind and all can be forgotten and where happiness more often meets beauty, where drama challenges your imagination and where the listener is bound to widen horizons they never thought really existed, through profoundly deep, melancholic yet extremely playful and even cheerful events of a thing called music…

Lau Nau is out with her new album Poseidon and I say try it!

Laura Naukkarinen turned into the artist ‘Lau Nau’, you Finnish artists always seem to get away with the most simple and obvious things too, when creativeness is not always about the complex but very much can be found in simplicity?

– Haha, yes, it’s a combination of the both. First adventuring in the complex and then returning to the simpleness to find what makes music magical at it’s core.

Laura, you are coming out with your new album “Poseidon”, the 5th album under Lau Nau. Please tell us how this new record came together and with which inspiration?

– I got my grandmother’s piano to my home and I suddenly started composing a lot of music with it – first the soundtrack album “Hem. Någonstans” and then I continued with other film projects with the piano after that album. I was composing songs that I realised weren’t for the next film but that seemed more like Lau Nau songs. They had the melancholic raconteur spirit that Lau Nau has and some lyrics started to accumulate for the songs too. I wrote the compositions down and asked my friend Matti Bye, who is an amazing artist, if he would like to record the first tracks for the album with me in his studio. We did it and these first recording sessions gave the pulse and the magic to the album. Helena Espvall’s cello playing and Samuli Kosminen’s co-production work became very essential as well.

 What can we expect from this album and what are your own expectations to it now that it is ready?

  – You can maybe expect luminous songs that are arranged as chapters in a book. I’m just hoping people will find the album, listen to it and get a good moment with this music. If they feel like hating it, I don’t mind either. I never want to force these things.

I have just been pre-listening to your new album “Poseidon” and I find the album intriguing and majestic but it also sounds to me as a Lau Nau with a strengthen identity?

– Thanks! What is that identity like? I don’t know how it feels for others than me, and for me it’s ever changing, but maybe the changes are so small that they are almost not visible. Just now I am wondering can I release an instrumental synth album under the moniker Lau Nau or is it too far away from what I usually release under that name. I have also a project called Subatlantti for some harsher sounds I record with a violin and analog synths. Sometimes it’s good to separate different artist characters and it’s hard decide where to draw the line.

Your debut album “Kuutarha” was released 13 years ago, please tell us how you have developed as an artist and as a person during those 13 years up until today?

– Haha, oh my god, so much! I hope. Back in those days I made a lot of music with my friends and by myself and everything we thought sounded cool got also released pretty easily. So my growth as an artist has been very public, I haven’t rehearsed in secret, just straight in the stages and releases. Of course there’s something really intriguing and naked in those first recordings too, a spirit that I will maybe never find again. I remember that with my third album “Valohiukkanen” I tried to reach for something more normal and resembling to band music, and in Finland the album got praising critique and many nominations for different prizes, but it didn’t feel like that it was where I wished to reach for. So basically with “Hem. Någonstans” I finally reached something I have always wanted to do, a consistent, very concentrated album that leans on simple but powerful artistic expression and I think I have been on the same path ever since. You ask how I have developed as a person during these 13 years? Well that would fill this interview pretty nicely if I would even start to tell the story… So let’s say I have matured quite a bit but maybe not too much.

“Kuutarha” was released on the American label Locust Music, it’s pretty unusual with all song titles being in Finnish. How did you end up on an American label instead of a local label?

– Well I just sent the demos to a few of my favourite labels and most of them were Americans. Every one said “yes” so I could just decide which one I’d like to release the album.

What does “Kuutarha” mean by the way?

– It’s a word game, “Puutarha in Finnish means “garden” and “kuu” is moon so it means “Moongarden”

You have always had a sort play with the sound in your music, at times a fairy tale feel to it?

– Let’s put it like this: sometimes you need to be serious and work seriously. But I would die inside if I would stop playing.

When I put on your records I seem to be transported through various scenarios, sometimes I feel like I’m listening to Mother Nature or walking alone in a magic forest, other times that I am in the dream of a dream and other times again I feel like I’m watching a movie. It is all very picturesque and imaginary, at times even dramatic. What do you really want to represent in your music?

– I can see where all these images come from that you are describing. Nevertheless, my aims aren’t that mystical or exotic, I try to express some basic human emotions and connect the listener to them –  comforting a friend or yourself, the fear of loss, the preoccupation for the state of the environment and the ones that are suffering, but also emotions of love and joy. But my music is not only about these human emotions, I also try to be very conscious about the methods and artistic aim of my music, trying to avoid the obvious, doing things wrong, doing it yourself, concentrating on sound as equally as in melody. Trying to be a musical anarchist too and shaking the authoritarian ways of making music.

Your second album “Nukkuu” which I did find a translation for ;-)…means sleeps. Again released on Locust. Why the title and what do you remember this record the most for, being the follow-up to your debut?

– Yes, Nukkuu means Sleeps. I made the album after I got my first child and my possibilities for concentrating in doing music were very limited. Making the record was an extreme accomplishment, working half an hour at a time while the baby was taking naps, very hard to concentrate. It was a time when my friends didn’t yet have kids of their own, so the period of my life was a big rupture to what my life was before. We also moved to the countryside where we didn’t know anyone. That album carries a lot of weight from what was happening in my life. It’s hard for me to listen to it nowadays.

 – Your third album “Valohiukkanen”, which I think may be my personal favourite album so far, took you back to a Finnish label. Why?

 – I was playing a lot of concerts abroad instead of Finland, so I wanted to make a base in my home country too. Plus of course Fonal Records that released the album is a label of my dear friend Sami Sänpäkkilä, and I really love to work with him. 

Again, you will need to translate the album title for us?

– “Particle of light” or “photon.

This third album is so dramatic and really beautiful and then there is the upbeat electronic song ‘Kuoleman Tappajan Kuolema’. What the heck happened?

– I have no idea!

I have been playing a lot with the google translator for this interview which can be quite the challenge for instance it is translating ‘Kuoleman Tappajan Kuolema’ into ‘The Death of The Death’s Death’. You got to enlighten us?

– It’s a gore / splatter song, kind of silly. It’s a drama where somebody sends a contract killer to kill the death itself but the contract killer gets killed instead. But you know it has other layers than that. It questions who was the winner after all and it’s also a semi-erotic play…

Also please tell us more about the making of this record, it seemed to have a different character to it than the previous and those following it or is it just a personal presumption?

– Even if I had guest players on my previous records I felt tired of doing the thing alone, I missed doing music with friends. So I wanted to do a band album and gathered a lovely band around me: Antti Tolvi on bass and wind instruments, Pekko Käppi on jouhikko (bowed lyre), Jaakko Tolvi on drums and guest musicians Kristian Holmgren doing this and that and Matti Bye guesting on one song. It was Kristian Holmgren who also recorded and mixed the album, so he did a magnificent work on working on the sound and making it a coherent band album. For the first time I had some ready compositions when we started to record – before this album I had always just improvised while recording. I also did concerts with this band (Pauliina Mäkelä did live visuals and sometimes Ramo Teder played the jouhikko) and it was great to have friends to play with.

We are now reaching your 4th album “Hem, Någonstans” which is described as a soundtrack to Lotta Petronella’s documentary “Home, Somewhere”. Please tell us a bit about the idea and creation of the album?

– It’s a soundtrack album so it’s the music I made to Lotta’s wonderful film. I owe quite a lot of the vision for this album to Lotta and her insights on what it could be. It has a simple instrumentation: piano, glockenspiel, jouhikko played by the amazing Pekko Käppi and lots of processing.

..and which butt do we need to kick for deciding not to release it on vinyl?

– Well, Fonal Records who released it doesn’t release vinyl anymore… And when another label wanted to do a vinyl, the film production company bankrupted and it’s not so easy to get the rights for the album now as it was a commissioned composition. Sadly that can happen in the biz.

You have been involved in various bands and side projects over the years. This year a band named Dire Wolves released a record called “Excursions to Cloudland” featuring you as well. Tell us more about your involvement in this recording?

– Haha, this is simple! I was on a West Coast tour on USA and my old friend Jeffrey Alexander organised a show for me at the Lab in San Francisco. I had a day off and he asked if I could join his band Dire Wolves for som jamming and recording, and during that one evening we improvised and recorded material for two (!) albums, “Excursions to Cloudland” and “Oceans of Green”. Last year I visited San Francisco again when I played at the Silent Film Fetsival with Matti Bye Ensemble, and recorded some more songs with Dire Wolves. Well it was quite a miracle that we did two albums in the first evening we met! I had never met his band members before either! It was some SF magic in the air for sure.

We have talked a lot about Lau Nau so lets talk about Laura Naukkarinen now. If you should define Laura in 3 words?

– Curious, introvert, a mix between serious and total goofball. Sorry that was many words.

Where were you born and where did you grow up?

– I was born and grew up in a small town near Helsinki.

What were your parents doing and did they have any impact on you music wise?

– My mother worked as a eye doctor and my father worked with economics, but they always encouraged me to have the music as a hobby. Then what happened…

Based on the music you compose I can’t help but to ask two questions:

Did you have a magic childhood?

 – Yes at least in my imagination and for sure it was real. Summers in the countryside were very special. 

 In school, were you a constant dreamer with a teacher constantly snapping his/her fingers to wake you out of a parallel world?

– Actually no, I was quite attentive student. But I remember when I got older my teachers asked why I look so angry, even though I didn’t yet feel angry a bit. Maybe it was the awakening pain about the world because later I did feel angry. I became a punk rocker on my 14’s.

Are you a dreamer today?

 – Yes.

Did you day dream today for instance?

– Yes many times. I have a lot of dreams.

You stated that you spent days playing on your grandmother’s piano which ended up becoming compositions. Did or do you spend a lot of time at your grandmother’s house and did she have an influence on who you are today and the music you play?

– When I was a child we were sometimes at her and my grandfather’s house with my sister for a while, also we have quite a tight big family so we spent much of the family holidays together with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. My grandmother form father’s side was quite a special person. Very unique. She had a very strong spiritual life and she was a also a feminist. She has influenced me a lot as well as my other grandparents.

Are you a romantic?

 – Absolutely! I love beauty, the old eras and I’m too sentimental. I’m an aesthetic person, I want to surround myself with beautiful things and thoughts even if I’m well aware that world has other sides too.

Do you have a temper?

– Quite mild.

What is Finnishness to you?

– No idea.

Had you been born with the same creative skills but in another country than Finland, would you have been playing the same type of music?

– No, I think all the people around me have influenced me so much! 

What does melancholy mean to you?

– A way of cherishing and accepting sadness as a part of me. I don’t want to think positive all the time.

Do you only do music for a living or do you support yourself with other work as well?

– Just now I support myself with music only. I have also been working as a librarian quite long, but not now.

 Are you a spontaneous girl?

– Getting more spontaneous and wild year after year.

Passions besides music?

– Haha, I keep them secret!

Are you a giving person?

– I really hope so.

Are you a believer?

– I’m quite a blue-eyed believer in people’s kindness.

Are you hopeful?

– Very.

If you have to mention something negative about yourself what would that be?

– Sometimes I’m SO dull.

To wrap it all up, please write a short poem, in Finnish, that shares what Laura hopes for the future?

– Antaa tulla,

kahvi ja pulla.

Sorry I just made the worst poem ever. I need coffee.

Find Lau Nau here and here
Fonal Records here