Halme Prospekt: the soundtrack to someone’s life..

So it was back then when you remembered the good times and bad times, the joy and sadness, where life ends and begins. All of the sudden the soundtrack to someone’s life was written and it sounds something like this..

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Name, age, instrument, current and previous bands?

Arttu Tolonen, 44 years old. Playing in Halme Prospekt. I play guitar, baritone guitar, electronics, bass. In other bands I additionally play or have played banjo, bouzouki, harmonica, lap steel and mandolin. Active bands: Halme Prospekt, Hannu Salama & Vapaat Radikaalit, Riitaoja and Them Bird Things. Currently I’m learning violin. Past bands: Giant Robot, Black Audio, Fat Beat Sound System, etc.

Hepa Halme, 60 yrs woodwinds. Playing in Halme Prospekt, The Bad Ass Brass Band, Fat Beat Sound System, The Cool Sheiks and The Bullworkers.

 

What do you do for a living and why exactly that?

Arttu: In the 90s I ran an Inn for a living. In the 2000’s I’ve generally written and translated for a living. Currently I work in the IT industry, in communications and content creation.

Hepa: I play music; that´s the best thing to do with your clothes on

 

Who taught you to ride a bicycle?

Arttu: My dad. In Espoo around 1978.

Hepa: Self taught on my daddy´s bike.

 

Did you fall on your bicycle in recent times?

Arttu: Haven’t fallen off my bike since the 90s.

Hepa: No.

 

Is it easier to ride a bike or a horse?

Arttu: Seeing as how I’m allergic to horses, yes.

Hepa: I don´t know but I know a horse in my neighborhood that I´m going to ride on. By now we´re learning to know each other.

 

Why and how did you end up playing music? Who taught you to play an instrument?

Arttu: My parents tried to get me interested in violin and piano when I was a child, but it didn’t take. As a teenager I, for some reason, decided I wanted to play guitar and bought an Ibanez electric. It had something to do with hearing the blues, I think. Around 1986 or 1987 I took lessons from a Finnish guitarist called Ilkka Rantamäki for a year. Since then, I’ve learned on my own. I’ve studied theory in school, but not instruments.

Hepa: I went to the local music school in East Helsinki.

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How did the Halme Prospekt come together, what was the idea behind it?

Arttu: I think I ended up in Halme Prospekt because I have a fondness for playing repetitive figures and I also knew how to operate Pro Tools at a time when Hepa wasn’t very conversant with it. I didn’t know it would evolve into a live band. I’ve also relinquished my role as a player of repetitive parts and moved into more off-the-hook and improvised territory since Tapani came in as a bass player. Fundamentally it probably came together as a vehicle for playing Hepa’s compositions that were too abstract and weird for Fat Beat Sound System, which was, in any case, more collaborative and jam-oriented.

Hepa: The band came to be of the musicians who took part in my solo recordings. The original idea was to have a platform for my compositions

 

Your music sounds like the soundtrack to someone’s life. Please describe this person?

Arttu: Hmm… Maybe the sort of person who still looks for a used book store to visit when arriving in a new town.

Hepa: It´s my life and I do what I want…

 

Please also describe the music?

Arttu: Subjectively historicist.

Hepa: That´s hard but on this album some my influences and ispirations can be heard clearly; Edward Vesala, Grateful Dead, ethnic musics from all over the world, psychedelic funk…

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Why should people buy your new album “Pajazzo”?

Arttu: Not sure anyone should buy any music anymore. It’d be interesting to see what’d happen if the profit motive were taken out of the equation.

Hepa: It´s a great album that came out through a short but concentrated production process. The idea was to include compositions by each member of the band but it didnt happen that way. So we already have something for the next album.

 

Where do you get the inspiration to write music?

Arttu: Sounds, verbal phrases, the act of picking up an instrument and needing an impulse that either shuts out the surrounding world or works in concert with it.

Hepa: Some compositions just happen, some need to be worked out hard. I don’t really write, I play and pick up the good parts and try to build up something even better

 

Are you affected by the four seasons when writing music?

Arttu: No.

Hepa: There´s actually more than four and it’s good to live in constant change.

 

Where do you get the drive from to keep playing an instrument and music in general?

Arttu: Not sure, actually. It’s something that happens and I haven’t really considered not doing it an option for decades now.

Hepa: Music is a good way to escape somewhere once in a while and that makes life easier.

 

Does it ever annoy you or bore you to play music?

Arttu: No, because when it does, I don’t play.

Hepa: No, not really.

 

Is music more to you than just playing an instrument and good sounding tunes?

Arttu: Yes. It’s what’s inside coming out. It’s something about me I barely understand.

Hepa: It´s a way of life and a method to grow up as a human being.

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How many times have you walked through a snowstorm to reach a practice session?

Arttu: A dozen times, perhaps?

Hepa: Many times when I was younger, nowadays I have a car.

 

Ever tried playing your instrument with frozen fingers?

Arttu: No.

Hepa: Yes, a few times, not easy but possible.

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Ever wanted to be rich and famous or just rich or just famous?

Arttu: I’ve wanted to be just rich. Never wanted to be famous. I sometimes wished someone else would take one of my songs and make it ahit for them, giving me access to the money, but without me having to do the touring, promo, etc.

Hepa: Yes both but not anymore. In fact I think I´m famous and rich enough.

 

Please tell us a memorable story from your youth and the town you grew up in?

Hepa: I grew up in eastern Helsinki which was some kind of R&B territory at the time. Lot´s of good musicians gathered together to jam and have fun, nothing serious. That kind of music was not considered a career opportunity back then but it was kind of a community thing. There was a good school for classical music studies as well. Influences were many.

 

What has changed on the Finnish music scene in the past 20 years?

Arttu: I haven’t been in the Finnish music scene for 20 years yet, but in recent years the bottom has fallen out of what I would’ve considered the lower middle class of the music scene. The popular bands are more popular than ever, but there is less room to operate if you’re not immensely popular. I foresee a renewed surge in the importance of subcultures in the future.

Hepa: The business is more professional and commercial and most of the artists and bands sound like each other.

 

Which Finnish bands are you listening to now and who are your all time faves?

Arttu: My answers to questions like these are tied to the time of writing. They expire immediately. Listening right now to: Death Hawks, Pekko Käppi, Ronskibiitti and Liberty Ship. All-time faves: Sielun Veljet, Dave Lindholm, Krakatau, Sperm, Tuomari Nurmio.

Hepa: Pekko Käppi, Asa, Tähtiportti. All time favorites: the original Wigwam, pre Sound and Fury Edward Vesala.

..and which non-Finnish bands?

Arttu: Listening to right now to: Carolina Chocolate Drops and The Clipse. All-time faves: Bad Brains, Miles Davis (1967-1975), Debussy, old time banjo and fiddle tunes, Steely Dan, Charles Mingu, Einojuhani Rautavaara’s “Cantus Arcticus”.

Hepa: Anything I can get my hands on! Parliament/Funkadelic, Miles Davis, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Albert Ayler, Carla Bley, Dr John, Neil Young, Lou Reed, Marvin Gaye, early Prince, Weather Report.

 

Fave Finnish movie?

Hepa: Täällä Pohjantähden Alla.

 

Did you ever fall through thin ice literally and/or metaphorically?

Arttu: Metaphorically, yes.

Hepa: Yes, I did once.

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Worst drink you ever had?

Arttu: Korean whisky.

Hepa: Black Death.

Black Death

Drink Type: Cocktail

Ingredients

1/2 oz. Vodka (more Vodka drinks)

1/2 oz. Southern Comfort (more Southern Comfort drinks)

1/2 oz. Amaretto (more Amaretto drinks)

1/2 oz. Curacao (more Curacao drinks)

1/2 oz. Triple Sec (more Triple Sec drinks)

Cranberry Juice (more Cranberry Juice drinks)

Instructions

Shake with ice and strain (or not) in a collins glass. The colder, the better.

 

Worst meal?

Hepa: I can´t remember, something British I guess.

 

Saddest place you have ever played?

Hepa: Finland Finland Finland…sad but beautiful.

 

Do you like your couch?

Arttu: Yes. It’s big and L-shaped.

Hepa: Very much; it´s my source of inspiration and my magic carpet etc.

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Where do you go when looking for peaceful alone time?

Arttu: I don’t have such a thing.

Hepa: Into the woods.

 

Is love necessary, if yes what do you love?

Arttu: Yes, absolutely. My children, my wife, music, sex, the feeling of a boxing glove connecting with a bag, flashes of brilliance in the nooks and crannies of the mundane.

Hepa: Love makes the world go round. Music is the soundtrack of the world. I love music.

 

Fave saying?

Hepa: Voi vitun vitun vittu.

 

If I say politics, what do you say?

Arttu: Framework for making decisions that seems to have a tendency towards dysfunction on that front. Requires vigilance.

Hepa: Revolution!

 

What kind of country is Finland today politically and culturally?

Arttu: Occasionally backwards despite our better spirits.

Hepa: The people are mixed up because the country is in some kind of collective depression. In art this means good times and great opportunities; when the going gets tough the tough gets going.

 

Hobbies?

Arttu: Music?

Hepa: Gardening, sauna.

 

Habits bad as good?

Arttu: I seem to forget that good part of being drunk has a very limited shelf life.

Hepa: Snoring.

 

Share a dream with us?

Arttu: My dream is to divorce Finnishness from genetics and appearance and distill it into an idea. Like the Americans have done. Then I want to have a million people that share this idea to move here.

Hepa: I had a dream of John Lennon playing Imagine for me.

If you found yourself lost in between the 1000 lakes what would you scream out to the world in pure desperation?

Arttu: HEAT UP THIS COLD FUCKING WATER!

Hepa: That´s where I belong, in the middle of the silence. I don´t get lost there.

press

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Visit Halme Prospekt here

Visit the label Karkia Mistika Records here or here

**All right to the posted photos of the band are reserved and property of Hepa Halme/Halme Prospekt**

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Susan James: With sun in mind..

Day dreaming about convertible vintage cars, dusty desert roads, shocking pink banana seats, while driving towards the sun…moments later I find myself waking up to the music of Susan James.

I would leave these words speak for themselves or rather let the music speak for itself but for those of you who have yet to take the ride please join me on this next trip right here. 

Californian Susan James is a singer-songwriter playing folk/rock/psychedelia or as she defines it herself, the ‘California Hybrid’ style!

She is out with a brand new album “Sea Glass” this summer, release date said to be 2. June and you can find an exclusive pre-listen to one the songs from the album in this feature.

Give it up for a beautiful person and a unique musician!!

Photo by Piper Ferguson

Photo by Piper Ferguson

Who is Susan when she does not play music?

She is a dreamer, a mother, a chauffeur to her daughter, a caregiver to her animals, a writer, a talker, a not-so-good housekeeper, a pretty good cook, a hiker, a swimmer, a bit of a recluse..

Describe the period of some 10+ years of not releasing music, what happened and were you really able to hide away the musician?

Not really. Actually it was only about 7 years! I became pregnant with my daughter, and decided that I did not want to be away from her in the first five or six years of her life. I do not make the kind of money to hire a nanny or au pair, and really wouldn’t want to. I wanted to be the person who heard her first words, saw her first steps, gave her boundaries and encouragement. I didn’t want someone else doing it. I could have taken her on tours I suppose, but I didn’t believe that was very fun for a little baby or child. They would have a more fulfilling time walking in nature, playing with other children, animals, and developing relationships with those around them. I think being in hotel rooms and at sound checks would be so boring for a little one.

It was not an easy decision, because I knew (and I was right) that people would forget about me, move on. There is a tidal wave of music that continues behind you, and if you step out for even just a moment you can disappear. But I also knew that my life, and in turn, my writing would be much richer if I lived an authentic life.

At first, with an infant, there seemed to be no time for music! But ideas would come over time, and words. So I would write them in various places and hide them away like a squirrel hides nuts for the winter, knowing that one day I would get back to it.

Some days, even months, were very hard. Because I missed it so much and knew that things would be different when I returned. It made me sad, and sometimes very depressed.

But I had this little beautiful face of my daughter looking up at me as if I were her whole world, and that made it all worthwhile.

I really wouldn’t change a thing. It was the best thing, the best decision I’ve ever made. I had a chance to really reflect on what I had done creatively and what worked and what didn’t. What could I do better? I believe my new album coming out this year, titled “Sea Glass” is proof that my creativity was enhanced and deepened by that little hiatus.

And what did we do? In short, we moved from London, to France (for almost a year while my husband engineered/co-produced two Stereolab albums), moved back to California.

 Susan James in 1998 vs Susan James in 2015 as a person and as a musician?

1998 – Ambitious, arrogant, daring, lost, hopeful, blindly optimistic, often foolish

2015 – Wise, humble, daring, driven, passionate, blindly optimistic, often foolish

Did you become more country?

No. I know you ask because of my last album(s), the fact that they have certain ‘country’ elements. They were a way of honoring a part of my history, my upbringing. Here in California, there is an old country music element that I grew up having to listen to because of my parents – My father was from Texas, and that was all his side of the family listened to. We had relatives in the central part of California, where it is much more conservative and there are country elements – Where Buck Owens developed the “Bakersfield sound” and so on. So I grew up listening to that as well. I hated country music as a child! But when I became a little older, I realized that some of these old country artists and songs were fantastic.

I follow where my songs take me and arrange them with what they call out for. I don’t try to impose a sound on a song that wouldn’t suit it. Those songs were calling out for that type of arrangement.

So you will see with this new album “Sea Glass”, they were definitely not calling for that. They have nothing to do with country, no country sound whatsoever. Because these songs called out for something entirely different.

That’s a long answer to your question! Again, the answer is ‘no’.   😉

Exclusive pre-listen of the song ‘Ay Manzanita’ from the new album “Sea Glass” out 2. June by clicking here and enjoy this beautiful quotation from Susan herself that talks about the heartfelt story behind the song:

I created it around a true and relatively unknown story about a mother and daughter in the Mexican Revolution,
The mother was a sharpshooter and nurse (!) and lead armies to fight the government armies.
She was fighting for the rights of the underprivileged, the workers and peasants who were kept in utter poverty by the corrupt government.
She brought her daughter alongside to fight with her. After many battles which they won, at one point they were captured by the government army.
They were marched out to the middle of the Sonoran desert, and left there alone with no food, no water.
Somehow Marguerita and her daughter made it to Arizona but her daughter died there.
Marguerita went back to Mexico and continued to fight, leading several armies. At one point, again, she was captured, they put her in a cage and tortured her, until she died.
This song is her speaking to her daughter, who she has given the nickname ‘Manzanita’….

What is Ethnomusicology and what did that education mean to you?

It is the study of music from around the world and how it is used within a particular culture or ethnic group. Also within the study is how and why it becomes a unique sound within a particular culture or ethnic group. How it highlights or gives emphasis to a particular culture.

It opened my eyes to what music really means within different cultures. I discovered instruments and sounds, and thoughts and applications of music I would have never known otherwise. I’m so glad I studied it. I feel like a much richer musician and human for the knowledge.

If I say Joni Mitchell what do you say?

Creative genius.

In what ways are Californians different from the rest of the pack?

Well, it depends on what pack you are comparing them to!

Please describe the perfect landscape seen thru the eyes of Susan James?

That is very difficult to answer, because it varies.

Two albums you are listening to right now?

Junip “Fields” and Gal Costa “Gal Costa”

City or country girl?

Both!!!

What does senses mean to you?

The various ways we use to perceive, understand and make ourselves aware. There are physical senses – hearing, sight, touch, smell, taste and then there is also the ‘sixth’ sense and beyond. Which has much more to do with intuition and psychic ability and awareness.

How do you stimulate your own senses?

Well, it depends on which one! That could be an entire essay in and of it self. I do believe being in nature stimulates all senses at once.

How do you stimulate someone else’s senses?

Possibly the same as above, bring them into nature- on a hike or camping. Unless they live in nature already. But certainly by going to a place they have never been before. Perhaps if they live in the country, take them to the city.

If you take away everything familiar to someone, they must rely on their senses to find understanding. In other words, taking someone out of their comfort zone will in turn heighten their senses.

What is life without inspiration?

Oh, not worth living I suppose. Inspiration is what gets one out of bed in the morning…isn’t it? or is that hope? Or optimism?

Colorful or single-colored?

Colorful, please.

What impact does the sun have on you?

Oh it has a huge impact. I didn’t realize how much it did until I moved to England! I was only able to stay there for four years – four long English winters. There were months and months that would go by with absolutely no sun at all. Not even a break in the clouds for a single moment. I would literally find myself getting depressed. I had no idea why. But I would become horribly depressed. And then someone said to me one day, oh you probably have ‘seasonal affective disorder’.

I had no idea what that was. I looked it up, and yes, it is a real thing. And I was definitely feeling it at that time. It was affecting my ability to just get through the day. So I would have to travel somewhere with sun, mostly back to LA.

But after four winters of that, I said, it’s time to go back.

If I had grown up in England, or in New York or Chicago, where you really get a winter, it wouldn’t affect me that much. But perhaps here is your answer to your question about what sets Californians apart! If you were born and raised here, the lack of sun for long periods of time can send you spiraling downward! Long cloudy winters are our kryptonite!

Are you a sunny person?

Many would say so. But I do have a dark side.

Fave place for recreation?

The beach, seconded by the mountains, surrounded by pine trees.

Do you believe in a sixth sense?

Absolutely. Yes.

Are you religious?

No. But I am spiritual.

Are you easy to love?

Well, I think I am difficult to hate.

Do you love easily?

More easyli than most. But I also have pretty high standards. So can get disappointed easily.

Are you romantic?

Yes. But sadly finding out that true romance doesn’t really exist in reality. So probably romantic = unrealistic.

Perfect meal served by Susan?

I LOVE breakfast! And waffles. So I might serve: Pecan Waffles
INGREDIENTS:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 eggs, separated
2 cups almond milk
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 2/3 cups finely chopped pecans
Maple syrup
DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat waffle iron. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, sugar and baking soda. In a separate bowl, beat together egg yolks and almond milk. Add almond milk mixture, butter and oil to flour; stir gently to combine. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks have formed; fold into batter.
2. Brush preheated waffle iron with butter or margarine. Pour mix onto hot waffle iron and sprinkle generously with chopped pecans. Cook until golden brown. Keep warm in oven while remaining waffles cook. Serve with warm maple syrup on side.

 

Perfect meal served to Susan?

I love mexican food and would absolutely love some homemade chiles rellenos, with black beans
and spanish rice. But I can’t/don’t eat dairy anymore so it would have to be with vegan cheese. And I haven’t found a good replacement for certain cheeses yet.

 

Do you ride a bicycle?

Yes. I have a mountain bike.

 

With sun in mind, if you had to write a small poem on California, how would that go?

With sun in mind

That’s how I’d go

I’m heading there now

north of Mexico

 

Where waves shimmer like sequined gowns

of an old movie star

And pelicans glide like prehistoric

to the sound of pedal steel guitar

 

With sun in mind

That’s how I’d go

Across the desert being kissed

by her heat, long and slow

 

And in alleys downtown

From her rays the homeless hide

Certain that Marilyn Monroe’s death

was not a suicide

 

With sun in mind

That’s how I’ll go

to the top of that peak,

I’ll wear shorts in the snow

 

and the pines will reach up to her

like children to a mother

and lost souls will go searching

and find one another

 

, xo ~Susan James

Susan with husband and child (private photo)

Susan with husband and daughter (private photo)

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Find out more about Susan here: http://susanjamesmusic.com