Käki Interview

Käki (“Cuckoo” in Finnish) is an experimental, loose collective of handpicked individuals serving this sound installation, which is always stream of consciousness, fully improvised, evolving and growing as it goes. Every performance will be different from another, depending on which members are playing. It can be just me, most of the times accompanied by another guitarist, and we craft every performance and line up to fit which ever event we are playing. Käki is unsigned for it’s obvious obscurity and unwillingness to fit boxes, which might make it hard to sell anyway. We just released our first triple album KatoaHukuValu, all of them linked on the titles.

– Can you give a little biographical and historical info; who is
involved in the band, and how did you guys meet up? You know, how the
journey started, what the members were doing before…
It all probably started with my one man study J. Kill & Mr. Mule (now called Junkyard Shaman). I started making music in 2012, with no goal or purpose, just for the sake of playing. It ended up being a pile of over 100 digital releases, albums and EP’s. I started playing live shows of this avantgardist guitar improvisation thing. Then a friend of mine introduced me to Cédrik Bano, and we instantly had this connection that could allow us to play up to 5 hours together without getting bored once. That’s pretty much how I knew, that this guy is someone I want to have involved in this thing. We had this other thing called Matatadrone for a while, my brother Eetu Kilpinen, with whom I have played in a grindcore band Cut To Fit for years, came to play the bass. We have lived pretty much all our life together so we know our brain inside out. We played some live shows that kinda welded the whole thing together. We had another drummer (who fit the thing perfectly) for some time and played some live shows as J. Kill & The Shady Yes Yes Men, but I wanted to have something more consistent. Drummers are also always busy or have something else going on, so I knew I did not want to have a drummer in this thing. So I picked up another person I knew I have a special connection with, Juho Yrjölä. He also sings in our other band Harhakuvia and is a Finnish underground rap artist Liskomies. Complicated enough? I wanted the drummer to be someone, who is not a drummer, who understands the essence and transcendence of hypnotic rhythm and can keep the same pulse for hours if needed. Basically, I handpicked these individuals, who I knew I could trust to understand this droning, experimental and avantgardist approach to playing music without trouble.  There are no mistakes, every sound is a good sound.
– What your genre means to you, or why you chose this genre

Genres in general don’t mean anything to us. The thing is, we have grown tired of “music” in it’s regular sense. All the things people associate with it, genres, song structures, instruments, everything. We are building our own instruments and noise machines at the moment. I play broken cymbals and scrap metal bowls with a bow and contact mic them through effect loops, we try to find new noises out of our instruments all the time. When it comes to music, it is just a stream of whatever we happen to channel through. Mostly it is droning, ambientish sounds but occasionally some sort of “themes” grow out of it and then we observe those themes for a while before letting them go. It is what it is, just an ocean of sounds.

– How did the initial musical and thematic elements evolve?
Regarding this triple album we just put out it was rather simple. The first part Katoa was done by me, alone in the basement studio after four days of isolation. I recorded all kinds of shit in there, just for the fun of it, but when I stumbled upon the first track I instantly understood I had just found something important. I observed that further and 12 hours later the whole album was done. At first I thought of putting it out alone, but then this whole idea of Käki formed in my head. I invited these individuals, let them hear the album and told them I wanted to create something based on this tuning and atmosphere with these people. So basically we went to the rehearsal space, set up the mics and Huku is the first thing that came out, instantly. Without any practice or plans. I am really happy with it. Valu was recorded right after that, as an acoustic live field recording. Just start put the rec on, drink coffee, play, record a late afternoon exactly how it was. If there is some theme to all of this, it is this zen-ish approach of letting things be what they are, how they are, let go of all control and just exist in one place and time for a certain period of time.

– Are you happy with your music? I mean, what aspect of it do you
think you guys nailed, and what parts do you think you could improve
I like everything I get to do with other people. Music is a language and as we have these “conversations” we get to know each other even better, so that is an interesting process to observe as it goes. It will only get better with time.
– How has the overall reception been?
When we play live it’s always good. Someone might say that people in general are stupid and have no taste in music, but I have noticed that when you offer them something like this, something they have never quite experienced before, they are open minded. We don’t do soundchecks, we just set up the gear and start playing so that we get to play as long as possible. It is confusing to some people, but we like to confuse people. There has not been a single show that hasn’t silenced the audience, and that is what I aim for. Little by little the music grows and sucks people into it. Then it becomes a shared experience, with the band and the audience, eventhough there’s no any crowdpleasing or even speaking or lyrics at all. Then there are those few individuals who are as mentally hinged as we are, those who completely, innately understand all of this and just get lost in it with us. To share all this with those people, that is an humbling experience.

– Is the band going to get more involved in performing live at some
point? What’s next? Album?
We play every show we get and it would be great to tour outside of Finland too. We have few shows booked and more shows planned. I mean this thing is rather hard to sell this to any promoters, especially when I am too introvert to forcefeed my things on people without starting to hate myself immensely.

– What do you see for your future? How is it looking?
The future is always bleak, we all grow old and die, so why not focus on now instead.
– Could you tell us about the themes /concepts you focus on
or plan to focus on? How did the ideas come about, and how do they
influence the writing process?
I guess the biggest themes behind all this are communication and this zen approach I mentioned before. It is a collective subconscious mind speaking through instrumentation, “que sera, sera”-sort of mantra being in the center of it all. We have no traditional writing process in the usual sense of the word, we may have some conversations before hand and they may set the mood to what we are doing, but we just sink into it. It is so efficient that I never have any recollection of playing music afterwards, which is probably why I don’t have any trouble “listening to my own music”, which the “troubled artists” usually appear to have. I don’t consider it as “my” music, and I don’t think any of us do. We are just transmitting something that is bigger than us.

– So what bands do you guys draw your inspiration from?
Eetu and Juho listen to rap. I guess that’s my advice to anyone who wants to have working drone band, get yourself some old school rap heads on the rhythm section. They like loops and are usually high enough to take it slow and chill. Me, Juho and Cédrik also listen to all kinds of psychedelic and droning things. It’s hard to pinpoint any bands, but I guess all of us except my brother like Swans to some extent. My brother always hated me for loving Neurosis so much as we grew up, but I guess some of it has seeped through since he has quite a lot of similar qualities in his playing too.

– What’s more important to you? Catering to the audience or music
for its own sake?
Any sort of crowd pleasing always makes me cringe. We grew up playing punk with metal bands and everytime the fists were in the air I figured the next step is marching in the streets and burning people. It’s something Aldous Huxley called the “crowd disease” and I despise it. That is probably why I have took the position of not manipulating audience into anything. Whatever they get into their heads in our shows is on them, not on us. We are not instigating anything, we are just serving the music, which is our spiritual practice and the only reason we are here for.- Anything else you think your fans should know?
I know this is not music for everyone. It is not supposed to be. If it works for someone, we are grateful. If they truly GET IT, that’s even better. You can find us through the following links, if you feel like it.

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