Mikko Sillfors (Guitar/Vocals), Marko Niemi (Guitar/Vocals), Antti Miettinen (Bass/Vocals), Jukka Peltonen (Keys/Vocals) and Dáithí Ó’Cléirigh (Drums)
Where In Finland Are You From?
The Senators are a mainly Finnish line-up, Mikko, Make, Jukka and Brandy are all from the Greater Helsinki Metropolitan area, with percussions and loops by honorary Finnish Son Dáithí from Dublin in Ireland. We all live in and around this beautiful city, and love very much the traditions and culture of the Finnish life.
How Would You Describe Your Band For Those Who Don’t Know You?
The Senators are primarily a party band who love to update and re-arrange well known AND obscure Finnish classics with a funky soul twist. You see, a lot of the music we grew up with is relatively unknown outside the Finnish borders, mainly because of translatory issues, so we try to make it accessible to new peoples by using mad science in our production, stripping classic tracks back to their bare elements before rebuilding them with a new and distinctly Finnish soundscape. In this way we operate as a team when arranging, but usually it’s Dáithí who becomes the mad professor when chopping up and re-creating the mixes. We love Salmiakki, he loves Guinness -maybe there’s a clue in that!
When Did You Form As A Group?
The Senators formed in March of 2009 in Helsinki. Mikko was requested by some friends to pull together a band for a big party in a huge old Finnish countryside wooden house at Lahti for the event. He was already jamming with Brandy and Make, as they had grown up together, and Jukka was guesting with them from time to times. When the call came in, Jukka suggested to contact this one Irish rhythmatist Dáithí, who was producing and performing with several Finnish bands to come along, mainly because there was no time to rehearse for the party, and he was known to be on point for improvisation. So we went to Lahti and set up for the show. Basically, in that informal and unrehearsed way, The Senators played whatever came to mind and mood, and played also what the party people yelled to us to play! It was so much fun! We expected we would make a shambolic noise, but it was just so awesome, the party just kept reaching higher and higher, and the people danced all night! We tried to leave the stage for breaks to rest our voices and so on -maybe a cold beer too, but the party people instead brought us beers and towels, and wouldn’t let us leave! By then there was no stage/audience separation. There were bodies heaving everywhere on the stage too! Dancing, singing, yelling, drinking and partying. It was still the winter times outside in the darkness, and the snow was deep on the ground. But it really felt to all that the summer was already coming!
What Was The Inspiration For Your Recent Album?
Any successful working band realizes the delicate balance of input from the different players involved, and The Senators sound is built around exactly that feeling. It’s a team of friends who share a similiar taste and knowledge base of the tradition of music in Finland, but who also have eclectic and wide ranging tastes of their own. We try to inspire each other to create new things from old, in a way recycling the past to build a brighter reflection of obscure classics that few peoples outside Finland have heard. We try to paint the colours of the Finland of today into these songs. Finnish life has changed so much for the youth these days, and maybe the culture of the previous twenty or thirty years of music was not as exciting as all the incredible new Finnish sound which has suddenly exploded to the world stage. When we see the successes of bands like HIM and The Rasmus, Von Hertzen Brothers and so on, it gives a great pride in our hearts. But there is also so much more to the history of Finnish music and culture which really should not be forgotten. It’s our mission to bring these wonderful elements togther in a new and exciting way.
What Other Releases Do You Have?
As yet we haven’t made publishing of the tracks a priority, as we are still so young as a band -we only started to play together two months ago! Already we are receiving many requests to open the files for downloading, but we feel there is also still much more we would like to do with the music, and feel that it’s best not to rush these things. We have been under so much pressure of demand for happenings lately, and it can be difficult to co-ordinate to appear at all the events we would like to. Also there is the issue of quality control, and we realise that every creative work needs a little time to mature to its potential. Dáithí is always trying new things with the tracks, so quite often we are delirious in deciding which cuts to use! We want to be sure that what we are putting out truly reflects the ideal we’re trying to achieve, and it can take a little time. This also applies to deals with management and publishing houses. We feel privileged that such an enormous interest has suddenly heaped itself onto us, but we also feel cautious. The first thing to suffer in that pressure of situation is always the music -and then relations between the musicians. We’ve all seen that before! Our objective for now is to work on the soundscape, build on the already established reputation as ‘the hardest working band in Finland’ and be true to the music in itself. But there will be a release happening this year, we promise, and in the meanwhile even more cuts to be posted for all the wonderful people who encouraged us to take it to here!
What Is Your Favorite Song On Your Most Recent Album?
We definitely love the arrangement we made of ‘Ainutkertainen! It’s been a huge success for us during live performances, and since we posted it on the myspace site it’s been listened almost 2,000 times in just three weeks. Thats totally awesome for us! We also generated another 2,000+ hits at the Facebook pages, which is simply astounding. There are other hot versions of various tracks already in the can, but again, we’re being cautious not to give too much away just yet, as our overall sound is still developing and The Senators continue to update with dubs and edits at the home studio.
Do You Have Any Gigs Coming Up?
We’re pretty much booked throughout the summer right up to September! We’re not taking any dates outside Helsinki beyond that point, as we’ve booked into Soundtrack Studios at Pitjanmäki to commence the album. We’ve been talking to a few different agents to take over managing the project for us commercially, as we would much prefer to concentrate on the performances and recordings. It’s a drag to have to hang on the phone and PC answering emails about business arrangements when we would rather be arranging the tracks!
What’s Your Favorite Type Of Venue To Play?
You know, it’s pretty much a privilege to play ANY stage. We think that the real success is in turning even the most basic venue into a memorable event for everybody to enjoy. Thats the challenge for any band. We’ve played rock bars, open-air events, beautiful regal country houses, private homes, and even on the back of a moving pick-up truck! So long as the people are having fun with us, it don’t matter where!
If You Could Play Anywhere In The World This Week, Where Would It Be?
Oooooh…thats a tough one! Lets see…we love Helsinki so much, but it’s also a great feeling to leave the city and drive across Finland at this time of year into the North. So maybe a big open-air event somewhere up to the North of Finland, in Lapland for example..we could groove the evening into the Midnight Sun and take real wood sauna afterwards before jumping into a cool, clear lake, then to refresh with a cool Finnish beer or seven. Mmmmm, just the thought. We would love to get to Ireland too, as our Irish fanbase have been mailing constantly for dates. Hopefully we’ll get there later in the summertime for fresh Guinness and Irish Stew!
Do You Have A Website, Trig, MySpace, Facebook Etc.?
Yes! We’re at both Facebook and at Myspace, and the pages are linked together for simple access. Our links are here:
What Are Your Influences As A Band?
All great Finnish music! We listen to EVERYTHING! We’re all addicted audiophiles and are always digging up rare material and reworking it! It’s so hard to be specific about these things, as up here in Finland we are spoiled for choices. There’s simply so much happening, and just keeping up to date with this prolific scene is a hard work in itself! It seems every week brings another awesome artist to public profile, and we have so many summer festivals in the cities and out into the countryside that it seems as though you could begin the festival circuit at the beginning of summer, and move from one festival to the next without ever having to go home!
People Who Enjoy Your Music Tend To Like What Other Bands?
Oh, thats another toughie! We cover so much ground in any given show that its almost impossible to guage the listeners interest. But Finland is very open culturally, and everyones interest tends to be as diverse as you could imagine.
Are You Signed To A Label?
No, we’re discussing with companies for distribution only at the moment, as we’re working so hard at live shows and keeping ourselves independent until the album is finished. This way we get to maintain the creative control of the album content without having some A&R dude hanging around and distracting us from our own directions.
Where Do You Think You’ll Be As A Band In 5 Years?
Still based in Finland, thats for sure! But hopefully in five years time we’ll also have opened access to other nations around the world. Everything has moved so fast for The Senators, and we’re quite dizzy with all the activity and travel, but we’re more than content to build our career slowly but surely, with a view to maintaining direction ourselves, than being lead by a company or label.
Is There Anything Else People Should Know About The Senators?
We hope that everyone one comes to share the party with us has the best of times, and goes away with nothing less than excellent ‘ainutkertainen’ !