A slideshow of a cold, dark and desolate soul
When Juha Raivio and Pasi Pasanen formed Swallow the Sun their ambition was no wider than writing a few tunes inspired by veterans My Dying Bride. “All I wanted is a channel to put these demons and make music that matters, who cares if its doom or if it’s pop. As long as it’s 100% from the heart, then the goal is reached.”
With the latest ‘Songs from the North I, II & III’ Swallow the Sun still writes from the heart. ‘Songs from the North I, II & III’ features a complete showcase of Swallow the Sun experience. One album continues from ‘Emerald Forest and the Blackbird’ and the albums before it. A ride into Swallow the Sun’s most horrific abyss.
‘Songs from the North I, II & III’ isn’t a compilation, an anthology, a live overview, or a boxed set but a legitimate triple album. With it, they join The Smashing Pumpkins, George Harrison, Tom Waits, among few others as artists willing to risk it all with a single release spanning three long-players
HMA: Welcome Swallow The Sun to Heavy Music Artwork. So what the ‘Songs from the North”, I mean is not just by a matter of location?
Juuso Raatikainen: I’d say it’s a slow slideshow of a cold, dark and desolate soul. All of those things are quite easy to get attached within the north.
HMA: And why are they separated into three chapters or sections?
JR: Juha has had the idea of a triple album for a few years. I think he had the need to show the different aspects, which make StS sound like it does, but a bit more clearly. This band’s music has all of these characteristics, but this time they are separately displayed.
HMA: Is there a differentiation in style in the music?
JR: The bottom line is that this band is willing and wants to evolve. All of the guys welcomed this idea with open arms. It just keeps things more interesting for us and definitely brings new sides visible for the fans. And yet still sounds like Swallow the Sun.
HMA: Does the art or photography in this case follow the theme of the music?
JR: The album art is fairly plain and has lots of natural elements and symbols. Definitely hand in hand with the music and lyrics. I hear these albums as quite raw and natural, not too much of editing etc. The lyrical themes are also sounding like pouring stuff from the very soul, nothing is censored.
HMA: A different approach from your previous offerings. What ideas are infused and are they depicting the music well in your opinion?
JR: To compare with previous offerings, the new albums are subtitled “Gloom, Beauty & Despair”. It’s a song from 2006 Ghosts of Loss album. This time just getting deeper in each of the feelings. To me personally albums II and III that are the most interesting parts ‘cause you can feel a huge contrast in the atmospheres.
HMA: In one of the album reviews… “These albums hold life, death, gloom, beauty and despair in their deepest levels and forms”. Do you think is an accurate description?
JR: I’ll answer this simply, yes. The music is written by Juha in it’s entirety. You can hear where living in the woods isolated can take your soul and brain.
HMA: If it does, the one thing I am interested in finding out…what is the “despair” referred to?
JR: It’s desperately slow, like life (laughter).
HMA: Inspirations that have made it to record; perhaps music, art or book worth mentioning?
JR: For me simply the demos were enough of inspiration. I could hear honesty there. Also, I could understand what Juha was after right from the start. Maybe it’s the same origins or just liking slow music, down-tuned guitar sound. But I was just inspired by the artistic product itself. And of course, getting to play the drums for one of my favourite bands!
HMA: Final words…
JR: We have always been known for these words: gloom, beauty, and despair. As you get older and older, the wounds will just get deeper and deeper. The hell of living will take you into the depths you would never believe you have to travel in this lifetime, but at the same time, you learn to respect the beauty more and more. All these things evolve. Like the music as the year’s pass. But I would give it away in a heartbeat if it would end these journeys in the dark. But it sure is good for the soul and heart of the music. No great art comes without great pain. Sad but so true.
Songs from the North I, II & III is out now on Century Media.
Interview by Alex Milazzo – Copyright 2015 © Heavy Music Artwork. All rights reserved.