Facebook

Tuoreimmat kiertuekuvat ja uutiset XL:n Facebooksivulla.

Linkki ylävalikossa.

Yhteystiedot

Haastattelut:

jarmosaari (at) gmail.com

Levyt:

Tapio Korjus / Rockadillo

XL interview (from Progarchives.com)

Your biography has been covered in your ProgArchives profile, so let's bypass the biography details. But which bands were you influenced by and why did you choose that name?
- We decided to enter a Finnish Jazz Band Competition in 1992 and had to come up with a name during a train trip from Helsinki to Joensuu. Fortunately we won the contest and introduced ourselves as "XL". We wanted to exaggerate and amplify every aspect in our compositions and playing including dynamics, nuances, characters, emotions and tone colors.
We came from a variety of musical backgrounds as young lads. Our pasts included massive studies in classical music and interest in jazz, fusion and improvising. In addition we had random progressive and indie garage demo band history, rockabilly, tango, whatever, you name it.
Tekstisisältöä pääset muokkaamaan tuplaklikkaamalla tekstialuetta. Tekstieditorilla voit lisätä ja muokata linkkejä, lihavoida, kursivoida ja alleviivata tekstiä sekä luoda listauselementtejä ja numerolistauksia. Asetuksista voit asemoida tekstin oikealle, vasemmalle tai keskitetyksi sekä jakaa tekstikappaleen useampaan eri komponenttiin.
Some of our heroes:
  • Pekka Pohjola (stubborn yet emotional Finnish legacy, rich in harmonies, emotion, structures and dymanics)
  • movie soundtracks (especially Burton/Elfman, Lucas/Spielberg/Williams and Jeunet/Badalamenti)
  • Steps Ahead (virtuoso fusion with bebop-based impro and advanced chord chances and midi vibraphone!)
  • Genesis (epic, visual, humble and sophisticated pioneering with unique and touching clang)
  • The Police (again, great counterpoints and harmonies with mad drive, groove, sound innovations and personality)
  • John Coltrane and Miles Davis (spirit, anxiety, search for truth, confidence, interpretations, tradition vs innovation)
  • Radiohead (endlessly surprising search for new territories, breaking boundaries, defining the concept of what's possible for a group of friends as artists in a long run)
  • Stray Cats (new-wave do-it-yourself attitude, pure rage, determination)
  • U2 (the sense of faith, experimentation, spirit and hunger for making a difference, crossover with visual arts and social issues, rebirth, tempo delay and sonic experimentatiton!)
  • Jean Sibelius (symphonic brilliance with structures, melodies, harmonies, national characters and romanticism)
  • Finnish folk music (searcing our roots by digging into the tradition of folk songs and hymns)
  • electronic music (studio experimentation and madness with whatever gear you run into or can affort in the manner of Eno, Jarre, Vangelis, Tomita, Moloko, DJ Shadow etc)
Tekstisisältöä pääset muokkaamaan tuplaklikkaamalla tekstialuetta. Tekstieditorilla voit lisätä ja muokata linkkejä, lihavoida, kursivoida ja alleviivata tekstiä sekä luoda listauselementtejä ja numerolistauksia. Asetuksista voit asemoida tekstin oikealle, vasemmalle tai keskitetyksi sekä jakaa tekstikappaleen useampaan eri komponenttiin.
The influence of many others was heard in our mixture, too. You name it! It's so important to sense "shoulders to climb on" while trying to "reach the sky".
Let's go straight to the first album. Please tell us more about XLent from 1995
- There were not so many releases of instrumental or fusion music in Finland around that time. After writing own material, getting our thing together and touring quite a bit we were determined and decided to make an album anyhow, no doubt, somehow.
National Radio Station and a Finnish broadcasting company producer Jukka Hakoköngäs showed some interest in us and invited XL to make a radio tape for Radio Mafia. The result was also released as our debut album by a classical and contemporary music label Ondine. We actually made it happen!
Hakoköngäs and the engineer Hessu Savolainen supported us enthusiasticly and helped us define our sound and set some of our future goals. Mixing the album at the National Opera Studio,Helsinki, was a blast. Our record release day took place the same day as the Finnish ice hockey team had its 1st World Champion celebration in Helsinki. A hell of a party it was!
The preceding touring and endless rehearsing made it easy for us to make a decent recording quickly and on a low budget. Some overdubs were added to enrichen our arrangements and epic instrumental tales. Some of our fans still think it's our best album! I love the fearless straight-forward energy of it. We were arrogant and happily unaware of how much studio and playing experience we were still lacking. The album sounds a bit out-dated and hi-fi to my ears, but I love the attitude. You can actually almost smell it!
Please tell us more about your second album Jukola from 1998
- "Jukola" was a dive into national romanticism and our roots. We had also gotten some nice response from rock clubs and went cowardlessly into heavy beats, sequencing and electronics. Our studies at Sibelius Academy helped us to get in contact with great classical players and of course the sax giant Michael Brecker, who happened to play in Finland with the UMO Jazz Orchestra during our recording. It was a thrill to have him play two fantastic takes on "Young blood". He called me "the guy with the tricky tune" ever since. Arttu wrote some of his masterpieces with dark, colossal and mystical flavours. I, at the time, was equally into Finnish folk music and Massive Attack, not to mention Portishead! The additional strings, percussions and woodwinds really supported our visions. The title is taken from one of our national novel treasures "Seven brothers" (1873) by Aleksis Kivi.
We were lucky to get a deal with Tapio Korjus from RockAdillo. He recommended us to release this album on the sub-label Pohjola Records (titled after and founded for our hero Pekka Pohjola) and we didn't hesitate! We already played occassionally gigs in bigger cities with university student population and had several guest musicians enrichen our palette every now and then. The show visuals started to get more attention. We were managers, producers, poster and flyer deliverers, roudies, technicans and drivers to ourselves. Timo Kuisma was already a permanent "member" as our house sound engineer. I don't know where our energy, grit and faith came from!
Please tell us more about your third album Jeti from 1999
- "Jeti" was a project that we started innovating during our short tour in Europe 1998 (The Faroe Islands, Denmark and Germany), I think. I also happened to play some gigs as a side man with Don Huonot, which was a huge Finnish rock act. It really effected my thinking and playing to join them headlining on festivals and playing for crowds of thousands.
XL witnessed big changes, as did Radiohead, which I really loved and respected as a great inspiration at the time. What all may a band be or become? Their great compositions and arrangements on "My Iron Lung" turned into passionate soundcapes and musical short films of "Ok Computer", not to mention "Kid A" etc. A band can well be a rich organism and a base for experimentation, risk-taking, team-effort and personal growth, we thought. The title song on "Jeti" may be considered as a tribute to Radiohead, as well as "Pohjalla (In dirt)" bowes to U2, and Pekka Pohjola, of course.
Around the millenium I started working on my first guitar solo gigs and albums with real time processing, loops and samplers as Jarmo Saari Solu. Some of that ideolgy poured into our material with my additional home recordings. DJ Shadow and Depeche Mode influenced us too in some weird way. It's not so obvious to note these idols with our vibes-leading instrumental jazz quartet featuring chamber instruments!
It was fun to record this album with portable studio gear in a remote location (Hästholmen) in the middle of nature by the sea. We tried to keep the expenses super low but also ended up enjoying ourselves. The ideas as well as the arrangements were huge, but we worked on "indie budget" and got really good at tracking fast and staying up late. I think this was our first true ProTools record. Kie von Hertzen nailed some great additional guitar tracks. Our studio engineer Hessu Savolainen really showed his teeht and vision.
Please tell us more about your fourth album Surreal from 2002
- Surreal was fun, daring and strong. We felt invincible. "Plim plom", "Sir Real"/"Surreal", Hitta någon att tycka om" and "Toledo" were some of our strongests tracks ever. We also toured with some increrdible bunch of guys/artists including Tatu Ferchen, Marzi Nyman and Pekka Kuusisto. The DVD of this project sort of sold out and was a kind of a succcess. I think we found something there sharing our "thing" with younger generation musicians with status who had grown and developed listening our stuff. 
Dj Bunuel added great sound design and spoken word. Having him around was a blessing. He helped us get along better with our moody personalities, stress and the bloody ambition. Smoju Paju mixed the album with great finesse. There are loads of tracks and shit happening! Some stuff was really psychedelic and "dubby", too. There was a lot of electronic gear and imagination involved, both live and in studio. We thought we were a high-flying pop act with great refrains, social message and odd charm! 
Please tell us more about your fifth album Visual from 2003
- Somehow "Visual" seemed my vision and commission. I felt I had been the driving artistic force, with no sense of mercy, punching the band to new directions already earlier. Arttu kept always coming up with great music that couldn't have been filed under any given theme or specific project. This time he seemed a bit distracted, though I knew we were going to need some of his unique and classic touch, as always. Tomi and Tuure were doing a fantastic yet exhausting job keeping track of our economic catastrope and organizing our tours etc. Dj Bunuel lifted our spirits with his company, wisdom and experience.
Performing occassionally with the likes of Pekka Pohjola and UMO Jazz Orchestra, even a symphony Orchestra in Lappeenranta, had really given us confidence and a sense of cruciality. It was such a strenght to be able to orchestrate yourself. We were such a restless bunch heading to so many directions.
We had conflicts happening in our personal lives and I was somewhat obsessed with "Visual". I felt this was going to be our "swan song", or at least mine, because our projects were to a greater extent absolutely wearing. My aim was to write to these special guys something really genuine and to capture our sound as we were accustomed to hear it. Raw power, limitless sonic colours and great sensitivity. Speedy Saarinen was an excellent choice for engineering and mixing.
We drove to Tammisaari to have a band camp and a new record as a souvenir. I love "Visual" and the gigs were brilliant, but with almost zero marketing, feedback and support we found ourselves struggling once again with realities. Don't get me wrong, we always felt privileged to play our own stuff without any compromises for any given audience.
And your live album Live Ballet from 2001.
- "Live Ballet" seemed like the right thing to do and it documented an era with some fine guests and tracks from our past. To me, we sound like a very innovative and enthusiastic band on it. The fine thing about the album is that the artistic production is down to minimum and we tried to mix everything as natural/realistic as possible, too. For some of our fans our gigs were like entering a mass. There is an unofficial live DVD too, from 2002, featuring a document of the making of "Surreal". We use to sell it ourselves.
Just to give those of us who are unknown with your music a bit of a reference point or two: How would you describe your music?
Tekstisisältöä pääset muokkaamaan tuplaklikkaamalla tekstialuetta. Tekstieditorilla voit lisätä ja muokata linkkejä, lihavoida, kursivoida ja alleviivata tekstiä sekä luoda listauselementtejä ja numerolistauksia. Asetuksista voit asemoida tekstin oikealle, vasemmalle tai keskitetyksi sekä jakaa tekstikappaleen useampaan eri komponenttiin.
Tekstisisältöä pääset muokkaamaan tuplaklikkaamalla tekstialuetta. Tekstieditorilla voit lisätä ja muokata linkkejä, lihavoida, kursivoida ja alleviivata tekstiä sekä luoda listauselementtejä ja numerolistauksia. Asetuksista voit asemoida tekstin oikealle, vasemmalle tai keskitetyksi sekä jakaa tekstikappaleen useampaan eri komponenttiin.
Performing occassionally with the likes of Pekka Pohjola and UMO Jazz Orchestra, even a symphony Orchestra in Lappeenranta, had really given us confidence and a sense of cruciality. It was such a strenght to be able to orchestrate yourself. We were such a restless bunch heading to so many directions.
Just to give those of us who are unknown with your music a bit of a reference point or two: How would you describe your music?
- XL loved fantasy, surrealism, exaggeration, romanticism and maximum output. XL aimed for highly visual, narrative, cinematic and lyrical mixture of rock, classical, electronica and jazz; whatever, whenever. We were always too busy making it to define it.
How is the availability of your albums ?
- Internet and iTunes-downloading might seem the easiest way, but Rockadillo Records is doing a great job selling the physical albums in internet, too. Check out their web shop at: www.rockadillo.fi/shop/
We actually hope to release a compilation celebrating our 20th Anniversary in September 2012! Going through the material is fun and makes me proud. We achieved to record some awesome moments.
XL has broken up and is history. When and why did your band break up and what is the ex XL members doing now?
- At least I personally ran out of energy and ideas. There was so much hard work and idealism concerned. We had high hopes and reached for perfection in alternating, often lousy, conditions. Running a marginal band with such an ambition was a heavy task. Too bad, it didn't donate any financial reliability or reward to invest in future projects or better conditions.
We have played together ever since in numerous occasions, but have no plans to write or record new material. Our careers have developed into new directions. XL was some sort of a family, university, army and first marriage to us. There are so many fond memories to cherish.
Arttu Takalo has released half a dozen solo albums and works as an arranger/conductor for some top artists in Finland including Anna Eriksson, Katri Helena, Kalle Ahola and Topi Sorsakoski. He has also composed a great deal of chamber and sympony orchestra music.
Tomi Salesvuo is busy playing freelance and with his group Bitter Sweet. He is also a well-respected pedagog.
Tuure Koski plays with Riku Niemi Orchestra, Laura Sippola, How many sisters and many others. His group Turgan Trio released an album 2004.
Dj Bunuel is a popular radio DJ in Radio Helsinki and YLE (Finnish broadcasting company). He performs occasional live gigs and keeps recording with his group Fat Beat Sound System.
I've written music for cinema (Mika Kaurismäki), contemporary dance (Tero Saarinen Company) and produced artists such as Tuomari Nurmio, Esko Salminen and Hanna Marsh. Three Jarmo Saari Solu albums have been released so far. My vocal debut Jarmo Saari Trubamolli was released 2011. I also play with Jukka Perko, Anna-Mari Kähärä, Emma Salokoski and Espoo Big Band etc.
Which album is your favorite XL album?
- I love them all and feel nostalgic whenever I listen to any of them. I think "Visual" has the best sound and production, I mean if you really want to know what we sounded like. It's always so demanding to document a band on tape or hard disk. We had the maximum amount of freedom while working on "Visual" and it was artistically self-produced with minimum compromises. I had a peak with my writing and had also gotten lot more experience of producing.
The compositions by Arttu on "Surreal" blow my mind, but hey, he's a genius! A collection of some of the finest moments from each of the albums would be my favorite choice and that's exactly what we want to achieve with the compilation due October 2012! Be aware!