ELECTRIC LADY is yet another Finnish hardrock/metal band. And as with any other Finnish band they are good enough to interviewed. Minna ORA (singer) was kind enough to answer my questions. Anders Ekdahl ©2012
I can’t say that I’ve read too much about you guys before. What have you been up to?
-Last past ten years me and Kari Ora have been touring in Finland as an acoustic duet with pure melodic and bluesy songs. The Electric Lady is a new band formed in 2007 when i started to think of a real band to give our songs more powerful and rock with raw sensuality that mirrors life but at that time we didn’t think much about targeting the international scene. The idea aroused when we met Nicole Morgan, a french journalist who first dropped a line to us on Myspace to say she truly loved our melodies and style. She encouraged me to sing in english (our songs were only in finnish on Myspace), and when we met Nicole in Finland some months later she convinced us to spread our music worldwide. … Then came the idea of a collaboration. A couple of lyrics are from Sanna Korkee, she is a famous lyricist in Finland and Nicole wrote most of the album lyrics. Our first LP “Black Moon” as The Electric Lady was released by the end of 2011. Of course advances in technology have lowered the entrance barriers to the music industry but these lower barriers have made it that much more difficult to stand out in the crowd. How can we expect to be successful and meet the audience ? I guess it is a dilemma that all artists must face, and of course we do. The most important issue for us today is to play on stage and of course sell our stuff to maximize the ascent to stardom (laugh). So we actually plan to have gigs abroad to seize and reach the audience and spread our music… We keep fingers crossed !
Electric Lady makes me think of Jimi Hendrix. What is there behind the band’s name? How hard is it to find a great band name?
-Well, it’s a true compliment ! ‘cos in our opinion no one can be compared with Jimmy Hendrix … but yes he is one of our deep influences indeed. When listening to our album, you can find many other influences from different old bands mixed with our own style. The material is eclectic, sometimes recalling the print of Iron Maiden, Johnny Winter, Rory Gallagher…, nervous when incorporating guitars and drums (You Can’t ) or blues (Through Ice And Snow). In this album the band’s vision is best displayed in the cogent ballad “That’s The Way” and in “Your Heart Is Hundred Times Bigger Than Mine”. The Electric Lady band name was kinda response to our acoustic name “Acoustic Lady”, a sort of rebel echo. We didn’t think much about a specific name, the “electric thing” fitted our state of mind at that time, that’s it. Pepe Lindholm (drums) was the first musician to join the band and give the songs his own touch. We made demos and the sound was just like they wanted it to be. Later on Samuli Jokinen (keyboards) and Jussi Sinervo (bass) joined the band and were fully part of the line-up. Nicole Morgan is today the 6th member.
Where do you fit into the Finnish hardrock/metal scene?
-Before all we are a Finnish old school rock band. Although The Electric Lady is distributed on a worldwide heavy metal digi-store Metel.net (we’ve been top listed for 7 weeks with our single “A man of that kind” and our album was also in the top 10 for a few weeks), and a French metal label “Brennus”, it isn’t considered a pure metal Finnish style band, it has all the elements of rock bands with a typical Finnish culture : introspective lyrics cultivating a rebellious manner + moody melodies… Like much of Scandinavia, Finland’s main contribution to modern popular music is heavy metal and related fields. In Finland you may find influential metal bands with various influences and expressions (about 25 genres…hard rock, heavy metal, strong heavy metal, melodic…and so on). One of the most popular band abroad is HIM whose music has been labeled “love metal”. Regarding our material, most of our songs are from deep heart. Our music was primitively punk and transformation into an atmospherically rocking/ hardrocking outfit brought more infatuation, amazement and passion from our growing fans in Finland. We are not pretending to be more or something that we are not and our songs are not produced in meetings or by musical trend-stylists, they are what they are and stand behind that.
How much of camaraderie is there between the Finnish metal bands? How much of a DIY-ethic is there?
-We have embraced the DIY ethic, promoting self-organized gigs in small clubs and setting up our small independent record label (ORA MUSIC) and distribution networks. Making and promoting music without major label backing is what many musicians do actually. When you don’t have money to hire PR people to run media campaigns for you, it is up to you to make sure people know about the music you are making. Solidarity or camaraderie between musicians is an important part of the DIY system. As far as we are concerned, we try to help some musicians (not only finnish by the way) and it usually works in both ways. Despite the fact things sound far much easier with a label, even a small one, to have relationships with press/radio to generate some buzz.
When you have an album out does that open up more doors for you as a band as to not having an album to show for?
-Well I think there is no rules. Each artist could talk about his own story and true start. Getting noticed in the music business comes down to aggressive pursuit and a little bit of luck. The sad truth is, every writer, radio station, website, or fan for that matter, you are trying to reach is likely being bombarded with info from other music hopefuls. Having an album out is quite an issue and might help to stand out from the crowd but promotion is the key word. Good promotion not only helps listeners discover your music, but it also draws the attention of other people in the music industry who are able to open doors for you, like promoters and more. Black Moon is our first international release, and we obviously try to drum up some press coverage to take our album out to a wider audience. Every success and every bit of progress, no matter how small, is a building block for our next step. Nothing can exist without medias. But stage and gigs are also a way to draw attention. The other crucial point is to figure out who is the right audience. These things all have a way of tying in together. Networking is essential too. The best way to open a door in the music industry is to have someone who can open it for you (laugh).
With the success metal has on the Finnish charts does that make it easier to get noticed outside of Finland too? What benefits can you gain from just being Finnish?
-No I don’t think so, it’s not that much determining. Being a Finnish doesn’t give you any special chance to get through and be noticed. It’s never that “easy” in this business, whatever you play or wherever you are from. It does take a lot of work. There is no kinda “passport” calling for success or drawing attention except maybe to have some good stuff and meet the right people at the right moment. Regarding our band having english lyrics took us one step beyond anyway.
What would you say has been the biggest contributor to the way Electric Lady sounds like?
-First you have to put together the right team of musicians. Creative differences are important contributors coupled with our own influences (Led Zep, Iron Maiden, Johnny Winter, Rory Gallagher, Janis Joplin, Stevie Ray Vaughan …. And Albert Järvinen, who used to be the Finnish guitarist of the Hurriganes.
How important is it to have people outside of the band work for you to open up new markets?
-Now the turning point is international so the pressure is different, and music business has rules we have to face. We have to think on how to harness the marketing and production techniques available today to maximize the ascent to stardom. Product / Competition / Market / What makes the difference with other competitors in the genre / strengths / eventual weak points or deficiencies, that is to say a defined strategy, are also some of the important points we have to focus on… We are aware of the challenge and are looking for people to brand the band and refine the marketing program. All depends on the goals you have. One of them is to seize all good opportunities enabling us to share our music with most of the people.
Where do you find the right kind of people to work with and more importantly how do you know that they will deliver what they promise?
-Well we have been rather lucky. We have currently some good relationships and happy collaborations with some distributors and promoters in Finland. We also met some great people in France and already had the opportunity to be part of a festival and also a music/movie contest, but France has a justified reputation of being somewhat complex in its music approach and we know it can take a bit of time. Today we have new good contacts in the UK/Ireland where our album has been warmly welcome and we will probably start very soon a happy and (I do hope) long-lasting collaboration with Ravenheart. Regarding the people around the band, most of them are true reliable people and friends, but as we want to spread our music we also have to trust the people who suggested some help. Music is music and business is business, and any business has to involve a win-win rule. We try to remain confident and positive to keep up a peaceful and trustworthy relationship. Finns are fair people and we expect the same in return.
What are the plans for the future of Electric Lady?
-We think about short term and long term plans. Today our priority goes to The UK / Ireland. We’ve had some success recently with our album and we’re seriously looking for a (label/agent/manager) to help us take this success to the next level. Next step be Nordic countries and Germany + France, Italy and Spain. We are also currently working on new stuff (we want our next album to be different, somewhat surprising). Playing a show as the opening band of Evanescence, Volbeat or Joe Bonassama is also something we would love to do. So next step is to get our name on the bill and let their promoters know our band is on the lookout for a good support slot… The most important ever is to stay true to ourselves and our music.