This week I am doing a Inverse Records interview special. If you haven’t checked out the quality metal this Finnish label brings us now is the time. I present to you Skein. Anders Ekdahl ©2017
Do you feel that is has gone the way you intended when you formed back in the days?
-Well, yes and no.
It has taken a lot of time to get where we are today and in a sense, we’re only starting. Skein has lived through quiet times and quite a few hardships, and the band’s lineup has changed almost completely during its lifespan of more than twelve years. So strictly from this perspective things haven’t gone as intended, but then again, what does?
We’ve learned a lot and stayed true to our music. All things add up to each other. Last few years we’ve been moving on with determination and achieved many things we we’re striving for.
How do you feel about your latest recording? Did it come out the way you expected it to?
-When we started the work on new music after our first album ”Of Wings Unfolding”, we were driven to take a next step for Skein. The two previous recordings had taught us a lot of ourselves and working as a band, both before and in a studio. Following this path, we challenged ourselves to make songs in new ways and to work with new people.
With help of producer Tuomas Kokko, we worked hard on the songs before entering the studio. Even if the actual recording process was intense, we were quite confident about what we were doing already before first note was recorded.
Still, after all the work we had put in it beforehand, I guess we all were positively surprised of how Deadweight turned out. We feel that we succeeded in taking the step we were hoping to take.
Do you feel that you by now has found a sound that is the band and that you can build on it ?
-Yes. I’d say we’ve grown to be familiar with the essentials of the sound of Skein. This core is quite flexible, though, and gives us a lot of room to build on in the future. ”Deadweight” holds some of the heaviest material we’ve done, as well as some of the most bare and melodic stuff we’ve ever conjured up. In the future, we’ll continue to explore the soundscapes we might be capable of at the time.
Is having a message in the lyrics important to you? What kind of topics do you deal with?
-Lyrics are very important to us. Our two previous releases – both the aforementioned album ”Of Wings Unfolding” and its predecessor ”Children of Light” EP – were concept works, telling coherent fictional stories reflecting personal and social themes.
On ”Deadweight” we took a different approach, working on each song on its own, resulting with most personal material we’ve written so far. These songs explore a lot of different themes including misuse of political and religious power, depression, greed, loss, love and chance for change.
How important is the cover art work for you? Can a really cool cover still sell an album in this day and age of digital download?
-The visual side of our releases is important to us, even though the meaning of artwork as a physical thing has probably weakened a bit recently. A well thought and executed cover can draw attention and is a way of standing out in the feed of new material now available for music fans. Maybe it’s a bit different impact than when flipping CDs and vinyls at a records store was the primary way of finding new music, but it still means a lot.
Our bassist Juha is a graphic designer and has done visual things for the band, so it is pretty natural that we as a band have always had a lot of interest in the way the music is represented visually.
We’ve also had great chances to work with talented people helping us to achieve what we’re looking for at the time. ”Deadweight’s” cover is a photo by US-based photographer Gabe Farnsworth, whose art caught Juha’s eye on the internet. Getting in contact with an amazing artist on other side of the world and ending up with his breathtaking shot on our cover – underlining the atmosphere we were looking for musically – felt also inspiring in its own.
Why is it so hard for bands that come from places not the US or UK/Sweden/Scandinavia to break big? What is success to you and is it something you’d like to achieve?
-It’s probably a lot of things combined: the strength of musical culture in different stages, the amount of ”local” competition, possibilities of working on music or playing in a band, the maturity of the business side… But its also a something quite to hard to pinpoint, at least from our point of view.
For us, the most important thing is getting to make and play music and in that sense, success could be seen as possibilities of doing so as much as possible. We know our music is not in the mainstream and we’re not ”radio-friendly” in the traditional sense, so we have no unrealistic expectations of getting rich on it or anything. It would be great to be able to concentrate on music more in the future, but for us the success that we crave for right now is to spread ”Deadweight” as wide as possible, and get to play our songs live to as many people as we can.
Today the competition is harder. You got plenty of digital platforms for new talent to display their music. How do you do to really stand out in a world where everything but the music is blind to the listener?
-We don’t believe in gimmicks or tricks and are not interested in standing out for the sake of standing out. We’ll continue to make music that we believe in, being honest to ourselves and hoping that we can reach new audiences who can connect with us and our music. Currently we’re working hard to get our live shows to a new level also and hope to stand out that way too.
What is your local scene like? How important is a national scene for a band to be able to break out and make it international?
-The heavier Finnish scene is doing well contentwise. There’s a lot of great bands, both with many years of experience and curriculum and those who are still bubbling under. For a music lover, there’s a lot of interesting and promising things happening or waiting to happen.
This means of course that there’s a lot of ”competition” in a market that is actually quite small, which makes things a bit difficult for a band like us. We’ve found that the scene is supportive and there’s a lot of different levels of collaboration happening.
Local or national scene is of course important, but I guess there’s decent chances of ”being found” in other countries too without first establishing a stable foothold in your own country or town now that its so much easier to find new and interesting music on the internet.
Rock and metal has come a long way since the early 70s but still some people’s attitudes towards it seem to be left in the stone age. How accepted is metal in your area? Is it like in Finland where it seems to come with the mother’s milk?
I think that in Finland the attitudes toward metal and rock are quite ”mature”. We have a lot of quality bands around here, there’s a lot of metal shows and festivals and the heavier music is present in more mainstream events also. There’s a lot variety in metal and rock and things are constantly moving.
The maturity of attitudes means that we’ve learned to be demanding, too. When there’s a lot of “supply”, we don’t get impressed easily.
What does the future hold for you?
-The release date for ”Deadweight” is in September and we’ll be playing a small tour in Finland in the fall. We’ve already started writing new stuff, all the while looking for new opportunities to spread our music both live and with ”Deadweight”. We also have some plans for next year, but we’ll get to them when the time is right.