Interview with Talvihorros
At first I thought ‘Talvihorros’ was some sort of tiny, magical village in Cataluña or something, but then I found out it’s actually Finnish for ‘hibernation’, which I find amusing and quite fitting for the sort of music you make. So, how did that come about?
The reality of this is a bit boring – perhaps I should make up a better story for these sorts of interviews? I was preparing my first album and I needed a name – I was thinking about using something obscure but along the dark/wintry vibe, I liked the idea of using a non English word so I started asking my multi-lingual friends to offer up some ideas. When my Finnish friend suggested Talvihorros – it seemed better than anything else I had come up with previous so went with it.
You have mentioned playing in bands before actually starting working on your own, so I got curious about what sort of band was that – were they rock bands in the traditional sense or something else entirely?
Like many, learning the guitar was my entry into music – playing guitar and learning songs from my favourite bands when I was a teenager was my main past-time growing up. I started my first band shortly after I picked up the guitar and have been in many since – the first couple were poor attempts at post-rock stuff in the vein of Mogwai but that soon seemed limiting and dated so I ventured into more traditional indie and electronic projects doing more song-based stuff at one extreme as well as the odd noise/improve collaboration with various people I met at the other extreme. Throughout these times of experimenting I think I learnt a way to express myself with my instrument of choice and on another level with textures of sound that it suddenly seemed right to explore this by myself without the need of having to compromise this working with other people.
As a follow-up, can you tell me a little about what led you to making such aural-heavy, texture-bent music? How did you get rid of the preciousness that lies in the traditional instrument line-up people associate with ‘pop music’?
Talvihorros is a solo project and as such there are no limitations except those that I put on myself – things like instrumentation and pop-music structures are not something I ever need to think about. It’s just me in a room creating sound that helps me escape from the world that I find myself in. It would be tougher to always use a set number of instruments such as bass, guitar, drums etc. It’s much easier to play and record something and then, for example, think glockenspiels and radio static would be a nice accompaniment to this and try that out. After playing in so many bands where there were always limitations be it instrumentation, musical direction, personal relationships etc. to be in a place where there are no limitations is very exciting and I thrive working alone and do produce a lot of music now, much more than I am releasing. Its tough to say why I do it or why it sounds like it does it just sort of comes out that way, i don’t stop to question it, im busy moving onto the next track or project. I do it with little understanding why I do and will carry on making music even if people stop wanting to listen to it or labels stop putting it out for me. It’s kind of more a coping mechanism than anything else. I’m not making music to please people or make money, if I wanted popularity or fame I certainly wouldn’t be making the music I make.
Photograph by Jonny Birch
Having lived in London for a while, I tend to strongly associate the mood of your music with England – my memories of England, anyway: a place packed with weird, ancient energy, covered by an eternally overcast sky, with a sort of dense, muted melancholy permeating all of it. Do you see such associations as a problem, or as an obstacle for the full appreciation of the music you make? Do you feel strongly under the influence of the place in which you create, or do you tend to have a more down-to-earth mentality about the creative process?
Yeah that’s an interesting point – London does no doubt influence my music although I don’t think you need to understand London to understand my music, the reasons that drive me to make music are more universal than the city I live in. London can at times be a tough place to live – the overpopulation means that you get to see more than your fair share of the shit that humans make happen. I think if I moved away from London for example to a place of isolation like an island of the west coast of Scotland my music would change – I am sure my music would adopt more of a calmness and sense of space. I do think the thick, dark, paranoid textures that are prevalent in my music must in someway be a by-product of living and working in London. Saying that is must be said there are many positives to London – I do enjoy living here, meeting so many interesting and exciting people, seeing so much great art and culture – its inspiring but can be hard work at times.
Who do you consider your peers in terms of current music developments?
There is definitely an ambient ‘scene’ that I somehow find myself connected to but I’m not sure if I feel any identification with this scene. It seems currently that every genre of music is suffering from over saturation due to the ease and accessibility with which music can now be made, released and marketed via the internet and with inexpensive equipment at home. This means there is a lot of crap music about that seems to garner some attention. It will be interesting to see how many people making music now are still releasing the same music in 10 years time as trends and the music industry changes and evolves. To answer this question I am not sure who my peers are today but critics will always say I sound like this artist or my techniques are like another artist’s. Its up to them who my peers are, not me, it makes no difference to me.
Do you, like, ‘road-test’ your music? I mean, do you go to places listening to what you created/are creating on headphones to see how it might work for people, or is it something disconnected from the process with which you create your art?
Yeah this is an interesting point I have never considered this thought before but I am definitely sure I do this. I often listen to my mixes on a shit mp3 player whilst going about my daily business or travelling outside of London – it’s interesting to see how my music works for example on a busy train on a crap sound system but it’s the reality of most peoples music consumption today. Although I must admit the motivation for this is generally to see how my mix works and if I feel it’s finished, rather than considering how my audience will react to it. I don’t ever think about who my audience is or what they want, I am sure if I did it would cripple me and I would stop making music, I cant make the music people want only what I want. It still amazes me that people listen to my music for enjoyment, I have no idea why.
This Talvihorros project is definitely different to other music I have made in the past where after leaving the studio I don’t listen to it again and my memory of it is recording and mixing in the studio and then walking away from it. With Talvihorros my association with this project extends to every part of my life – it doesn’t exist just in the studio but is with me everyday and grows on my travels and experiences in day to day life.
Did you ever create a soundtrack of your own to an already existing movie? If not is there any favorite of yours that would be top of your list for such an exercise?
I’ve never created a soundtrack to an already existing movie, this would be a too disciplined process to do this – I create soundtracks to my responses to everyday life, however I have in the past taken imagery with me into the studio inspired from films that have had an impact on me. For example when recording a few of the tracks on ‘Some Ambulance’ I had certain scenes from Werner Herzog’s Encounters at the End of the World and The Wild Blue Yonder in my head, these films definitely dictated the direction and feel of certain tracks. Whilst recording Let Us Be Thankful We Have Commerce for My Dance the Skull, particular images and perhaps on some level the overall atmosphere of the science-fiction film THX-1138 by George Lucas had a big influence over the feel of the release, so much so that the title came from a quote in the film and I used samples from the film throughout side-B of the tape.
Last one: did you get to see Herzog’s reworking of Bad Lieutenant? (As a curio, it was renamed here in Brazil to what translates roughly as “Hectic Vice” which I believe beats the original big time – the title, not the movie).
I’m afraid I’ve not seen Herzog’s reworking of Bad Lieutenant – although I did see the original a few years ago when I was interested in Abel Ferrara’s work. I will definitely now make a point to see it soon. I must admit when I heard about the remake I was unsure how Herzog would make this succeed or even why it would warrant a remake, especially considering the big-name cast that was used. Although saying this I have yet to be disappointed by a single Herzog film so I will be interested to see if he once again manages to bring to the table something fundamentally humanistic from this story.
Diego Gerlach is a Brazilian writer, visual artist and comic creator. Under the moniker Máfia Líquida, he creates (in collaboration with Brazilian designer Felipe Oliveira) the ongoing sci-fi comic series GAHAFAW and some wicked poster art, described simultaneously as ‘Graphic answers to unasked questions’ or ‘Cyanide treacle for the brain’. And all you cats can dig it at: http://flickr.com/diegogerlach