Huminoida Interviews

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PEEK-A-BOO Interview by Jurgen Vanvlasselaer 2013


One thing that amazes me is that some people seem to take the song lyrics VERY literally. I mean, there are serious topics on HUMINOIDA records, but then there's this surreal and pitch-black crap as well.

One of the most interesting Finnish projects at the moment is without a doubt HUMINOIDA. Intelligent synthpop combined with the fantastic vocals of former [Active] Media Disease and Neuroactive singer Kimmo Karjalainen. His new, and excellent, 10" has just been released, so it was an ideal time to have a talk with the man behind the machines:

Welcome Kimmo. Your musical journey started in the 90’s with [Active] Media Disease. Or were you in other projects before [A]MD ?

Hi, thanks for the interview! No, I wasn't in any "proper" band before [A]MD, but I made some primitive recordings with a 4-track recorder, Yamaha drum machine and Jupiter 8 (the non-midi version - these were unbelievably cheap in the late 80's). I didn't even bother to do any understandable lyrics, just some pseudo-english howling on top of a hellishly dysfunctional soundtrack. Great stuff ;-)
I joined [A]MD around -92 or -93, and that was an interesting ride. We were a strong willed, young and highly ambitious bunch. It's funny to think about it now, and I'm kind of proud of all that enthusiasm and attitude, but back then it became clear that it wasn't going to last for long. There were just too many opinions and ideas pushing the band in different directions. I was actually surprised that we got the full-length album done and that it turned out to be so good. Some of the material hasn't aged that well, but there are couple of tracks that I still enjoy.

After a while you started doing the vocals in Neuroactive as well. How did you end up in that great band? 

Ville and Vesa had already left Neuroactive and Jarkko was planning to do an album with guest vocalists. He knew me from [A]MD and asked me to sing Parallel. Jarkko was moving towards a synth-poppier sound and that suited me fine. We were both pleased with the result and our co-operation went really well, so he asked me to do another song. And then another... At some point I realised that I became a full member of the band.

You released a few albums with them and then suddenly disappeared from the Neuroactive radar. What happened?

Many people seem to assume that there was some tragic breakup or something, but that's not the case, on the contrary. Jarkko and I both had very time consuming jobs at that time, and he also had two little kids so that slowed things down and basically the gigging stopped. The usual shit - life got in the way. I like the two albums we did together, especially the latter Transients , with its darker tone and cohesive set of songs, but after that I felt I didn't have much to offer to the band anymore, and also that I should start doing my own songs. I'm a very stubborn ass with these things: If I don't have the time or the drive to do the record wholeheartedly, I don't do it at all (very unprofessional, I know ;-) So, no big drama there, we're still good friends and Jarkko has also mastered HUMINOIDA records. And if I'm not completely wrong, he's going to release another Neuroactive album later this year.

I remember great Finnish bands such as Advanced Art, Shade Factory, Chaingun Operate , your projects, to name but a few, but could we talk of a Finnish scene in those days? Were there clubs which played this kind of music?

Those were exciting times, but I didn't see it as a scene back then, it was just this bunch of like-minded people, mostly friends and everyone was in a band.But yeah, I guess we can call it a scene now ;-), the synth & industrial club-nights and gigs were held rather regularly in the early 90's. In retrospect, the center figure of the whole thing seemed to be Pete (also known as Sam B) - one of the founding members of Advanced Art, later [A]MD and Shade Factory, an epitome of coolness, great friend and a mystery man. Wonder what he's up to nowadays.

After you left Neuroactive you started with your own musical project : HUMINOIDA. Can you tell us something about the bandname?

HUMINOIDA is an odd, poetic Finnish word meaning "to hum", "to make a humming noise". I thought this would be an appropriate and original enough name for a slightly skewed synth band. (the first release was a dark instrumental drone with the hand-scratched b-side. Avantgarde! - High Art! - Madness!) And the similarities with the english word "humanoid" doesn't hurt a bit...

Are you at the moment involved in other projects next to HUMINOIDA?

No, not really, but I did vocals and lyrics to three tracks on the forthcoming album of Finnish electro-pop band Nyx. I gladly collaborate with other bands every now and then if I have the time, but HUMINOIDA is the main thing for me. 

After a few great vinyl singles, your debut album Whiter Album saw the light of day in 2011.
How do you look back on it? Are you still satisfied with the result?

This may sound a bit big-headed but I'm very satisfied with it. I think the material is strong and I'm especially pleased with the diversity of the songs and how they blend with each other. I don't see any reason why there couldn't be positive synthpop tracks (Time And Space, Sound Of Synthesizers) and heavy, genuinely weird stuff like Folk Of The Twilight Counties on the same record. And of course the 2LP+CD set looks rather nice.One thing that amazes me is that some people seem to take the song lyrics VERY literally. I mean, there are serious topics on HUMINOIDA records, but then there's this surreal and pitch-black crap as well.

It's not a wise thing to explain lyrics, but I just have to point out that the clingy stalker character on Obsessions isn't me, I'm not singing about myself, and I thought it's kinda obvious that you shouldn't take Other Side too seriously. Genesis has also generated some confusion... Oh yeah, surely I believe that the universe was created by giant slime oozing slugs :-P (Well..that scenario IS exactly as possible as the one that millions of people are believing at the moment.) But of course it's great that everyone form their own impressions of the songs and lyrics, that's the whole point of music.

During the process of writing and recording your next full album, you are going to release a few EP’s. The first one, Mystic Summer, just came out as a 10” + CDR set. Can you tell us something about it?

I had this obsession that Time And Space should be released as a single - don't ask me why, as if it's going to get any radio play or anything ,and then Ville (ex-Neuro, Flux Fin) offered to do a remix of it and that gave me the idea of four or five tracks on a 10" vinyl (with the CDR for those people who don't own a vinyl player.)

I really like the new EP I have to say. It’s also more ‘poppy’ than the Whiter Album and with the Flux Fin remix of Time And Space you will even hit the better dancefloors I think.

That's nice to hear, Jürgen. Yeah, I guess Time And Space is so unashamedly nice pop and She Said is also poppish, that those tracks give the EP relatively light and mellow feel, but then there's also Waves and The Boatman to add to the mystic side.I've noticed that I do music mainly for listening to and the songs seem to take some effort to "get into". I'm probably a bit thick but I don't consider things like dancefloor friendliness at all while making music. There are some danceable tracks on Whiter Album, but all in all it's not a party record.So it was really great that Ville wanted to do the remix, he added a whole different feel and a modern touch to the song.

As far as I understood, there will be a few EP’s as inbetweenies. Will it be all 10”+CDR sets?

Yeah, I've planned them all to be 10"+ CDR sets, but one or two of those sets may be released after the full-length album.

Will the new full album be in the same vein as the 10” releases? 

I try to achieve a slightly different mood to each 10" set, Mystic Summer is this light and well, summery one, but the songs that I've already made for the second album seem to be angstier. I try to maintain this diversity: pretty synthpop, heavy dark songs and then the weird ones. This time the weird may be really far-out, I have this one track that's musically almost unbearable and lyrically very unhealthy. Anyone with even a little sense wouldn't release it, but I just may... We'll see.

Another fact that I really like about HUMINOIDA are the formats of your releases. Colour disks, a 10”, even the CD version of the Whiter Album was a special fold-out digipack.

Yes, the visual side is very important to me. Downloading is a handy way to distribute music, but I got used to the physical formats as a kid, the sleeves and all that is an important part of the package to me, so I try to offer something special and make an effort with the sleeves and inserts and unusual vinyls etc. Financially this is absolute insanity but you got to do what you got to do.

Will HUMINOIDA be just a studio project or will you be performing live as well?

At this moment I'm not planning any gigs, but never say never, it would be pretty interesting to see if the material would work live at all.

What’s on the HUMINOIDA agenda the next following months?

The agenda is simple: More music.

Final word?

Don't give in to stupidity!

Thank you Kimmo for the great answers.Looking foward to the new album and the next 10" inbetweenies!





VOX EMPIREA Interview by Maxymox.

Interview with Huminoida

Kimmo Karjalainen, alias K-K- from the Finnish electro act Huminoida. Hello Kimmo, Vox Empirea gives the welcome to you.

Thanks Max, nice of you to make the interview.

Huminoida is an idea originally formed in 2007 by the collaboration between you and AugM. What motivations have you convinced to refine a common project considering that your musical orientations were so different? You come from the electronic disciplines of Neuroactive, while the influences of AugM were tipically ethereal-gothic/darkwave, those of his band This Empty Flow.

We've been friends for about 20 years and both are music addicts with rather versatile tastes varying from guitar-driven indiepop through electronic obscurities to krautrock, so no problems there. In fact our music taste seemed to be so similar that it's surprising that we didn't form a band earlier.

Before AugM decided to exit from the project Huminoida, you have recorded two singles: the 7" self-titled " Huminoida "released in 2007 and "A/B (Other Side / The Other)" published in 2009. Do you remember if there was an immediate harmony between you in the creation of two releases? In which way you've subdivided your respective roles in the writing of the lyrics and the music?

Actually we didn't make any recordings together, so it wasn't teamwork in that sense. I made the a-side of the first single, and then we had a "scratching session" for the vinyl b-sides (the hand-made spectacle called "Unique"). Our approach on the second single was even simpler: AugM made the b-side (The Other), I made the a-side (Other Side). Eventually we kind of realised that we were making two different bands, and AugM had so many things cooking (His own record company for example), that he decided to leave the band

What feelings did you feel making your first solo-experiment of three tracks, the EP "Huminoida Loves You" of 2010? In which direction is changed your music imprint after AugM left the project?

I don't think the direction changed much because we had already made the songs separately, and after AugM left I just continued doing the stuff as before. It also helped that I had rather clear idea from very early on that the first album should be partly old school electropop, partly darkwave/experimental, and that the tracks should be loosely linked together. It helped to concentrate on individual tracks when I had the "big picture" already imagined.

Are you still in contact with AugM?

Yes sure, we see every now and then.

You substantially affirm you're not agree with the concept in which each episode of an album should correspond necessarily to an event aimed to the simple "good track" concept": on the contrary, you admire in the artist their ability to dare and to propose what they really feels in their soul, regardless of a specific sales strategy. I think you're right, but I'm sure it conflicts with the interests of the most part of the labels that, with few exceptions, they are mainly interested in their business rather than the real meaning of the discs they promote. Do you agree?

Yeah, I said: "I'm not a big fan of the idea that every track on the record should be nice and easy and exactly alike to make it sell truckloads.." Good track, preferably great track is of course always the aim when making music regardless of the genre or record company. What I wanted to say is that I prefer records where the artist's unfiltered, uncensored vision comes through, records with some risk-taking and some variety of the songs.Big companies are in the business to sell records and make money. It's a fact, and that's perfectly ok to me. It''s always been that way and I understand that some people like to make money with the music. But at some point the big companies took the overblanding and over-simplifying to the level that is unbearable. It seems that they're not interested in releasing anything else than some cynically manufactured half-arsed crap. (TV-related, if possible) Fortunately smaller labels still have the guts to put out uncompromising stuff as well.

Is therefore this the reason why you produced yourself by Out Of Range Records label? Do you mean this is right way to feel you musically free?

Exactly. I never even thought of offering Huminoida to any record company. Not that any big company would have been begging...To me the most important thing, actually the whole point of making music is the freedom to do whatever comes to mind and whatever feels right without too much thinking about the current trends or financial realities. Other important thing is that I like to concentrate on the artwork and record sleeves. I very much doubt that any record company would have agreed to release "Whiter Album" on 2LP + CD combo with coloured vinyls and all the inserts.

I have listened to and reviewed "Whiter Album", your latest creation. I found it is really deep, carefully arranged. It's also full of great "minimal-synth" insights, mixed to other "wave" elements. Evaluating it at a certain period of time following its publication, do you find that there's something you would to modify in its structure, or you are fully satisfied with it?

Nice to hear, Max!I am indeed very happy with "Whiter Album" and the song order / structure still feels just right. I pushed the tiny set-up and myself to the limit during the recording & mixing, there wasn't anything more I could've done, no steam left neither in the man nor the machines. I wouldn't change it a bit.

Depending on what you can notice everyday, how do you rate the music listened by the new generations? I find that most of the current publications, especially from the mainstream circuits, are only ephemeral episodes devoid of any substance...

Ah yes, majority of the music seems to be targeted to the people who don't really like music, they just need some sort of easily digested background noise to fill the silence. But I don't know if it's a generation thing. There's always been great, original and imaginative bands and there still is, but maybe they're not that widely known and it may take a little more effort to find them.

It seems that you have officially chosen to continue Huminoida only by yourself. Are you ever available to a possible integration of other elements, or Huminoida will remain a solo-project forever?

It's very likely that there's going to be guest performers on Huminoida records, and I'm willing to co-operate with other bands. We just recorded 3 tracks to the forthcoming album of the Finnish electro act NYX - more of that later. But basically I guess that Huminoida will always be a "one man band".

You were part of Neuroactive in the albums "Fiber Optic Rhythm" and "Transients". What role you occupied in this project founded by Jarkko Tuohimaa? And objectively, how has influenced your style this important experience?

Neuroactive was a great experience for me and great fun too. I think our co-operation worked really well and I still like those records, especially the latter "Transients" is a solid album in it's genre. Originally Jarkko asked me to sing one track called "Parallel", but we were so happy with the result that I joined the band as full-time vocalist and lyricist. We're still good friends, and Jarkko also remastered Huminoida album. Synthpop was the first music genre that hooked me as a kid. The first records I bought were "Vienna" by Ultravox and "Organisation" by OMD. Oh boy, little Kimmo's mind was completely blown with the sounds of tomorrow, I saw the light AND the future at the same time. So I guess I was already fully influenced by electronic pop before I joined Neuroactive.

Returning to "Whiter Album" and its track-listing, I find that coexist simultaneously different styles in it: dark-synth, new wave and electronic minimalism. In particularly I've appreciated the magnificence of "Part-Time Isolation" and "Time And Space/Whiteout". Can you describe us better these two wonderful tracks?

I wanted to make extremely slow and heavy track, a synth"pop" song that would be closer to Black Sabbath than say, Erasure. The result was "Part-time Isolation", basically a beautiful song but I don't know if it's pop at all, maybe it's some kind of synth-prog. The drums of the middle-section are very similar to the drums on Ultravox's Vienna, but they're not samples. The sound just seemed to fit in perfectly and it gives the track slightly "krautrockish" feel. "Time and Space" emerged from the need to end the record with a genuinely positive tone. It is lyrically sincere ode to friendship and musically also pretty nice synthpop with a touch of melancholy, although it's built on strangely harrowing saw-sound. It transforms into "Whiteout" and the record screeches and vanishes into white noise.

What about the future progress by Huminoida?

More music. More releases.

It's time for greetings. I thank you on behalf of the Vox Empirea's people to whom I ask you now to dedicate a special thought: you've freedom of speech, Kimmo!

I've already ranted enough, so now it's time to say Big Thanks to the music fans & readers of Vox Empirea. Keep on electropoppin'!