Interview with Unzyme

Unzyme
If you had to describe the story of Unzyme the funniest way what would you say?
It all began as an innocent experiment that seriously got out of hands and led to the discovery of biomechanical pop, which would soon lead human race to a bright, cybernetic future.

If each of you had to describe every band member in few words what would you say?
Joona is the ideologist, artistic leader, megalomaniac and cyber hippie. Ville is the evil genius, biotechnological expert, throb controller and technical engineer. Mary is the voice of NHAAA!!!, the steampunk rocker and unicorn lover.

What is the best in being in a band?
It’s the community that has formed around it. It’s those encouraging words I hear from my fans. It’s the overwhelming, intoxicating and generally just unbelievable feeling of actually having fans! Seeing my vision and long term plan become reality is very rewarding. Doing something I really love, and finding out that nobody else actually does this kind of thing.

Do you try to keep in touch with your fans and if so: how do you do that?
Definitely. That’s one of the reasons we do this. We document our implementations very well, and sometimes even let the fans see and hear new songs being played live at the Unzyme Proving Ground. We ask for our fans’ opinions about things we’re about to do. We talk with our fans on Twitter and Facebook, but there is a lot more going on at Unzyme Laboratories, where we recruit our most active fans to. The true mission of Unzyme Laboratories is classified information, but what I can tell you is that we extend human capabilities through cybernetics, molecular genetics and music. Head on to http://www.laborant.in, if you want to get involved in some groundbreaking activities.

After recording an album do you still spend time together or you try to avoid each other?
Yes, we spend time together even when we’re not working on anything Unzyme-related. For example, we explore abandoned buildings. That’s actually how Ville and I met originally, through a Finnish Urban Exploration forum. We also do some normal things, such as watch movies, play games and throw parties.

What would you do if you were not in Unzyme?
I would probably concentrate more on photography. I used to be a very active photographer, but recently music has taken over. I still take photographs every now and then, but considerably less than before the band.

Are you getting along with other bands or you’re not friends at all?
I get along pretty well with everyone. I’m not too territorial. I guess it’s a skill that I’ve learned as an entrepreneur. I always try to make friends with other bands, but sometimes when you’re on a gig, you need to concentrate on your own thing, and there isn’t much room for social chatter. So it’s not always the best environment to get to know other people. I do reach out for other bands, and some are quite receptive for the ideas I throw to them. I don’t like to think about other bands as competitors, they’re more like friends to work with.

I always wanted to be like…
MacGyver. And I’ve pretty much succeeded. I don’t drink any alcohol, I hate guns, I always carry a Swiss Army Knife with me and whenever I get locked in a room by the bad guys, I try to break free by making use of the stuff that I find around me.
Brainforest-Album-Cover
Your debut album “Brainforest” was released in 2010. How long were you working on this album and what did you expect from the audience after publishing it?
It took a bit over two years to finish that album. One or two songs were from 2008, but others were composed between 2009 and 2010. At the time we didn’t really know what to expect. We only had a tremendous urge to get it out, to take the first step. We got some positive reviews and felt like it was a success. Our audience in 2010 was probably about 2% of what it is now, so back then we didn’t get too much feedback from the listeners. But as time went by, we got more and more attention. It was really comforting to hear that people were actually listening to our music, and that they actually thought that it was pretty unique and enjoyable. As an artist, you’re eternally in doubt of the quality of your art. Even when somebody says that it’s “good”, let alone “awesome”, you don’t necessarily believe it. You only think about how it could be done better. Now, at the brink of the second album, we have bigger expectations and more internal pressure than before.

You are currently working on your second album. Is it going to be similar to “Brainforest” or you want to create something different?
In a way it will be similar. But there’s no point in making “Brainforest II”. I read from a Röyksopp interview a few years ago that their albums are more about moving sideways than moving forward. Reading that was really a key moment on my artistic career, and I wanted to embrace that philosophy. Moving forward could mean to create an improved version of the previous album, which could work once, but repeating that same recipe eventually kills the band. Of course I want to create a better album than Brainforest, but at the same time take a slightly different approach. It’s very important to keep on trying different things, because otherwise the music could very easily become boring and predictable, even though the production quality would be great. It’s more important to have good ideas in a raw format than bad ideas in an advanced format. The new songs are poppy and melody-driven, just like before.
Lyrics are an essential piece of this album as well. You’ll hear lots of stories that I believe are worth telling. Our second album will be more concentrated than the first one, meaning less simultaneous layers of sound, and less competition between elements. Now we will give more room for each element, and concentrate on each moment as much as possible. There will be a bit more space and air in the overall soundscape. A few classical instruments have also found their way to our tracks, but fear not – biomechanical pop does require a decent amount of electronics as well. And I believe that I will always do songs that sound like Unzyme, regardless of how hard I try not to. I think there is still more work to be done on defining the sound than trying to break free from it, and I very much like the thing we’ve got going on here.

You produce your music by yourself. Is it hard nowadays for you to publish new music or you just play with new technologies?
Publishing must is the easiest part of music making these days. There are so many good channels to choose from. The hardest part is getting noticed and heard. Luckily I have a lot of internet marketing experience, which really helps, but one also needs to know the right people and also have a decent bit of luck. We are very technologically oriented, and enjoy fiddling around with knobs and buttons. We’ve spent endless hours with music programs and software synthesizers, just trying achieve the coolest sound combinations. We’re very much at home with all those devices, and it’s quite rewarding to play with weird biomechanical sounds and end up with a song. Composing itself is not that difficult – I’ve always been very productive, but it’s hard to choose the right songs to concentrate on. Even now there are about 20 songs competing for a place on our next album, and I’m constantly composing more. There are already too many tracks out there, so releasing a lot of new tracks doesn’t really make sense, but releasing meaningful tracks, even if it means releasing less, is always important.

What’s your biggest inspiration when you create music? Do you have or need any?
Photosynthesis is pretty inspiring. As well as science and science fiction in general. When I create songs, I don’t look for inspiration in other songs that much. It’s more like getting excited about a conversation, an event, a movie, a photo or something totally unrelated to music. I don’t want to copy something I like. Currently I’ve been very much inspired by Infected Mushroom. Usually, when it seems that a song is not progressing anywhere, I listen to some of my favorite bands and try to learn from them.

Did you have any hilarious situations during the recording session or gig?
Once, when we were going to get our new hazmat suits from the mail, the RPE (Refraction Particle Emitter) started to send some smoke signals. At the time, RPE was kept in a warehouse, because it was scheduled for maintenance later that day. There was a scout boy meeting at a nearby forest, and they saw the smoke signals. “S.0.S.”, it said. The scout boys entered the workshop and saw the RPE puffing away. Frightened by the hideous device, they left the building in terror. We just got back to the warehouse when we saw the scout boys running away. Later we figured that this must have been RPE’s attempt to escape. We admit that the RPE had been extensively used in recent experiments, and it was running at extreme temperatures (with the risk of a meltdown). Worried about the wellbeing of the RPE, we wired our computers to the core and started negotiating for better working conditions. Now it is happy to work with us again, but we do have to pay a dear price to keep the bastard running steadily. One has got to remember the cyborg rights, though.

With who you’d like to collaborate?
I could list like a hundred people or bands I would like to collaborate with. The greatest band of all time is The Pet Shop Boys, so working with them would be like a dream come true. Apoptygma Berzerk would also be one of the most interesting bands to collaborate with. Korn did a pretty good job with various producers on their album “The Path of Totality”, so maybe a rock band collaboration would be prolific. Moving even further away from the music field, I would like to collaborate with other science organizations and cybernetic engineers. The simplest form of collaboration could be to make a music video, but it could just as well be an experiment of sorts.
Labrakuva 2_pieni
What are your plans about becoming popular? Do you plan to become popular only in Scandinavia or do you want to be recognizable around the world?
I think that this tiny world isn’t big enough for us, or even this galaxy. Being popular in this universe might just do. Scandinavia is only the beginning. Jyväskylä is a good base of operations.

I never…
– Drink any alcohol, smoke cigarettes or use drugs.
– Wear clothes of any other color than green (except for the lab coat).
– Give up

What are your plans for the nearest future except for the second album?
We’re currently looking for technologies to remote control one of our computers. The goal is to be able to remotely switch between stage cameras while streaming an Unzyme experiment live video to the web. And we’re working hard to arrange more shows in European countries.

You have some plans about second release. Tell us something about “the tube” project.
Yes, we have some special plans for the second album. It will be released in a couple of different formats. Physical record sales aren’t looking that good these days, so we decided to think about new ways of packaging music. A test tube with some cybernetic fluids in it sounded like it would be a cool thing to have on your, umm, record shelf, so we decided to try it. We still haven’t decided to produce a big edition of those, and are not sure of the accompanying products, but you can follow our thinking process via social media sites.

In previous life I was…
An alien.

How about the gigs? When and where can people see you this year?
Currently we’re aiming to get to play in Poland, Germany, Hungary, Macedonia and Albania to name a few. Our next experiment will be conducted in Turku, Finland, 7th of September, with our friends from Apples of Idun. The show will be streamed live to the web via our Ustream channel at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/unzyme-experiments

And the last one: Any last words for the readers of Black Water website?
Independent writer’s work takes a lot of time and commitment. We really appreciate that kind of unselfish thinking. Show your appreciation by reading great interviews, and tell the Black Water people who you’d like to see interviewed.

Thank you for your time. Keep on experimenting in the Lab!

blooper

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