Wikinews interviews Finnish 'Rock 'N' Troll' band Kivimetsän Druidi
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Kivimetsän Druidi is a Finnish female-fronted band formed in 2002 whose music is a fusion of symphonic, fantasy and folk metal, which the band's website dubs 'Rock 'N' Troll'.
Brothers Joni and Antti Koskinen formed the band in Kouvola with Joni playing guitar and growling while Antti played keyboard and sings backing vocals. They joined up with a female lead vocalist, lead and bass guitarists and a drummer. The brothers write the songs between them, with Antti doing the main body and Joni writing the lyrics.
Together the band recorded and released three demos and an EP, all released independently, across 2002-6. Across October and November 2007 they gained international attention by supporting well-known Finnish folk metal band Korpiklaani across a large European tour.
On June 6 this year Kivimetsän Druidi was announced to have been signed to Century Media Records in a global deal. The band have now entered Noice Camp studio in Turku to record their debut, with a planned release date in October. This summer the only performances will be at a handful of festivals while the band works on their new album, but after that is released a major tour will follow to support it. The band say they are "extremely pleased" with the deal.
Wikinews was able to discuss these events and what the future holds for the band with the Koskinen brothers and female vocalist Leeni-Maria Hovila, who also writes the vocal melodies in an exclusive interview, which is published below for the first time.
Antti and Joni Koskinen
- What drove you to form up the band?
- Joni: We had been playing music something like one year before we came up with the idea to start doing fantasy metal. Moonsorrow’s second album “Voimasta ja Kunniasta” (“Of Strength and Honour”) was the one we were heavily listening that time and we wanted to play something similar to them. At first it was just a two-man-project of ours, but soon we got opportunity to take part in to local band contest and we decided to form a real band.
- Antti: We were jamming with my brother Joni in our parents garage and played some folkish stuff after getting inspired on Moonsorrows album “Voimasta ja Kunniasta“. Then we accidentally composed main idea of our first song “Viimeinen Peikkokuningas” (The Last Trollking).
- We made more songs and after a few months there came an opportunity take part of local garagebandcontest. We wanted to join in, but didn’t have enough memebers, so we called to some of our friends and that’s when it all started.
- The name, Kivimetsän Druidi, how did you decide upon that?
- Joni: Heh, you could say that it’s quite unusual name for a metal band. Back then when we made our first song and downloaded it to the Finnish mp3-site we needed a name for our project. I was in sort of a hurry and Antti asked me what he should put there. I was writing a fantasy novel at that time and this, even a bit silly name just popped out in my head. We decided to change it afterwards, but... eh... here we are. ☺ In English “Kivimetsän Druidi” would mean “Druid of the Stoneforest.”
- Antti: After composing and recording the first song we decided to upload it to mikseri.net (Finnish site where people can upload their own songs) and we, of course, needed name for the project. Joni just shouted “Kivimetsän Druidi” (The Druid of The Stoneforest) as a joke. I laughed and added it. We were supposed to change it later, but here we are.
- What sort of things do you sing about?
- Joni: The lyrics of our first songs are stories from the imaginary fantasy world I created for the novel back then, but as our music has “evolved” so has our lyrics. The most recent songs are about battles, honour and one’s final faith. I’ve still tried to keep the fantasy aspect in those lyrics, though.
- With music sung mainly in Finnish, do you worry that some international fans may be put off?
- Joni: I think it doesn’t really matter at all that we sing mainly in Finnish. Nowadays there’s more and more bands that choose to sing with their native language instead of English and it seems that many of those bands are getting more and more popular. Finnish is quite mystical and fascinating language, so I guess some foreign people like it even more that we sing in Finnish. We are proud that we are granted this opportunity to make our language more known outside Finland.
- Antti: No, not at all. We have noticed that international fans, especially in Central Europe really enjoy Finnish language. They have said that it sounds really atmospheric and reminds them of Tolkiens elf-language. So it’s not any problem at all, I think!
- Will there be more music with lyrics in English or another language in light of your new worldwide deal, or are you sticking to your native language?
- Joni: I think we’ll keep Finnish as our main language, but there will be more songs in English in the future. I’d say maybe seven out of ten songs will have lyrics in Finnish and the rest would be in English then. It really depends pretty much of my mood. If I feel like writing in English I write in English and vice versa. Sometimes there’s periods when the poetrical river for Finnish is all dry and I’m forced to write the lyrics in English, hah hah. I think that was the main reason I wrote the first English lyrics. ☺
- Antti: In the future we will make songs both in English and Finnish.
- Folk metal has exploded in popularity over the last decade, with Turisas, Finntroll and Korpiklaani among others rising to prominence. What do you have to offer that other bands don't?
- Joni: The most visible difference compared to these bands you mentioned is that we have a female singer. Then what makes us different compared to all these female fronted metal bands which are quite many as well these days? Well, we are heavy and will be even more heavier in the future. We are not in to this pop-metal thing and we like to keep our music as heavy as possible. Back in to your original question, we play fantasy metal, in which we combine different styles of metal into a mix that’s never heard before. Sure, some of our songs may sound like something that’s made already, but you can find such songs from every band. We combine black and thrash metal with folk and Celtic melodies and spice it all up with epic and symphonic atmosphere. Then we add beautiful female vocals, destructive growls and mystical Finnish language. There you have a genre called Kivimetsän Druidi.
- Antti: Well these bands have each quite straight own style and line what they do, but we like to include many different things in our music, but still keep the folk thing in it. For example mixing blackmetal riffs, blastbeat and banjo is not a problem for us.. :) That’s why we call our music fantasymetal. We also have a classically trained female singer in the band.
- Speaking of Korpiklaani, you did a major tour with them recently. What was that like as an experience?
- Joni: It was an amazing experience and we can’t thank Klaani guys enough for granting that opportunity for us. It was indispensable possibility to see what’s it like out there on the “big fields.” I can honestly say that it made us grow up as a band and we saw that people really like what we are doing. There was not one gig where people didn’t welcome us warmly.
- Antti: It was totally awesome. It was really a dream come true! 100% best moments of my life! We all got really much experience and progressed as musicians.
- Will there be international re-releases of your previous independent stuff? Would you like to see that?
- Joni: Haven’t thought about that really yet, but now that I think of it I’m not so sure if that’s a good idea. Sure, some fans would love to get their hands on our earlier stuff, but... I think I’d like those recordings to remain as our past and there’s no need to re-release them.
- Antti: In my opinion they will stay as they are. Demos and eps! The future collectors’ treasures!
- Will the new album be all new material, or will there be some of your previous stuff there as well?
- Joni: As you might have noticed we went into studio in the beginning of June. That is the main reason why there will be quite many of our previous songs on the album, but also some new material. Personally I prefer it that way because writing seven new songs in one month wouldn’t give out the picture what we really are at the moment.
- Antti: There will be new material, of course and also some old songs!
- What can we expect from the new album?
- Joni: As mentioned before you can expect some new stuff and some old stuff. All of them are – of course – rerecorded and sang by our new vocalist, Leeni-Maria. Some songs are a bit modified too, but if you’re an old fan you can expect the album sound the Kivimetsän Druidi you know. For new fans and listeners then: Well, I think I described our music earlier already, but mention something here, there will be crushing riffs, beautiful and melodic paths, something darker than night and of course lots of fun.
- Antti: Three words: Symphonic, brutal and folkish.
- A common complaint is about illegal downloading "killing" the industry. What's your opinion on that?
- Joni: I don’t think that way at all. Those people who download a lot, would they buy a CD if they couldn’t download it? I think they wouldn’t. It’s one way of making the band popular and known to more people. We trust that true fans, who really like the music, will buy the CD even if they’ve first downloaded it.
- Antti: It’s two sided thing. Many people download perhaps one album from the band illegally first. Listens it trough and gets exited. Then they buy the original album and tell their friends about it and they may do the same thing. Then there are people who download all their music and never buy albums from the stores. So I wouldn’t immediately say that it kills industry because there are millions of people who want their music with original cd and booklets.
- What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into the music industry?
- Joni: Always remember to believe in yourself and what you’re doing. If you don’t have faith in yourself, no one will notice you. Keep going after set backs and stay true to your chosen style as long as it feels good for yourself. Use all the possible opportunities you’re given and seek out the ways to make the band known to many. Oh, and always remember to have fun. ☺
- Antti: Just do the thing you do and believe in and do not rush with it! Patience will be rewarded. Listen to advices, but don’t be blind!
- Who are your influences as an artist?
- Joni: As for the many others of my age Metallica was the kick that I needed to start playing guitar. Since then I’ve adored Hetfield and I guess you could say he’s my idol. For my music writing then, I guess the music of the bands like Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, Ensiferum, Moonsorrow, Turisas and Finntroll have huge affect on it.
- Antti: Music of Moonsorrow, Ensiferum and Finntroll. That’s my top 3. But I also listen to, for example, instrumental Celtic music.
- Is there anything else you'd like to say to any fans reading this now?
- Joni: Visit our website and our MySpace. We hope to see you all at gigs soon and always remember to Rock ’n’ Troll!! Cheers!
- Antti: When you’ll hear our debut album your ears will drop!! We love ya!!
- You recently came to the band from Exsecratus in March. What was it like, entering a new, established band?
- Leeni-Maria: This band works quite smoothly so there were not much practical matters but I was terrified they might not accept me.
- You've also sung for Swallow the Sun on the album "Hope". What was it like working with such a major band?
- Leeni-Maria: I was thrilled of the chance, since I already was a fan when they contacted me. Other than that, it was like any other studio session, making up harmonies as we go, cursing Aleksi’s little surprises in the keyboard tracks.
- Why did you want to join Kivimetsän Druidi?
- Leeni-Maria: I am easy to arouse. :-D To tell you the truth, since first song ever that I heard was “Blacksmith” from the Myspace- site, I was slightly put off by the intro. My reaction might have been something along the line “oh dear, not this shit”. But I was turned around as soon as the first verse. Also the guys impressed me much as devoted and sharp players who know their stuff well.
- Is it difficult being the only woman in a men's band?
- Leeni-Maria: Nope. Being in a band is quite the same heaven and hell be there other women or not - thus have I seen with Exsecratus. It is all up to whether the people involved are mature individuals or not.
- Although sometimes it feels as if some guys were a little shy of me- hope he doesn’t mind me telling this, but our manager of affairs of Europe (didn’t that sound cool!) almost swallowed his tongue when he happened to walk to the backstage in Leipzig while I was changing - I don’t expect to get privacy and I don’t need it, au contraire, I do need someone with keen fingers to do the lacing (though I wish the guys could make knots that can be opened as well).
- So, no, it’s not difficult for me. It seems difficult for other people.
- Female fronted metal bands have become very popular, but it's still a fairly new thing with folk metal. Do you think that's set to change?
- Leeni-Maria: I think it is inevitable that it will.
- What would you say to convince someone unfamiliar with the band to buy your music?
- Leeni-Maria: If you enjoy the genre, this is definitely a catch.
- Who are your influences as an artist?
- Leeni-Maria: My teachers of singing, acting and dancing. Singer Dawn Upshaw, also Sarah Brightman - though I may have grown out of her work a little. :-\ Considering metal music, I admire greatly Floor Jansen’s work in Invisible Circles. And since this is not just about the vocals, I must also mention the tribal and dark fusion-style dancer Ariellah - she has the greatest educational DVDs. :-D
- Is there anything else you'd like to say to any fans reading this now?
- Leeni-Maria: Modest on the booze and high on the sweet lovin’.
- Rock’n Troll!
- "KIVIMETSÄN DRUIDI Signs With CENTURY MEDIA RECORDS" — Blabbermouth.net, June 6, 2008