Lauri Ylönen: “Behind the Scenes” [Metropoli]


Picture by Ilkka Hämäläinen

Here is a very long interview with Lauri telling about his life, career and The Rasmus and solo stuff. Translation can be found below.

Lauri Ylönen has his success as solist of The Rasmus when was 15 years old. He decided to end school because he wanted to be fully dedicated to music, with which he has spent until now 17 years.

Rasmus already grew early as the favorite of Finns, but only in 2003 released Dead Letters album brought to the band an international breakthrough. The LP also included the very popular In The Shadows song. The album is even now the best sold Finnish album outside Finland. The Rasmus has gathered a number of awards during their career, winning among others a few times the best band EMMA-award.

This year Lauri Ylönen released his first solo album, New World. The sounding of the soloalbum has changed much to the style of The Rasmus in a more electronic way. Heavy single has already been played on several radio stations. Also the solo career of the man seems to be having an international success, the album being released in a number of other countries as well. The next single of the album will be In The City for which the man was just in USA to shoot a new music video.

The first steps of music

“I was born in Helsinki. When I was 3 years old we have moved to the suburban area of the city, to Suutarila where I have spent all my childhood. Playing of the music have started already when I was 5. Being on the steps of my bigger sister my parents forced me to piano lessons. It wasn’t anything special, it was normal part of my life just like washing teeth in the evening. I remember when in primary school everyone has such nice hobbies like football or hockey. I’m however grateful that I ‘met’ with music at such an early age. I played piano altogether for 5 years, after which I changed to classical guitar. Only now I started to see the point in learning it, because with guitar you could make great riffs and play songs which myself was listening at. I also had a very inspiring guitar teacher, with whom we played all kind of rock songs in secret. Guitar was a very complex instrument which in spite woke up my interest to music. During those times I already did some songs. In primary school I was also playing drums in a school band, but it ended soon.

Singing only came in picture in the secondary school. Someone had to sing and it was a lottery who will stand at the microphone. When I first time heard my voice in the microphone it sounded so strange, but it started to grow on me. Own voice is somehow more personal instrument than guitar or drums, which you can buy from the store.

I had all kind of bands starting from primary school, where we mainly played cover-songs. Rasmus was founded in secondary school and it was the only band of mine I had during my career. All Rasmus members were in the same school and the thing started off from really friendship. We played with Pauli both guitars, and we taught each other guitar riffs. Eero was with me in the same group from the 3rd year, and we also got our drummer Janne Heiskanen. We only had fun playing in the school and in the cellar of my parents.”

Drummer of the band and change of the name

“Rasmus changed drummers 2 times. The first drummer change happened already before the first album. On the first three albums Janne Heiskanen played it, but he left the band. He wanted some holiday and decided to leave to Thailand for a longer time. We were however working hard and there was the shining of the world light dream. Being on a holiday wasn’t at that time something that belonged to the picture. Passion we needed which is the main start point of a band. Everything had to be ready just in time. It was maddening that I gave in everything in the play, even left school because of the band. There was however a good guy around, Aki Hakala, who was involved in the band after the millennium years. He was known beforehand, Aki was our merch guy on the tour. He had already some touring experience and we knew we can count on him. So it was a really easy choice. Around that time ended also our contract with Warner and we went to a Swedish one Playground Music. We changed the name with a The, because there was a DJ who used already this name. Part of our fans even went to his gigs in London, so because of this mess up we decided for the change.”

Popularity came as surprise

“In The Shadows song received popularity was at first hard to perceive and only later I could handle it being at such a big hit. The song came back at different places along like in Taiwan and New Zealand. However we took one country only at time. First we released it in Finland, after which in line were Sweden, Norway and Denmark. And then the thing went on by itself. Promotion was made in Germany, England and also USA. By now we have been at lots of places with the band. We counted that as of countries were above 50. We have traveled along the globe’s all sort of places from America to India and even to the most remote places of Russia. The Rasmus however have not performed yet in Australia. Otherwise, not even myself have been there ever. The living and the culture seem to be fascinating and after how I was told going there has the class of its own.”

Featurings

Before the solo material Lauri Ylönen’s voice could be heard in Apocalyptica’s Life Burns and Bittersweet, and also Kwan’s Chillin’ At The Grotto songs.

“I have got accustomed quite reluctantly for other songs. I don’t actually belong to such musician-group, who easily can perform in other projects. I tried to keep my concentration on my own band and take the best of it. Now I try maybe to change myself in this too. The bigger The Rasmus grew, the more serious and dangerous I changed into. I try with my solo thing a bit lighter and maybe a bit more like humorous too. Not always have to be so serious. Life is seemingly easier if you make it so yourself.”

Being solo was liberating

“Working as a solo artist was liberating and started off from the idea of the moment. There is not so many expectations from it than from The Rasmus. Despite that I made this quite big, it still feels pretty small thing, closer to the ground like cellar-band thing. It was a very welcomed change. During these times I listened to more electronic music, bands like Daft Punk and Prodigy. I’ve got a little tired of the distortion guitars and all that that belonged to rock music. I wanted to try something new which I haven’t done so far and didn’t know much about.

Playing with the electro music and buttons caused surprising moments and challenges, which also gave new energy. I’m not anymore that ossified. I had the idea of the song for long, that it would be nice to listen to something while driving during the night. It gave to the project already a world of sounds. I went to Pauli’s in Singapore to tell about the idea which we had to work on later. Some of these solo things are actually his stuffs. From them had to develop at first the The Rasmus songs, but because we made them entirely on synthesizer and computer it was pretty hard to realize them with a rock band. And the same, would have killed all our visions. The career of The Rasmus will continue without being disturbed by my solo career. Just in the morning I have met with Aki and we agreed that in the summer we start making new songs for The Rasmus. For the release of the new album there is no schedule yet, first we have to have good songs in the pocket.”

Artistic approach

“The making of a song is always a mixed process. Making the solo project I had only small ideas. I haven’t tried to make out whole songs which have a huge story behind. They all left from taking up key words and built the elements around them. I have managed therefore to make it more artistic even the making of, which was actually really fun. I tried to make also more minimalistic material, where there is space to breath. Songs don’t have to explode, they just have to work good. The making of pop songs is however already in my veins.

With The Rasmus we always tried to make songs that are ‘colorful’, big. The band already has 7 albums behind and somehow it feels like all the ideas ended. It was refreshing to make something new/fresh using new methods. Solo stuff will come to be continued later. It was good when we cleared that we keep The Rasmus and poprock and I come to demonstrate my artistic side in a solo project. I was a bit bitter about the solo project change. For sure I will make a second solo album and it already has some done ideas.”

Gigs

“During summer I have some festivals in Finland, which may be followed by a small touring. And then we go on with it outside Finland and we make some kind of European tour. 10-15 countries are at least that notified us on wanting to release the album, but only sometime in autumn. New World was made through my own record label, which brought with it a few more challenges.

At live gigs will come together two more guys. Ilkka Hämäläinen who is DJ and also played saxophone at previous gigs of Rasmus. Antti Eräkangas have been playing guitar in Kwan. He is also a very special studio person and was with me putting the album together. At gigs surely will come something humorous as well and might be guests that will give to the sound more look. Singers might as well come to stage some more. Also the songs will sound much more different than they do on the album. All living, they are still under construction, we just started the rehearsals.

For the performances we made two huge iron cages, but they sure are 200kilos, and the moving of them is pretty hard. We’ll see where they fit in. The visual part of the solo stuff is for sure more different from The Rasmus. I don’t really jump around the stage, but be more static. For sure also some light show will be part of every performance.”

Promised remixes of the songs

“From the new songs it’s easier to make own version which fits the nature of the project. When The Rasmus songs needed to be remixed they easily became just weird. From the solo material this just works good. They can be a bit brighter and experimental, but it’s no need they would sound like the original.”

Musicvideos

“I was just shooting video in Las Vegas and Los Angeles for In The City song. It was a really funny trip. I’m the one responsible for In The City and Heavy videos ideas and content. The recently shoot video is actually a continuation of the previous video, so the adventures of Amanda puppet now continue in the USA. We tried to get an unreal feeling for it. I can’t really tell the exact date of the release of the video. When we get it done, then it will get a premier sometimes at the end of May, beginning of June.”

Fatherhood changes the world of the thoughts

“Becoming a father has changed me a lot. I have a great dad and I would like to offer this chance also to my son. It means only that I cannot live so selfish as I did in the past 30 years. Getting old is in a way good, because I’ve got enough to rampage and see the life. After getting a child it felt only natural to take everything in a more relaxed way. It’s amazing that I have a small guy who is just starting to try the world. Besides all these my eyes opened up on many things in another light. Can notice small things and can value them, and those that I always taken for granted.

Some people make a big deal out of making money. If you make a lot of work, usually that is paid good. Now I have taken a few years quite relaxed and just played with my child. Really, those incomes just lowered to a more normal level (closer to the normal people wages). I haven’t been then this happy, although I have done about 20 hours of work a day, even if I got money for it. I’ve enjoyed a lot more family-life, for which there is no payment. All kind of stages of life come and go, and it’s pleasure to testify them.”

Feathers as a trademark

“I don’t really know why earlier I started putting feathers in my hair. I used sometimes white feathers when I had blonde hair. There should be some freedom symbolic stuff and suspicion in it. I get feathers in letters from all parts of the world. Another British guy have registered an own star to me, which is most probably one of the weirdest presents I have ever got. So somewhere in the universe there is a star that is called Lauri Ylönen.”

New Inroads

After the release of a solo album it’s a must to wonder about what else we can get from the Lauri Ylönen idea factory.

“I always make things at full, so I don’t have the capacity to fumble also several other things. Then I cannot make things stop just in my pocket. It has been a lot of work when I did everything for the album by myself. I cannot handle this anymore.”

Plans of the future?

“I was thinking to start with the grill season and have a sunny summer, swim a lot in the sea while the water is suitable for swimming.”

Words for the readers

“Keep it unreal!”

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2 comments on “Lauri Ylönen: “Behind the Scenes” [Metropoli]”

  1. […] made by Metropoli, video that is connected to the paper version interview published/translated here. Thanks for the notification to Oana/PMMP&TheRasmus […]

  2. nice blog and Lauri has so talent and good voice…
    continue the good job guys!!!!


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