(We present the interview by Latvian music writer Evita Hofmane with Jani Koskela, the man behind the Finnish band Horizon of the Mute.)
Finnish one-man doom/industrial metal act Horizon of the Mute has announced more live dates in support to its debut album release Trobar Clus. These shows will take place in Baltic countries, Romania, Slovakia, and France in May. Trobar Clus was released digitally and on CD in November 2016 by Death Shrine Offerings.
I had a chat with Jani Koskela (also or previously of Cynabare Urne, 0xíst, Let Me Dream, and Saattue) to hear all about his new project.
What’s the deeper meaning behind the band’s name?
Horizon of the Mute refers to a horizon in which something unknown, unexplored, and timeless awaits and of which an appealing presence makes you mesmerized, speechless — mute.
Horizon of the Mute is your first solo project. Why did you make that decision? Is it easier to do everything on your own?
It is true that I am the sole member of Horizon of the Mute, both on record and live, but I feel that Horizon of the Mute is a much greater essence than just a solo project. To me it is an equal entity compared to any of my past and present bands.
A lot of times in the past I felt that many of my bands worked too slow and inefficiently. While a band line-up has great and many advantages, with Horizon of the Mute I am able to work in its full potential, whenever I personally have time to do so.
So far everything has been very easy and fluent. It might be due to the fact that Horizon of the Mute is a new, different, and therefore very inspiring concept to me. I made two individual releases in 2016 and it is very much possible that in 2017 I will make two more.
What mood are you in when you are creating music? Is solitude something that you require for writing songs?
I am certainly alone when I write music for Horizon of the Mute. Even with the band line-ups you often write music alone. Solitude offers a place to concentrate on what you are doing. Other people might find other ways of working more inspiring, but I certainly need solitude to make the best out of myself. I am the worst jam musician that you could team up with.
Could you describe your creative process based on a piece or album that’s particularly dear to you? What do you start with, and how do you go about shaping these ideas?
I guess I will have to say that “Black Bleak Nebula” from the first Horizon of the Mute EP would be the dearest; in the sense that it got me on the right path and proved to me that I could perform music alone. I had been trying different sorts of ideas and arrangements for a year or two, but it is this one particular song that opened a new gateway into the horizon. Since then all of the material has been very dear to me.
I usually start by programming midi instruments. Find the right sounds, atmosphere, and then write further and experiment with the arrangements. After that I will arrange guitars lines, write lyrics, and do the vocals. Since the Trobar Clus sessions I have also done traditional rehearsal sessions before deciding on what sort of a version I should record for a release.
Can you tell us about the recording process of the new album Trobar Clus?
I started working on it as soon as I had released the first EP in the spring of 2016. At that point I had already figured out that I could perform Horizon of the Mute in a live environment. This influenced me to do live rehearsals during the pre-production process of the songs. After I had come up with final versions of the songs I just simply recorded all guitars and vocals at my rehearsal studio and did the mix at home.
The amount of different try-out mixes that I do is quite insane. Therefore it is a great advantage that I can do the whole process with my own equipment and in my own space. Renting a studio would make me bankrupt in a split second.
How about the lyrical and thematic sphere of this recording? What are the reactions in general towards the album?
Trobar Clus refers to an obscure form of 12th century poetry and troubadour style, originally developed by Gascon poet-musician Marcabru. I discovered this hidden and secret style when I was learning about the roots and history of troubadours. I felt that Trobar Clus was something which I could relate to; not by directly following its origins, but doing it in my own way. Therefore I decided to build the whole album concept around the Trobar Clus theme.
The reactions have been good. Nothing huge, but then again it is Trobar Clus — a performance made for a “closed form”, to be found by those who seek to find it.
What’s going on with your other projects?
My death metal band Cynabare Urne is getting ready to re-release its first two-song recording Fire the Torches in 10” vinyl form on Helter Skelter / Regain Records. We have also recorded a 4-track 12” vinyl EP recording. We are expecting to release more information on that soon.
Saattue released its third album Kärsimysnäytelmä last year on Endless Desperation Productions. We might do some shows in Finland, or we might not.
Do you have a musical vision that you haven’t been able to realize for technical or financial reasons – or an idea of what music itself could be beyond its current form?
Hmm…Yeah. Since I am into traditional gothic rock and metal – I would love to do one REAL gothic metal album. Only very few people have succeeded on it in the past. A lot of people have failed while trying, including myself. Unfortunately, I lack the technical ability in some of the required fields to do it on my own.
What does the rest of 2017 have in store?
Horizon of the Mute is about to release a digital Transformation Process EP, which will include re-arranged Horizon of the Mute versions of two songs that I have written in the past for my previous bands. One of the tracks was originally written for 0xist in 2009 and the other one for Vergil in 2007.
In May Horizon of the Mute will be touring in Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Romania, and France. After this tour I will start to rehearse and record Horizon of the Mute’s second album. I have it pretty much written by now. I believe that in the summer we can also start rehearsing for Cynabare Urne’s first album release.