photo by Photo by Jami Kallioväli
(In this new interview Comrade Aleks spoke with three members of the Finnish band Yawning Void, whose music is black/death/doom from the depths of the void….)
Our constant readers may remember the interview we did with the crushing death doom band Solothus from Suomi. We had a nice chat in December, and now their new album Realm Of Ash And Blood has been announced by 20 Buck Spin Records — it will be out on March 27th — don’t miss it!
So if you remember, we finished that interview on a bit of an awkward note about Yawning Void, a kind of blackened death doom outfit from Turku that includes three of Solothus’ members. I wish I could announce the release date of their new album, but true to say it’s blurred, though we had a great conversation with TKI (drums, keyboards), KTK (vocals), and VTK (guitars). Well, Yawning Void’s debut Streams Within was actually officially released by Weird Truth Productions only in October 2019, so it’s still an actual thing – grim, thick, and lightless as our miserable world which “keeps spinning towards unknown paths of doom”.
Hail Yawning Void! Where to start… Alright, the band mostly consists of Solothus and Sepulchral Curse members. What drove you to start another band? It looks like a side project because of your occupation with other bands.
TKI: Greetings to you and thank you for this interview. Originally Yawning Void was supposed to be my death doom solo act. I started to compose for this project back in 2013 or so and I even finished two songs, which are now included on our debut Streams Within today. For some unknown reason I ditched the project for about a year, but then out of nowhere appropriate material started to flow out of me again. I decided to ask KTK if he would do session vocals for me but he persuaded me to form a full band and here we are now, as a six-headed entity. For most of the people it seems that we are a side project as we really don’t make a fuss about Yawning Void, but believe me that is not the case. We work behind the shadows and in the darkest corners. Like the hungry wolves slowly surrounding their prey…
I know that despite having a few common members with Solothus you have a different approach toward songwriting in Yawning Void. Is it your personal brain-child?
TKI: Yes I have written our songs from the very beginning to the end. That being said, I leave some room for the others to leave their own mark; JTR is free to make rearrangements to the drum patterns, and VTK and ANL compose their solos, expand the melodies, and so on. IOK is a phenomenal bassist and more than able to complement my visions considering the bass lines. KTK arranges the vocals as he wants. All of them are great artists and I trust them 100%, no questions asked. Considering the songwriting; the main difference is that I’ve composed some of the parts and lines with synths. In fact our new and upcoming material is totally written with synths, so you will definitely hear a huge evolutional step in our craft.
photo by Serena Solomon
Do you really need it? A huge evolutionary step? I’m meaning that Streams Within is good in itself. Which of its aspects would you like to improve?
TKI: Well, we do not need evolution per se. It is something that happens and comes automatically. Or that is how it is supposed to happen, I think. Forcing evolution and change in sound most of the time leads to bad decisions and music that feels dishonest. That being said I’m very well aware why the change happened in our music and it is simply because I started writing and composing with my synths. When I’m playing synths it feels like I have wider sight and understanding about what I’m doing or what I’m trying to achieve. With guitar this process is much more linear. Don’t really know why. Maybe because I suck att playing guitar, to be brutally honest.
If we are talking about working in the studio you can always do something better. Be it the production, playing your instrument, etc. There is no such thing as a perfect record. Except Seventh Son of Seventh Son, hah. You can always improve something. As this one hardcore band once said, “satisfaction is the death of desire”.
What kind of atmosphere did you aim to evoke through Yawning Void? And why didn’t you try to fulfill it through Solothus?
KTK: I think there really was no certain aim to evoke any certain kind of atmosphere. It just happens through what TKI writes. If I am to write the lyrics for a song for Yawning Void the idea comes to me almost instantly when I hear the song. Lyrics which I have written for Yawning Void differ greatly from the ones I write for Solothus. With Solothus the lyrics all tell certain kinds of story and are heavily influenced by literature and culture. For Yawning Void my inspiration comes more from social and environmental issues.
VTK: The biggest and most obvious one is the utilization of keyboards, which creates a more eerie ambience. Solothus is more about the riffs and building the songs around them, and in that vision there is no room for other than guitars and bass.
Yawning Void – Ouroborean
Well, I know that things may look different from within, but from the outside Finland leaves an impression of a highly comfortable country. Especially when you cross the Russian border from the polluted Svetlogorsk side. What disturbs you, considering the environment? You have endless forests (and a thousand lakes) to escape from society.
KTK: I think that issues the world is seeing is the endless greed and the disregard it gives towards nature. Nature needs to bow before the industrialism. At the moment things are indeed nice and comfortable in Finland, but will it last if the world keeps spinning towards unknown paths of doom? Time will tell, but the gut feelings I have are not good at all.
Your debut album Streams Within is a pretty complex piece of extreme depressive doom-based metal. How long did you polish the compositions before entering the studio?
TKI: I can’t really recall how much time we spent in our rehearsal chamber repeating the songs over and over again, but what you can hear on the album itself is mostly the same as what happened during our rehearsals. Excluding the synth lines; I had some arrangements written beforehand but I’d say that half of them were improvised while recording. For example the piano on the intro of “Aequor” is nothing but one-shot improvisation. I believe that KTK handled his vocal duties in the same manner as I did my synths.
TKI, does the piano really obtain such power over you so you may create a composition from just its tune? Do you have classic musical education?
TKI: As a reference to my earlier answer, I’m more capable playing, composing, and improvising with synths than any other melodic instrument. Although you can play almost anything with a piano and it sounds beautiful. Besides that, if the song is already top-quality it is not that hard to improvise something worthwhile. If you are a good musician that is.
Sadly, I don’t have any musical education. When I was still a child my parents asked me what I’d like to have as a hobby and back then I chose martial arts. That wasn’t entirely a bad decision as I still go to Grav Maga even today, but still I think if I had chosen music I’d be a lot better musician today. Who knows if I go to study music when I’m nothing but an old geezer waiting for my days to end?
The next question is not most original one in the world, but this time I’d like to use it… at least it was clearer with Solothus: What are your influences considering Yawning Void?
TKI: That’s a tougher question than I care to admit, but let’s see… Well, to be quite honest I don’t listen to doom metal that much, never have actually. Black Sabbath and Profetus are great bands, and I think the latter have even influenced me in some ways. Some influential metal acts would be …and Oceans, Moonsorrow, Celtic Frost, Iron Maiden, Darkthrone, early Mayhem, Bathory, and Ajattara, for example. Then there are plenty of magnificent artists and bands outside metal music like King Dude, Dan Terminus, Flowers for Bodysnatchers, MZ.412, Trepaneringsritualen, Atrium Carceri, Wardruna, etc. And of course I have to mention the most important musician in my life, Nobuo Uematsu. I dare to say that without his work I wouldn’t be doing this.
Besides music there are some authors who have made a huge impact on me, such as Ekortu, Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, and Stephen King. From the world of cinema I’d like to mention Twin Peaks, the movies of John Carpenter, the first Alien, and the original Suspiria. And last but not least, my spiritual path as a whole is a never-ending source of inspiration and guidance in my life.
Good old Alien… I’ve read the long story of how the producers changed screenwriters all along the series, and it’s easy to understand why it turned to shit after the second movie. How do you like this bizarre relaunch — Prometheus and Covenant?
TKI: Oh Hell… I could talk about this for a dozen pages but maybe this is not the best place for it. Well, Prometheus was, and still is, actually a very good movie IF you take it out from the universe of the Alien-movies. It is an entertaining sci-fi film but as this supposed prequel to Alien it really doesn’t make any sense story-wise. Covenant, on the other hand, is just shit. Simple as that. I didn’t like the script at all, there were plot holes so big I could fly Nostromo through them, and the acting was almost embarrassing (excluding Michael Fassbender). They should leave the franchise alone.
Streams Within has remarkable artwork. Did you discuss its composition with Moonroot or did you just get finished artwork from him?
TKI: I usually have very clear and precise ideas in my mind when I contact a visual artist in the first place, and the cover of Streams Within was no exception. Of course I want the artist to have a certain amount of freedom while working for me, but still, if the final product is not in line with my visions I won’t use it. Simply said, I think that Moonroot handled the job perfectly. I would recommend him to anyone without hesitation.
Kari roars both into English and Finnish. How would you describe Yawning Void’s message? The artwork and some of the songs’ elements leave an impression of grim ceremony beyond my understanding.
TKI: We don’t have any single message or theme with Yawning Void, but if I were to inspect my own lyrics I’d say they are more introspective compared to the lyrics of Sepulchral Curse for example. “Melaina Kholee” and “Aequor” are like diary notes about the absurdity of life and death, what it means to live or die. On the other hand “Kalmoranta” is my own interpretation on the realm of Náströnd within and outside Helheim. We shall see what wondrous writings will be born in the future.
KTK: I drew a lot of inspiration from nature and the insignificance of human beings on the larger scale of things. Time goes forward and all that is left of the human race is dust. Both songs to which I wrote lyrics (“Hearts Like Abyss” and “Ouroborean”) deal with this matter in their own way.
Yawning Void – Kalmoranta
You recorded Streams Within with Harri Hyytiäinen. Did this session differ from the last one you had with Solothus?
KTK: For doing the vocals not at all. We have done previous sessions all in the same manner and so it was this time too.
VTK: For Streams Within we recorded the drums and guitars with Harri. The collaboration with him has gone smoothly, as it went with the recordings of Solothus’ first and second albums.
Does your approach to performing your parts on Solothus and Yawning Void differ?
KTK: Vocal-wise I took a very different take on how I usually sing. Before, I have had the more blackish screeches as a seasoning, but here I wanted to have the majority of my parts sung this way, because I felt it fit better the atmosphere. Overall I think on Streams Within I gave more of myself as a vocalist and what I am able to do. This has also reflected to Solothus and Sepulchral Curse in a way.
VTK: For me it is refreshing just playing TKI’s song-work in Yawning Void. Contrary to Solothus, where I have much more room for the guitars and the riffs, Yawning Void’s sound comes more as a whole. Guitars and especially guitar effects are a big part of our sound, and we tried perfecting those sounds with TKI. There hasn’t been any need or urge to change and modify the riffs and melodies TKI has written.
With the entire band’s members busy in other bands and projects, how do you plan to organize the scheduling of gigs for Yawning Void?
TKI: We have agreed to not be an active live band simply because of the reason you just brought out in your question. Even though with certain conditions we are willing to play a gig or two per year. This is more than fine for me as I really don’t care for playing live that much. Not that I hate it, but composing and recording is the best kind of activity in my opinion.
What are your ambitious towards spreading Yawning Void’s word in this case? Do you care? And do you see an opportunity to climb out from the underground?
TKI: Of course I hope to find new listeners, fans, and people to cooperate with. If I didn’t care about those things at all, why would I even bother releasing any music? Those artists and bands who say they don’t care about people outside their music at all are just liars. That being said, I don’t deny the fact that it is the most important aspect to enjoy what you are doing. If I’d care ONLY about the opinions of others I’d be doing some horrible pop-music without any real content, not this odd gloomy almost progressive black doom metal.
Do you have ambitions to do a proper tour with one of your bands? With which band of yours could touring outside Finland become a reality?
TKI: The probability of touring with Yawning Void is almost nonexistent, referring to the answer above. If I were you I’d place my bets on Sepulchral Curse.
KTK: Sepulchral Curse will of course hope to tour one day, when the time is right. With Solothus we have already done numerous tours and I can promise you there will be more when our third album is out properly.
Weird Truth released Streams Within this past autumn. Do you already have new tunes on your mind? What’s your plan considering a new Yawning Void album?
TKI: Next we are going to work on an EP with a single, epic song. As hinted above there will be a huge leap onwards in many ways. I actually finished the composing process right after the New Year and I must say that our new material is the best music I’ve ever written. When the EP is done, released, and so on, we probably will concentrate on our second full-length. I hope we would be ready with the EP this year but I’m terrible at estimating any schedules so don’t count on my words. I usually spend all of my free time playing, writing, and recording music, so there is constantly emerging new material, whether it be for Yawning Void, Beyond the Below, or any other active project I’m involved in.
Thank you for the interview gents. How would you like to finish it?
TKI: Thank you for the interview as well! I really liked answering your questions and I hope we could have another chat or two in the future.