If I were to say Finnish melodic death metal, what is the first band that comes into your mind? That’s right, Insomnium! And at Tuska I had the pleasure of interviewing their lead vocalist, Niilo Sevänen.
Hello Niilo, how are you doing?
Hello, the show went well. Like earlier this week, we were a bit sick and unsure how we’d manage with this show. But everything went well, nobody fainted, and we are rocking again.
Awesome. How has the pandemic changed your life as an artist?
It’s difficult and remains to be seen what kind of world we’ll get. Well, many things have changed now since a couple of years ago. We couldn’t really do many shows, so we planned new music all the time. We did the EP, and then actually, we started working on the next album right away. So we had been doing something, and even if we could not play shows, we would make at least new music. Luckily the Finnish government has given these corona grants to artists. It actually helped a lot. It was good that, even though the income from the shows has been minimal, we still got some income from the state to support the artists. That’s a good system in Finland; it has helped a lot so that we did not need to have some day job to support ourselves.
Do you prefer to play a concert in a big or small venue?
Well, they both have their advantages. Of course, on a big festival stage, it’s a special kind of feeling, and there are a lot of people, and it can be great. But also a small crowded club where the audience is really close to you, and you can see their faces right there it can be in a different way, really nice. So I like them both. Playing a huge festival like this feels great, but also, you’re a bit more nervous. The changeovers are tight, you have to build your set quickly and do your thing. When you are doing a club show, you have the whole day to prepare everything, and there’s not so much pressure there.
That’s very true! Do you have any rituals before going on stage?
Uh, yes. Normally I need to warm up my aching muscles because otherwise I would hurt my back and my neck. We are at that age that we have to warm up, and then there’ll be no problems. So just a warm-up routine, like one hour before the show, you get yourself warm and don’t hurt yourself. It sounds like I’m an old man, but you have to take care of your physical condition. Before the show or before the tour, the voice preparation comes on the previous week. I do it a little more every day so that when the show comes, the throat is ready to take it. And of course, memorizing if there are some songs we haven’t played in a while.
Do you think it’s harder for a woman to be in the metal industry?
Well, I would guess yes, of course, like in almost any field in life. It’s a bit harder for women, and I’m sure there are prejudices. Unfortunately, some men still think, “She probably can’t play anything because she’s a girl”, or something like that. Or “She’s only in this band because she looks good”, stupid comments. I know most of the people don’t think like that anymore, but of course, there are still some people who do discrimination. It sucks, but it’s great to see that there are many great metal female musicians and vocalists out there. So you can see that you can do it. And it’s like an inspiration for the younger girls. If they want to become part of the scene or become a musician, then it’s possible.
I wanted to play a little game with you if that’s alright. If you had a time machine, would you go back to the past or the future?
Well, I wouldn’t probably dare to travel anywhere. It would be too dangerous. But if I had to use it, I would probably travel back in time to some spot that wouldn’t be too dangerous. I’ve studied history at university, so that’s my favourite topic, and it’d be really hard to pick just one time or place I would like to visit.
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview! Would you like to add anything to FemMetal’s readers?
Well, thank you for the interview. And if there are young female readers out there, just follow your dreams. And there are for sure. There is a place for women as well as girls in the metal scene and just go follow your dreams. And don’t mind this stupid stuff that some people might say, just ignore them because there are good people also. And I honestly believe that most people are good. There’s always the minority that makes a lot of noise, and they are idiots, but ignore them.
Hi! My name is Benedetta, I’m 29 and I live in Northern Italy. My passion has always been music: I started taking guitar lessons when I was 6. Now I work as a sales representative, but in my free time I interview talented people, I spread the word about my favorite band (MoonSun), and I go to concerts or travel around Europe.
I am a huge collector of anything Tolkien-related, autographs, merchandise, and CDs. I am quite an original person and don’t mind being the voice outside of the choir (even though I play in the church’s choir!).