If you’re looking for something a bit different from Cardiff’s live music, Chapter Arts Centre is your first port of call. Recently, Finnish band Oddarrang played at the Canton venue to promote new album In Cinema.
Met by seamless atmospheric instrumentals and ritualistic chanting, their performance was inimitable. Three songs in (though ‘musical experiences’ might be a better term), it was revealed that the album is a compilation of soundtracks put together for Finnish independent film. Drummer Olavi Louhivuori talked to Quench Music about the project and their Sigur Rós inspiration…
During your gig you mentioned that In Cinema came about as a compilation of soundtracks for not one, but multiple films. Could you tell us more about that?
We hosted a club here in Helsinki last fall (2012), where each night we had a world premier of a silent short film from different young Finnish directors. We had four nights and four films, and for each film we composed new music. It was a really effective way to create music. I’ve always felt good about thinking about images when composing music, so this felt like a natural approach for our third album. All material on In Cinema is from this movie project, but we made the versions slightly different on the CD. But it’s also possible to get an access to see the movies online if you purchase the album. Beautiful movies.
Is this filmic record far-removed from your previous releases Music Illustrated and Cathedral?
I always wrote quite ‘cinematic’ music for us, but of course in this album the cinematic idea is the strongest. It’s quite difficult for me to say if a listener can hear a big difference in that sense between our albums, but for me there is a big difference. It was also very effective and inspirational to compose the music for this album, since every song came from an actual movie: I didn’t have to imagine pictures in my head, because I had the real movies.
How do you all know each other, and how did this project Oddarrang come about?
I knew everyone before putting up this band, but hadn’t had a chance to play properly with them. That was back in 2003 so we were still quite young. I was playing a lot in different jazz groups already, but wanted to try something totally different with my own group. That’s why I came up with this instrumentation that’s not so common in jazz. Even though we started with more of a chamber/acoustic approach, we soon started to drift further and further away from jazz. So basically, I wanted to use Oddarrang as a creative vessel to do and experiment with things that I don’t do in other bands.
What do you think of Chapter Arts Centre?
It was a good, cosy venue with an intensive audience; it felt really good to see all different ages there. It’s quite important for us to have a chance to play in a place that doesn’t determine the music style too much. If we play in a ‘traditional’ jazz club, some people might get a bit confused, so Chapter felt good in that sense as well. We all thought Cardiff was an outstanding city.
You’ve previously performed in venues such as London’s Southbank Centre, as well. Do you prefer more ‘artistically-minded’ venues?
I think all venues are okay, but nowadays we appreciate venues where it is possible to play all kinds of music, not just jazz, more and more. Band On The Wall in Manchester was a perfect example of a perfect venue, because it beautifully combines the atmosphere and sound system of a rock venue, but was still very intimate. Nowadays we play with a huge dynamic range, so it’s important for us to get the most out of the sound system when we want to play loud, but still maintain the focus and intimacy when playing extremely soft.
What do you think of the British response to your innovative sound?
We’ve always felt really good when performing in the UK. I’m not yet quite sure what it is in our music, but feels like theres something that attracts our listeners especially in the UK. People here are very open minded and interested about different approaches in making music. It’s a real pleasure every time we play in Britain.
How would you define your genre of music?
That’s a good question, but unfortunately I don’t have an answer to that. I think other people can define the genre. What I can say is that even though I’m mostly known as a jazz drummer, it’s definitely not jazz anymore. (On the other hand, we could talk for hours about “what is jazz?”!)
Which artists have influenced your music?
So many. But to name a few, especially with the music of In Cinema, I would first mention bands such as Sigur Rós, Arcade Fire, Sonic Youth, The Swans, Steve Reich, Brian Eno… There are so many it doesn’t really make sense to start naming any!
You’re big on social media while touring; is it important to you to be able to connect with your fans?
I find social media a great tool to create a closer relationship with fans and people who find our music interesting. I also think Edition Records is doing very good job there. But of course nothing is more important than meeting people in real life after a show.
What are your plans for 2014?
We will do as much as we can to spread our music around the world and play as much as possible. It’s going to be very exciting to see what the response of In Cinema will be. Of course, I’ll never stop thinking about the next album, and hopefully we’ll get that started quite soon. I feel we are in a very interesting moment right now and I’m really happy and excited about the direction of our music. I can’t wait to hear our next album!
In Cinema was released in the UK via Edition Records on 30 September 2013. Check it out now at Bandcamp.