Sunday, May 13, 2012

Interview with S.A.N.


- Hello! Thank you for taking the time to complete this interview. Could you please introduce yourself for our readers?

Hi! And thank you for having me. I am San, a visual hybrid rock artist from Helsinki.

- When did you first begin learning how to play the guitar?

It was in the March of 2007 when I got hold of my uncles old guitar he was about to wreck. First I just sat in my room and played some random melodies by ear but after a while I noticed that I just couldn't let go of it.

- I have noticed that the number three has come up a few times. Your YouTube account has 3 in the name and your name is SAN, which means 3 in Japanese. Is there any special significance to the number or is it simply a play on words?

It's kind of a lucky number. 3 and 8 (which is like two threes), not even sure why, haha. But yeah, I guess it's mostly a play on words. When I was thinking about the name to perform under (somewhere around 2009) I came to conclusion that I wanted it to somehow be related to my real name. It's partly because I wanted to respect the name my parents gave me and partly because names completely made up felt kinda.. fake for me. I also wanted it to somehow have a link to Japan, since that's where all my influences are and Japanese artists have been so important to me. So, ichi ni san, three first letters of my name were SAN and that felt right.

- Let's talk a bit about your previous bands - you were one of the founding members of KARMIA. How did you come together with everyone?

I had known Sharan for a couple of years probably, before he contacted me in late 2010 and asked if I was interested in forming a Visual Kei band. I got interested, even though I was first concerned if there would be musicians wanting to concentrate on that genre. Anyhow, Sharan had met Ana somewhere online and we three got together to discuss about forming a band. After a while we got out first bassist and drummer and a rehearsal room and started playing. After a while the bassist and the drummer left though so we were back being just the three of us. That's when we agreed to start recording our first album, Origin. Fun times. Doku joined us somewhere around finishing the album, he answered in our add looking for bassist. Hypo joined us a little after that, Ana knew him previously and his twin brother was the first drummer of our band. He actually presently plays in Finnish Visual Kei band Jenlayn. I went to see them performing yesterday. Man, they're good!

- Prior to that, you were a member of Jampanzee - was this a Visual Rock band as well? How did this band form?

Haha, no, not really. This was a kind a genre-less, weird trio. Me and my friend J.J.Jellikit who played bass started playing together in high school and after a while a friend of ours just informed us that she was going to join our band. We performed couple of times playing mostly our own, weird songs with twisted lyrics. Also fun times. The first time I performed with them was about a year after starting to play guitar, it was my first live ever.

- In 2011 you began your solo career - what brought on this decision?

The first time I came to conclusion about going solo was in the fall of 2009. I had been trying to pursue my visions in a few bands, but each time things fell apart 'cause other members just weren't as devoted as I was. I got frustrated and decided after a long period of thinking that I must perform solo in order to do the kind of music that I want to create. This was hard though cause at that time I was horrified about the thought of singing. I was convinced that I could never do it, that I didn't have what it takes. But after coming to this conclusion I slowly started to change that. At that time I also started to record a demo with my old music teacher but it was never finished. Lucky though, I wasn't ready at that time.

I however joined Karmia since the idea appealed to me, I wanted to play live shows and just actually play with people, instead of just composing music by myself. I thought that I could be a part of KARMIA and proceed my solo work. However I started to notice that I was unable to give KARMIA the full effort I should have, since I knew that songs I composed were going to come off differently than I had envisioned. After thinking it through dozens of times, I decided it was best for me and the band that I left. I felt that they deserved a member that could really give it all to them. I really enjoyed playing with them and they are all still very good friends of mine. Even the new guitarist that replaced me, KiBa. I got to know him a while after he started in Karmia, he's really cool guy and an awesome musician. So things turned out well for everyone.

- I see Miyavi is a big inspiration for you as you mention him several times. What is it about him and his music in particular that calls to you?

Miyavi was the reason that really got me into playing guitar. In the fall of 2007 I was experiencing some pretty dark times in my personal life and only thing that helped me through that was Miyavi's music and playing guitar. I never got any training on guitar or anything, but I learned to play by watching and listening to Miyavi and playing his songs. He was huge for me. I think what calls me in him is that he's so.. Miyavi. He has his own path which he follows. He has always been kind of a weirdo among weirdoes. Standing out in a crowd of other Visual Kei artists. He was kinda like my teacher, mentor, even if he didn't know it himself. I owe him a lot. My style of playing guitar and composing songs are both hugely influenced by him.

- Some of your other influences include SiM, Dué le Quartz, Dir en Grey, MUCC, One Ok Rock, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Linkin Park, RADWIMPS and more. What would meeting or collaborating with any of these artists mean to you?

It would be awesome! I love collaborating. It's one of the most fun things to do in music in my opinion. We are actually planning one with KARMIA... Don't know if I should've told that, haha. And I also have talking to some other people about collaborating, we'll see.. But yes, absolutely co-working with one of the artists that have influenced me or I look up to would be beyond awesome. RADWIMPS is a band I got to know around 2010 but it also had a big influence on me, especially Nodas lyrics, I love them.

- Outside of music is there anything else that influences your work?

Of course! Everything influences me. The world around me. The people. The weather. The news. Movies and books. I have often come up with a song or lyrics to a song after watching a good movie. I also find rainy days very inspiring. And with all the horrible stuff we see and read in the news every day, it's hard to stay un-influenced.

- Your lyrics are amazing and seem very well thought out - where do you find the inspiration to write such lyrics?

Thank you very much! That means a lot to me. Lyrics have always played a very important role to me. To me, it's almost 50/50 between music and lyrics. Good lyrics can save a musically dull song and bad lyrics can ruin musically marvelous song. It's fatal. For me writing lyrics is half of the fun in making music. I love writing. But it also takes more effort to me. I can be very critical about my own work. I have many times written lyrics ready for some song and then just deleted everything. It's important to me that I am honest to myself. If I can't believe in what I'm singing then how could anyone else? My inspiration comes from all the things I listed above. I often sit on a bus or a train and just gaze through the window and wonder about life and try to come up with things to sing about. And of course personal life and all the things that you go through influence in you. Sometimes I get frustrated cause I feel that everything has already been said and sung, and probably better than I can do it. My feelings have been felt. But the world is grand and after all, I am the only me.

- You have sung in both Finnish as well as English - Your English is great. How long have you been studying?

Thank you! In Finland we start learning English in third grade, around the time we're 9 years old. But to be honest, most of my English I have learned from Internet, movies and video games rather that school.

- Do you know any other languages?

Well we have to learn Swedish here but I suck at it, haha. I also studied French 2 years but I'm even worse in that. Though I have occasionally used some French phrases in my lyrics.

- You released your third EP, SPIDER, in late March - what was the inspiration/theme for this EP?

Most of the songs in this EP were composed in the fall of 2011 which was kind of a dark and a lonely period for me. Leaving KARMIA, even though I didn't regret it ‘cause I felt it was the right thing for me and the guys, left me kinda lonely. And in Finland the fall is pretty depressing time. Every day it's getting darker and darker and colder and colder. The colours start to vanish from the world. This influenced the EP to have the dark tones it has. At this time I was very much in touch with the darker sides of love and affection which inspirited these songs. Especially Kauneuden Rauniot (The Ruins of Beauty) is a song that really has the "Fall of 2011" written all over it.

- In addition to vocals, you play both guitar and bass in each of your songs. If you had to choose one, which instrument do you prefer?

If I had to just pick one from singing, guitar and bass? I would be torn between guitar and singing.. Cause ever since I have found my voice to sing, it has become more and more important to me, but guitar is also a very important way of expressing myself. Playing and singing is kind of a package deal for me. It'd feel kinda empty not to have guitar to play while singing. But to be honest I do play a lot more guitar than sing.

- Covering three positions on your own must be a lot of work - What do you feel are the advantages and disadvantages of being a solo artist?

The advantages are that you don't have to compromise. Or, well, at least if you have the skills. For instance, I had to compromise by not having awesome solos because I'm not an awesome solo guitarist. When I was playing in KARMIA, I could just compose a song and tell Ana to play a solo to a certain spot and it would sound super awesome (I love Deception's solo!). But yeah, you can do things your way and there's no one to disagree. For me that's kinda important ‘cause I often have so clear visions of what I want to do. The disadvantages are that it's lonely. I don't mind doing a lot of work, it's actually faster, I recorded all the guitars, basses, percussion and vocals to the first three songs of SPIDER in one day. Because I had composed the songs so I knew exactly how they were played so there was nothing left to do but to play. When you're in a band the songs might not be as familiar in a way. Recording Origin, it was a bit harder for me to record songs composed by Ana than me. But yeah, it's lonelier. There's no one to ask for advice or an opinion and no one to joke around with in while taking a break from recording.

- Have you ever met any opposition as a Visual Kei artist singing in Finnish?

No, not yet. But just give them time, the haters will come, haha. I think it's kinda risky to sing in Finnish and openly admit your debt to Japanese Visual Kei. There's a chance that people who listen to Finnish music don't want to listen to you 'cause you're a weeaboo and a wannabe Japanese and people who listen to Visual Kei and other Japanese music don't want to listen to you since it's Finnish. But it's important to me to do what I feel is right. And I feel that music should know no boundaries or walls. It's an international language. I'm a boy from Finland and for me the Japanese rock-scene has been more than important. I also have listened to artists singing in German, French, Chinese, Swedish etc. And in the mainstream music you often hear songs sung in Spanish and such. I don't thing language should be a reason not to listen something.

- Do you know what path you would have taken if you hadn't chosen a career in music?

It's hard to say.. When I was younger, about 12 or such, I wanted to be an actor, but that passed.. But I have always loved writing and also drawing comics and such so maybe something along those lines? Something creative definitely.

- What does music mean to you?

For me, music is the heartbeat that keeps me going. I'm constantly amazed by how just different sounds put together can bring so much joy or evoke such strong feelings. I do not understand it. And that's why it fascinates me. It truly is an international language that speaks and moves everyone, no matter in what language you have learned to communicate or what tone of colour your skin happens to be.

- What message do you hope to send to your fans?

Never give up. Ever. Always hold on to your dreams and what's important to you.

- Tell us something that many people don't know about you.

Hmm.. I always drink milk when I'm eating fast food, haha.

- Where can fans go to hear and purchase your music?

At the moment my music can be listened on my Facebook page, in Soundcloud, my official Youtube channel or Myspace. My newest EP SPIDER can be downloaded from soundcloud or facebook for free, other songs are currently unavailable for downloading.

- Thank you again for this interview. Is there anything else you would like to say to your fans?

Anytime. Thank you for having me. And I would like to thank each of you so much for your support. My music would be pointless if no one would be listening. I owe you all. Peace. [/box]

Check out S.A.N. on Facebook, Myspace, Youtube, Twitter, and Soundcloud.

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This interview was conducted by Kaitlin Maginnis (Rain)


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