Friday, December 31, 2010

Absolute Zero

Happy New Year's Eve! It's time to wrap up the year 2010. Regardless of its egoism, I would like to gather some of my personal experiences and such since the worldwide events that have met us can probably be read from any news service's website.

What this year was perhaps most notable for me personally was my graduation from Kerimäen yläaste (The junior high school of Kerimäki) on the 5th of June. I made it through with an average of 9.14, took a scholarship with me and performed twice in the period of two days with my music class, live. Another live performance I did with the class took place earlier on the 30th of April. Of course, I also put out my third EP ever, a concept one revolving around dreaming, which also showcased a leap forwards to becoming a more professional musician (notice the word more, since I'm by no means close to being a pro yet) and continued from where the first two EPs left off with, as the sound of Wicked Breath kept evolving in a natural progression towards a less amusing and unoriginal entirety. In addition to The Art In Dreaming came also my first music video, for the song Xie Xie, which I finished filming and editing during the summer and put out on the 21nd of July. The video, even if low in quality and hardly smooth by its cut or manuscript, managed to satisfy myself for the main part and the feedback I received was mostly positive considering it was more like a college project done 100% on my own than a real music video with editing, directing, writing and all that done by people who are specialized on their areas. Although still in the process of making the EP, I started planning my debut album in February-March, and after the release of the music video my main focus switched towards working on the monstrous creation (TBA in 2012) that still seems more like utter craziness than logic. But who cares. :P

2010 was a rollercoaster in my social life more than anywhere else. I re-activated my goal of forming a band where I would only be one of the members instead of doing everything by myself, leading to the realization of time schedules, which are hard to fit not only when everyone in the band is studying, but when they're also on different time zones. I gathered five people from all around the world to form an internet band which after a few months collapsed on the inactivity and ignorance of some of the members. Thankfully, two members remained besides me, and with the help of our new guitarist we have now been going strong and are on our way to finishing our first song any time now. If the year 2011 is good enough for us, we'll have a demo/EP out before you even know it. Besides the virtual relationships, I had one crush in my real life, and I think that I also fell in love for the first time, inspiring me to write several love-centered lyrics and compositions. I had a few new friends and lost some old ones, and came to terms with a bunch of personal issues. Without getting deeper into it all, there's no doubt that it's been a hectic 12 months on the area of human communication - but then again, what could be more inspirational?

Okay, I said I wouldn't, but I have to bring in some international events as well. Sports was huge throughout this year. Finland screwed up in Vancouver causing people to react heavily on the state of the Finnish Winter sports - me included - and in the summer we barely got any medals from the championships in athletics. That is why the floorball championship this December in Helsinki was such a refreshing event no matter how tiny the actual sport is. There were some great performances done by our nation's sportsmen and -women on events not so close to the Finnish heart, however, such as in gymnastics and boat sports. Finally, I have to mention the World Cup in football. The African teams still didn't make it as I had hoped, but it was a blast seeing some of the big teams fail and some of the more little ones succeed, nevertheless. Football has never been at the top of the list for me (Finland's lousy success has something to do with it, I'll add) but this year it was definitely one of the highlights.

Reading and writing decreased for me, because the 4 books I read in the summer were pretty much the only ones I did outside the stuff I read for school. Writing-wise my resources were all used in lyrics, as I haven't really had the motivation or the time to write novels or short stories. I still have ideas, though, so perhaps next year I will get back to the actual writing form.

Last of all are my influences in music. I again have made a playlist describing this year and intend to listen to it later today. You can take a look at it here. In general this year was weaker in new music than the year 2009 was, because there were a bunch of bands and albums I expected much from, but didn't deliver my expectations. To my own surprise, I did manage to come up with a pretty kickass playlist, nevertheless. My musical evolution hasn't suffered a decrease or anything either, really. There's just been more things keeping me busy than before, and some of my choices for new music have gone more wrong than earlier. I'd imagine that happens at every part of my life sometimes. The best album of the entire year was Diamond Eyes by the Deftones, I'd have to say. Entertainment in the form of TV shows and movies have also moved and shaped me a lot this year, perhaps more than ever before. Series like Chuck and Ketonen & Myllyrinne have provided relaxing moments for the most part, but also inspired and made me think about all sorts of things.

That's about it, my year's summed up. All that is left for me to do now is wishing that next year, the year 2011, will be better for all of us around the world - and make a promise that personally, I'll do the best I can to make it so. :)

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Inkblots

Merry Christmas everyone! Even though it is already the 26th now, I wanted to open with that before moving on with other things. For me, the Eve was one of the best I've ever spent, since I had the chance to spend a lot of quality time with my family as well as enjoy music and a few pleasant gifts I received and gave in return. Those are what Christmas is all about after all... Oh, and of course the food. Ah, the food... :P Chocolate is the dominating ingredient throughout my vacation, as always, but I never say no to Christmas ham or carrot casserole either. Although we tend to celebrate more or less on the Eve and just rest on the 25th here in Finland, I am aware of the tradition in many other countries, particularly America, where the 25th is the actual day of gifts exchanging and such. So, hopefully everyone who spent Christmas just yesterday is enthusiastic as well and feeling the calm. :)

To go on with more everyday subjects, my last week or so hasn't been filled with Christmas-related stuff only as you would imagine. I've been so thrilled about February's performance that I've had difficulties falling asleep on a few nights, and I've used several hours of my time in the day planning the songs, their arrangement, and the general look of it all in much detail. Obviously it's a bit unnecessary because many things may and will change as the other players join me (who the other players are isn't 100% certain either yet at this point). The one thing that is almost written in stone is that I've chosen Cyan Lie and Permafrost as the two songs I want to perform. They are not very complex, should keep the audience occupied (even more if I have the courage to sing Cyan Lie entirely plus one verse of Permafrost that I've been thinking about) and to me, they both should be pleasant for the other players as well to learn and perform. The only major issue for now is that Permafrost is lacking a lot of the drum parts and thus I need to figure something out next week. But yeah, I don't think I've ever been this excited about anything in my life before, and my family and friends have also showed encouragement which I never take for granted.

Outside the whole 'live' project I've continued working on the album, however in smaller doses than earlier. I've come up with three to four more potential ideas since the 18th (including an idea to compose something inspired by the popular Psychological test that takes adventage of inkblots, hence the title of my post) and written some random lyrics. All in all I am walking on quiet waters though as the year is reaching its end, despite trying hard to write something positive in particular. Perhaps it's not such a bad thing, because I have been worried about the amount of material I've been working on, forever increasing and eventually leading to the point where I have way more songs than can be fitted on an album and a special edition EP. Also, maybe the balance I'm trying to go for at the moment with my writing is too much since I find it 100 times easier to write something dark than something happy. Time will tell.

Finnish cello-headbangers Apocalyptica are the latest addition to my music library, but lately I have focused on less heavy music in the spirit of Christmas. Or, tried to, at least. :P On Christmas Eve I couldn't help but to jump around in my room to songs like RED's Fight Inside and Celldweller's One Good Reason. It's just the way I am... But seriously, I have been leaning towards some quite laid-back tunes as well (such as another Finnish band, Don Johnson Big Band, whose self-titled album I've also grabbed with me but have yet to listen to) and will continue to do so during my second holiday week, I believe. The bad thing is that I'll already have to get back to studying for my future exams on Wednesday/Thursday. Then again, the hardest exams are ahead of me until the 10th and the 11th of January, luckily.

Before I end up ranting for numerous pages about my wishes for the performance, my endless plans and inspirations for the album not to mention my current state of mind, it's for the best that I go. This was just a quick update to create a nice pace and once again wish the whole world a wonderful Christmas. Not to say that the whole world is reading my blog, but... Eh, you get my point. ;)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Pink Mammoth

Alright, it has been a LONG time. Since my last post (which I made almost two months ago) I've turned 16, worked on both of my musical projects actively, enjoyed the cold and all-white Finnish winter, and studied as hard as I've been able to with the Christmas approaching and haunting in the back of my head. :P School-wise everything really has been going surprisingly well though - at the moment my average is 9 exactly, which is only 0.14 worse than at the end of the ninth grade. I've really had a good time in general at school lately, for whatever reason. The environment for succeful studies has turned out to be almost perfect in our class room, which might also be one reason to why I'm doing better than expected. The only negative thing really is that the next exam week begins already on the 4th of January, meaning that my upcoming vacation is only 1½ weeks long. I also will have to sacrifice a few days of that to prepare for the first of the 4 exams, society studies.

Musically, I naturally have more than enough new stuff going on. My internet band has changed its name to Theban Cycle and we're now around 70% done with our first song - I have mixed the drums and the bass together, plus the piano and half of the guitars have also been added. We already have 2 new songs in the process of writing as well, so things have really picked up for us. For Wicked Breath, the situation is even more exciting. I haven't only come up with new ideas and finished old ones, but also pondered the overall themes, stylistic directions, lengths, instrumentation, song structures et cetera for the individual songs and the album as a whole. I've been able to maintain my pace with everything and there hasn't been a single week when I would've been feeling too uninspired to write or compose something new. The greatest news of all is that in February, there is an event at school where I might play 1-2 WB songs with the help of some local musicians. I am absolutely thrilled about the opportunity, which just hit me some days ago. Currently I am thinking of performing Cyan Lie with some of its guitar parts transposed to piano, as well as some other song like Johannesburg. I will spend more time thinking about the song choices and such during my Christmas vacation. Before moving on, here's a brief listing of the songs I've worked on most recently and how they are in my opinion.

Permafrost - a song I started on ages ago already has found its true form, in both, lyrics and music. Includes a plenty of experimentation with transitions in particular.
Let Go - my darkest effort to date has remained dark from one edit to the other. In a tough spot with the lyrics and the music after the first two-three minutes - many things sound good but don't seem to fit where they are. Is also a challenging song because of its theme, and I am finding it hard to work on it when I'm feeling happy. Makes sense.
Tree of Life - another messy song that has lots of potential, but makes me feel very little/not at all satisfied. Shows, however, a great example for a bunch of future songs I intend to make positive and thus balance out the moods on the album.
Superstar [AqME Cover] - Concerning this one I only have three words to say. "Just for fun." :P
The Black - Is 95% finished structure- and lyrics-wise, but seems to be missing something. The anthem for the end of the world also lacks drums for its middle parts at the moment.
Prejudice - a new song I wrote in three days or so. Much like Baptism of Fire in theme, length and musicianship. Under present conditions won't be used on the album, but a catchy song that was fun to write and is still fun to listen to and play, nevertheless.
Seven - also known as simply "The Worship Song". No lyrics yet, however the instrumental is growing on me after first having thought that it's not good enough. The main melody is minimalism at its best.

(I'm also re-considering the demos Fingernumb and VW which for a long time were both forgotten about.)

The website project I was stalling with for weeks, if not months, has also been set off during my absence from blogging life. The site is called Mind Death Machine and it focuses on expressionism. A lot hasn't happened yet, but we're obviously welcoming everyone to join, particularly to the message boards. The address for the main site is http://minddeathmachine.webs.com/ whereas for the boards you need to go to http://minddeathmachine.freeforums.org/. I will keep posting about the site as we make progress. After Christmas some updates will definitely be on their way.

My birthday was nothing short of spectacular, even though I did enjoy it quite a bit. What strikes me the most is that I now am, actually, sixteen. This makes me sound even older but the years just fly by these days with music and school keeping me busy. With each year from now on also comes greater responsibility... And frankly, despite being a little more mature than the average perhaps, I've never been too fond of that.

The music I've been listening to has consisted of oh-so-many bands since the end of October. I've had my phases with KoRn (twice), AqME, RED, Cold (twice), Soundgarden (oh yes), Mr. Bungle, Killswitch Engage, Faith No More, Disturbed, Metallica, Drudkh (atmospheric black metal, with nothing against God found so far), Orgy, Deftones, Major Label, Tool, Celldweller and Pelican. During the past few days I've been merely into calm music like electronica in the likes of Junkie XL, as well as post-rock and post-metal in general. It really is my version of Christmas music. :P

That's actually everything essential I have to say for now. Really thought it would've taken more space... Ah well, I will get back into posting once a week or so from now on, allowing me to share something in my next post that I might of forgotten to type here. In case something happens though, Merry Christmas, everyone - and God Bless. :) Of course, I hope that anyone reading will also have a nice day/week/year/life. :P

I'm back, baby!