Futurism as seen in the 80s - Lyrical Spell Magazine interviews Tuomas and Capri
Finnish band Amberian Dawn are Napalm Records' rising stars with their mix sounds that are reminisce of Swedish pop group ABBA and symphonic power metal. With 8 albums under their belt and a new
already released, I wanted to take the time and chat with Tuomas Seppälä and Capri Virkkunen, the brain and voice behind the band.
Joshua: Welcome Tuomas and Capri, thank you for making the time with us! How are you two lately?
Capri: Really good, thank you! Quite busy with teaching and coaching.
Joshua: That's really great to hear Capri, we’re all looking foward about the next release of 'Looking For You'! How excited are you two and the rest of the band to start the new decade with a new release?
Capri: Really excited. It’s a good way to start a new decade with a new style.
Tuomas: For me, it's always really awesome to release a new album. It's a long process starting from putting out the first press release and single.
Joshua: I can agree to that Tuomas. So, what's the concept behind 'Looking for You'?
Capri: Well, the lyrics were made kind of a song to song, there is no link between them. This time I was having some troubles to write because the music itself sounded so happy and cheerful,
no heart-breaking stories to cry your heart out, but once in awhile everyone needs someone to tell you that 'you can do it' or 'united we stand' and so on.
Joshua: Sounds like the album will put out some positive and uplifting messages. Aside from that, looking at the cover, it's very different from the rest by giving off a futuristic presence while most of your previous were based on tales and folk legends. Who's the mastermind behind the artwork?
Tuomas: The feeling I've had here is 'futurism as seen in the 80’s'. The keyboard tone on the album is really old and based on synthesizers made in the 70's and 80's, but the overall sound of the music is still modern and fresh, so what we have here is a kind of combination of old and modern. With the album cover, I had a vision which our long time graphic designer Jan “Örkki” Yrlund put together. I usually don't have any wishes for cover art, there's only been a couple of times when I've had a clear vision about how the cover should look like. This was one of those times.
Joshua: Speaking of the 80's, reviewers and listeners alike has labelled Amberian Dawn as the 'metal-ABBA'. In you opinion, how do you feel about this title?
Tuomas: I feel that genre is very describing and it’s kind of new too, despite ABBA as band was active a long time ago. We’re bringing the same aspects in front that ABBA did, back then… so a lot of synthesizers and vocal tracks.
Joshua: Yep, I can hear it in the song that were released, in which, what songs you think would become a fan favourites and what are yours?
Capri: I think this album is one of those that you like different song on a different day so that’s why I can’t point any song beforehand. For me, 'Universe' is the one for it's peace and
calmness. And of course, the duet with the amazing Fabio Lione on 'Awakening'.
Joshua: Hailing from a country populated with famous acts like Nightwish, Sonata Arctica, and Apocalyptica, does it tend to get difficult trying to get the stand out when you're amongst popular bands like the ones listed?
Tuomas: Well, I think it's easier to get your band known today because of the internet. Earlier, the main media and radio stations had all the control about which bands has got to be known and which ones were not. In this internet era we're living in now, it's easier to spread your music in general. I haven't ever felt that Amberian Dawn being in the shadows of any other band.
Joshua: Great response, and you're right about that, the internet has helped give listeners an expansive discovery of music. So, even though the music world can be a big close music family, would you say the Finnish metal scene is often competitive?
Tuomas: I haven’t thought about this. Personally, I get along very well with my fellow Finnish musicians and have never considered those people as my competitors.
Joshua: That’s a nice humble viewpoint Tuomas. While there is now no competition, but the band was really proactive as you guys put out 4 albums consecutively from 2012 to 2015. How was that possible for you guys when knowing when booking a studio, having a production/mastering crew and working with limited resources depending on the label gives you can be so costly?
Tuomas: It’s possible if you want to make it possible. For me it’s been a lot of work of course, and I have put a lot of my own money for productions. I hope that someday I’ll get back all the money I’ve been investing in this band.
Joshua: In the end, I would say they became worth it career wise, so let’s talk about shows. Will there be a release show or a tour happening for 'Looking for You' right after, or are they still in the works?
Tuomas: We’re not having an actual album release show this year. But we’re planning to tour later this year, perhaps in fall 2020. We don’t have anything settled yet.
Joshua: You had a tour in 2016 that marked a decade for Amberian Dawn, in which you celebrated along with Diabulus in Musica who has been around as long as you have. How was that experience and what did you two reflect during past years on that milestone?
Tuomas: It was fun to tour with Diabulus in Musica and that was also our first headliner tour. We learned a lot of things from that tour.
Joshua: Did you ever thought that the band not to be around for that long to reach that moment?
Tuomas: I have never thought about quitting Amberian Dawn and have always felt comfortable with Capri as our singer, I guess we will be together in this band I the future too. I don’t think about quitting making music.
Joshua: And of course the band had an honour to tour alongside with Lacuna Coil on their'1.19 tour' which they finished off with a big show. What was it like touring with them on their 20 year anniversary?
Capri: For me as Lacuna Coil's fan, it was a dream come true! They were lovely, amazing, big hearted people and their crew was awesome. They took really good care of us, I am grateful for the
opportunity to tour with them and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Great band, great tour, great memories.
Joshua: Big question for you two, the band was part of the line-up in the previous year of 70,000 Tons of Metal which happens every year here in Florida. Would you guys do it again?
Capri: Absolutely! I’d love to! The whole cruise was an amazing experience!
Tuomas: Yes, of course. It was a weird and fun experience for me.
Joshua: And speaking of which, it was your first time performing the other side of the pond, and have given you guys exposure to a North American audience. Does it make you two hopeful that U.S. shows may be certain in the future?
Tuomas: I would like to play all over the world and this includes U.S. also. So far we've been touring heavily just here in Europe.
Joshua: Even if a U.S. tour isn't expected in the upcoming months, do you have any states in particular you would like to visit?
Tuomas: All the states of course!! But realism is something we need to take in concern here. It’s very hard to make a tour in the U.S. to happen due to financial reasons, it's more likely for us to perform at some of your local festivals.
Joshua: Sounds more reasonable. Let's do a little bit of history Tuomas, involved in music at a very young age, how was your early life and musical practices?
Tuomas: I started to play classical piano at the age of 4. Studying classical music was very systematic, there were a couple of piano lessons and 1-2 theory lessons every week. I got used to it at a very young age. For me, music and it’s theory is another native tong. I learned to read and write sheet music and notes before I learned to write and read.
Joshua: What led you to form a metal band and metal your first choice?
Tuomas: I was playing in a couple of bands in the beginning of 2000 in which role wasn't big, I wasn't composing for those bands or anything. In 2006, I got a hint from one of my earlier bandmates that I should start a new band based on my own song writing, I kind of had a home studio since I've been about 13 years old and I had composed a lot of stuff, instrumental music (for keyboards and guitar). It was fun to start writing music for a real band and for vocalist too. That’s how I started Atheme One, which later became Amberian Dawn. Music style is a kind of accident still, I think."
Joshua: I’m curious to know where did the name 'Amberian' originate from? And with the inclusion of 'dawn', is it a type of phenomenon or a word you came up with?
Tuomas: We just had a brainstorming moment with band members back then and the name just came up. There's nothing special in it really. It just a name.
Joshua: When Heidi's departure occurred in 2012, was it arduous going through many of the participant's demos and figure out who'll fit the band's sound?
Tuomas: I didn't want to start looking for a new singer in public. Fortunately, I got a hint from a friend of mine (who is also a musician) about Capri. I heard some songs she was singing and asked her to make a demo of 'Cold Kiss' for me. She did great and that's how we started to work together.
Joshua: Did you two happen to know or had heard of each other before working together?
Tuomas: None of us knew Capri before she joined the band.
Joshua: As Capri wasn't in Amberian Dawn for the very beginning, but she was given a proper introduction with 'Re-Evolution' which featured reworked songs from the first four albums, receiving positive responses from fans. A handful of them hopes in hearing a 'Re-Evolution II', do you think that's possible or are they perfect as is?
Tuomas: Everything is always possible of course, but there’s a lot of symphonic metal stuff and power metal stuff in our past that I don’t feel comfortable right now with that style. Maybe things will change in the future, let's see. Capri is able to sing our older songs and we're performing them on stage too, we’re always playing both old and new stuff.
Joshua: Even though Capri is versatile in classical singing, operatic vocals hasn't been the epicentre like it was in the previous albums, were the other members on board with a new vocal direction?
Tuomas: I don’t think any of us would like Amberian Dawn to go back into old style. It’s still possible of course, but at the moment we all like this new style very much. Also our line-up
seems to be very stable.
Joshua: Questions for Capri, before Amberian Dawn, you had a career as a solo artist with two albums, are you still working on your independent music or is it no longer active?
Capri: My albums from my early days were something I didn't have much to say, I just sang what other people wanted, not what I wanted, so I am glad that career is over and done. Amberian Dawn is my priority but I do have some side projects; we have MuteSwans Project with Noora Louhimo (Battle Beast), Piritta Lumous (Manzana) and Päivi Lepistö (Movetron), that is having fun with girlfriends doing absolutely stunning soldout show only once in a year. Starlings is my acappella group and I have a pop/rock choir called Cryout.
As for my independent music at the moment, I'm composing music and writing lyrics for my solo project which is going to see daylight sometime in the future.
Joshua: On the side of the music career, you also participate in musical theatre. What's the difference between the Capri we see with Amberian Dawn, and the Capri in a musical act?
Capri: Well, the difference is quite small: when you play a role in musical act you tell a person’s story, but when you sing your songs you tell a lot of stories as your point of view. I think one of the best qualities of a singer is a talent of a storyteller.
Joshua: As two proactive musicians, who or what has been a big influence on you two?
Tuomas: There's been a lot of influences during these years, first from my childhood it was classical music, as a teenager I started to listen to heavy metal and bands like Dio, KISS, etc.. Later, I started to also play the electric guitar and started to listen to guitar players like Joe Satrani, Vinnie Moore and Tony MacAlpine. As a young adult, I also started to listen to 80’s pop music and bands like Modern Talking and ABBA.
Joshua: And if you both weren't musicians, what other career paths would you have taken?
Capri: I had a lot of options, but interior design and furniture restoration is something I love to do.
Tuomas: I have a career also in real estates but that’s not something I would like to do. I like more to make music.
Joshua: My final question before we end this interview; what are your goals and dreams? Personally and professionally.
Capri: To do everything with your heart in it and live a life you can be proud of. To be the best version of me I can.
Tuomas: I've been dreaming for a long time now to be able to compose a musical and then actually make the whole production happen… With awesome singers and a live band. I know it's almost impossible to make happen, but that’s my biggest dream.
Joshua: So we have now reached the end of our interview, is there anything you like to say to your fans and our readers?
Tuomas: I hope you'll enjoy the new album and see you on tour.
Joshua: Thank you two for tuning in with us, good luck with your new release!