Velcra interview (08/2005)

With: Jessie Frey
Conducted by: melanie_haack
Published: 02.08.2005

Those who are prepared for some heavy, offbeat, interesting and somehow different stuff should keep their eyes open for the new Velcra long player. In 2002 the Finnish band with charismatic front lady Jessie Frey first entered the spot light with their debut album Consequence of Disobedience. The new record Between Force and Fate is for sale since beginning of July and offers a wild mix of genres, maybe call it industrial metal. Various sound - various vocals: whispering, screaming, rapping, growling - there is nothing you won't hear.

- Putting your music in one category is quite impossible. It might work with single songs but not with the whole work. Industrial Metal is the term you would use - why?

I think industrial music is about bringing together the hardness and energy of metal music and the experimentation and danceability of electronic music. Our music is our interpretation of industrial music, and we feel that genre to be the closest to what we do. However, as a whole we don't really care too much about genres, but strive to create something unique.

- Your voice is quite variable which makes the mix of different styles possible but is there one way in singing you prefer?

My approach to singing comes from what the songs require, and I found my style through song writing. For me the most important thing about singing is to explore different ways of using words, my voice and the feel of the songs. I prefer all ways of singing! Grunting and rapping are about rhythm, while clean singing is about beauty and melody. Putting those different styles together makes each different style feel interesting and as a singer my aim is to grow into being able to express all the styles and feelings that I hear in my head. Ultimately they are there to serve the feel and style of the song, not just my own instrument.

- It's you and guitar player OD who write all the songs. Is it possible for you to change between styles quite fast no matter in which mood you are?

The mood and the energy are the most important things, which determine the way we perform them. Certainly there is a certain time for everything, that's why this album has songs that are so different in their mood, for example "War Is Peace" vs. "The Bong Song". We like to surprise the listener; things do change within the songs as well, like in "Corruption". In the beginning the song tells about using other people for your own purpose and the mood is hard, but then comes the remorse, and the mood changes to a softer and trancier vibe.

- The album title "Between Force and Fate" somehow reflects the varied way the songs sound like. What was behind choosing that title?

It refers to the writing process as well as the two different and almost contradictory styles of the songs. The force points at our desire of making a harder, uncompromising album. Fate refers to the unpredictability and psycedelia that is especially to be found in the production.

- Your first Demo was finished in 2000. As I don't know that one: What are the differences between Velcra in the beginning and nowadays?

When we started there was only me and OD and all music was programmed. So we actually started off from a more industrial rock sound. As we started gigging, live instruments took a bigger role, and I think the first album is in many ways more rock than industrial. With the second album we have gone back to a more electronic sound.

- In comparison to "Consequences Of Disobedience" "Between Force and Fate" is - seen as whole - harder. Some natural process that developed during the working process or was it the plan from the beginning?

Yes, in both ways. In live situation the harder songs work best, and we wanted to make the new songs to serve the energy of our gigs. That was a natural process, and when we started working on the second album, we aimed at making it harder and more challenging to us, and the listener.

- Last year you were on tour with Oomph!, playing in front of huge audiences. Has this tour brought any changes for you?

Not really. In the end of the day it doesn't matter how many people are present at a gig, but it was nice to play on big stages, where there is room to move! We also enjoyed getting to meet Oomph! as their album "Wunschkind" has been a big inspiration for us when we started.

- Not many people would guess right that you are a Finnish band as the kind of music you play somehow doesn't seem very typical. Or is it just that we don't really know that some kind of an Industrial Metal scene exists in Finland?

There is not really a united industrial scene in Finland, but there are a few bands that you can call industrial. Our aim is to exceed genres and create one that is our own. However the Finnish metal scene is very vibrant and exciting. There are a lot of bands that are working in their own terms, creating something unique. I mean where else do people make heavy metal with cellos or an opera singer! I don't thing the path doing something in your own terms is ever easy. We believe in what we do and that is the only thing that matters. If our aim was to be rich and famous overnight then our music would be much more mainstream, and much more boring. When we released this album in Finland we didn't really know how it would be received, and were really happy that it so incredibly well.

- For a long time you lived London. Are you now back in your home country maybe because of the band or is it possible to create songs when you are so far away from the others?

I am back in Finland now. Me and our bass player at the time, Teb Bonnet, moved to England to study. He decided to stay there, but I came back, as Velcra is the most important thing in my life. It was a hard decision for Teb but we have now found a great new bass player: Wille. Teb is still a close friend of ours.

- In which way does the time you spent in England influence your music?

London is the city I love. I lived there for four years in the past and always wanted to go back. I went there to study Fine Art for one year, which was an amazing inspiration, and shaped this album in many ways. I think all art comes from the same place, but you can choose to use music or paint or poetry to express it. I made the artwork to this album and also got a lot of inspiration to the music and lyrics from the busy life of London and all the art that surrounded me at university. However, it was hard to work in two countries, I was always on the plane and never at home, so I decided to come back, especially now that we are back at touring, so we need to be together all the time.

- Transporting political statements within lyrics is something some bands would never do and some bands feel that it is necessary. What is the reason for you to do so?

London has influenced me as a person, and it shines through the way I am, and see the world. I'm not that interested in writing about my love life or heartache and all that stuff. That's why I write about the way I see the world around me, how I interpret things that happen around me. That is inevitably political, since it has to do with the society around me, how it works, and how I work within it. Maybe one day I'd like to go the other way, turn my interest in emotion and personal things. That's the way we in Velcra want to approach what we do: that everything is possible, that we can always take the direction we want at the time. That's why this album is quite different from the first one. I want to keep my options open, get interested in new things and grow as a musician, writer, performer and a person.


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