First off a simple question that might not be too easy in your case. How would you describe Kiveskives (which translates to "TesticleTesticle") to someone who's unfamiliar with your works?
Kiveskives > Our music is mainly psychedelic progressive instrumental Nintendo-tuned rock.
Are there some specific bands you draw influences from, or some that you could be rightfully compared with in your opinion? I've heard and seen people mention such bands as Machinae Supremacy, Kingston Wall and even King Crimson when talking of you, and Focus' "Hocus Pocus" is also somewhere in the same playfield as you. One could mention the Finnish YUP and their English "mentors" Cardiacs, too. Yet, you aren't quite the same as any of these.
Kiveskives > We agree those comparisons with Kingston Wall and YUP. Hocus Pocus has also been one of our guitarist's influences.
You've said that Kiveskives was born from the intention of creating something new and fresh, something of a style that is unknown to you. What were your previous bands like, and is Kiveskives currently your sole or main band? How did you find the line-up you started jamming together with?
Kiveskives > We all three have been liked different sort of music, so our affections are quite distinct. Antti jammed with Markus in Rymättylä when they were about ten-year old bastards. Markus went studying to adult education collage at Paimio after military service. They met there with Pietu and they jammed there together during the school year. Therefore we decided to put the band together at the end of year 2008. And we still don't have a feeling of regret.
Were you keen followers of progressive rock or instrumental music overall when you started the band, or was it all just a jump to the unknown? Have you had any musical training or studies?
Kiveskives > Referencing to question before this, the school in Paimio was a music school. And we all have taken some instrument studies when we were young budding musicians. We knew some instrumental bands before forming "Testicles," but instrumental music becomes more and more familiar to us all the time.
What kind of music do you listen to your free time? Does it tend to be somehow artistic, or do you have a taste for simpler expression as well?
Kiveskives > Like we said we all have different type of music taste. Hmm, maybe it includes almost everything that human being can listen.
Were the vocals and lyrics left out to make the music more challenging to create, to make it more universal, or why? You have some brief vocal bursts and shouts here and there, so it seems you haven't completely excluded using them.
Kiveskives > It leaves more space to the other instruments.
How are your songs born? Is it difficult to find the balance between the drums, guitar and the (to some extent) dominant synth-bleeps and melodies, and where do the vocals fit in with all this? Do you rely more on some subconscious gut-feeling and the music's groove and atmosphere, or do you try to analyze your songs and their compositions when you're deciding which song is up to par to your standards?
Kiveskives > Not at all. First way is that Markus or Pietu brings the sketch of the song to our rehearsal room and we adapt that to our sound, the other way is that we all three are jamming together for example in Vammala where is Pietu's childhoods home. Last time when we did that we produced about five new songs in one weekend. We also had a sauna and too much beer.
As mentioned, Kiveskives is quite an experimental and joyful band, and I can believe that it's a lot of fun for you to play in. But what is it that you have to offer to your audience, in your own opinion? Is your aim to deliver the fun, surprising and challenging songs to lift up the audiences' mood and to give them something new, or just to enjoy yourselves on stage?
Kiveskives > We always try to be at least energetic, surprising and spontaneous.
Is the name Kiveskives perhaps somehow related to the band Sydän, Sydän?
Kiveskives > We have heard that before. No it's not related to Sydän, Sydän. Those guys are fantastic though, best regards!
You've partly jokingly labelled yourselves as a instrumental nintendo-rock'n'roll-band. How do you keep the music fresh and exciting for yourselves, and keep Kiveskives from becoming a "one trick pony" of sorts? The playful synth-work is a definitive element in your compositions and sound after all, so do you ever fear it's the only thing people will remember - or is it a good thing, as they make the band harder to forget, too? You do have a lot of variation in your compositions, but what I talked above regarded the listener's "first vibes" when getting acquainted with the band.
Kiveskives > This question should be asked from the audience.
Do you ever worry that some will regard your band as a joke because of its humorous and playful elements - or is it unimportant?
Kiveskives > We think that people can take us as they want to. We can be humorous if you feel humorous. If you feel aggressive the music can sound aggressive. It's more like a regulation than an exception.
Besides other bands, where do you draw the inspiration and influences from? Does visual art inspire you, or movies, or watching the news, or..? Are you influenced by video game music? I'm asking because of the chiptune-sounds, obviously.
Kiveskives > Of course, visual art and movies are inspiring every one of us. C-64 is better than Nintendo.
How do your songs get their names? I can see the story behind the Hurriganes-tribute of sorts "Remu" and the long and calmly jamming "Limbo," but the other ones are not so clear. Is there a story behind the song titles? Oh, and since your music is otherwise more or less universally understandable due to having no lyrics, how did you come to name the band and songs in Finnish - is it just because of their influences or stories?
Kiveskives > Songs do have a project name and a public name. Names in our albums are something between those two. Names of the songs aren't the most important thing in the music. If you like the song, its name can be whatever.
You released your debut EP "Painottomassa Tilassa" in 2010, which was followed by your debut full-length "Joystick" in 2012. I'd like to focus on the non-aural factors first. The EP's cover art is rather dark and features people floating with their heads in a greeny blue bubble, whereas the album's covers are a colourful extravaganza of horns, drums, guitar necks and keyboard keys spiraling around a (rather phallic, but that's how they are) joystick that emits green light. Would you like to tell us something about these artworks; what kind of pointers did you give to their artists, for example? I was a bit surprised how somehow gloomy the EP looks, as your music is usually is anything but that.
Kiveskives > Elli Vuorinen from Turku did our EP's cover art, and Olli Kiviluoto from Seinäjoki did Joystick's fantastic covers. Both of those covers are artistic in their own way. We wanted some more colours to coat our new album, and for the next album we might want to have even more.
"Joystick" has been split into side A and B on its back cover, which got me curious if you're planning (or hoping) on releasing it as an LP as well? Just out of curiosity, do you have any format-fixations yourselves, be it either CD, vinyl, tape or mp3?
Kiveskives > We think we are releasing that in LP as well when we have some money. We are looking a label continuously, but maybe we are too characteristic and exotic to music business. But on the other side it's good because no-one says what we can do and what we can not to do. So we are our own shepherds which is important to us too.
Short and simple: why the name "Joystick"?
Kiveskives > Well... It's unique. We should take a cup of tea and think about that.
What kind of "tricks" do you use to get the live-feel to flow through the recorded music as well? How was the album's recording session?
Kiveskives > Everything went well. We had a great recorder Kaj Mäki-Ullakko with us. He had also played some gigs with us in our bigger group. Sometimes we do play our gigs with additional musicians because we want to give something more to experience to our fans.
I've noticed that the album's been receiving good grades in the media, and for a good reason, too. How about yourselves; how do you feel about the album now that the recording process is over and the album is out in its colourful glory?
Kiveskives > We are very satisfied and proud by that but it's time to move on.
You had some quest musicians playing horns on the album, and, unlike when playing live, you play bass on your albums as well. Have these "extras" made the songs more challenging to play live, since they're presented with a barer line-up? Have you thought about recruiting a bassist to your band?
Kiveskives > Bassist Mikko Hellström is playing gigs with us sometimes. We want to stay as a trio because everything is simpler that way.
How did you originally come up with the idea of recruiting some horn-players for the album? Did it happen in the studio or sometime while rehearsing the songs?
Kiveskives > We think that Kaj and Markus had that idea at first while we were working with Joystick.
Regarding the above, do the live-versions of your songs follow the ones on the records, or do you occasionally let go and start jamming on stage?
Kiveskives > Small jamming and surprises are always good and happily received.
Your trio has guitars, synths and drums, which pretty much means that two of you are bound to their places on the stage for the most time when you play live. How have you managed to overcome this challenge and keep the audience interested?
Kiveskives > Of course it's our big problem on the gigs but we must live with that. Maybe we figure out something in future.
You did a short European tour, too. What kind of venues did you conquer, and how was the reception? Did the audience or their reactions differ from what you've experienced with the domestic gigs?
Kiveskives > They liked us especially in Germany and Denmark but it was nice to play in UK and in France as well.
Do you have any tours coming up in the future, and what are your future plans overall? Already working on new songs, perhaps?
Kiveskives > Yes, we will do new songs and new gigs. Maybe we must do a brand new album in the near future. After the album is released we can make new tour, in Finland or somewhere else. But it depends on how good songs we can make, will fans like us if we'll be too renewed, a new kind of outfit? There exists a little risk.
Thank you for your time, and, of course, congratulations on the new album!
Kiveskives > Thanks to you for being interested!
Promotional photos by: Linda Tavio