Friday, February 13, 2009

vladislav delay/ luomo/ sasu ripatti interview

Starting in late 2007, I began a correspondence with Sasu Ripatti (a/k/a Vladislav Delay, a/k/a Luomo, a/k/a Uusitalo, a/k/a________) that stretched well into 2008. And yet it was impossible to find an outlet for this interview. Despite creating microhouse's truly totemic Vocalcity, not to mention the drug-dubbiest electronic albums of the late 20th century/ 21st century like Entain, Multila, and Anima, he was deemed too obscure by almost every single editor I encountered. Thankfully, the release last year of Luomo album Convivial allowed me to place a feature over at XLR8R, though it is only just hitting stands now. Here are a few extended excerpts from our conversation:

i rarely if ever revisit my old work; for me it's obsolete in some or even many ways after it's been made. usually the life-span of a project for me is the initial feeling or an idea to do something, and then the most enjoyable period of envisioning it and living with the pre-production phase where you dream about it and come together with it and make friends, and then of course the hard work itself, to turn all those feelings and plans into something concrete and struggling with all the practical aspects until the end where you are holding something in your hands and either agreeing with it or not. but then it's more or less over. same with concerts and almost anything else i have been involved with.

the projects become somewhat public domain after i have finished with them and they begin feel less personal and i loose interest in them through that. and of course there's the practical aspect of really spending quite a bit of time in the studio or elsewhere dealing with all the new music i'm making that i really don't long to listen more of my stuff if i have some free time to choose to listen anything i fancy.

i guess there are more reasons that i don't like to revisit the older works, one at least for sure being the over-critical myself that doesn't really allow me to enjoy what i have done but rather pays attention to all the things that i would do now differently, and all that picking up on unnecessary things but i guess that's very common among the producer/artist/etc types.

i know i should maybe do more critical analysis of what i have done, after longer periods of time have passed since the works were made but that's something i have so far avoided doing, and i let the memory golden the facts in time and make my peace with everything i have done in that way.

i think the only way i really spend any time with my older works is when i perform concerts and even then i most often choose to play either the very recent material or unreleased new stuff to see how i might react on it in front of public which is always the most real test listening test you or at least i can do.

> What kind of stuff affected you back during that time?

back when i made Multila? it was a lot of a drugs, i must admit. i was strongly inspired by and into the whole mind- and reality-altering thing, escaping the "now" and living somewhere else. there were quite long periods back then when i was really quite out of it, but fortunately more often than not spending time sketching out some musical ideas.

i'm glad there always was the strong drive to make and be with music, otherwise who knows what might have happened.
looking back in retrospect many things seem naive now, but at the same time i like the fact that back then i was really imagining things more than being ultra realistic that i am nowadays after going through more stuff, both good and bad.

i was really thinking differently about my music back then, not knowing what's out there and thinking the sky's the limit with what i can do with music and that it belongs to everywhere, not being the underground stuff it ended up being.

when i made Multila i thought it's very cutting-edge modern music, especially the more ambient pieces, and not just being electronic or post-techno stuff, and that it should be played at fashion shows or advertisements or movies of the most cool kind. it was a shock to really realize where i did end up with my music when i begun traveling to concerts; really i couldn't believe it was only barely happening and in the very leftfield of the leftfield and nobody was paying musical attention to it besides some chin-stroking guys.

but i think exactly that unawareness was a blessing back then, so i could just come up with anything i imagined, also through being out of it with drugs, i just wasn't thinking and analyzing things like i do nowadays but just going for it. but that's only one side of it. the other side drove me to quite a bit of trouble, health wise and otherwise and there was no light in the end of the tunnel and i'm glad i could become little bit more connected to real world eventually.


>i read recently you did a live soundtrack for Aki Kaurismäki's I Hired a Contract Killer. and was wondering about your approach to a movie like that, less-dependant upon dialogue and more for scene-setting. what drew you to that film? even when I listen to something like Four Quarters (to say nothing of sampling Hurlyburly for Anima), it has a cinematic sense of rhythm to it, many different elements moving at once, not cohesive in one sense, yet all in the same scene.

cinema is for me more entertainment than anything else. so i'm watching all kinds of stuff, without much filtering. i'm happy to be amateur in film world. but more and more i find myself referring to some movie, how they made it technically or storyline-wise etc, and thinking how could i turn that same feeling onto music i make.

that's what i like in music, that it lives like a life or movie or anything, that it's not just a metronome steady and artificial in that way. faltering, collapse, disintegration, that's what life is sometimes, right? so music should be as well. i don't want nor do i try to separate my music from my life.

for long time i avoided playing with any visuals, partly at least because i wanted to try making the music part as visual as possible and then the thought of having visuals there didn't really add to it but distract. playing to a movie opened some doors for me though, namely it gave me a freedom not having to fill in everything all the time. which is what i could of course do without movie as well but having the visual stuff going on there i felt more secure to let go off the music for quite long periods and play very sparsely which i enjoyed a lot, and for sure i will be doing more of that now also when playing alone without any visuals. i wonder how that will work though, to be seen.

what drew me to the film? i guess at least partly home sickness. i miss Finland sometimes a lot and Kaurismäki's movies sure me quite well. even movies that are not taking place in Finland (like "I Hired...") they have that something Finnish in there that i like and miss. above all, i think his movies are great no matter what, i have always liked them. i will be playing more to his movies in the future, really looking forward to that.


there was absolutely no clubbing lifestyle, but rather a pure drug lifestyle. i didn't really read any drug literature either, i just experimented with drugs with some friends of mine. you know, staying at home with dope. looking back i was really immersed with all that stuff for quite long time. i even named my label narcotic back then, and even today completely sober person i chose to keep the name when i re-launched the label because the whole drug thing was so much of an influence to me, and still is.

it definitely gave me some inspiration and ideas i would not have gotten otherwise, but then again i don't think they were anything essential necessarily. but i do think the overall vibe i have is still drugged out, not that i'm still spaced out but that i still think it's a great feeling to be out of your body and feel otherwise, and i do still draw from that feeling when i make music. nowadays i try different techniques for all that, like yoga or whatever meditation or music no matter how esoteric it sounds but it works and doesn't fuck up my body but the opposite. i think back then though i was too fucked up to make any concrete decisions anymore, so it did more harm than anything else. i also got into health problems and had unnecessary issues with criminals and cops etc. so all that just almost completely destroyed my music.