Siinai are definitely a band that you would call wide-screen. From the thick synth drones of opening track “Anthem 1&2” on their 2011 debut album ‘Olympic Games,’ this Finnish 4-piece make a sound more suited to chariot races across the skies than airless, dingy basements. As the name suggests, the album uses the concept of the games itself and the musics created is a sprawling, dense listen. Although there are Krautrock influences aplenty, Siinai offer something that’s loose, whooshing, triumphant and, like the Olympics, BIG
Siinai are a band on the go, almost literally. Right now they’re wrapping up a US tour with Moonface + Siinai, a collaboration with Wolf Parade member Spencer Krug who is also appearing at this years Airwaves. Apparently they’d just woken up in a hotel in Phoenix when we came a-calling, but band member Markus Joensuu was still up for answering a few questions about the bands and their lives.
Tell us a little about how Siinai as an act came to be formed. I take it you were all involved in other bands in the Finnish music scene, correct?
Well, myself and my brother Risto played in a band called Joensuu 1685, which decided to go on an indefinitely long vacation. After that, we wanted start a new band so we got Matti Ahopelto (Zebra and Snake) to tag along before finally getting Saku Kämäräinen (Äänijännite). A couple months later, we recorded our debut album, ‘Olympic Games’
Finland seems to be teeming with interesting music. K-X-P appeared at last year’s Airwaves, while there are the sounds coming from labels such as Ektro and Fonal Records. Is there anything, whether it be cultural or geographical, that can explain this?
Maybe it’s the darkness but that you have that in Iceland too so doesn’t explain all of that. Sometimes there is a scene in Sweden or Norway, sometimes in Iceland and now it is Finland’s turn.
Your debut album, ‘Olympic Games,’ is a grand sounding album based on themes and events from the Olympics Games themselves. Why did you decide to use such an event as the concept for the album? Was the fact that most people think of Vangelis’ “Chariots Of Fire” when thinking of Olympic music a hindrance or an inspiration?
Vangelis has lot to do why we did this kind of concept album. The theme of the Olympics also suits an instrumental record quite well, and the record was going to be instrumental anyway since none of us are not really into singing.
During this year’s Olympics, you asked musicians to submit remixes of tracks from the album. Was this an instinctive idea at all? Were you amazed with the number of remixes you ended up receiving, and are there any in particular you were impressed with?
Well, at least I was really impressed. I wasn’t really involved into the process of getting bands to do remixes, but suddenly there was a whole bunch of really good remixes. My favourite was Jussi Lehtisalo’s (of Circle) remix of the song called Finish line.
Despite hailing from Finland, you’ve signed with Norwegian label Splendour. What was it about the label that made you sign with them?
Well the guy who runs the label is a great dude and he was really excited on spreading the word about the label’s bands around the globe. As they say, small label = the guy who runs it, so you really got to like that guy and have some belief in him.
You’ll also be appearing at this year’s Airwaves with Wolf Parade member Spencer Krug’s solo project Moonface, and you collaborated on his second ‘Heartbreaking Bravery.’ How did the two of you meet up and start working? Do you feel that the work you do with Moonface is a departure from your usual sound, or merely continuance to what you’ve done?
Risto and I met Mr. Krug when Joensuu 1685 was touring with Wolf Parade. After that we recorded the album with Siinai which Risto sent to Mr. Krug. He liked it a lot and suggested that we’d make an album together. Before going to the studio we demoed some stuff and he was working on lyrics. The initial demos were very much a continuance to our own sound, but Spencer of course brought also his sounds into the studio, which was good and inspiring.
Some people may never have heard of Siinai before and as such may not know what to expect from a performance by yourselves. Can you describe to our readers what a Siinai concert feels like?
It should feel (at our best) really intense and mesmerising. If it doesn’t, we’ll give your readers a free Siinai tote bag. In order to get the bag, the reader has to come to tell us after the show “that wasn’t mesmerising enough”.
You heard that Airwaves readers! Performing at Airwaves means travelling to this fine country. Will this be your first time to Iceland? If so, is there anything in particular you want to see try while you’re here?
Well I’ve been there once and I’ve driven around the country, seen some geysers and been to that spa called The Blue Lagoon. It would be cool the see some volcanoes if we have time. Some of us are staying there longer to see the country properly. You do have a nice country!
Thanks Markus. What’s in your pockets right now?
There’s a pile of 20 dollar bills. We have no tour manager so I’m the money man on tour. There is also a phone, wallet, lighter and some American Spirit rolling tobacco.
Are there any special words that can describe Siinai? Can you make one up?
That’s a tough one. I can’t make anything up. Can you try that yourself? I’d like to hear what it is
Well we shall use the words Ässää! Käheetä, Ällistyttävää and Splendorific!
Siinai will be performing Saturday 3rdNovember 23:20 at Harpa Kaldalón. Moonface with Siinai will be performing Friday 2nd November 00:20 at Þýski Barinn/German Bar