When and how was your band created?
Arttu (vibes) and I ran into each other around 1991 and became musical soulmates. All the four original members of XL studied at the Sibelius Academy Jazz Department in the early nineties.
Were is the name of the band coming from?
We wanted to create visual and emotional music togehter, to paint a big picture. XL is the size of our heart and mind.
What musicians or artists did have a major influence in your life / work?
Wide variety: The music on Tim Burton and David Lynch films for sure. Also Sibelius, Pekka Pohjola, The Police, DJ Shadow, Kent, Steps ahead, Mozart, the projects of Dave Grohl, early Genesis, the more experimental side of U2. The career of Radiohead has also been an inspiration to follow. The result of these “arty” yet at the same time mainstream influences is hopefully
What are the positive and negative aspects of being a musician / singer (in Finland)?
Our (mainly) instrumental music has international potential on marginal scenes. We have some sort of cult following in Finland and are happy to make albums and tour mainly here, but it would also be a thrill to perform more outside Finland.
How could you qualify your style of music?
Audio fairytales, instrumental soundtrack, art rock, contemporary music. I wish the word progressive did not have such an ugly sound to it in musical vocabulary. The titles of our latest albums SURREAL and VISUAL also give you a hint.
Have you ever considered the possibilty to change totally your style of music?
If so, what style of music would you choose?
Every album and composition we have recorded has had some sort of theme or dogma to make it somehow unique. The result may not have been obvious, but we have experimented with electronics, orchestral arrangements, riffs, ambient music and just about anything we are interested in. Since we have freedom, we want to use it. We still want to maintain certain “XL esthetics” in whatever we do. To be honest, I do not know the next step yet.
What are stories/topics you tell/treat in your songs?
Nothing so surprising. Beauty, love, longing, fairytales, views, memories, fear, respect, to name a few. Since we hardly use lyrics we leave things open to the listener, though we certainly want to make a statement and touch peoples hearts and imagination.
What is your favorite song in your repertoire and why?
To me it is “Kärlekstörst” by Arttu. The name is swedish and means “thirst for love”. I wish I could write something so beautiful and fragile myself.
Do you tour regularly? Do you actually prefer performing your music live or in a studio?
Studio is great place to document our growth as a band and the albums will last basically forever, but we all love doing concerts. The atmosphere is so concentrated, yet full of energy. We actually played in Paris in 1998 and it was magic. We hope to do it again some time. Tomi is our manager when it comes to gigs and he has become very good at it!
During the process of making an album, what is the moment that you prefer?
I enjoy composing, but it is also great to bring the material to the other guys to hear and play. What I REALLY like is to record little colorful details and effects just before mixing to create this other level of sounds underneath the songs. We created such layers with Arttu on our latest VISUAL-album in a more acoustic and experimental way than ever before.
What kind of music / What artists do you currently listen?
Pepe Deluxe, Steve Reich, Weather Report, Kraftwerk, Jeff Beck, Nick Drake, Queen, Foo Fighters, Suba, Wes Montgomery, Beach boys. You name it!
A stupid question but… what is among all the songs you’ve been listening in your life the BEST song?
“Runaway boys” by Stray Cats. It is the reason I picked up guitar, formed my first band and started writing music. It’s even better than “Love Supreme” by John Coltrane! Listen to “Glam” on VISUAL and you will find nice preference.
Internet is something interesting for musicians because it gives them the opportunity to touch a larger audience but it is also a threat for them (regarding the copyrights). What is your opinion regarding this medium?
I find myself harrassed by all the information around me. So and so many thousands of records and bands + all the commercial bull shit. E-mail is actually a great way to be in touch on business matters and the net gives you all the facts if you can find what you are looking for. I still try to concentrate on my music and the people around me. That cannot be replaced by any modern invention. I want to touch on deeper level, be honest and maintain being ambitious and innocently curious about life and art. Corny, but true.
What are your actual and future projects?
VISUAL has been released the 15th of September and XL will be touring a bit this fall. I look forward touring solo (Jarmo Saari SOLU) and with a tribute band to finnish cinema (Jarmo Saari FILMTET) later this year. I have also started producing a record for a brazilian songwriter Sergio Machado.