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Mikko Heikkilä: “Even if we are swimming in dark waters doesn’t mean that there’s no light.”

Er broeit altijd wel iets in de Finse metal scene en van op afstand zagen we de naam Kaunis Kuolematon al meermaals passeren, maar buiten het thuisland bleef het een goed bewaard geheim ondanks meerdere releases. Daar is nu verandering in gekomen met het derde album ‘Syttyköön Toinen Aurinko’ wat zoveel betekent als ‘laat een nieuwe zon ontvlammen’. Duistere doom/death metal, maar toch met een sprenkeltje hoop in deze bange dagen. Voor meer uitleg gingen we te rade bij zanger/gitarist/tekstschrijver Mikko Heikkilä die we al langer kennen van zijn activiteiten met bands als Dawn Of Solace en Black Sun Aeon.
Vera Matthijssens Ι 19 december 2020

Hello Mikko, how are you doing? I hope everything is going quite well in Finland…
Hi, we are okay, thanks for asking. Even how hard these times are, we still need to move forward. We haven’t faced any irrevocable setbacks yet and really hope we can carry out the plans that we had confirmed for next year.

Congratulations with the new third album, it is a stunner, but first let us go back in time as introduction for our readers… The band was formed in 2012. You were all seasoned musicians with a lot of experience. How did you find each other to form Kaunis Kuolematon?
Yes, Kaunis Kuolematon was founded in 2012. I was playing in Black Sun Aeon and Routasielu starting from 2009. Around that time I had four different bands to play with. It was kind of barrier back then, mentally if I may say so. Years were passing by and all the bands back then came to their end and stopped for existence. After a short period I got an idea for having one more group to improve my darkest inner. There’s always been space in my heart for the music and it’s always been a big part of me, so the idea about forming a new band didn’t surprise me. We have known each other for years, so gathering this amazing group of great guys wasn’t that difficult to arrange. I see Kaunis Kuolematon more like good friends than just band mates.

The music genre is doom/death metal. What can we see as your influences?
I have to say this again, even I’m repeating myself and even it sounds a bit cliché. So I have to say life in itself. Starting point would be different if we were younger, but have to say in this point of life you can sound believable enough and make a stand for what we are doing. Like lyrics; Lyrics are a big part of who we are and show a huge part in our music. We try to avoid making lyrics too difficult… more like in a way that it’s easy to imagine yourself in a story and approaching the songs that way.

Finnish language was chosen as leading feature. What were the reasons for this decision?
First there were about five songs written in English, but there was something that disturbed me. Something was kind of missing, that didn’t feel complete enough. Then I had a moment where I wrote lyrics for the song called ‘Varjo’ in ten minutes, and I was like; What the hell? It felt so damn right. Then I called Olli and asked him if he would be able to sing the songs in Finnish and he promised to check that out. That felt so right afterwards, so there were no other options left. I think performing in our native language makes us more interesting. And there are a lot of bands these days that sound very similar, so you need to have some specialties to bring up your own thing.

You have released two albums before and several EPs and singles. But I think the action was mainly in Finland before, isn’t it? Qua success as well as qua shows?
Action was mainly focused in Finland, you are right. But there are many reasons as well. We were handling everything about publishing on our own. After releasing the EP ‘Elämä ei tarvitse minua’ we noticed that social media has so much potential that we were able to grow up our fan-base without putting huge amounts of money for advertising. I believe hard work is more worthwhile than becoming a rock star in one night. So signing with Noble Demon is one more step to move forward. Slowly but surely.

The third album ‘Syttyköön Toinen Aurinko’ has proper potential to expand the boundaries and maybe it might be a help that you are finally signed by an international label. How did you get in contact with Noble Demon and what are the expectations?
When we were recording vocals for the Dawn of Solace album I asked Tuomas about the publisher for the album ‘Waves’. So Noble Demon came up. After searching some information about the label, I saw that it would be a very interesting choice for us (Kaunis Kuolematon). Not too huge for a small Finnish band, but a lot of knowledge around the music business and a lot of important connections to help us out.

When did you actually start writing songs for this new album and who are the main song-writers?
After releasing the EP ‘Elämä ei tarvitse minua’, we had demos for six/seven songs. So basically it was easy to start putting album songs together… Ville Mussalo has been the main man on our latest releases. For the EP he composed all of those four songs. For the first album I wrote almost all of the songs in it, but later releases I have personally aimed my focus on lyrics, vocal and song arrangements. For this new album I got one, Olli three and Ville five songs. what comes to composing. I mainly did arrangements for the vocals and wrote almost all of the lyrics. We are in very good position, because we have three active composers in this band so that itself makes our albums very rich and interesting what comes to our sound.

If you had to compare it with your previous works, how would you describe the difference or the improvement on this new CD?
Oh my goodness 🙂 Practically we have been forced to face all the same issues that we had on previous ones. I don’t know how it can be so difficult to change our working methods even how hard we try. But maybe we just have to accept and face the facts. But what comes to songs; I felt this was the first time, when I heard some special moments on the first try from each of the songs. Of course it was expected to change after rolling those songs like 200 times. You just need to believe yourself and trust that the songs will carry the same emotional feelings to the listeners.

Is there a theme running through the album or just different topics, mostly related to melancholic and sad feelings?
Like I already mentioned, I have written almost all of the lyrics. I don’t want to make them sound so difficult to approach. I just want to keep them as simple as I can; so it’s very easy for the listener to jump in. Ordinary stories from ordinary life, mostly the darkest ones that we don’t like to talk about that much, but still about we need to face everyday…. dark side of reality and everything around. Simple but enough so gloom…

But I have the impression that hope is always important too, as solace for the darkness, isn’t it?
Yes of course. Even if we are swimming in dark waters doesn’t mean that there’s no light at all. I remember when I wrote lyrics for ‘Vapaus’ album, I felt the need to ask if we were really going to release those. There was so much light and happiness instead of darkness and dying. I wasn’t sure back then am I willing to publish that kind of a text. But we did it and have to admit it felt pretty naked at the first time performing those songs in front of an Finnish audience. But that’s our thing and that’s how it should be like. To be honest for yourself.

What can you tell about the recording process?
We recorded all of the drums and vocals in Deepnoise Studios with Saku Moilanen. Bass and all the guitars we recorded ourselves by Ville taking the lead on that process. Ville and Olli composed all of the background fx’s, synths and keys. Saku, who mixed the whole album, also handled the mastering.

You have marvelous video clips. Let us shine a light on few of them. First the one for ‘Kylma Maa’. This seems to be filmed in your hometown Hamina. Can you tell a bit more about the location(s), the actress and the making of?
That wasn’t a long process. Totally it took two days for shootings. It was filmed by our friend Hannu Tiainen who’s known more about his skills as a photographer. I think this was the third video that he filmed and directed. Video was taking place in the middle of our hometown, in the middle of historical walls which are known as Hamina Bastion. Actor is our drummer’s niece, the same young lady who you can see in one of our previous videos, single ‘Palava Maa’.

The new video has just been released and that is for the song ‘Hyvästi’ (I am glad you chose the long tracks). How do you look back at the creation of this video?
That wasn’t the easiest way to accomplish. We rent millions of lights, but in the end it was recorded in the daylight. Also there were issues around additional shoots ‘cause of the covid; so there was no chance to get any extra material. But in the end, we’re good, all good. Really happy with the result. Once again I want to give a big hand to Hannu Tiainen, once and again. Magnificent job as always!

Finland has a lively scene of excellent doom/death metal bands. Is that a pro or a con for you as band?
Pro, I have to say… Here are a lot of different kinds of events for this style of music. Lots of bands to co-work with, so I say it’s definitely a plus. Even here in Finland we have a lot of bands, I must say we’ve been lucky that we have achieved this position that we are in now. Of course that means lots of work and good connections, but past years have been good for us. Big thanks goes to our live manager Aki Juvonen from Loosemind Productions as well for taking us to his roster. That’s been very helpful in every way.

As we all know playing gigs happens to be difficult this year. But you did a live stream and even two real appearances on festivals in Finland. How did you experience this? How was it possible to organize a festival this year? (I know Finland was not hit that bad, but even then…)
The situation was pretty good at the summer, and we were lucky to get on a stage. But as you might have seen we’ve been forced to cancel our shows this year including all of our album release shows. Everything is now postponed to next year, but we need to take one step at the time and see how this goes and which direction…. There is so much negative energy in the air, so even if there would be a chance to play alive, would that be worth it? But somehow you have to keep band’s name active, so we have several plans….. still something that we can’t confirm yet.

To round off, please give us some words about the artist for the artwork and the way you came to this cover and artwork?
Artwork for the ‘Syttyköön Toinen Aurinko’ was created by Niko Anttila who’s been working for the bands like Sabaton and Finntroll for example. We just gave him several options to improve the cover art and the rest is history. So I can say the whole concept is created from an artist. Of course there was extra tuning as always, but without Niko this wholeness wouldn´t be as it’s now. So all the glory for the great artist. You know, that album cover is painted by true colors, digitally finalized.

If there is anything you’d like to add, feel free to do so here…
For all the fans. In these hard times the best way to help your favorite bands is by using all channels in social media; share the links, share the music everywhere, on every platform. And of course: PLAY THE ALBUM ‘SYTTYKÖÖN TOINEN AURINKO’ AS LOUD AS IT’S POSSIBLE!!!!