28 April, 2009
To distance themselves away from the predator of the African animal kingdom (if
you live in Toronto, more like Cambridge and their African Lion Safari), LLIONS
had no choice but to duplicate the "L" in their name. That created a very
exotic "ull" sound in my mouth as if I was speaking Korean.
The diverse genre set of this group is as diverse as the group's origins. What
I thought was Malaysian was actually Finnish... but regardless of the ancestral
origins of names in general, one could easily forget these little details for a
type of music that brings comfort and uniqueness to a listener's day.
How do you get rid of this "ull" sound, you ask? Listen to their music and this
tongue-twister shall cease.
PHIL: What got you into music? Is it a natural part of you?
MATT: My parents enrolled me in piano lessons at age 5. Due to my piano
experience and my ability to read music I was selected to play the drums in Jr.
High, and the rest is history! I have many relatives with the "musical gift",
so I'd say it's pretty natural for me.
SATU: I think I was just born this way. And if not, my family (parents,
siblings, and extended family) are all very musical and have had a huge
influence on me. It's just like speaking another language.
SUVI: Like Matt, it was my parents that put us into music. Satu and I
began with piano lessons, then later on we began violin lessons as well. Add to
that a musical family, and presto! I'd like to think that it is a natural part
of me. My entire family is musical and has a deep love affair for music, so
I'm pretty sure that it is embedded in my genes (though maybe not in the jeans
that I am wearing right now)!
JARKKO: Music was a part of my family growing up, and I just picked it
up. I went through the motions with some piano lessons, but even when I started
to figure out the guitar I just took it for granted that music is, always was,
and always would be a normal part of my life.
PHIL: How did you guys become a group?
MATT: Well... it was a rainy night in September...
SATU: 1 Satu plus 1 Suvi plus 1 Jarkko plus 1 Matt equals 4 LLIONS!!! We
simply started jamming and realized we could make something out of us :)
SUVI: It all began one fall (right Jarkko? My memory is a bit foggy and
patchy). Satu, Jarkko and I were playing around with this idea of becoming a
band... then one day, our brilliant Matt joined us!
JARKKO: I always wanted to play and create music with my sisters, and
one day in late 2006 it all lined up: Matt and I already were already playing
together in another band, I had developed some songs for a new project but
didn't know yet what to do with them, Satu and Suvi were excited with the ideas
that I was getting... the opportunity was there and everyone was game... I
think we just realized that we all were on the same page with respect to the
sound and style we wanted to explore.
PHIL: What is the inspiration behind "One More Left"?
SATU: ...Jarkko? Really influenced by our Finnish heritage I would say.
SUVI: ...Jarkko, wrote it. He is Beethoven reincarnated. Satu agrees.
The rest of us simply added our own touches to One More Left. Plain and simple.
JARKKO: A lot of song ideas come to mind when I'm getting into the shower
at the end of the day, and they take form somewhere during the lather, rinse
and repeat. "One More Left" started with a version of the line that goes "when
I have six empty chambers in the gun pressed to your thigh", which I thought
sounded cool in an old timey Private Eye sort of way, but also provocative in
a way that made me think of Leonard Cohen. That triggered a reference point
for the music, and I suddenly found the song writing itself. If it wasn't
completely written by the time I got out of the shower, it was 99% there. The
finishing touch, though, came when I was playing it for everyone and Matt had
the brilliant idea for the kickass backups that Satu and Suvi start up after
the first verse. Perfect example of why I couldn't do this by myself!
PHIL: If you were to describe the genre of your music in three words, what
would it be?
MATT: Fun, Fresh, ...umm...
SATU: Folk-rock-harmonies; or unique-(since 3/4 are blood
SUVI: Folksy, plus rockish, plus harmonies.
JARKKO: Um, neo-traditional/post-folk/pop-core? I dunno. In my mind I
hear multi-part bonfire singalongs, but the synthesizers and drums take it
somewhere a little different. It's happy fun music, in any case.
PHIL: Where was the most unusual venue you have performed in?
MATT: Our first show in our own practice space (maybe?)
SATU: I agree with Matt - our practise space! A cozy show :)
SUVI: I agree with Matt and Satu. Our first show ever was in our somewhat
cramped, sauna-like practise space! It was like a sardine can that was left in
the front seat of a car on a hot summer day, with the sun rays pouring in
directly on it, with the car playing some good tunes, of course. :)
JARKKO: So far, yeah; probably our first show ever, which we staged in
our practice space once we decided that we had enough songs to play for other
people. That was fun. It's not a big room.
PHIL: Satu, Suvi - Where do your names originate? It sounds a lot like Malay.
SATU: What is Malay? Malaysian? They're Finnish names, some people draw
comparisions between Finnish and Japanese for example, so perhaps that is where
you got that thought from. Satu means fairytale; and Suvi means Summer. They're
poetic names :)
SUVI: My name is Finnish. Since my parents weren't expecting twins,
they had only prepared for one girl with the name Satu. Legend has it that after
my surprise entrance into this world, they came up my name somewhat
spontaneously and on-the-spot, if you will. If you translated my first name and
my middle name, together they mean "summer breeze". I'm thankful that even
though my name sounds a bit different, it has a neat and poetic meaning!
***Fun fact: Satu also means "one" in Indonesian! That isn't too far off from
Phillip Hong is a presenter on Centre Street, our current affairs programme
featuring alternative stories and interviews.