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Casual "jamming" into realization.
Phillip Hong
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 related)-fresh-full.
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 Malaysian! :)
Phillip Hong is a presenter on Centre Street, our current affairs programme featuring alternative stories and interviews.
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