Tommi Sirkia is Haltya, a producer from Finland, who has also played as Pelinpala, who helped pioneer Suomisaundi (roughly translated as the Finnish sound). He is travelling for his fourth time down-under to play his unique melodic brand of electronic dance music to the Rainbow Serpent Festival, an annual outdoor electronic music festival, and here’s what he had to say to us…
K: Do you see yourself as a Suomisaundi artist? Or do you define yourself differently?
T: Suomisaundi is something that got invented in the mid 90’s in Helsinki. Most original Suomisaundi artists were(artists like)Gad, Squaremeat, Texas Faggot, Erazer vs Yojalka and Pelinpala / Haltya. Helsinki is kind of a small city and the sound evolved from there. People took influences from many Australian artists and other artists that made a more freakier sound.(Essentially,) we didn’t really feel like going the ‘normal’ goa/psytrance route.
I do consider myself a pioneer of Suomisaundi,but I wouldn’t categorise myself in just that category alone as I make all sorts of music from trance to techno to breaks to chill out. For me, it’s just music.
K: Tell us a little bit about where you come from, like what sort of scene, environment and people were around.
T: I come from a musician/artist family. My grandfather was a magician and musician, my grandmother a stepdance artist, my sister is an actress and my father a now retired opera singer. Music is something that i grew up with and i have always been around it working with it, playing or singing. It’s just very natural to me.
I grew up in Helsinki and Germany. moved back to Finland after living 7 years abroad. I don’t really feel like I belong anywhere, really. As an identity, I would pick ‘snowboarder’ right now!
K: Is electronic music a personal journey for you, or do you see yourself more a part of a collective?
T: It’s a personal journey in a collective for me. I dislike most of the newer styles,it seems that peoples attention spans last5 seconds maximum. Newer sounds don’t really tell a bigger story and nobody wants to concentrate on listening to a piece of music for 10-30 minutes until they get it.
K: So how did you become to be an international?
T: I wanted to travel.
K: Where do you see electronic music going in the future in terms of general aesthetics?
T: It’s going more into bass-music department.A couple of fat bass-lines, few party sounds, good production and that seems to be enough for most people. Melodies or harmonies are a bit harder to find,(and)real aesthetics with a personal sound. Back in the 90s, most people had their own sound, now it all has begun to sound all the same homogenised(sound). There are exceptions, of course.
K: Is psytrance dead?
T: yes. since 2000. more or less. It’s very different to what it was.It’s darker now and i’m not sure that’s a good thing.The vibe has changed.
K: Do you consider yourself a “live” electronic musician? What does live mean to you?
T: I just play my music.If the promoters want to call that live, then so be it. In the words of Armin Van Buuren : “if you rock the party, you rock the party”,or more cynically,Deadmaus5 “we all just press play”, although that’s not entirely true.
I do play some sounds, loops and things on top of tracks, sometimes even midi, sometimes with other musicians, but(it’s impossible for)my laptop to play out ninety minutes of a full live set with all the synths and audio tracks on the spot.
K: What bands inspire you?
T: Daft Punk,The Beatles, Nirvana, M83, (and)Above and Beyond because of my old mate Paavo is in the band.
K: So what do you enjoy most about Australia?
T: That’s a secret. I enjoy the Tasmanian beer, the nature, the East Coast, the humour and how well things work in general over there.
K: Favourite Australian artists?
T: Nick Taylor was making nice music back in the days. Same with Rip van Hippy and other Psy-Harmonics (A small Melbourne label run by local Andrew Till) stuff.
K: What other musicians inspire you?
T: Bach, Beethoven, Sibelius, Herby Hancock, Charlie Parker, Hiromi Uehara, Leif Segerstam, and many more.
K: What do you like least about the EDM scene?
T: This whole Beatport thing. Everything sounds the same(and)there seems to be less freedom to develop styles. Now you have to fit (in with) labels and there is no room for real creativity like in the 90s.
K: Do you have other creative things you like to do? Hobbies?
T: Tennis, Badminton, Bouldering, Bicycling (and working out in the) gym. I spend much of my time reading news on the internet, configuring and updating my machines, checking out apps and that sort of stuff. I like to eat good food. I’d like to consider myself a bon-viveur without sufficient cash to really live that lifestyle!
K: Tell me about a crazy situation you’ve been in recently.
T: This happened just a few months ago. I was supposed to play a gig in Israel. turned out that the gig was at the West Bank. They took me there without my knowledge, never told me whereIwas,and Ididn’t even have a passport on me. the party was in the desert close to an illegal Israel settlement in the West Bank. The guitar player I was with memorised the road numbers we took, so we checked it out on Google Earth exactly where we were later on. There was even a memorial, so it wasn’t hard to find out afterwards. To our surprise, we had actually played a gig in the West Bank, near the Jordanian border right next to the Jordan river bank. On the contract, it stated that the gig was in Israel. For me, it was a bit rude not to tell us and we were unaware of it all. We were essentially made part of the illegal occupation of the West Bank by Israeli settlers in a way. Finns are neutral people, we don’t choose sides, so this was something I would not have wanted to do had I known about it. Later when we asked the promoter why he didn’t tell us that we were in West Bank, he just replied “What you mean West Bank? It’s Israel!”. So that was weird.
K: Tell me a joke!
T: Why did the compressor go to the doctors? Because he had a soft knee!
K: What makes you happiest outside of music?
T: Sports, money, health,and women.(Most of all I love) riding down a mountain on fresh powder snow on my snowboard somewhere in the European Alps in the sunshine.
K: Where do you see yourself in twenty years time?
T: Traveling somewhere in South America or Asia, making music, living in the mountains and snowboarding every day.
You can catch Haltya play at the Rainbow Serpent Festival from 25-28 January. For details of the festival and tickets, you can visit HERE.