Tenhi

 •  Posted in: Kogaionon Interviews

Tenhi is one of the bands that has managed to impress the metal crowd, even if the band does not fit the genre. I know Black Metal, Gothic and even older sort of Rock fans (Beatles, Pink Floyd) who have reacted extremely positively to the sounds of Tenhi.

How did Tenhi manage to impose itself in such a manner?
The answer is simple, I think: Tenhi creates original music, uninspired by a certain trend, full of honesty and creativity, based on acoustic guitars, violins and piano, with a sound that finds itself to be far from the cold computer tones, minimalist, even.

The explanations about its making off story and as well of its musical vision are redundant. I find that their web portal has quite detailed information regarding all this. And so, the interview that follows is focused on the potential of Tenhi, potential that will always bring a fresh breath of air into the world of dark music.

Greeting, old shaman!
For those who love your music, Tenhi is „the music of nature”, or at least a journey into its infinite landscape. Why do artists always contemplate nature from within a melancholic pass?

Greetings to You. It is true that artists often seem to deal nature as a melancholic theme.
Perhaps it is a way to revere nature from a humble point of view – melancholy gives certain seriousness and grace to the subject that is in focus. For me revering nature means revering the power of life and death; the whole span of life so the approach of
making music about it is obviously very subtle and personal. The shades that melancholy provides for me as a musician color the area where my spirit meets the environment best.

Melancholy taken to the extremes tends to transform into depression and even suicide. There is an entire debate about the EMO trend, a large number of bands being named as promoters of it. What is your view on this? Tenhi can not belong to the trend as the lyrics deal with themes unlikely to fit the profile and the music has a totally different message, but the atmosphere created, dark, depressive, sad, one of isolation, loneliness, can create erroneous interpretations from the side of the ignorant, untrained and superficial listeners...

Sorry to say this but I am totally unaware of this EMO trend...

I have noticed the way you express yourself through the medium of video. Have you any plans of producing a DVD? The visual experience on a musical background is very well harmonised, "Kausienranta” being a successful proof of this.

Kausienranta is the first and only video we have made so far. Tyko seems to be quite in to the medium these days and his planning to make more material from the forth coming new album. Personally I feel that at the moment we have enough work on our hands just trying to finish our music...The Kausienranta – video took a lot of time and energy.
But sure, pictures are a powerful way to enhance the music and if there were a couple of hours more, in addition to the 24h day, we would make more videos.

As musicians, you most likely have some musical predispositions, some preferences. What or who impressed you from the relatively recent musical scene? Empyrium and Sigur Ros are into developing similar ideas related to the wild nature of Northern Europe. What do you think is the differentiator between same style music produced in the North of Europe and the rest of the world? Does it really make a difference being from the North?

I think that the surroundings have a really big influence on what you do. The nature, weather conditions, sociocultural environment molds the mentality of the people.
Of course somewhat depends on artist’s own personal choices and personality but you can never escape from the fact where you are born and lived. In our case of course the
landscapes – physical and mental – of our country are present in a quite underlining way and can be recognized immediately.

Tenhi and Mother Depth are both at UTU. What details can you provide about the Mother Depth project? Have you released anything new?

Mother Depth has more or less integrated into Tenhi. Partially because of the lack of time and partially because the guys from Mother Depth, Tuukka and Jaakko,  are more involved  with Tenhi nowadays. Those guys have been involved with Tenhi since „Väre”  recordings and have always been a crucial part of our live shows as well. At this point I doubt that there will be a Mother Depth album in the near future.

Do you already have a replacement for Ilkka? Although he hasn't been that involved as he used to, he has always been a part of the Tenhi nucleus. Will the sound of Tenhi suffer any changes, even discreetly, after his departure?

We have been responsible for the Tenhi with Tyko for a really long time now and Ilkka’s departure was an awaited decision. From our point of view Ilkka’s involvement with the band did not bring anything to the Tenhi vision and the balance between us as group members was off – so not that much is changed.  Of course we will miss his gifts as an artist but surely we will not seek a replacement for him.

I know you have just recently organised a special evening, with a few quality bands. How did it go? Can you tell me something about the mood of the event? How many songs did you play? In what setting, environment? SIEBEN is a magnificent violin player while DORNENREICH creates an interesting acoustic sound... What was the feedback you got from the audience?

The Night Of Folk Aesthetic went really great. The bands where amazing creating an unforgettable night for the people that were there and for us surely. We wanted to give a glimpse of what our genre at its best can be for the first time ever for the Finnish audience. For Tenhi it was one the best gigs we have done, as that was the first time we played in Helsinki and the line up was special, including a grand piano. Our show was about 90 minutes in all.

The majority of the bands bring major changes to their approach and sound throughout their evolution. The amusing part is that a lot of them will return to their original style, in other words, they experiment for a while (2-3 albums) with some different rhythms, instruments and voices.
Until present, Tenhi has kept its original line and so the obvious question here would be if you have any intentions of doing something different or to bring new elements into the sound of your next albums.

For me it feels that we have quite a vast range of different elements in our expression.
And there has been things to explore for us always.
Some of the things we have done on our albums have felt very different and new from the „original style” at the time, but I guess you are quite right by saying that we have kept the original line in our work if considering our work as a whole. It seems that the music we have made comes from the same vein throughout our albums and we have no plans of rethinking the way we work in near future.

Saivo or the world where death lives. Where is this album title coming from and why? What is the concept of the new album?

One myth about the Saivo world is that one enters there through a hole that is in a bottom of a lake. For me one aspect about Saivo is that it can be read as a metaphor for Tenhi – while I am making music I can dive into the bottom and find a new landscape for imagination where the constraints of normal life do not apply. The frames of Saivo concept are still mostly in a non-verbal level, in our mind, so to open the ideology is difficult at this point of time.

Please describe the songs, lyrics, the music, the newly introduced elements and the instruments... The album will only be released next year and so, until then, the eagerness is rather big.

I have a feeling that the range of expression will grow if compared to our earlier works.
There will be bigger arrangements with more instruments and on the contrary more minimalistic songs as well. Things tend to always change until the very end with our songs and usually the first impressions, even for us, have been wrong. For example we always thought that Maaäet would be a drum driven album and it turned out to be quite the opposite.

I wonder why is there always a link between rock music and the sorely, over the top attitude of their fans?  I haven't noticed anything aggressive, defiant at Tenhi.

Possibly we do not create any of those feelings that you mentioned. Our music is silent and it is to be digested alone. Further more I think that people perceive Tenhi as a concept or an entity – not as your ordinary band with members pushing their faces into media.

I was reading in an interview about how family life can affect the „rock and roll” sort of lifestyle. What should be first? Nature as it is around us (environment) or human nature?

We have not seen this far any „rock and roll” style of life. Hopefully we will get our share of that later... No, for real, we are more of regular family guys nowadays than we used to be. The misantopistic-teenage-black-metal-monster days have changed into mediocre normal life – which is fine for us.

The experience of watching a film and living moments within a time and a space where you don't actually exist can create a false sentiment, more of an informative and pleasant experience than one with ties to authenticity. Is there a risk for that to go the same way when it comes to music? The Northern bands sing about nature, but a great majority of their audience doesn't physically know the nature of Northern Europe. Does this not create a somewhat forced tie between the artist and the audience?

I think that one does not have to live in the middle of the forest in order to understand the beauty of it. Often the feeling of longing for something creates the most moving feelings. In a way people tend to always want something different than their ordinary life – this type thing is Tenhi to us as well. The escape from the normal life.

Don't you find it ludicrous that in a world that self destructs year after year, the ones who fight against today's society/system and who are mainly placed in the area of rock/metal, use satanism as weapon and subject of creation? Is this not a double acknowledgement of our self destructive nature? It seems as Nietzsche waisted his breath when suggesting that man should give up on his/her idols. Coincidence though: the majority of the rock fans have read Nietzsche. Satanism should have nothing to do with paganism. Am I in the wrong?

I am not an expert when it comes to religions, ideologies etc. but at least for the outsider, such as me, it seems that in a way satanism is a very christian thing. For the  both beliefs are dealing with the different sides of the same coin. Personally I have my own way of perceiving the world and I do not regard myself as a member of any specific religion. I have my own calling and I try to stay true to that. Some of our ideals and thoughts can be seen as paganistic but we have never tried to put those thoughts into anyone’s head through our art. The biggest differentiator between Christian and Pagan beliefs is a fundamentally different perception of the soul. In Christian beliefs the span of mortal and post mortal life is linear – after this life comes the reward or the punishment which is eternal. The religions and beliefs that are more revering towards the earth are cyclic, such as paganism (some branches), Animism, Hindu, etc. In cyclic beliefs one returns to the earth after death in one form or another which is why life and nature are sacred. From environmental point of view, the linear Christianity is short sighted leaving the world only to be a vessel to paradise or hell.

Related to Tenhis' discography… do you consider, chronologically speaking, some evolving qualities of your albums? There can’t be a case of devolution... I’m only asking because some artists usually have a instrumental and compositional evolution that reflects into their opinions on their own work. How do you see every Tenhi album?

I am not sure if it is a matter of evolution when it concerns our music. We have never been a band playing technically difficult material so that our skill level has basically been
the same throughout the existence of the band. And what comes to the compositions... I see no big change there either... Possibly the biggest evolution has been the micro level of our expression – I think that we can put more intensively our vision of the song to a record. By this I mean that we are able to be more dynamic in the performance, in other words we can express ourselves better than we used to.

Let’s come back a bit to the subject of your live performances. Tenhi can’t boast with too many concerts throughout its pretty long existence. Why is that? Is there a difference between Tenhi playing live in Finland and Tenhi in Romania? Where is it more convenient to play? Out in the open... or maybe not? In Germany you played in a castle with remarkable acoustics... Do you think that a perfect concert would include a projector that would show a film with images taken from nature? It is a sort of thing that became common practice from some time now...

Live performances have always been little tricky for us. I guess that, as persons, we are not performing artists and we rather work with our recordings and graphics than focus on giving good gigs. It has been a conscious decision to try to put as much energy to finishing albums that we can. There is a very limited time for us to be involved with music these days so this is a matter of priorities as much as being quite introvert as a person. On some gigs we have used background graphics and it has worked nicely but
I feel that sometimes it can be a bit distracting when there is too much going on at the same time.

HARMAA was a project that didn't differ all that much from Tenhi and that is why the album released under this name was re-edited at a later stage at Prophecy, but under the Tenhi name. Was there a marketing strategy behind this move?

There is no marketing strategy behind shifting the Harmaa record to Tenhi. We just saw that there was no need for us to separate anything we do from Tenhi – at the time we did the Airut: Aamujen record we felt that it was too different from the Tenhi material and it needed to be under a different title. But after a while we understood that this kind of thinking was not necessary anymore.

Inspiring the idea with the 3 CD set released on your 10th anniversary... Did it sell in considerable amounts?

Personally I have not seen any figures about sales. Hopefully there are people that want
the package with the art work and all...

How does a ordinary day go for the Tenhi band members? Some 12 years ago you were telling me you want to study architecture, or graphic art. How does an ideal day look for you?

Tyko and I both work in the field of design and architecture. Our normal day is pretty much similar to a normal working people. Besides that, music is a big passion for us and we try to give as much time as we can to create new material.

DOORS, LED ZEPPELIN or ULVER were some of the favorite bands some years ago. What about now? What sort of films do you enjoy watching, are you interested in globalization, global warming, the demographic explosion or the green trend?

The Doors, Led Zeppelin and Ulver are still good bands – I dare to say on behalf of Tyko as well. Many of the bands we listened then are still valid for us, such as Nick Cave, Tom Waits, Eric Satie, Anathema, Danzig, Johnny Cash, Katatonia, Tool, Type O Negative, Black Sabbath and a lot of classical composers just to mention a few. Usually we are so narcissistic and listen and play only our currently developing material. It really tires our ears enough though... Global warming is of course a big issue and hopefully the financial crisis won’t change the focus permanently away from it.

Dear friend, thanks for this interview. Greetings to Ilmari and best of luck with all that you do, because you are doing it in an inspired way! How will Tenhi look like in 25 years? You have the right to dream with your eyes open and your fingers on the keyboard. Although, 13 years ago, at our first interview, all the words were said in writing, handwriting that is, on a piece of paper... those were the days...

Hopefully we will have the same enthusiasm for the things we do today. This kind of non professional way of working needs a lot of spark and love to come to life.

November, 2008