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Embassy of Silence Interview

Embassy of Silence Interview
Performed in March 2011 via Skype
Embassy of Silence

It’s a lovely thing when an album actually lives up to its hype -- able to both catch and hold one’s attention, despite a steady onslaught of new releases. Euphorialight, the debut album by Finnish rock/metal sextet Embassy of Silence, accomplishes that in spades. From the sly, cheeky "I Ride Alone" to the dark, swelling chorus of "Passion and Savagery" to the reggae-inflected "Baron Samedi," there is not an ounce of filler on the album. Two tracks, "I Ride Alone" and "The Mercury Lamp," are available as free downloads from Embassy of Silence’s ReverbNation page.

Sonic Cathedral’s Robin Stryker caught up via Skype with kaleidoscope-haired chanteuse, Ines Lukkanen. Dive in to find out what happens when two geeks get together without proper adult supervision. Little known fact: Ines does a quite convincing Chewbacca imitation.


Robin:  Metal greetings to you, Ines! Since Embassy of Silence’s debut album Euphorialight is not yet available in the U.S., would you start off by introducing yourself and your band to Sonic Cathedral’s readers?

Ines:  Well, certainly! First of all, my name is Ines Lukkanen ... I’m sure that’s tough for everyone outside Finland to pronounce. (laughs) So, I’m the singer of Embassy of Silence, which is a band with six members. We were formed by myself and Tero [Kalliomäki, lead guitars], back in 2007. Since then, we’ve recorded two demos: Wendigo Winter in 2007 and Pristine in 2008. And, as you said, our first full-length album Euphorialight came out in the Spring of 2010 via Supernova Records. We play melodic, atmospheric rock/metal with a slightly progressive twist.

Robin:  With Embassy of Silence being from Finland, do people assume that you are either highly-operatic symphonic metal or black metal?

Ines:  I think the first option is usually the one that we hear A LOT. People sometimes go: “Oh, they don’t have an opera singer in this one.” It’s like “yes.” As if it’s some kind of a norm that if you’re a Finnish band with a female vocalist, you HAVE to have someone sing opera.

Embassy of Silence

Robin:  Tell us a little bit about the personalities of the boys in the band. Since they are not here to defend themselves (Ines laughs) … tell us something interesting about your brothers.

Ines:  Okaaaaay, well what should I say? Well, first of all, Tero Kalliomäki, my co-founder of Embassy of Silence, is the main composer of our orchestra. He’s really a quiet sort of person, and seems really shy, but when you get to know him, well, let’s just say his sense of humor is really something! And that also applies to the rest of the guys. (laughs) I don’t think you could print anything we say at our band rehearsals. The jokes are lower than low, but that’s how we like it.

Secondly, we just got a new drummer, Make [Lievonen], who’s a really cheerful guy. He’s just so overly ecstatic all the time at our rehearsals, that we think his head is going to pop at some point. He’s like a squirrel on amphetamines or something. An AWESOME drummer, though!

Then there’s Samu [Lahtinen], our bass player, who’s been there ever since the beginning. He also seems like a kind of a quiet type at first, but he’s really sociable and funny. Then there are Harri [Koskela], our keyboard player, and Jarno [Suodenjoki], our second guitar player, both really loud, raunchy, and outgoing metal-heads. I really don’t know what else to tell you. You should meet them! I can’t put people into a few short sentences and give a good image of them.

Robin:  Reading your status updates and studio reports from mastering Euphorialight in Sweden, it does sound like you have entirely too much fun with the band! Do you ever feel like you should be more dark, tormented and grim to fit into the metal-babe category?

Ines:  Yeah, I know! (laughs) That’s something that’s been an issue with the band. I mean, our music is really dark and brooding … ohhhhh death, and ohhhhh the horrible sadness in my heart, and ohhhh the dark pits of angst. But then, when you come to our gigs, we make jokes and weird faces all the time. Half of the audience really appreciates that, but we’ve also gotten feedback that’s: “I don’t really get your jokes.” It’s like: “Well, piss off, then!” Like, “so?!?” Does it stop someone from listening to our music? I don’t know, maybe it puts some people off. But we do have a lot of FUN, and I think it’s a good thing, when it comes to band chemistry.

Robin:  Going back to the album itself, how did Embassy of Silence choose “Soul-Broken” as the first single?

Ines:  We had a couple of other choices, too. In retrospect, we have thought that we should have chosen some other song that would have represented the album as a whole, which “Soul-Broken” doesn’t really do. It’s more radiowave-friendly. If I could choose again, I would probably choose “Absinthe Eyes, Opium Words” because it has a little bit of everything in it. I mean, “Soul-Broken” is a great song, but I’m a bit ashamed to admit that we chose it for commercial purposes -- which is really not something I should say, but it’s true. So, it’s out there now.

Robin:  Just recently, Embassy of Silence released the video of an acoustic version of “Passion and Savagery.” What did you record the video for? Was it a performance or in-studio recording?

Ines:  The video was shot at the same studio [D-Studio] where we recorded the whole album. And the purpose for it was that we just felt like doing a video. Since we aren’t really considering making an actual music video just yet, we wanted to put something out there. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and it still does. The video came out pretty classy, and it’s received plenty of positive comments.

Robin:  Although you don’t have an actual music video just yet, with you being very visual, what would your ultimate video be and which track would you pick?

Ines:  Oh geez, we’ve had this conversation with the guys too, and we never seem to be able to agree on it fully.

Robin:  Ha, the guys don’t have to agree! They aren’t here, so they don’t get any say in it.

Ines:  So it’s just me!

Robin:  Yes, just you! What would you do, if you could just go CRAZY on a video?

Ines:  I think I would go for “I Ride Alone.” The video should feature -- maybe not directly the full story that’s in the song itself -- but cars, and Stetson hats, and cigarettes, and booze, and stuff like that. Not just a couple of people playing on stage for three minutes. I mean, that’s the most BORING kind of video that you could ever make. So, rock and roll attitude!

Embassy of Silence

Robin:  A saloon? Guns?

Ines:  Yeah, definitely! Guns blazing!

Robin:  Unlike the song, there will be no shooting off any guy’s … errrmmm …

Ines:  Noooo! Well … no. Although … no. (laughs) Maybe not. Or it could be censored! We could make another version -- one that’s more gory, and one that’s better for Music Television.

Robin:  There is a song on Euphorialight, “The Mercury Lamp,” that I have read the lyrics for and listened to repeatedly, but still have no idea what it is about. I love the song’s imagery, but am completely stumped.

Ines:  That is probably because -- okay, this is where my geeky side comes out -- I wrote it about a character in an Anime series. Yeah. But also, on the other hand, it reflects this thing that I hate: females competing against each other. You know, the cattiness and the envy? And just feeling like you’re not part of the female race because of that. So that’s probably the more easily explained version of the story.

Robin:  So what is The Mercury Lamp itself? Is that an Anime series or a character?

Ines:  It’s a character. In Japanese, it’s actually “Suigintou,” which means “Mercury Lamp.” The series is called Rozen Maiden, and it’s about these dolls that compete against each other to the death in order to get the privilege of meeting the person who made them. That should be their only goal, and that is what they were made for. This maker (of course) is a man, whom they call “father.” Suigintou is a character who’s most desperate to win, because she’s the only one that the maker didn’t finish. So, the setting’s very dark. I don’t really watch Anime at all, but this one kind of got to me somehow.

Robin:  You’ve mentioned before that Embassy of Silence is full of geeks. Who is the biggest geek, and what is their geekiest thing?

Ines:  I think it might be a tough contest between myself and Tero. Maybe it’s me. I mean, his most geeky side is the fact that he is a huge Star Wars fan, which I am also. But he doesn’t role play, I role play (table-top, mainly) and play computer games. Not so much anymore, but I used to. So yeah, I suppose it would have to be me.

Robin:  But unlike Tero, who has at least one Star Wars tattoo in a private-ish place, no Star Wars tattoos for you?

Ines:  (laughs) No, not yet at least. Althoooough, maybe at some point.

Embassy of Silence

Robin:  Which Star Wars? Are you a prequel gal or the original?

Ines:  (scoffs) Oh, come on! Are you REALLY asking me that?!? The movies that were made in … when did Episode I come out? …1999, 1998 (something like that), I don’t even know. But in the second part, there is this whole romantic shit going on with the pear feeding and all. I don’t even remember much of the newer movies, because they just SUCKED so bad! The only good thing about them was the fact that they brought some sort of depth into the whole story, but that’s really it. And also, in one of the parts, I think there is a cameo appearance by E.T., which is awesome!

Robin:  Other than that, quite terrible. So, will we ever see any Star Wars references in Embassy of Silence songs?

Ines:  Oh, that’s a great idea, I have to do that! (laughs) I could make a whole song about Star Wars.

Robin:  It could be very subtle.

Ines:  Yeah really subtle, like describing an X-wing or something like that. My boyfriend is laughing over there. He can’t help himself.

Robin:  I’ll do some Chewbacca roars for the background. It’ll give a whole new meaning to “growl vocals.”

Ines:  Oh yeah, like (imitates Chewbacca roaring).

Robin:  I understand that Embassy of Silence has made good progress on the next album. Where are you in the process of album number two?

Ines:  That subject is something that I am not sure what I am allowed to tell about too much. But I can tell you that we are making new songs, and just really at a slow pace also recording them, since our label is still trying to get our first album out there. So we really can’t say anything official about a second album. We just want to sort of get something done in the meanwhile. And since we have a lot of ideas and want to continue making music, if we have the opportunity to do so, why shouldn’t we?

Robin:  You and Tero were primarily responsible for Euphorialight. Is the second album going to have more input from the other members of the band, either on the lyrics or composition?

Ines:  Composition, yes. Lyrics, well …maybe. We were thinking that, since our second guitar player Jarno is also a very good vocalist (he does the whole grunting thing) … I don’t know what you call it in English.

Robin:  That’s it, “grunting.”

Ines:  So we were thinking that we could probably feature that, and he could make the lyrics for those parts. When it comes to composition, our keyboard player Harri is going to be doing the keyboard parts himself. Since we’re going to be rehearsing these songs for gigs, I think they might change along the way. We’ve always had this sort of principle that if someone wants to participate in doing something other than just playing, they are free to do so. I guess it remains to be seen.

Robin:  What have you learned from writing the first album and then actually playing those songs out, that you’re taking now to write the second album?

Ines:  What I’ve learned is that the way I sing on Euphorialight doesn’t really sound like it has a lot of attitude or edge in it, but I have a completely different style of singing live. So I’m trying my hardest to get more of that into the next album, and try my limits. Since I have a lot of different styles of singing, maybe I’ll incorporate some of those into the album as well.

Robin:  Style-wise, what you do you have in your repertoire that you have not yet tried on the album?

Ines:  Hmmm, how would I describe them? Well, first of all, I actually do have quite a loud and strong voice. That’s one of the main styles that is not on Euphorialight, so I want to put that onto the next album. Also, this sort of... “evil witch” kind of style. I can’t really describe it, you’ll have to wait to hear it. (laughs)

Robin:  What does the rest of 2011 look like for Embassy of Silence?

Ines:  Apart from making new songs, it’s probably mainly doing shows, it’s still pretty early! Well, first of all, since we do have a new drummer, we have to get him into gear. We had a lot of gigs in 2011, so hopefully it will be just as good this year. Also, these new songs that we are making, playing them live. Also doing promotion, just putting a little bit more effort into it. 

Embassy of Silence

Robin:  Ines, thank you so much for talking with me today. As always, the last words are yours. Do you have any parting words for your friends and fans at Sonic Cathedral?

Ines:  We are hoping to get our album available for you in the United States and outside of Germany and Scandinavia as well. We are working hard to make that possible. You can hear us on Spotify, and please visit our website (embassyofsilence.net) for news. We’re also on Facebook. I hope you’ll like us, and if you don’t yet know it, you will learn!

Many thanks to Matti Remes (H&R Productions) for setting up the interview!

Official Website

Embassy of Silence