Q + A : SAMULI KEMPPI
Alongside his remarkable contribution to the series, we had a deep and pleasant chat with Samuli Kemppi to find out more about his story, his music, and his upcoming projects.
Alae RAMDANI | 17th June 2017
Hi Samuli, we are glad to host you on Paradox. What have you been up to lately?
I’ve been traveling quite a lot and also managed to spend productive time in the studio. Performing my new live set for the first time this friday at SWÄG festival in Tampere. Looking forward to that.
You are also throwing a special party concept called Domestic Techno Inspection that includes special live acts from finish artists. What was the concept behind it in the beginning and how has it evolved since then?
It started out 10 years ago with friends gathering to play some music and have a few beers. There wasn’t much of a concept behind it in the beginning. The following year was different. I got the idea to have a mini festival in a club. Ten live acts with their own VJ’s on same stage in one night. It was pretty awesome. Now it has become sort of an institution gathering domestic live acts and vjs to same place once a year. Since there is always so many performers, we decided collectively to give all ticket sales to charity. So far we’ve raised about 10000€ during these years. That’s quite remarkable.
Another name that came to my mind when I think about Finland is the iconic duo PanSonic which consisted of Mika Vainio and Ilpo Väisänen. Can we say that this project is part of your influences?
Of course Pansonic was a huge inspiration and also influenced on what I do, since it taught me the basic language of techno. Really sad to think there will be no more new music from Mika. He passed way too early. Really big respect to Sähkö crew. They were true pioneers.
Is there any other finish artists that you consider as influential for your music?
I’ve always liked the music of Sasu Ripatti, Mono Junk and Marko Laine. Don’t know if there is any influences from their music, but I’ve always admired what they do.
“For me the perfect way to work in the studio is using hardware only”
You’ve released your first album 2 years and half ago on Max M_Rec label, which you consider as a home for your music. Are you planning a second album in the near future?
I’ve thought about it. It’s going to be more in the experimental domain. Maybe next year. Haven’t planned it that far yet.
In 2016 you’ve founded a new imprint, Power of voltages, on which you’ve released two EPs so far. Both EPs have a very strong musical identity. How could you describe the concept behind this label?
It’s my own playground. Since M_Rec Ltd ended, I had to find a new home label. Nobody was going to pick me up from here, so I had to do it myself. That’s how I came up with POV. I’m not much of a concept kind of a guy. I just want to learn new things and evolve as an artist. POV is the channel I can use for that and I have absolute freedom on everything.
Is it intended to host exclusively your own material?
Yes. For now. I have other upcoming projects with a friend of mine for other stuff. POV is just me. POV003 is now ready for mastering. Expecting it to be out at the end of August.
The other label you run is Deep Space Helsinki alongside your partner in crime Juho Kusti who is also running the eponym radio show with you. What are your both specific roles in the label? What is coming up next on the label?
The label is us. Like the radio show too. So far we’ve done three releases. Now that Juho lives in Berlin, we don’t have much time to spend in the studio together. Juho has his own projects at the moment too. We’ve talked about DSH004, but haven’t made any decissions about it yet. Maybe later this year or net year.
Speaking about your Radio show Deep Space Helsinki, have you ever thought that the project would gain the worldwide popularity it has today? What do you see as the key component for such a success?
Not in our wildest dreams! It is totally unexpected that there is so many listeners around the world. I guess our tight selection and the fact we play a lot of upcoming releases are the reasons for DSH success. Someone just said to me that we are the filter that lets through only the best stuff. We’ve been doing DSH for 10 years now, so there has been a plenty of time to get it spread out. Consistency in what we do could be also one reason.
You’ve launched a second related show called “Curated by” where international guests are hosted for a mix. Is there any news planned for the show in the near future?
We got the opportunity to start this second series on Basso Radio, thanks to Roberto Rodriguez, the music chief of the station. It’s an invitation only mix series, where we ask artist who we admire and like to participate. We give them freedom to do what they want. We are now booking sets for September. Airing the episode 42 this friday.
I had the chance to hear your live act at Tresor last summer. Can you tell us about your live setup? Is there any funny or unpredictable moment you’d like to mention about one of your live performances?
Currently my live setup is laptop running Ableton Live, Acidlab Miami (808 clone), Roland TR8, Korg Electribe ESX1, some effects and a controller. I used to travel with 50 kilos of gear and that particular gig in Tresor last year was the turning point to lighter setup. When I had all the gear ready in the sound check and turned powers on, my sequencer started slowly and there was ”Set time and date” message on screen. That gave me some extra heart beats. Luckily Cirklon is built like a tank so it can take a few hits. This had no effect on my performance. It was all good, but it was also a wakeup call. Now all the sound devices are in my hand luggage, so I know they won’t be thrown around and broken during transit. I’ve had some gear broken during transit, even though I use Peli Cases, which should take pretty much anything. It’s always a bit challenging to come up full performance without all the elements in your setup. Couple funny cases for sure, but not really something I’d tell in public. :D
Seems like you have quit your regular job so you dedicate entirely to music. Has this decision met your expectations so far?
Yes, I quit my day job exactly year ago. Now looking back I couldn’t be happier. I get to do what I love and spend more time with my family. It was my best decision ever and also a big leap of faith to the unknown. How will I survive? How can I take care of all the bills? All has gone actually a lot smoother than I expected. Well, I’m definitely not rolling in the money, but I guess that’s not the point in living. I’ve decided with my wife to see where this goes in two years. Now things look good. We are happy.
Only few artists have found their specific sound and we really think you’ve found your own... How would you describe your sound by the way? What gears/vst’s are the most important to reach this specificity?
I think my sound and music is some kind of an always evolving entity. I’m always trying to find new ways to do things and improve myself. For me it is pretty difficult to describe my own sound. It is me.
For me the perfect way to work in the studio is using hardware only. It has its limitations, but once you master your gear, there is no limits. I’d say the most important piece of hardware is my Cirklon sequencer. It controls everything in the studio.
We are pretty much excited to host you soon in Marseille alongside our partners Culturalis at Le Cabaret Aléatoire. I guess it will be your first gig in the city. How do you imagine the techno scene and vibe in Marseille?
Needless to say that I’m pretty excited about my first visit to Marseille too! So far all the parties I’ve played in France have never disappointed me. You have sun, sea, good food, good wine and nice people down there. I imagine I will enjoy it there.
How did you came out with this mix for Paradox?
Recorded it at home, so it’s always a bit different to a club set. In a club you are in interaction with the floor and if you are connected with the floor, then there is a good chance to have a party. That of course leads to somewhere and your selection will never be what you planned. I went through my shelves and found couple older tracks to this, like Jay Denham’s brilliant Carjacker from 1998 and some older Prologue releases. Also some new jams I’ve been playing a lot recently. It’s vinyl only, one take, rough around the edges. Starting slowly, peaking, going deeper and then rising again. Something like that.
What kind of non electronic music do you listen to usually?
Jazz, dub, reggae, funk, disco. Mostly jazz. My non-electronic collection is around 2000 vinyls, so there is plenty to listen to. I don’t listen to techno that much when at home.
Any special venue you recommend in Finland?
I’d say most of them are in Helsinki, here’s a pretty nice scene. Looking forward to upcmonig weekend and playing at Tampere’s new venue Kuivaamo. I’ve heard it’s pretty awesome.
What new finnish artists would you recommend to check out at the moment?
You should check at least these. Not all new kids on the block, some have done a lot of releases already, but haven’t gained that much reputation outside Finland yet. Not in any oredr: vÄäristymä, Kitkatone, Hannu Ikola, Rasmus Hedlund, J. Lydén, Albert Williams, Latmos, Cult Of Personality, HYV… You can find mini documents of the Domestic Techno Inspection on youtube. There’s plenty of more.
Can you give us a glimpse about your future projects?
Well, POV003 is ready for mastering. An ep for Construct Re-form is coming out soon-ish too. I’m also on couple V/A releases too. First is Berlin’s magnificent ://about blank clubs label and soon after that on Semantica’s Nonnative series. I’m also starting a new label with my Canadian friend. More news on that soon. A lot of good things lining up.
Thanks a lot Samuli, we hope to see you very soon somewhere, keep the tension on!
Love and respect.