July Interview: KORIA KITTEN RIOT!
With a new album imminent, Antti Reikko from Finnish Indie band Koria Kitten Riot has been speaking to Nordic Music Review about their recent single, new material and the dark but comic inspirations behind their songwriting.
NMR: Your recent single 'The Laughing Man' has been out for a while, and we love it, can you tell us more about what the track is about?
"Certainly! It’s about envy, and it’s roughly inspired by one of my favourite films, Amadeus, directed by Miloš Forman and written by Peter Shaffer, who recently passed away. The film’s about the (fictional) rivalry between the composers Salieri and Mozart, and the mediocrity Salieri is forced to face in himself, compared to the prodigious Mozart. Mozart, played by Tom Hulce, has a very distinct laugh in the film.'
It’s a pretty universal theme - I believe everyone who ever tries their hand at something like art, for instance, will be faced with feelings of mediocrity. But I also believe what makes the difference between mediocre and good is just to try harder. Whatever “try harder” actually means, tends to be the hard part though."
NMR: Actually in general, I'm really interested in the themes you choose to write your songs about - on your last album there was a homeless man knocked over by a car chatting to God, a song about an alcoholic musician. They're dark, but the lyrics seem to have to a slight comic or whimsical edge to them. Is that right or have I misunderstood them?
"I suppose it’s just how I seem to experience life. The world is a pretty dark place, but our problems as human beings are often tiny, repetitive and predictable. I find a lot of humour in that. Also, the older I get, the less I care for being dramatic about things. Instead of wallowing in it, I’d rather try and fight the darkness with a funny little flashlight that says “this too shall pass”."
'The world is a pretty dark place, but our problems as human beings are often tiny, repetitive and predictable. I find a lot of humour in that'
NMR: So are we to expect more of the same on the new album, which is due soon? And can you give us an hints on the type of themes you write about on the new album?
"Yup, more of the same, I guess! Rich Men Poor Men Good Men was more about stepping into the shoes of other people though, the new one is more self-centred. Thematically, it’s roughly built around the themes hope and science. The lyrics reference the universe, space, string theory and the like a lot. I think science is a better source of hope for the mankind than, say, religion. It’s not a true theme album though, and a lot of the songs are just about whatever. There’s a vague common thread though."
NMR: There's a lot of us in the UK feeling really disillusioned socially right now, from our perspective there's been a steady and nasty shift back to intolerance, hate and prejudice in society. Musicians have played a huge role in inspiring social change, especially 50-60 years ago, but do you think songwriters can still influence social change in the current era?
"Yup, it’s a little scary, and it’s the same here in Finland. I always thought intolerance, hate and prejudice were quite universally seen as disgraceful things, but apparently that’s not the case anymore. Supposedly a large quantity of people just weren’t raised very well and/or are pretty stupid - sorry.
I think the role of music in our society has changed so much in those 50-60 years, that I don’t think it will, unfortunately, at the moment be able to have the huge social effect it had in the sixties. Everything’s much more scattered and small these days. I don’t think there will be another Beatles or Bob Dylan, carrying the torch in that sense. Also, I think the protest song movement, or whatever, was so influential at the time, that any attempts at writing a song with a social message are still seen through that filter. And a lot of people shy away from that.
Having said all that, I think it’s gravely important that anyone who has a voice, no matter how small, has the courage to stand up for the good stuff. There’s always someone who hears that song you wrote. Maybe true change needs to come slowly and in small packages."
'I always thought intolerance, hate and prejudice were quite universally seen as disgraceful things, but apparently that’s not the case anymore.'
NMR: Listening to your Albums chronologically. your sound has evolved from the slightly melancholic singer songwriter through to the indie band sound of the last album. What has influenced this?
"The main influence is obviously the fact that there WAS no band on the first two albums, it was just me. It has been a natural progression. But, since I love speculating, I will:
I believe I started writing the first KKR songs around 2006 maybe - so it’s been a while. At some point I realised everyone and their friend was suddenly a singer-songwriter, and “folk” had become a thing - involving mostly bands with old hats and suspenders shouting “hey” a lot. Which was not what I wanted to do, but I felt like a lot of people thought I did - because I played an acoustic guitar, I guess.
I wanted us to move away from that a little, and I guess it’s a bit of a back-to-my-roots kind of thing too. I still only play acoustic guitar with the band though, but I try to be creative about it. I just don’t like dragging around amps etc. that much, and I hate having to do the FX pedal tap dance while I’m singing."
NMR: So any news when the world can expect the new album release?
"It should come out in October or so, if all goes well!"
NMR: And we have to ask this question..... any chance of UK gigs in the next year?
"Realistically, probably no. UK is a difficult place to break into, and we’re not actively trying to book shows there at the moment. Hope it will happen one day though! At the moment though, I wonder what will happen with Brexit and the music business."
Don't mention Brexit! We all start shouting a lot and getting angry... Anyway finally, we love hearing Recommendations from people on the ground in Nordic countries on new music - any tips on great new Finnish bands or artists we should all be listening to right now?
"I always tend to forget everything when I’m asked things like this, but I’ll try to make a short list from the past few weeks!
I liked the first single from Bone Moon:
As well as this one from The Holy:
This one from Kuparilinna was pretty sweet:
And there’s a wonderful track, “Antikristus” by my friends’ band, Hakala & Vasanen - but it hasn’t been released yet, unfortunately."
Great recommendations, thanks for your time Antti, and good luck with the album launch in October!
Don't forget we've featured 'The Holy' a few times in Nordic Music Review, and in the last week they have released a brilliant brand new video, read about it here: http://www.nordicmusicreview.com/#!The-Holy-new-single-Ramses-The-Evil-Brother/cmbz/577be9be0cf2e63d265dd093