Trees have a language and culture of their own. If I had to describe them in one word? Breathtaking!
Kinda ironic… Everyone knows (or should know) that they allow us to breathe… both our Bodies & Souls. Deeply rooted within Earth they touch the sky without moving… The Lakota refer to them as “The Standing People”. Rainer Maria Rilke wisely stated that “If we surrendered to earth’s intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees.”
So, when I come across a track called Out in the Open by a band called Trees... I smell fresh air! And when the only thing written in their About Section in social media is the sentence “We are Trees” I know for certain that I have found something special… Breathtaking? Definitely!
Once upon a time, in 2016, a trio was born, fronted by songwriter and singer-guitarist Santeri Vänttinen. One year later the three Trees self-released their four song EP Daydreams. Doesn’t it feel like the numbers don’t add up? Right… Soon after the release another tree grew into what makes up the current lineup of the band: Santeri Vänttinen on vocals and acoustic guitar, Jani Lamberg on drums, Teemu Muikku on bass and Joose Keskitalo on electric guitar and backing vocals. What a Magical Forest! So Magical & Unique that critics had to come up with a new genre to describe their music: Saimaa Folk Rock.
The first 15 seconds of the video clip for their new track Out in the Open… That’s all it takes to begin to understand what I’m talking about. No spoilers here… so just watch it. And join me in a delightful conversation with Santeri…
Crow Xp: Hi there, Santeri. It’s a great pleasure to have you here. “We are Trees”… Three simple words, yet so powerful…
Santeri: The story behind the name Trees is long. There is one meaning I wish to hide, but you could say we Finns are a tree hugging folk. The Finnish forest is a place of calm and ease for us, yet it also possesses dangerous and scary elements. The folklore is also very rich.
Crow Xp: Tell us a bit more about Daydreams… By the way, I just loved the subtlety of a vinyl playing in the video clip for your first EP…
Santeri: We had been playing together for six months after I rushed us to the studio for the first time. You could say it happened quite fast, but there was a need to record those songs just for the sake of moving on with our newly formed group.
Though our final form manifested after the release of Daydreams, it serves as a breaking point for us. There is always something special in gigging and recording as a band, an escape from the rehearsal room and putting the music and words out for others to hear and feel.
Crow Xp: Joose Keskitalo joined Trees after the release of Daydreams. The missing piece of the puzzle?
Santeri: Well, Joose and Teemu joined the band at the same time as we had just published the Daydreams EP that Joose recorded, mixed and features on. The speed and enthusiasm as we started to get new songs arranged together really made us realize that the quartet formed had something magical going on.
Joose has such a vast experience in playing in bands and as a solo artist that it could not have shown in our work as a band. You could say he is one of the most prominent singer-songwriters in Finland, and has been for the past 15 years or so. Joose’s years of gigging, recording and arranging really pushed Trees forward.
Crow Xp: “…songs that bask in Van Goghian colors of autumn, topped with slight apocalyptic overtones” - Stunning phrasing! And one that brings us to Out in the Open…
Santeri: “Out in the Open” was an easy choice to let out as our first single from the album. Though many of our songs are quite easier in tempo and over-all feeling, the track really shows what Trees are made of.
The song has a nice feel, and though I really can’t be specific about the story or really understand it fully myself, it has sparked lot of feedback during our gigs. The text I wrote for the song felt like it just came out as auto-writing and I was able to ponder it’s meaning for the first time reading it after the process.
Crow Xp: I’m sure our readers are curious about the expression “Saimaa Folk Rock”… How did that come about?
Santeri: We are from a town called Savonlinna. All of us live by the lakeside and Lake Saimaa is one biggest lakes in Europe. Our town and the whole community here have a personal and ancestral relationship with Saimaa. It is a powerful and meaningful partner in our day to day lives so I really believe that it also shows in our music.
I can’t remember who coined the term Saimaa folk or Saimaa folk rock, but it really resonated then and it still does.
Crow Xp: I read somewhere you are more active now and doing more gigs… Let us know about dates, places, future releases…
Santeri: Our debut album will be realeased via Svart Records 7.12.2018 internationally. There will be a digital release, a cd release and naturally a vinyl LP. There will also be a limited number of copies on forest green vinyl! Around the release and at the beginning of 2019 we will be touring across Finland, for example the legendary Semifinal club in Helsinki 1.12.2018.
There are new songs brewing and we are spending a lot of time at the rehearsal room working on them and training for the upcoming shows.
Crow Xp: For those not so familiar with the music scene in Finland… what’s your personal take on it?
Santeri: I follow the indie scene pretty closely and there really are some magnificent artists and bands working and releasing without that much interest from the mainstream media.
You could always have more clubs and more people coming to gigs outside the bigger cities, but overall I feel that there is an interesting and a very alive scene here in Finland. There’s also lots of indie labels that believe in people coming from outside the tracksuit-sport-rap thing, which seems to be most lucrative for the major labels now.
As some of my personal favorites I could name Mara Balls, a boss stoner lady, and Ville Leinonen who happens to be from Savonlinna also.
Crow Xp: In a scale from 1 to 10… How much fun was it crossing a field of Sunflowers?
Santeri: A full ten! It was a big maze of sunflowers and nature had just reached its most beautiful bloom. A really special time, I think that Lauri Ainala, the director of the video, really captured the feel of the song, band and nature at the time just right!
Crow Xp: Thank you for this delightful chat, Santeri. Looking forward to your next release.
Santeri: Thank you, it was my pleasure! The best time to plant a tree was yesterday and the next best is now!