Jukka Koskinen: „Wintersun is like a book author, it takes a longer time to release something, but then it is made in the best possible way with quality and passion” (interview)

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Hi there! I am really happy to be conducting this interview with you, especially having been recently exposed to some of the latest news about your future album. What is the spirit in the band nowadays?

Hey Maximum Rock! The spirit in the band has always been great. We have always had a mutual respect for each other and share a lot of same values in general so we are a happy bunch of dudes indeed.

„The Forest Seasons” is your highly anticipated material that we have been waiting for five years: did you go for a more raw exposition this time with it, or something more reminiscent of your previous other works, or something altogether different?

The new album, The Forest Seasons, is more deep and emotional than ever before in the history of Wintersun. Each song on this album focus and serve the perfect mood very strongly. All the four songs on this album differ from each other clearly but merge to a great whole. I think the concept on this album, and how the songs tell a totally different story each, is the best ever. This is our strongest album until now.

What were the goals you had in mind when you started to record the new album: any elements you definitely wanted to include?

The background of this record came from the forest like the name suggests. Jari had a more primitive and true to the roots of nature approach while he was wandering the woods. There was a vision to capture the primitiveness and the beauty of the forest (nature) for a song. This began from composing one song that is now known as “The Forest That Weeps” (which we played live in 2015 already), but then he wanted to create different elements and emotions also that would work for other new songs. From there the whole album came alive, straighter forward but more majestic and clear album than before I’d say.

How did the recording process proceed, did you work differently this time than you did with your previous works?

Yes, since the resources we have at the moment required us to think from a different perspective. Thus we put TIME II on halt due this. We didn’t want to release something unfinished (like TIME I was partly). We wanted to find the sound and universe for the new album as best as we could with the resources we had. I think we made it happen nicely, since “The Forest Seasons” album is more primitive and doesn’t have that massive production as the TIME albums, although the album just sounds massive.

When did you start to create the songs and how many time did you spend arranging and structure them?

This process took a few years. We stood behind the curtains and wrote the new music in peace. The songs we composed came naturally, but fast actually, which is strange compared to the past! We didn’t tell anyone about this. So it was nicely to surprise everyone positively!

Could you describe the concept behind the „The Forest Seasons”? I read that Jari avowed that it is not linked to Vivaldi’s famous „The Four Seasons”, although there is a small connection…

The small and the only connection is the theme behind the album. We have our four seasons as “The Four Seasons”, but with more contrast and dynamics than Vivaldi’s. There are four totally different songs: spring, summer, autumn and winter. All the songs serve a totally different atmosphere, from majestic beauty to harsh crushing darkness.

Also, there is the eternal question: what is the main reason that you have postponed the release of “Time II”? For some fans it came as a surprise because you played some new songs during the live shows, live “The Way of The Fire”.

Yes, we played that song live since we wanted the fans to see that there is new music coming, though we decided to halt Time II making due to the lack of resources the album deserves. Wintersun is like a book author, it takes a longer time to release something, but then it is made in the best possible way with quality and passion. That’s what the band is all about at this moment!

Is your format of 10+ minute’s songs more fitting to your writing style? It seemed to me in “Time I” you needed all the minutes to fit in the many ideas and riffs.

Jari has an amazing vision and mind when it comes to composing songs. His style is the longer format I’d say. He even says that it’s easier for him to write long songs than short ones. This is very admiring, since when I’m composing, I always come up with short/normal length songs (in my previous bands I played in). I don’t think I have ever heard anything so special than Jari’s composing where all the songs he make run through so seamlessly, smooth and dynamically. It’s like the songs really invite you for a journey and captivate you from start to finish. Just pure beauty!

Also, talking about Jari, it was announced that Wintersun is looking for a new guitarist, since he became a full-time vocalist in the band. How did the recruiting process go and did you find a suitable colleague?

Yes, this was his wish to concentrate only on vocals when playing live concerts. This way he could focus more on the new music and took load from his shoulders, doing a double duty with vocals and guitar. In Wintersun that is quite challenging and hard. Jari of course continues to play guitar like before in the studio etc. We had a recruitment process and we are now having someone in mind and the practicing has been going very nicely. It is a person who is very talented playing the guitar, but also a very good singer, and a good boost for Wintersun live shows for sure! We will make an announcement on this later in the spring.

On your recent Indiegogo campaign, you already gathered almost 300.000 dollars for building your personal studio and realizing “Time II”. This is a sum that few band manage to converge in such a few period, and that really shows the true support from your fans worldwide. Therefore, did the band expect this kind of support at the very first start?

We are so pleased and amazed how our dear fans have supported us in the whole crowdfunding campaign. There’s still two more weeks to go with the campaign and couldn’t hoped for a better one. We believed since day one, that we will make this happen with the great Forest Package we are offering (and a surprise coming on top later on in the campaign) but of course we didn’t expect this great response from everyone. We couldn’t be happier, but of course it is great to do this with our fans since we are transparent and honest what we are doing with the funds. All that will go for the best cause possible, so that we can release future albums with the best possible production and with our true vision!

I read that the campaign will continue until the first days of April. Also, there were a few websites, live Metal Injection or Metal Sucks that criticized you for the high amount that you requested and there are many listeners that question this problem and feel that it is too exaggerated. Are the costs so high in Finland to make an album on your own or all this is just a huge backlash against you?

This situation is new for many in general, since a lot of information is behind the curtains with record labels etc. So when new changes come, not everyone are able to cope with that. Of course, since the campaign is going great and people understand and appreciate honesty like we are doing. Of course the sum we have already gathered is a lot of money, but more than one third (more than 30% to be precise) will be deducted by expenses and taxes (Finnish taxes). I think the false impact for some is the amount of money people see at the Indiegogo site. This might make you think that we can spend it without any deductions just like that.  Making music is not cheap, at least in the Wintersun way. Some say that we could make this and that like this and that. The answer is: no we can’t, because if the creator has a certain vision how to make the music, that is the vision and nothing else. There is no sense to disappoint yourself by releasing something unfinished, right? No sense continuing if you cannot follow your vision in the best way possible. Of course there are opinions as many as there are people so no wonder people talk and express themselves. The good thing is that everyone can decide freely whether to participate in the crowdfunding or not.

Also 3rd party studios cost immensely to rent and with our massive productions, like Time II, it would cost so much that we would loose money in this way. Building our own studio represents the method to save time and money. We can make music 24/7 without interruptions etc. This is the best solution, making albums faster in the future. All this is also a fair appreciation especially for Jari for the hard work he has been doing for more than the last ten years.

What does the future hold for Wintersun? Are there any plans for some summer festivals?

Yes! Shows are being booked and we have now a bunch of European summer festivals on the way. We are also looking for touring options for later this year.

Thanks a lot for your time! Any last thoughts that you consider that we have left out?

Check you our crowdfunding campaign via Indiegogo. We have something truly special to offer there so join us and let’s make some history together!

Photocredit by Nana Simelius

Special thanks: Anne Swallow & Nuclear Blast Records

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