INTERVIEW: NUOJUVA The Natural Sound Of Decay


Posted on Apr 16th 2012 10:14 pm

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INTERVIEW: NUOJUVA The Natural Sound Of Decay

Finnish musician Oli Aarni first appeared a couple of years ago as Ous Mal on Australian imprint Preservation, but after just one album, he decided to pull the plug on the project and start anew. His new album, once again published on Preservation, was released as Nuojuva, and while it shares a certain feel for ghostly aesthetics with some of his compatriots’ work, his music is undoubtedly personal. Here, he discusses the reasons behind his change of name, why he keeps vocals to rather enigmatic textures, and how he feels about the Finnish music scene.  

Olli, what is your background, and how did you start playing music?
I started playing the piano at the age of eight, started recording my own music to tapes a couple of years after that and started making electronic music in the age of fourteen or so. I switched  from software back to tape recorders and such again when I was about eighteen years old.

Was there anyone in particular, or any specific record, who or which have inspired you to become a musician?
My big brother started playing the piano a year before I did. I wanted to learn too after seeing him play. I cannot name any records, I started playing the piano before I was aware of popular culture.

You started releasing music as Ous Mal, first with a couple of CD-Rs, then with a first album on Preservation a couple of years ago, Why did you decide to kill off the project after just one album?
I think the Nuojuva Halava album was quite exactly what I wanted to do as Ous Mal, so I decided to take another direction instead of repeating the same formula again. I also wanted to move towards a different direction so I decided I could change the name as well.

A Collection of remixes, entitled Ous Mal Is Dead, was released following the album, with contributions from Aaron Martin, Black Eagle Child, Pimmon or Sophie Hutchings to name a few. Did you feel that you needed this to bring the project to a close, and how did these happen?
Andrew Khedoori from the Preservation label came up with the idea. It was a fun project, especially because we got such a great line-up for the record. It was a nice way to end Ous Mal.

Your new album is released under a different name, Nuojuva. Is this an evolution of your original project, or do you see this more as a new direction for you?
I guess a bit of both at the same time. I never really had a concept in mind for this music, so it’s hard to say. Maybe time will tell.

On the album, you have a couple of vocal contributors, but their inputs are so heavily processed that they are at times barely noticeable, which is something that you already seemed to treat in some ways on Nuojuva Halava, but perhaps not quite so prominently. What importance do you give to the human voice in music in general, and in your work in particular?
I guess I’ve been moving more and more towards song-based music under these monikers and to me vocals are an essential part of that. This kind of vocal treatment seemed to suit the overall feel of the mood of the record. Rachel Evans’s vocals are very nicely treated and ambient-like in her own music as Motion Sickness Of Time Travel as well, so I was extremely happy to have her on a couple of tracks. I buried my own vocals under quite many layers as well because it suited the atmosphere better.

Around the time the album was released, you also published a cassette entitled Otavaiset Otsakkaha on Hooker Vision. Can you tell us more about it, and why you decided to release it as a cassette?
Otavaiset Otsakkaha is a collection of songs from the same era as Valot Kaukaa. I see it as a less thematic release than Valot Kaukaa though. Cassette as a format is very dear to me and this release seemed to suite the format quite well. I was glad to make a release for Hooker Vision because it’s such a great label.

Your sound is quite difficult to unpick. It seems quite difficult to know whether you work from samples, treated acoustic instrumentations or electronic sounds. Is this something intentional on your part? What do you want to bring to the music by doing this?
I try to make everything blend nicely together, I’m not interested in pointing out what is sampled and what’s not. I try to stay away from the mash-up mentality of sample-based music. I rather try to make the pieces sound coherent and seamless because the collage side of things comes through anyway.

You also seem to use a process of ageing on your pieces by applying a lot of crackles or surface glitches, as if you were trying to partly recreate a vinyl experience, although at times perhaps quite exaggerated. Is this a way for you to give a more organic feel to your music?
I primarily use sampled sounds as the basis of my music, so that’s where all that texture is coming from. That’s something I cannot replicate with my own recordings, because the passing of time is what decays sound. I’m not trying to exaggerate it or polish it away, the crackles and hisses are an essential part of a sampled sound. The decay in a sound has a great significance to me.

Your work is quite reminiscent of some of the music found on Fonal, especially of bands such as Paavoharju or Kemialliset Ystävät, but your records have been primarily released on Australian imprint Preservation. Was it a definite choice on your part to move away from the Finnish music scene?
I’m very much into those bands, but I don’t think of my music in terms of belonging to a certain scene or anything. I’m always making music alone and do my best not to compare it to anything.

Does this ‘scene’ even exists at all?
There’s a lot of experimental music going on in Finland so it could be called a scene. It’s quite varied anyway. I don’t really think about where I’d be located on that map.

How did you get to work with Preservation? Was it a conscious choice on your part to work with them?
Andrew Khedoori who runs the label contacted me after hearing one of my early releases and it’s been going very well with them ever since.

You killed off your previous project after one album. Do you expect Nuojuva to last longer, and do you have some idea of where you want to go with this project?
I haven’t planned things too far ahead. Most likely I’ll just stick to this thing.

Do you intend to play live and take this album on tour?
I’ve played this stuff live a tiny bit. I haven’t made any further plans about playing live for now. Usually I play live under my own name and the music is a lot more ambient and improvised.

Could you name five records, books or films you couldn’t live without?

Suomen Kansan Vanhat Runot (a vast collection of Finnish folk poetry)
Sarjoja by Aaro Hellaakoski

Just Another Diamond Day by Vashti Bunyan
Disintegration Loops by William Basinski

Strongest Of The Strange by Pontus Alv

Email interview April 2012. Thank you to Oli Aarni and Andrew Khedoori

Olli Aarni | Preservation

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