I guess everyone who knows a bit about the Finnish noise scene is familiar with Pekka PT. The man has been around for quite a while with his many projects. In the following interview you will find out about Pekka’s many projects and sources of inspiration, of what Otto Donner did during one of his gigs, what former Death In June member Patrick Leagas said about his vocals, of what is good and bad noise like, of noise scene in Finland and elsewhere, as well as of what Pekka thinks about spanking, G.G. Allin, Pekka Siitoin, toilet humour, and of many other things!
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Pekka PT speaks!
The place where they’re waiting for Godot.
Who are you, what do you do? Could you tell us about your background, all the projects you’ve been working with and being part of? Which one of those projects has been the most important to you – or should they be considered first of all as an organic whole?
I’m Pekka PT, I’m over 30 but under 40 years old and I live in Southwest Finland. I’m underground noise musician, family man and blue collar worker.
My main project at the moment is called Sick Seed. It’s power electronics with heavy industrial leanings and some noise thrown in as well. What I do is structured, pretty much song-oriented material with lyrics that handle my different interests.
Then there’s SSRI, which is harsh noise with psychedelic and industrial elements. I felt that the relatively strict approach of Sick Seed wasn’t enough and needed another outlet for my noise doings.
The two above are a continuation of my earlier noise project Gelsomina. It started as a pure harsh noise project with an aim to make as pure and “radiant” noise as possible. Having accomplished that, or at least having worked on that as long as it was satisfying, I moved to more organic, lo-fi, industrial sounds and moods and then came a time when everything was so different it was time to shed skin and begin a new project. Gelsomina did several releases in different formats and some of them were even somewhat critically acclaimed.
Paraffin Affiliates was a free-noise improvisation band in which I played guitar. We released one CD-R album and played a few gigs.
Skullpture was another improvisation band but with more drone approach and mostly done with guitars. We did a few CD-R releases. We were and still are good friends, but as far as I remember, all the recording sessions were frustrating and very unfriendly for some reason.
Speaking of old projects, there’s Clay Figure, which was my first serious recording project. No-limits four-track experiments. This project did a few CD-Rs and tapes, started to turn into a real band and then folded, but now I’ve resurrected it and done a comeback tape and there’s more to come. There’s a chance that I might merge Clay Figure and SSRI at some point but we’ll see.
There’s also Peenemünde, which is a collaboration project of Pentti Dassum and me. Industrial noise. We have one CD out and a second one coming up sooner or later.
I play guitar and sing in scum metal noise rock band Chains Of Death Command. It started at first some years ago and we did one tape and forgot about it. Now the band has been resurrected with slightly different line-up and we’ve released one 7” and played one gig, recording of which will be released on tape very soon. The first tape will also be reissued since it was very limited and people have asked about it. We’re currently working on new material and there are plans for a couple of split releases.
I’m a session member of Verde, which is a kind of experimental electronic krautrock laboratory. Studio and live line-ups have featured a lot of different musicians from underground amateurs like me to professional and academically educated musicians. This band is always great fun. Hopefully we can release a new CD some time this year.
I’m also a session member of Johannes Faustus, an artrock band that just released its first album and we’re starting to rehearse for (possible) gigs soon.
There are/have been some others but they’re either just beginning or meaningless past. Besides, aren’t all those listed more than enough?
Priorities of projects change, but at the moment Sick Seed, SSRI and Chains Of Death Command are the most important ones. But yes, it’s all also an organic whole. Ars Magna. There’s a lot of overlap and I often recycle sounds and ideas from one project to another.
I have an impression that your projects’ names are well thought to describe their contents – is this correct? Would you tell us something about how you came up with the different names for your different projects.
The name Gelsomina was chosen because it was very “non-noise.” I took it from the movie La Strada, which I was obsessed with, especially the Gelsomina character, at the time.
Sick Seed was first the title of Gelsomina’s “sex noise” tape. When I decided to quit Gelsomina and move on, I felt the continuing project needed a more suitable name. At the very beginning it was very much connected to sexual frustration and deviance and that’s what the first Sick Seed tracks were about. The scope did broaden quickly, though, and now it’s more about social “issues” and personal search. Self-therapy. There’s sick seed in me that needs to be discharged before it eats me inside. There are many things around that have grown from sick seed and there are malevolent forces that sow sick seed.
SSRI officially means selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, but it also means Sick Seed Recycling Industries. Most sounds that I use on SSRI are recycled and reworked from my other projects.
Clay Figure name was taken from a pic I saw in some art book long ago. There was this installation titled “35000 Clay Figures on a Field” that had a room full of small, crude clay figures. I was first going to use that full name but luckily came to my senses. Clay is material that can be easily molded and it has this earthy quality and working results in amateur hands are often very crude, so it was perfect for what I was doing musically with that project.
On the other hand, I think all these names have started to live lives of their own, separate from their original meaning, ideas and connections.
In addition to noise releases you have put out a quality live c-tape of Keuhkot. What’s the story behind that release?
Keuhkot tape was released by Arkisto, a label that I run in co-operation with Pentti Dassum of Umpio, Nekorekords and many other things. It’s dedicated to reissues, unreleased unearthed old material and authorized live bootleg recordings. There’s not much of a story and I wasn’t personally involved in anything. Pentti had that recording and he acquired permission from Kake Puhuu for a release.
Who and what have been and are your biggest influences and sources of inspiration as an artist?
More or less directly influential bands/artists at the moment: Einstürzende Neubauten (until Tabula Rasa album), Con-Dom, Vivenza, Etat Brut, early Merzbow, latest Grunt albums, Brethren, Eric Lunde, early Swans, K2, early SPK, Brume, Nurse With Wound, early Contagious Orgasm, IRM (mostly lyrically), etc… Lots of “early” stuff it seems. Everything was better before and the first demo was the best.
My early noise influences were C.C.C.C., Incapacitants and Borbetomagus but I’m not very interested in any of them anymore.
Writers, thinkers, people, etc.: William S. Burroughs, J.G. Ballard, Philip K. Dick, Robert Anton Wilson, Samuel Beckett, Stephen Baxter, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Aleister Crowley, Uuno Kailas, Kurt Vonnegut, Alan Moore (especially Promethea), Grant Morrison, Neil Gaiman, etc…
Other things: Dada, Discordianism, Surrealism, Vienna Aktionism, Art Brut, science/speculative fiction (everything from serious/hardcore to total pulp trash), The Church of the Sub-Genius, Chaos Magick, Tarot, occultism in general, 1970s and 1980s exploitation cinema of all kinds (other cinema as well, although I’m not nearly as big a film freak as before), Gnosticism, abandoned buildings, decomposition, metal objects scraping concrete surfaces, survivalism, etc…
Anything, no limits, although I usually prefer a physical sound source. Metal junk with contact mics, synths/oscillators, effect pedals, bass, guitar, tape manipulations, anything. It often goes in phases where I concentrate on one instrument or source of sound for some time and then move on to something else when I feel I’ve got out everything I can at that time from one thing.
The only common thing with everything is that I do final editing on a multitrack software on computer.
How many gigs you’ve done thus far and where have you performed? Most memorable gigs, incidents, memories in general from these gigs?
All bands and projects combined, I’d say around 50 or a little more. Not much but there aren’t that many opportunities for this kind of music. Nor will I play just anywhere. I’ve played in pubs’n’clubs, private venues and festivals. Mostly in Finland but Gelsomina did a small UK tour and Paraffin Affiliates played in St. Petersburg once.
Most memorable gigs are Verde playing at Kaustinen Folk Music Festival and another Verde gig at a musician friend’s birthday party where we were spontaneously joined by Otto Donner. When Gelsomina played in London, former Death In June member Patrick Leagas commented that my vocals sounded like Hitler. There have been good and bad times at gigs, but luckily mostly good.
What tapes and CD’s of your own creation are available currently and where one can get them?
Sick Seed’s debut album The Great Corrupter is available from me in both LP and CD format and the label (Filth & Violence) should also have them. There’s also a tape version coming soon. Sick Seed Live + 1 tape is available from the same label as well as from me. Man And Machine 7” is available from me and the label (Turgid Animal). I don’t have copies of Elephant Man tape left but the label (Obscurex) should have. The same label also has Peenemünde CD and Unclean / ABNTR / SSRI split tape and you can get those two from me, too. Shift / Sick Seed split LP and CD are available from me and probably from label (Freak Animal) and Shift as well. I also have plenty of copies of Chains Of Death Command 7” and last two Verde CDs.
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Noise and the scene
How you listen to noise? Is c-tape the only true format for it?
Either I concentrate on it fully or play it as background music for reading. I think noise should be listened to loud enough so you hear all the details. Listening to it REAL FUCKING LOUD isn’t necessary to me though there’s time for that every now and then. Good noise works at a reasonable volume, too, I think.
C-tape is traditional format and it’s still the most reasonable for small editions that noise releases usually are. Some noise fits better on tape, some on vinyl and some on CD. I don’t care what is “true” and what is not, especially since things described as true kvlt grimmfrostbitten are usually everything but.
How do you define ”noise”?
I’d rather not, but if forced at gunpoint, I’d say something like music, sound art or “aural object” that abandons melody, harmony and rhythm and replaces them with loud, abrasive, dissonant sound. That’s a crap definition, I know.
What do you listen to in noise?
Sound, details, interaction of different elements, composition, rhythm (not in “beat” sense). I’m not necessarily looking for originality but it certainly does no harm.
Why you listen to noise?
I like it, simple as that. It speaks to me. It interacts with what I have inside me. It’s the sound of destruction and building, decomposition and growth, full cycle, aural Alchemy.
How much you listen to noise in relation to other kinds of music you listen to?
I think I listen to other kinds of music much more than noise although it goes in phases, too. I haven’t noticed any certain times, situations or states of mind that would define what I want to listen to. It seems completely random.
Is noise music?
I think it is but what is music?
What is good noise like? What is bad noise like?
Good noise is done because it has to be done, bad noise because it can be done. As said above, originality is not necessary but I loathe old farts who ride on their past and shit out one scene product after another. I don’t mind humour in noise unless it’s some post-modernist ironic piss-take. Good noise is passionate, bad noise is a product for target audience with no heart, brain or balls.
If one listens to noise a lot does it mess one’s ”biorhythms” and body up? Will plants die at home?
No, it heals them. Plants also, no need to water them anymore.
What are noise artists and listeners like – is it possible to make some general notes about them? How homogenous are these people in their age, style, political views, approach to life in general, etc.?
Male, 20-40 years old, background in other kinds of underground music, interest in “cultural extremes,” politically/ideologically either nihilist or into one extreme or another. That’s a broad generalization off the top of my head and there are exceptions. Education and family relations seem to vary a lot.
What do you think of the scene nowadays here in Finland and elsewhere? Where do you think the most interesting artists come from right now?
Finnish noise scene has been extremely strong for some years already and seems to continue that way. There’s a lot of variation in styles and people do their own thing instead of copying others or following trends. Most newcomers are very promising and bring something new to the table.
I can’t say much about scenes abroad since I don’t (have a chance to) follow them as closely. There’s been a lot of good stuff coming from Sweden all the time but it seems they’re now more productive and enthusiastic than ever.
You can talk about German style or UK style power electronics or Japanese noise or US noise, even Swedish sound but I don’t think there a special Finnish sound. Maybe it’ll take a foreigner to point out what it is?
I’d say everything from Finland and Sweden is worth checking out these days, with other countries there’s much bigger percentage of hit and miss.
Noise scene has its controversial elements, maybe especially in live settings. Have you been at some gigs where you were worried about the act in one way or another? Have you experienced or heard or seen of some noise act that you think did develope into something unacceptable or such? How people inside the scene approach these elements? How often artists just play with controversial elements because of shock value, how often there is some well thought points and intentions behind them?
Some time ago I saw a performer cut a deep gash on his arm with razor blade. It looked bad (and actually needed 30-40 stitches afterward), but he just kept playing and rubbed blood from the wound on his face and equipment.
Once someone had a backing video of extreme pornographic material at an all-ages gig. I was sure there would be consequences but apparently there weren’t minors present or nobody cared. Another time someone had a backing video that showed cumshots on dead/dying rodents. That did cause some fuss, which was no wonder as it was a kind of crossover gig with plenty of unsuspecting audience.
I agree there are controversial elements but I don’t think they exist to the degree that outsiders and/or newcomers often think. It’s those elements that easily get anyone’s attention so it’s no wonder. I can’t say what’s the ratio of shock value (nothing wrong with trying to shock people, it’s just the attempts are usually in vain – most noise listeners are very much jaded) and serious content but I think it’s rather easy to spot who’s playing with taboos and controversial elements and who’s into them for real.
How are you inclined politically and ideologically? Did you vote in the last presidential elections?
I used to think I’m “Third Position,” but I’m not sure what it means anymore… I believe in individual nation states with their own customs and characteristics instead of one big consumerist multicultural sewer. No one should be ashamed of their heritage and no one is responsible of their forefathers doings. I’m anti-plutocratic, anti-globalization, etc. Most importantly anti-stupidity and anti-evil.
I did vote in presidential elections. My candidate was the one I thought would be the smallest evil. He wasn’t elected.
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What the following things and persons bring to your mind?
Finland’s true capital.
Is it freedom to (do) something or freedom from something? Either way, I doubt it really exists.
People who ask you for cigarette, get angry when you don’t have any and then pull a pack out of their own pocket.
I’ve never seen one, which doesn’t mean they wouldn’t exist.
Influential film director, thinker and magickian.
Scapegoat for things everyone’s guilty of.
We had hunting and sporting guns at home when I was a kid. I lively remember the sounds their moving parts make. The sound of authority, responsibility and respect.
Peace and relaxation.
Hero and embodiment of free spirit.
Vampire, both psychic and physical.
Another hero and free spirit, the Great Blasphemer and True Man.
For naughty boys and girls.
Genesis P. Orridge
Once a pioneer, now something else but I’m not sure what.
Useless. Life is here and now.
Carnivore put it well: “Xenophobic tendencies instilled in us at birth are mislabeled racism.” I think “greed crime,” ie. economic crime is much bigger problem and root of all other crime.
Ultimate means for state to use its power.
…or no humour at all!
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How your own music and approach to it has changed or developed during these years? Where do you think you are going with your music in the future?
I’ve of course become more skilled and have tried a lot of different new equipment. I’m also not that interested in most extreme noise anymore, but moved towards more organic industrial sounds. I used to aim at sound that’s radiant like sun, if that makes sense, but now my ideal sound is that of decomposition and rotting, that of wood creaking, that of shoveling earth.
Starting to use vocals with Sick Seed and already in the end of Gelsomina was a big step. At that point I felt confident enough to start shouting and also that I could write lyrics that are good enough. I think I write good lyrics already but I want to become even better. I’d also like to use more varied vocals (not melodic singing though) in the future.
Can’t say for sure where I’m heading but I’d like to become better in cut-up techniques and learn to use different kinds of tape machines better. I’d also like to keep experimenting with combining noise and “real” instruments but it’s a slippery slope. I’m a guitar player at heart so I’d like to practice guitar more and utilize it more in my recordings.
How do you see the future of noise in general?
Same as its past. Art, entertainment and subculture for a small circle of people.
What kind of plans or visions you have for your distro? What kind of releases and publications we will see in the future? Do you have confirmed gigs in the future?
If everything goes well, there will be Mania / SSRI split tape and K2 tape out in February. There are more planned releases but I won’t talk about them yet lest they get jinxed one way or another. Next Arkisto release will be a Sewer Pyysalos tape (total cut-up insanity, their two CD-Rs reissued) and there are some very interesting relics waiting for Arkisto treatment so stay tuned.
As for gigs, there will be a Sick Seed record release party in autumn or early winter and there’s been talk of one gig abroad in spring 2014 but we’ll see. I’ll also perform as a member of Sonno Ferrum, a kind of “metal junk super band,” in May.
What makes you happy?
To crush my enemies, see them driven before me, and to hear the lamentation of their women. That and quiet family life.
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Thank you for the interview, Pekka!
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Some related links:
Pekka’s distro Untergeschoss.
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Keikkaraportti: Live: SSRi, Umpio @ Kirjakahvila, Turku 28.9.
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Pekka PT – Gelsomina/Hard & Obscure/Sick Seed interview.
Untergeschoss 2012 interview.
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