Song dissection: Mother of all bombs

Sometimes a single sound can inspire a whole song. Mother of all bombs started as a sound experiment. I was playing with Omnisphere, and found this epic guitar sound, which just screamed to get onto a song. The guitar sound, along with the gated pad sound, really started to inspire me, and soon I had … Read more

Song dissection: Step outside

Step outside was one of the first songs to get written for Override. The lyric is about stepping outside of a stale relationship to taste a forbidden affair. But whenever I think about this song, I feel that it’s about actually getting out, breathing fresh air, getting inspired by your surroundings. I have specific forests, … Read more

Song dissection: Universal constructor

This is Unzyme’s only released instrumental track. There are many unreleased instrumentals on my hard drive, waiting for a suitable opportunity to get released. Override was supposed to start off with an instrumental piece, which was heavily influenced by Röyksopp, but the song never got finished. I might still release that at some point. Movement … Read more

Song dissection: Anniversaries

Anniversaries has stayed in our live setlist for a long time. Structurally it’s one of those Unzyme songs that start off with relatively small elements and end up in a massive chorus storm. It’s a very dark song about having big dreams and constantly having to put them off. The frustration of not getting any recognition for … Read more

Song dissection: Trespassers

Trespassers is one of my more autobiographical songs. Sometimes it’s easy to write, if you just document what you’ve experienced. Musically Trespassers is from the lighter edge of the Unzyme spectrum – something that could be played on a plain piano. I quite like the solos in this song. The story, however, is the most interesting … Read more

Song dissection: Covered clearance

Covered clearance is a very special song to me. I like to explore and photograph underground tunnels and abandoned places. These photos are very much present in the album booklet, especially on Override. When I was composing Brainforest, I came across this beautiful photo of a tunnel with a hole in the ceiling. A story started to emerge … Read more

Song dissection: Crush this relic

“Crush this relic” was the first Unzyme song to feature guitar. I have written some of Unzyme’s songs on a guitar, but mostly they’re born out of improvised keyboard playing sessions. I tend to write instrumental music first, and sing on top of that. I’m not the greatest keyboardist in the universe, so this workflow lets me … Read more

Song dissection: Excuses ran dry

This song was born in a rather unusual way. We wrote the song together with Ville, using a method that we call “combosing“. In combosing, a team of composers write music into a predefined song structure without hearing each other. Writers are given a song structure, and each section of the song is described in some … Read more

Biomechanical pop

Song dissection: After years of ecstasy

One of the early Unzyme songs. When I composed this song, I was really excited about the melody. I think I had gotten really close to my ideal of the perfect melody. I still like the song very much, but production-wise we’ve done a better job on many other songs. Especially now that we’re about … Read more

Song dissection: Another crossing

Another crossing was the first song I wrote for Unzyme. I had just bought new gear – a new microphone, external sound card, monitor headphones and a keyboard controller. Most of these devices have later been replaced by better gear, but I still have the instruments and use them occasionally. Anyway, being excited about the … Read more

Song dissection: Jesus in my trunk

This was one of the earliest Unzyme songs. It started as a jam. We were playing something together with Ville and Mary, and I sung some totally stupid lyrics on top of that. The original, weird Finnish lyrics were something like “Jeesus takakontissa huutaa, ja minä vain ajan.”, which translates to “Jesus is shouting in … Read more

Song dissection: Everything is a lie

This song was written on the piano. I was playing a Pet Shop Boys song, and as usual, I got bored of playing other people’s songs and started composing my own. Composing on the piano is not my usual way of writing music, but this was one of the songs that just kind of played itself. I know that a lot of composers say that the song just came out of nowhere, and I probably means that the process was fluent and painless. Usually writing a song takes many rewrites and goes through many revisions, but this song was relatively easy to write.

Dummy lyrics

Sometimes I sing the initial melody in Finnish with dummy lyrics, and later my bandmates remind me periodically of the silliness of these original placeholder lyrics. In this case the words for the chorus were something like “Viimeisen sillan annan palaa ja se menee aivan sekaisin.” In English it’s something like “I burn the last bridge and it goes mental.”. Doesn’t make sense, but filler lyrics aren’t really meant to. Quite often, though, portions of these dummy lyrics end up in the final version, because the words usually suit the notes so well that it’s difficult to find replacement words.

We’re told what to want

I’ve been very interested in how we end up wanting what we want. Needs are not born in a vacuum. Most people are not interested in how needs are created, so they can be led more easily. Every humane weakness is an opportunity to make money, and all those weaknesses are constantly being abused. I’m totally in this game myself, and cannot say that I’m free of all wanting (quite the opposite, actually), but I like to know more about the mechanics behind the needs. There always seems to be somebody, who is above the law, or has found a way to operate within the law, to control other people. They may not have total control over people, but they have something everybody wants. Think about oil companies, for example. We depend heavily on them, and the only choice seems to be whether we use their products or not. And even if we choose not to, they seem to profit anyway, because the alternatives depend on them as well. Their invisible tentacles are everywhere.

There is no easy way to step out of all “conspiracies” or “company control”, and I find it equally interesting to think about how one gains power and becomes a player. The song is about realizing that an average person is just a pawn, and in order to de-pawn oneself, all common values and laws must be denied. Power is not cheap, if you value moral. But what if the values you respect, have been designed to keep you under control? There are two songs on Brainforest that deal with this subject, “Everything is a lie” and “Terracentric”.

We might be happy even if we live inside The Matrix.

Alternate version?

Everything is a lie was recorded at our family cabin in Vesanto, Finland. It was one of the first songs on Brainforest to be finished. I’m still quite happy with how it turned out. The original demo was a bit more dance-oriented and the synth riff that can be heard just before the last chorus, was originally used also as the intro of the song. Ville talked me into starting the song only with the piano, and it was a good decision. I still think that there should be a dance floor version of this song, and we might do a live version with the riff as the intro. I think it would work.

Song dissection: Lose your place

Our debut album, Brainforest will soon be 2 years old, and to celebrate that, I (Joona) would like to present you some stories behind the songs.

I will post every song of Brainforest accompanied by a story. The order will be chronological, so the first track is “Lose your place”.

This was one of the earliest tracks to be written for Unzyme, probably the third or fourth song. The initial demo sounds horrible, but the album version is pretty good.

Lose your place as an opening track

From the very beginning I thought that “Another crossing” should be the opening track but Ville and Mary insisted that we should start the record with “Lose your place” or some other energetic song. Later we’ve come to agree that it would’ve probably been a better idea to start the album with another song. On the other hand, we like mistakes.

We got arrested while shooting a video underground

We actually went to shoot a music video for the demo version of this song to an underground tunnel network without permission. We got in, and were able to shoot for some half an hour, and got 12 minutes worth of source material, before the security guys came rumbling in. We didn’t want to run away, because we had only been shooting a video and hadn’t done any harm to the place. In a few minutes, the cops came in to arrest us, and that was our first time to travel in a police car. At the police station, we explained thoroughly what we were doing, and luckily we had video evidence on the camera to prove it, so we didn’t have to spend too much time there, only an hour or so. The owner organization of the tunnels pressed charges against us, as it was their stand procedure. We did apologize and were able to settle things with them, and they gave up the charges. Kids, remember to ask for a permission, if you’re going to shoot a music video in underground tunnels! We certainly learned our lesson, and have since been able to negotiate some really good locations to shoot in (of which we’re about to make an announcement in a couple of weeks).

The lyrics

The lyrics deal with frustration of seeing someone having gained a good position and then living only to keep it, and not getting excited about anything anymore. It’s about maintaining a certain standard of living at the cost of becoming a boring, predictable and stale person. It’s a safe situation, but gives nothing but money in return. For me, it’s alarming if someone wants to give up a night with friends in order to do a good job the next day.

People should be more concerned about doing what they want and need to, instead of worrying about how to avoid the conflict between their desires and what they’re expected to do. Dreams first! This track is a reminder that there is always something to be amazed of. It encourages you to fuck things up! It’s not that dangerous to take the liberties you need to. In fact, it’s dangerous not to.

Booklet photograph

The photograph that is featured on the first page of Brainforest’s booklet, is taken in a temporary nuclear waste storage cave. It’s located right next to the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant. This cave is used to store the waste for a few years before it is taken to a permanent storage tunnel called Onkalo.