The famous Finnish quartet Apocalyptica will perform on 2 September in the District, as part of the opening of the Kaleidoscope of Culture.
The ensemble is made up of Eicca Toppinen, Perttu Kivilaakso, Paavo Lötjönen, and Mikko Sirén. Their latest album is called Cell-0.
‘Cell-0represents the core of everything. For us, it is a particle that symbolises the essence of all. That is to say, where everything comes from and where everything ends up…’ – Eicca Toppinen – Apocalyptica (cellist and founding member)
Apocalyptica are true explorers, always searching for new frontiers and uncharted territories in which to express themselves. With Cell-0, their 9th studio album, the ambitious and electric quartet have not simply returned to their non-vocal roots, they have travelled deeper and further into the universe of instrumental music than ever before. That first love and passion which fuelled Apocalyptica to form in 1993 in Helsinki now carry richer layers of knowledge and experience, which in turn have led the band to a fundamental realization and creative path.
‘We wanted to challenge ourselves to find further flavours in the cello itself,’ says cellist Perttu Kivilaakso ‘had we found them all? Had we explored every corner to find them?’
‘We went about creating Cell-0 as a full piece of art and not thinking about singles or “the timing of singles” or anything like that,’ continues Eicca ‘it’s challenging to get all the details and colours right and still have the energy of being a real metal cello band.’ continues Eicca, who like Perttu and fellow cellist Paavo Lötjönen graduated from the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. ‘So that was the main goal for us when doing this album, to have those two very different worlds connecting to each other in a stronger, more explorative way than ever before.’
‘On Cell-0 you can clearly hear that we did not take the easiest path,’ chuckles Eicca, ‘when we might’ve thought something was good, we’d then say it wasn’t great, kick it out and work at it again. And that’s been the tool for us to develop the songwriting, the arrangement, the production, and every aspect of making this album. It’s a hard process to be in the studio for a couple of months and keep on challenging yourselves every day for twelve hours a day, but that stamina is something you learn in your career. Some bands get lazy and just release albums that don’t bring anything new to the table, that’s not our way of working.’
‘It is tough to express without lyrics, but in Cell-0 we found particles of our universe previously unknown to us,’ explains Perttu. ‘Millions of notes combine to create music just as millions of cells combine to create life, and when you visualize the whole thing, similar patterns appear. When you look at symphonic sheet music, it looks similar to starry skies, and when I look up at the sky and see the stars, I also see them as potential notes. There are people suffering, and people not treating our planet properly, so there is anxiety at the state of the world. Many of the songs on Cell-0 refer to the blindness and greed of humanity and what we should be doing. We discussed during the writing that this was a very important series of emotions and observations to express, especially with regards to ignorance. I started to believe that human ignorance should be treated as a deadly sin, as it is behind so much of the bad stuff currently around us.’
‘Writing music, at least for me, is about filtering experiences through your personality,’ furthers Eicca, who found himself listening to old favourites like Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Gojira in and around the time of co-creating Cell-0. ‘I start to play something, develop it and then just transfer my own emotions into the music. It varies a lot depending on the mood. These songs have so many layers and are so complex, that it’s not always easy to point out exactly what they are about. But I think that’s also the beauty of instrumental music, that the listener always can feel free to experience the same songs in very, very different ways. It’s also one reason why we don’t want to explain the songs before they’re experienced.’
Apocalyptica worked with renowned producer and engineer Andrew Scheps, who has worked with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lana Del Rey, Metallica and Black Sabbath among others. He mixed the album at Monnow Valley Studios in South Wales, UK, and the band couldn’t be happier with the results.
Partners of the Kaleidoscope of Culture 2022 are Erste Bank, IDEA, DDOR, A1 Srbija, and Heineken Srbija.
Photo: Ville Juurikkala