At Finnish metal festivals, it is not uncommon to see the same face on stage performing with different bands spanning the two, three, or four days the festival lasts. Many musicians (specifically Finnish ones) play with various bands as permanent or session members. However, it is a bit more rare to find a similar face as the front/co-front person of multiple acts. Saku Solin not only performed as the co-front person of Fear of Domination on Thursday and Turmion Kätilöt on Saturday as the finale of the entire festival, he also performed with his side project Stereo Terror DJ’s not once but twice on the Friday of the festival. I caught up with Saku at Nummirock to hear how being so active was going, as well as a bit about how things led up to where he is now and what the future looks like.
As soon as we met, Saku begin with a question for me instead of the other way around. “How did you notice me?”, he asked, humbled and a bit baffled we had taken notice of his participation with multiple acts at Nummirock/Tuska and were eager enough to highlight his activity in a mini-feature. Conversation flowed freely as we found a quiet spot to talk. It flowed so freely, I wasn’t able to start recording until about ten minutes in, and skipped a few minutes in between due to unnoticed technical issues ((apologies to Saku for paraphrasing a bit from memory!)). I explained how I had been following Turmion Kätilöt for a long time and recently took notice of Fear of Domination as well, thus leading me to also become aware of Stereo Terror DJs and realize all three would not only be performing at Nummirock but Tuska and the after parties as well.
I asked how Stereo Terror DJs came about. Saku mentioned that him and Henry Uhlgren were both house DJs at Bar Bäkkäri in Helsinki, and realized they both wanted to take their DJing to a new level, not only playing metal but anything that sounds good “We were talking once how we love different music, disco, and rock and metal, anything good…we didn’t understand the idea of only sticking to one genre, if it’s good its good. We wanted to do something more.” They were in contact with the organizers of PRKL club’s Thrashdisco’s and decided to give that a go. They then had the idea to try to add a more visual aspect to the performance, and compile music from both of their libraries spanning genres as diverse as possible …
“We wanted to mix up songs so badly, it sounded good!”. From there, Stereo Terror DJs was born. Saku talked about the first Stereo Terror DJ show they performed as the house DJ’s when Bar Bäkkäri hosted one of many Thrashdiscos. They felt the need to put on an extravagant performance themselves as the house DJ’s of the hosting bar. That concept provided the foundation for what is now Stereo Terror DJ’s. From there, they began playing festivals and DJ’ing at other events. They have the unique ability to modify their show to accommodate any kind of event including switching up the music and bringing on other musicians or artists. So far they have had great success doing something they love and providing the perfect atmosphere for any kind of event or party. I personally had the opportunity to experience two different sets at Nummirock (the morning show was much more low key while the night show included multiple other musicians as well as what I can only describe as a smoke machine gun and much more)
as well as the after party for Tuska which was held at On The Rocks and, despite my utter exhaustion from running around the festival all day and not yet recovered from Nummirock, at 3:00 in the morning, their energy had me on the dance floor (with my camera in tow).
I asked if his association with Fear of Domination and Turmion Kätilöt impacted his image in Stereo Terror DJ’s, if people see him as the vocalist of either or both of these bands being a DJ or if its a completely separate entity. He mentioned it might be the case that people identify with as the vocalist of either band but if its so, he is not aware of it. I also asked if he prepared mentally in different ways for the different acts/performances.
“It’s just me,” he replied “though I might have different charismas [in the different bands], I try to be as honestly me as I can, to give all I have and give the audience something to take back with them tomorrow. I don’t fake anything, I’m just me, so there are some similarities between the shows and the different projects. Its just my personality. There are no aliases. Of course because I’m working with different people and different music, there are different atmospheres and different moods, but its more technical things than mental things. Just going there and doing what you love, and making sure the audience enjoys themselves and enjoys the night and will have something good to remember tomorrow.
“Its not about me feeling good about myself, its about seeing the audience forget their problems, enjoy themselves, raising their arms, singing, dancing, like we’re in a small room together even if its a stadium show, to see them genuinely enjoying their life at that moment. That’s what I do it for. “
I was curious if he had done something similar to this, performing four times in three days with three different acts. He brought up the Metal Orgy event in December of 2017 which he organized, played both in Turmion Kätilöt and Fear of Domination two nights in a row as well as an after party on the second night with Stereo Terror DJs and a second show with Stereo Terror the following day. “So this [Nummirock] is probably even easier than that was” I joked, and asked how it was going at the festival in general, how the gigs were and if he was stressing at all… “Well if you ask my girlfriend, I think she would tell you yes, I am stressing a bit before shows but its mainly about stamina and just worrying if something goes wrong, if I do one show and something happens to me what will happen to the other shows, but its stupid because I know that if something happens it just happens, you can’t do much about it, just go with the flow”… I brought up the mishap that occurred the previous night during the Fear of Domination gig. Saku told the story….
“Ah yeah, I was headbanging, and for some reason Sara came behind/over me and I headbanged right into her face, I didn’t even see her and I hate myself for it but I think she will be alright… and that wasn’t the only thing, we also had some technical difficulties. For example, I have in-ear monitoring, and I lost everything by the second song and couldn’t hear anything. Also Miikki did some stage diving and hit someone in the audience, she found us the next morning and showed us her bruises!” thus providing multiple examples of just how much “going with the flow”is necessary when you’re doing so much at one festival.
I also asked what else Saku has going on in his life. He mentioned he had another job, not associated with his music life, but when both Fear of Domination and Stereo Terror started gaining momentum quickly on top of his joining Turmion Kätilöt, he was starting to burn out and realized something had to go.
He quit his normal job, and reminisced about how it felt those first few days after he quit his job and had time to just sit at home for a while, and not be on the go 24/7. He talked about how much of a relief it wast to not only have time to rest and home alone, but to continue with doing things that he loves and be his own boss, in a way. “It took some time to understand that I don’t have to do everything, that its up to me on how much I do, which encourages me to do well but it means I don’t have to do everything and I don’t have someone telling me what to do. I can, in some ways, choose what I want or don’t want to do.” He encouraged people who are interested in doing something similar, to at least give it a try, and talked about how though there are quite a few sacrifices to be made,such as having to be connected 24/7 via email and social media, in the end its really rewarding.
We ended the interview talking about the break Turmion Kätilöt had and what Saku’s future looks like. I mentioned the rumored speculation of TK slowing down, but as it was just a rumor, he stated the band is keeping quite active. In the near future, the band has a new album coming, more summer festivals, a Finnish tour supporting Amorphis and a tour in Russia. “The next year is looking pretty crazy.” Saku concluded with a huge grin.
In a little bit more than one month we can expect the start of one of the best extreme metal festivals in Europe, maybe in the world according to many, taking place in the heart of Europe in Czech Republic and Josefov fortress. This will the twenty-third Brutal Assault festival which starts on August 8th – 11th, with a warm up party on the 7th.
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I am always amazed by the lineup. Before the festival, I usually do not dig too much into bands playing there and kinda like surprises or new revelations. Last year I have visited the festival mainly for the Czech black metal legend Master‘s Hammer who started to play live recently and for Polish Batushka.
BATUSHKA: Photography by: Pavel Kovalančík / Dark Art Conspiracy
As you can see I am bound to the various black metal acts and its subgenres. I was surprised by other bands I discovered, liked or listened to some long time ago. For me, another great bands were doomy classic Tiamat with the Wildhoney songs. I think they have built up again their reputation regarding their criticized performance earlier. Finnish music was presented by Swallow the Sun and what an experience. Although they ruled smaller Metal Gate stage only, it was flawless. Ighly suggesting to check their late trilogy album. Such an opus. At the opening at the small oriental stage, there was sludge/doom presented by Cough from northern Virginia. Hell, what a start… Then Ultha, which I did not know before, but it was so good. Fresh blood in modern black metal waters, although the musicians have rich experience from other projects. The classic act was Mayhem with their legendary interpretation of De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. Of course, there was much more. But this preview should be aimed towards this year. So what do we have here now?
BEHEMOTH: Photography by: Pavel Kovalančík / Dark Art Conspiracy
For me, the headliner and main reason to get there are Behemoth from Poland. Loved by many for their energy when playing live or different sound on each album. Hated by others for their „big commercial stuff around“ which is „no no“ for underground. No one can argue though… They are great musicians, and what they do goes directly from their innerselves with furious power ad no compromises. Nergal is like some imp on fire while one stage, what a performer! At BA there will be also their Polish brothers of Hate and Azarath which is the project Behemoth‘s drummer Inferno is involved in.
The big surprise to me was seeing Arkhon Infaustus at the roster. The band split up for some time and now playing again. As a fan of French musical movement I really, really look forward to this. So much sweet memories from so many years ago, while I listened to them. Again this is the band with every album so good, evolving to more adult and polished form while maintaining their ferocity and furious energy. It does not matter if you listen to Filth Catalyst or Orthodoxyn. Everything is full of dark perfection and steamrolling energy.
As I could not see them yet this year, BA will be great opportunity to see another Swedish classic, Marduk. Speaking of which, you might wanna check Mortuus‘s/Arioch‘s new album Hekatomb from his solo project Funeral Mist which was released recently this year. Another rebelious act which shall be seen is Carpathian Forest. I am looking forward to their dirty grotesque „We do not give a f**k“ attitude and wondering if they can be on par with the show seen on We‘re going to hell for this.“ From near Germany, the mighty Belphegor shall sing their odes full of blasphemy and heresy. I have seen them a few times and there was no disappointment at all, ever. I expect the same this time. I also look forward to Czech industrial black metal Gorgonea Prima.
For some slowdown, fans of darker stuff that enjoy some calmer and not that extreme melodies will surely enjoy act of Myrkur or majestic Wardruna. Those were main bands I am looking forward to myself but let‘s not forget about some other stuff…
As we do not want to discriminate against other genres, if you prefer more death metal there will be veterans Cannibal Corpse and Dying Fetus. Dead Congregation is another one. You might be interested in Czech bands Godless Truth, Anime Torment or Cuttered Flesh. Modern stuff playing this year inspired lot by death metal are Black Dahlia Murder, Carnifex, Origin. Another more progressive and atmospherical band can be Harakiri for the Sky. „Depression lovers“ could find a some pleasure while listening to doomy Coffins or local classic Silent Stream of Godless Elegy.
If you are into thrashy stuff, you should be pretty happy too. Municipal Waste, Ministry or blackened Aura Noir shall make your neck hurt. A lot.
Is that all?! Hell, no! There will be much more good stuff from various extreme genres. You cannot be disappointed. It is magical. Every year, I think the line up cannot be beaten next year. And every year it is just better. More days, more stages. I must not forget about great kiosks with various beverages or food. Everyone will be happy. Ordinary meat eaters or vegans as well, everyone will be satisfied at BA.
I cannot say how much I am excited about this year and cannot wait to bring you photographies with some reviews. Thank you for reading. We might see each other at the Brutal Assault 2018. 🙂