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.