Advent calendar, week 1

December 7th

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To conclude the first week of the advent calendar, here’s a recipe to a drink that was thrown together for our Independence Day after party No. 1 (Yes, we had another afterparty much, much later on!). It’s customary in Finland to gather around with friends and tune in on the Presidential Independence Day Ball, or Linnanjuhlat, as it is known in Finnish. It is a party that collects together a respectable amount of people, from popular entertainers, distinguished academics and athletes to politicians, military figures and WWII veterans. We had a friend over, who was looking forward to spending the Independence Day with his parents, only to find out two days before that his parents were actually attending the Presidential Ball. So, after our gig at the HKTY, we sat down to watch the Ball on TV, and we whipped up this surprisingly Mediterranean drink. Let’s call it

♦The Afterparty No. 1♦

1 tbsp of rowanberry jam
Juice of ½ lemon
25 ml of Larios 12 Botanicals Gin
10 ml of Grand Marnier
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
2 dashes of grapefruit bitters
A twig of rosemary

Shake all ingredients well, and strain in to a cocktail glass. Garnish with a twig of Rosemary. Double straining is recommended, but this is an afterparty drink, after all.

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Made as such, the rowanberry jam makes the drink’s consistency lusciously thick. The Larios 12 has in it, apart from all the other spices, lime, orange, orange blossom, lemon, tangerine, mandarin, clementine and grapefruit. Together with Grand Marnier and grapefruit bitters, this drink has in it almost everything from the citrus family. The rosemary highlights the bright notes of the citrusy flavours, and Grand Marnier brings out the more mellow tangerines, clementines and mandarins.

Consider substituting the gin, since even without the Larios 12 the recipe still has a good amount of citruses in it. For the true Finnish Independence Day feel use Napue Gin, by the very Finnish Kyrö Distillery Company.

December 6th

It’s Finnish Independence Day! We played some music at the party at Helsingin Käsityö- ja Teollisuusyhdistys, and had a lovely time! Here’s just a quick video to say hi!

 

December 5th

More Film Noir inspiration, this time it’s all about hair! For the classic 1940’s look, nothing is more essential: Sure, the defined eyebrows and a popping red lipstick go a long way towards vintage glamour, but without the hairdos and the talented hairdressers behind them, Rita Hayworth’s first scene in Gilda would have a lot less of the nonchalant charm that so defines the character. Besides, what would happen to Lauren Bacall’s “The Look” without that wavy hair under which to glare?

This is why, for the 5th of November, we have put together a Pinterest board full of Noir hair inspiration for all lengths and styles! There are even a few vintage tutorials you can try for one of the parties of the festive season: There is nothing better than a wavy hairdo to help you channel the great icons of our century!

I have sported big waves à la Hayworth before, for example on our album cover, but for the intimate evenings I like a more demure, Bacallesque style. Before our Film Noir gigs in Pastis, I always go to TS-Salonki for my hairdo in the morning. We use heated rollers instead of pincurls, as my hair is super thick and I have to make it to the soundcheck in the afternoon. When the hair is set, I just wrap my hair in a silk scarf which I only take off just before the concert. Here are some selfies from different evenings of the fall (also check out Saara’s new haircolor and cut!):

December 4th

And here’s our shot at Why Don’t You Do Right, Jessica Rabbit style. This is the first rehearsal take with the whole band, from way back in September. Saara actually downtunes the C string on the cello, to get some of that upright bass feel to the song.


December 3rd

Hoagy, Bogey and Bacall. Film Noir. Jazz.

 

For the past four months we’ve been doing a Film Noir themed Show & Dinner set at Restaurant Pastis in Helsinki, and we’ve listened to a lot of songs from a lot of movies. So behind the third door of our Advent Calendar lies a playlist of some our favourite Film Noir songs.

A few interesting notes. In the “Rita Hayworth” songs Amado Mio, Put The Blame On Mame and Please, Don’t Kiss Me, the singing voice is actually that of Anita Ellis, an American singer and actress. The people at Columbia Pictures needed to turn Rita Hayworth in to an icon, and while her husky, deep voice was perfect for acting, her singing was always overdubbed. In fact, the only song Rita ever sang for herself on screen was the solo guitar version of ‘Mame‘ in Gilda. All three songs were also written by Dorothy Fisher, one of the very few female songwriters of Golden Age Hollywood.

Hoagy Carmichael is known to many as a prominent songwriter and a marvelous performer. In the later 1930s he was even hired by Paramount Pictures for a whopping 1000$ a week. He also played Sam in the TV production of Casablanca in the 1950s. Did you know, that Ian Fleming has said James Bond would look like Hoagy Carmichael, only with a scar over his face?

David Raksin‘s instrumental song Laura, from the movie Laura (1944), became so popular that Johnny Mercer was asked to write lyrics to it, and 5 different recorded versions emerged in 1945 alone. It has since become a standard with more than 400 known recordings, by Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Julie London among others. The song is also heavily referenced to in the movie – the score is almost completely comprised of the theme, the song plays on a phonograph, a band plays the song in a restaurant scene, it is heard as background music in a party, and the song is even on in the radio – at which point Vincent Price‘s character tells us it’s “one of Laura’s favourites.”

The song Why Don’t You Do Right was originally written in 1936 by Joseph McCoy for Harlem Hamfats, and was called The Weed Smoker’s Dream. Lil Green made a recording of the song with new lyrics and a refined melody. Peggy Lee, a big fan of Ms. Green’s work, made the revised version of the song famous after Benny Goodman heard her listening to it on a record over and over again, and offered to arrange it for her to sing. Hugh Laurie recorded a version of the original Weed Smoker’s Dream with Gaby Moreno on vocals in 2013.

 

December 2nd

On the Second day of Christmas my true love sent to me two turtle doves gold bugs.

The Kissel Speedster, commonly known as Goldbug, was produced from 1919 through 1927, and during that time it was a very popular car among the celebrities. Jack Dempsey drove one, Douglas Fairbanks drove one, Greta Garbo drove one, Mary Pickford drove one. Even Amelia Earhart drove one. It was also featured in quite a few movies, and our favourite scene is in the short film Jonah Jones (1924). Apart from the car, we adore Dorothy Seastrom in the role of Margaret Morgan.

The below rendition of the Gold Bug is Jere’s handiwork, designed for an animated music video. We’ll tell you more about that in the future.

 

 

December 1st

So, Jere & Laura went to this wedding this summer. In the capacity of the Best Man, Jere also designed the cocktails for the reception, and so many Last Words were had at this particular party! The newlywed couple surprised us all by getting the absolutely amazing Atelieri O. Haapala to make sure the Steampunk themed event was properly documented for generations to come!

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Film Noir & French Cuisine!

Fabulous news for the Fall, Sweethearts!

Imagine an evening at your favourite French bistro, sitting down with an old friend, sipping champagne and pastis. Imagine your favourite band playing in the corner. Imagine closing your eyes, and opening them again at Café Americain, next to Hoagy, Bogey and Bacall. We did, and this is what happened:

We are happy to announce ‘Pastis goes Film Noir avec Café de Abejas’, a series of Show & Dinner evenings at Ravintola Pastis, Helsinki! With a special dinner menu by the chef, and two sets of golden era Hollywood music by yours truly, these are promising to be the wonderfullest tiny shows we’ve done so far! Of course the songs will be arranged for our peculiar tastes, and of course there will be some of our own Casablanca thrown into the mix as well.

The evenings are going to be very intimate, with only 30-odd seats reserved for each evening. The tickets are on sale as of this morning, and they are selling FAST! So Sweethearts, tout de suite, get your seats here: http://www.tiketti.fi/Pastis-goes-Film-Noir-avec-Cafe…/34126

Have a wonderful week, and see you at a gig, darling dolls!

Laura & Jere

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Lyrics and a New Video!

A lot of you Sweethearts have been asking us if we could put our lyrics up online. So, there is now a page titled lyrics under the music tab of these pages! The videos have also been moved under the same tab – and we just added a live video of “Waiting for the Roses” to the videos page! Enjoy!

Here’s a link to the lyrics!

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Four Stars in HS & La Lirio LIVE!

Helsingin Sanomat gave us four stars in their review! (That’s the largest newspaper in the Nordic countries, for you who were wondering.) They also said it’s a pity that you probably won’t hear our songs on the radio. We fully agree. Poor, poor radio, what is this illness that makes our heartwarming ballads too strange and wild for you?

And while we’re on the subject of ballads, we promised something yesterday – a song fresh from the album release concert for those you who couldn’t make it! Special thanks belong to our two brothers who filmed us, Roy Boswell who saved us from having to operate the lights ourselves (and look at all the beautiful drama he’s creating here!) – and, as always, our Dandy-Daddy Juha Reunanen for the sounds and everything else besides.

Oh, and we heard that a certain someone arranged a Film Noir get-together in Scotland to celebrate our album release. What a Super Sweetheart, this one’s for you!

-Laura

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Album Release and Preview

It’s been a week since the release party at Andorra, and we’re feeling absolutely exhilarated! The old movie theatre was packed, and we had a blast, and people were enjoying themselves, and the guys at the bar were short staffed but happy about the turn out and everything just went exceptionally well. And! We managed to get some decent video footage for a change, so expect to see a few live videos soon.

Andorra, album release party 2015. Photo by Timo Kirves

Andorra, album release party 2015. Photo by Timo Kirves.

So, the CD is out, yes it is! You can listen to the album below (the whole thing of course!) and buy a download or a CD at our BOUTIQUE. The album will also be available at the precious few CD stores left in Helsinki, and is hitting Spotify, iTunes and Deezer this week. For international orders, order through the BOUTIQUE or contact us directly.

Oh! A few darling bloggers already got whiff of our shenanigans! Kujerruksia went to the album release party and loved it (In Finnish). Glue wants you to listen to Zaza (In English).

That’s all, folks! – for now.

Cheerfully yours,

– Laura, Jere, Ilari & Saara

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Welcome to Casablanca!

Dear broads and bos, Welcome to Casablanca!

The album release party for Is This Casablanca? is getting close, and the release date is set for 6th of February, 2015. The album will be available as a CD or a digital download from our Bandcamp page and through iTunes, Spotify and Deezer. In Finland the CD can be bought from the few independent record stores still left in Helsinki, starting from the end of February. You can also get it from one of our shows, signed and doodled on by the whole mob. For international orders of the CD, please contact us via e-mail, contact[at]cafedeabejas.com.

Here are a few tracks from the new album for you to savor, Sweethearts. The first one is called Go Gently, a song on the chanson side of things. The second, Zaza, gives a feel for our penchant for all things cabaret. Please enjoy responsibly, and take a look at the photos below to really get in the mood!

The delightful Armi Von Vepp.

The delightful Armi Von Vep.

-Jere

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, Sweethearts! It’s 2015, and it’s almost two years since we released Mascot Moth. During those two years we’ve played around Europe and Finland, arranged an all-night concert with video projections and performance art at one of Helsinki’s most established venues, grown together as a band and, as a result, written and recorded a new album. Where 2014 was mostly about planning and executing the Savoy gig (spring) and putting together the new album (autumn), this year’s gonna be all about playing gigs again!

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On stage at Monbijou Park, Berlin, 2013

Although we’ve played a lot of shows and private functions during the last few years, with wonderful bands and for wonderful people, there’s only been a handful of concerts we’ve arranged by and for ourselves. Those have been the ones with aerial hoops and jazz dance lessons and burlesque and cocktails and cabaret and stuff. Those are the gigs we want to make! And the new album, Is This Casablanca?, is just full of stories and film noir and cabaret just waiting to be played out and acted on stage.  It will all start with the album release party in February.

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We just love doing this!

The above being said, we also love just getting intimate as a duo, and playing obvious and not so obvious cover songs for great crowds! So, as a Swedish gentleman once put it, “More is more!“. We’ll definitely focus on doing Shows – yes, with a capital S – at nice locations (with the lovely performer in the above picture!) for you, but there’s always great bands to play with and great venues to spend lovely evenings at, and we absolutely can’t say no to that!

Our first gig of the year is on January 9th at Semifinal, Helsinki, with the amazing Valo. We’re really happy to play with them, and a little scared too, because their vocalist actually sometimes gives us singing lessons. For me it’s just an evening with two absolutely superb singers backed by two absolutely wonderful bands on the same stage! So come see the show and hear the new songs and discover VALO, if you haven’t yet.

A wonderful new year to all of you lovelies out there,

-Jere

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Studio diary 2014, part 8

We’ve had quite an evening! The crowdfunding campaign is now over, and we exceeded our goal by almost one third. The thousandth fan just liked us on Facebook. We’ve got the album artwork ready and the album mastered tomorrow.  I’ve kind of let the last studio diary entry slide. Let’s fix that, now that we can rest relatively easy with the album ready to be sent to the people of Jakebox in Sweden, who’ll be taking care of the pressing and printing.

Ilari is an amazing guy. He has some serious musical know-how, and he thinks quick. Real quick. He also doesn’t really rule anything out without trying. Hence the crowbar. And the steel plate (see below). It also turns out he’s very good at whistling, finger snaps and rhythmic clapping, which are all very difficult things to do well. We love Ilari.

Ilari_plate_1

We found this steel plate lying around…

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…and Ilari turned it into kettle drums and thunder.

We also love Saara, our wonderful cellist. One of the things she contributed on the album was the almost impromptu arrangement for Zaza, including the “car horn” sound and the smoky, sordinoed jazz passage, all written out and rehearsed in a few, measley hours. For this I’m ever greatful, because the song turned out to be, for once, exactly as it should be. Saara’s also wonderful at being awesome.

Saara in the studio, rehearsing a Christmas special.

We must also not forget our Muse. During the recordings we performed with her a few times live, and she’s just a magnificent, funny, energetic person to be around. She also did some screaming, yelling, giggling and whispering (trés demure!) on a track, which is our vision of how an old dancehall band might’ve sounded if they’ve just suddenly invented heavy metal in the middle of playing a set. The inspiration for the song and Noora’s voice on the song come from Louis Feuillade‘s 1915 movie, Les Vampires. It’s actually not a single movie, but one of the first crime series in the world. A part of the album artwork also gives a not-so-subtle nod to Les Vampires.

Noora_Lgy

Virgina Woolf and rum go well together, apparently.

The other BB

Some inspiration – and solace – was provided by Brecht’s Threepenny Novel, Life of Galileo and The Good Person of Szechwan.

I think I mentioned in a previous post that we’ve been busy outside the studio as well. We’ve of course played gigs, private and public, and also been on stage for a fahsion show, where Laura was being pretty, I was being a roadie for Saara who was playing a solo piece on stage. We also played at a party in a hotel, where we were involved in a mystery crime! And somehow we managed to take some photos for the album cover, too (well, mostly in the middle of the night!).

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Laura some hours before the fashion show, trying on a reindeer leather dress by Jukka Rintala.

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Must be the first time the backstage was accessed with a keycard, and the catering included poached eggs.

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Ilari and Laura looking through frames during an all nighter.

Then we got this lovely fellow called Joel Kupiainen play some clarinet on the album. The song he plays on has an outro pinched from another song we did for a radio drama, which was broadcasted on the Finnish Broadcasting Company’s Radio 1 in the summer. I think Joel actually came up with the melody for the outro, so we wanted him to play it on the album as well. This is, by the way, a Café de Abejas song with three distorted guitar tracks. And other stuff.

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Trying out different approaches. We went with the ‘over the top discordant’ one.

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Accordeoniste?

MORE DISTORTION!

MORE DISTORTION!

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Glockenspieliste?

And finally, we’ve got all the songs ready and we can sit down with Janne at E-Studio for a 9 to 5 mixing session.

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Checklist, with designated days for each detail.

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Feeling that the songs are in good hands. Gold and platinum records, from the 80’s until 00’s.

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Laura and some serious hardware.

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We lasted from 9 a.m. until lunch with a single cup of coffee.  After lunch we downed a pot, each.

There are many people we wish to thank for making this album happen, but probably none so much as our grand patrons, Harri & Terttu, who’ve given us their full support from the very beginning, and let us rehearse at their city apartment, and record at their cottage, and have just been all round encouraging and most helpful.

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Getting the final ‘go ahead’.

We’ve decided to call the album “Is this Casablanca?”. It’s also a track on the album, and a song we played, according to the setlist, on the very first full-lenght Café de Abejas gig ever. That was before the first album came out. So the songs been in the making for quite some time, but like Laura put it, “We just weren’t ready for the song before”. It makes a good title, and certainly conjures up images. For the title’s sake, and for other reasons, I’d like to acknowledge the influencers and inspirators for this album: John Donne, Pierre Berton and Charles Simon, Louis Feuillade, Bertolt Brecht, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Dorothy Parker, Concha Piquer, Serge, Charles, Bogie, Bergman and Bacall, Raymond Chandler, John Keats and Danny Elfman. There might well be others, others we’re not even aware of. But you might find it fun to return to this list once you have the album in your hands, and hunt down details – I think you might enjoy it as much as we’ve enjoyed writing these songs.

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-Jere

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Thank you!

As you may know by now, we’re in the middle of making our second album.

As with the first one, we have a crowd funding campaign going on. And! Just a couple of hours ago our goal at Mesenaatti.me was reached (and exceeded)! Thank you, thank you, darlings, for pre-ordering and letting us know, that the album is expected! And thanks to everyone who shared the campaign at Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and even by word of mouth, we could not have done this without you!

So as a very small token of gratitude for the absolutely overwhelming results with the Mesenaatti campaign here are some wallpapers we made of the upcoming album’s artwork. There’s a desktop wallpaper (1920x1080p), and a few different mobile wallpapers (480×800), mainly because iOS7 uses a parallax effect and won’t align wallpapers as intended. So we recommend you use the last of these three images for iPhones with iOS7 installed.

We think we’ll go have a glass of bubbly now!

-Jere & Laura

Desktop background 1920x1080p. ©Café de Abejas 2014

Desktop background 1920x1080p. ©Café de Abejas 2014

Mobile background 480x800p. ©Café de Abejas 2014

Mobile background 480x800p. ©Café de Abejas 2014

Background for iPhones with iOS7, 480x800p. ©Café de Abejas 2014

Background for iPhones with iOS7, 480x800p. ©Café de Abejas 2014

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Studio Diary, part 7

This part of the studio diary will be a little different. I’ll tell you a little about our recordings in general, and a little bit about all the other stuff we’ve done while we’ve been recording.

As you might know by now, we started recording at the beginning of October at Lil’ Yellow, a cottage located in Western Finland Province. It’s an awesome place to be, especially in the autumn, when it’s not too cold to go mushroom hunting out in the forest, and yet the leaves have already turned a hundred shades of yellow and orange (especially the maple trees!). We spent a week at Lil’ Yellow, just Me, Laura, Saara, Ilari and Juha, our recording engineer – we sometimes refer to him as The Record Company, especially when he buys a round. During that week we recorded seven songs live, out of the 12 tracks that are to appear on the forthcoming album. You can read more about the details of the week from the previous Studio Diary posts.

Lil' Yellow yard

There’s exactly o n e maple tree nearby.

The woods

In the forest.

After the week at Lil’ Yellow, we took a week off and visited Tampere for a gig at Lost in Music. After the Tampere leg, me and Laura took a ferry to Tallin and stayed there for a few days, mostly wandering around the city and stumbling in to a cozy café or a restaurant once every few hours. One of the places we happened by was a nice little student café, where, as we entered, three people were sitting at a table taking turns on Ukulele, the barista gave us a small cup of freshly ground coffee beans used in our coffee just to smell, and it took us a better part of an hour to realize that what we took for comic books on the shelves were actually volumes of christian literary and that all the music videos that they were showing on a screen were gospel songs from revival meetings. The place is called The Living Room, and it serves kick-ass coffee.

Tampere

A Scrabble moment with the band at Lost in Music.

Tallin

Jere getting cosy in Tallin. This guest house was b e a u t i f u l.

After Tallin and Tampere we relocated our studio to Ruoholahti, Helsinki. We also started a crowd-funding campaign for the album. And the busy bees we are, we were able to not play more than three gigs during the last few weeks. The last one we actually ran to from the studio, leaving Saara and Juha to go over some cello parts while Laura and I took the chance to perform few of the new songs live, first time ever. We also played a wonderful show at a care home, bringing some burlesque to the elderly with our amazing muse Noora. It was the resdients’ wish, when asked for what kind of activity they were looking forward to. I was told the exact phrasing was “gambling, cocktails and nudity“. A prohibition themed party for the people who actually remember the prohibition – now that was something. “In Paris they took ALL the clothes off!“, as it was aptly put by a gentleman after our show.

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Laura and Noora having a cigarette break.

Noora on stage

Armi Von Vepp on stage at the care home.

So we haven’t actually recorded non-stop for a month now – the total of studio days is closer to two weeks, give or take.
Some days have been shorter, and more frustrating than others, as is usually the case. Some of the frustration is technical, some not so. Helsinki is a funky place to be a singer in the winter time – the sheer amount of sharing of favourite remedies ranging from tea-with-honey to taking a salt room session going on in the singers’ scene is amazing. And you will catch a cold. And it will take you a better part of the spring to get over it. We’re on the winning side, right now, fingers crossed, knock on wood, that sort of stuff. We diligently take our vitamins, and there has been a lot of rum involved.

Silver nitrate

Our vitamins, from 1956 with love. It’s actually a bottle for silver nitrate from the soviet era, and judging by the amount of the bottles, it were used for photogrpahy.

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Even in the city we keep getting treats like this!

So right now we’ve five songs ready, and most of the remaining songs only lack in minor details, harmonies, toy piano, smoky laughter of the muse, and such. There’s a song, though, a duet which I wrote about three weeks before we started recording. It’s not exactly giving me nightmares yet, but there’s plenty to do. I might need to devote a whole blog for that song only. On the other hand, there’s a brand new tune called Zaza on the album, which was written two days before the studio, and which we arranged in one afternoon, so… the other song might magically just fall in place all of a sudden (although my guess is sweat and tears).

Laura engineer

Laura behind the wheel.

Finnish Uncle Scrooge magazine

“This guy’s decorated like a christmas tree. Must be someone famous.” “More like a peackock… A pop star…”

And oh, a short word on the percussions! You might have noticed that Ilari’s drum set with Abejas is not the most conventional one. He uses a padded bass drum pedal with a cajon, two tambourines taped together as a ‘snare’, two cymbals but no hi-hat and various shakers and zils and a frog shaped guiro. For Kammerkabarett he also used a trash bin. For the last album he recorded a typewriter. This time he hopped on the morning bus carrying a crowbar, which by the way makes the second most industrial sound I’ve ever heard – the most industrial would be the industrial metal press that ended up on the album of my other band. Well, anyway, the crowbar was a cool thing, but as it happens, the houses surrounding our Helsinki studio are having their metal roofs recoated, which means there’s heaps of old steel plates lying all over the place. Not exactly bell plates, but they make do for a kettle drum! And then there is the match box.

That’s all for now. Tune back in soon!

-Jere

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