Pekka Perä-Takala - Gelsomina/Hard & Obscure/Sick Seed
This interview was done with Pekka PT from the Finnish PE/Noise project called Gelsomina. Gelsomina is one of the best pe/noise acts hailing from Finland, also this guy doing a very good zine called Hard & Obscure. Put some Gelsomina, Bizarre Uproar, or Grunt LPs on your turntable and read this fine chat about movies, noise, life and other interesting topics!
Your qualification (school)? What kind of job do you have?
I'm a university drop-out. I have a shitty job at a big logistics company. It's tolerable, though. The work is bearable and most of my workmates are good people. Finnish workingmen. Of course it also pays my rent and bills. I do a lot of night shifts that are solitary work that suits me fine. I also like the idea of working while normal people sleep.
When get in touch with noise/experimental music first time?
In mid/late 1990s I think. I was into alternative rock, progressive rock and such and starting to find out industrial bands such as Throbbing Gristle, Einstürzende Neubauten, Cabaret Voltaire, DAF, etc... Also noise rock, no wave and such experimental "skronk". It was a logical step to move on to power electronics and noise.
First real noise/PE/experimental live action/concert in your life:
I saw Strom.ec in 1999, that was the first power electronics gig I saw. I had seen some more or less experimental bands and artists live earlier but nothing that has stuck to my mind. But that Strom.ec gig really made an impact. It was brutal and at the time it felt very controversial. Especially since it was a kind of cross-over concert with crappy goth and metal bands.
First noise/PE album in your life:
Probably We Hate You - A Small Tribute to Throbbing Gristle compilation CD + 7". It was mostly industrial and experimental, but it had tracks by Merzbow and Origami Replika that were fucking extreme harshness. I was quite shocked at first but soon wanted more! I don't remember what was my first full noise album. It could've been some Merzbow CD.
CD or LP?
They both have their sides. LP generally looks better and has that certain analogue feel. CD is more convenient to use and also produce. On the other hand that lack of convenience might also work for the advantage of the vinyl, making it a more interactive and holistic experience.
Where came the Gelsomina name? From the legendary La Strada movie 1954 , or from the Escape to Athena 1979 movie?
Yeah, it came from La Strada. I haven't seen Escape to Athena.
Why did you pick this name for your project?
I wanted some unusual name that wouldn't be easy to associate with extreme noise, quite the opposite. I was at the time of starting the project totally fascinated, even obsessed by the film La Strada and the Gelsomina character. I guess it was a kind of a bizarre personality cult in the beginning. I think, though, that the name started to live a life of its own after a couple of releases.
What would you say your main influences are? (musically and non musically)
I think C.C.C.C. were an important musical influence to me in the beginning. Also Incapacitants and Borbetomagus, although I've never sounded like them I think. Movies were a HUGE influence in the beginning and also other artforms. They still are but to lesser extent. Often some phrase or piece of text sticks into my mind and I have to work something around it. As for current direct musical influences, I'd say power electronics and industrial in general. I'd rather not name any artists. Other artforms still influence me, as said, but I think political, psychological, behaviouristic and sexual subjects have started to rise to the forefront. Consumerism, nationalism, multi-culturalism, dystopias of different kinds, mental and physical health, obsessions, everyday anguish...
When you starting to make noise?
In 2000 or 2001. I had listened to noise for a while and thought to try if I could make it too and it turned out fine. I recorded different sounds with a four-track recorder and manipulated them on computer, which is what I basically do even now.
What are your religious views?
I'm torn between atheism and some kind of gnostic-satanic-pantheism that I can't really describe better. I'd say I'm 90% atheist but I have my "spiritual" periods.
Which one song would you like played at your funeral?
"Weathercock" by Jethro Tull, the last song on their classic album Heavy Horses. It's not about death or anything such, but I think it'd make people feel good and possibly a bit nostalgic.
What is your most treasured possession?
I try not to get too attached to anything. I have some musical instruments I wouldn't like to part with, though. On the other hand, even they are just tools.
Which one band would you most like to support?
Before Gelsomina, I was in this free-improv band and I used to say that when we get to support Borbetomagus I've achieved everything I need. With Gelsomina I got to warm up for them, so I have very little to look for in terms of gigs. Generally I prefer to play with artists who work at least broadly on similar lines as I do.
Which three albums would you choose if you were stranded on the proverbial desert island?
Jethro Tull: Heavy Horses.
Sielun Veljet: s/t (debut album of a Finnish 1980s "alternative" rock band).
CMX: Aura (another Finnish rock band, started out as bizarre hardcore and moved on to some kind of alternative/prog rock, this is their fourth album and the one that made them big).
Or instead of those any three Jandek albums.
Which one song do you wish you had written?
There are so many... "Big Eyed Beans from Venus" by Captain Beefheart would definitely be one.
What are your views on drugs?
It depends on how you use them. My drug experiences are rather limited but they've all been very positive. I haven't done any drugs for a long time and I'm not very interested in them at the moment. I hate worship and romanticization of drugs, though, even if some great art has been produced under the influence. Recreational use of any drugs is ok, but addicts deserve nothing but a bullet or rope.
What is your opinion about the politically correct bands, artists?
If artists hide or change their opinions in fear of disapproval of the "scene" it's fucking pathetic, but on the other hand I understand that some want to play it safe and be liked by everyone. It's still idiotic that in a genre as uncommercial and obscure as noise or power electronics people are sometimes discouraged to voice opinions that are "wrong" or "incorrect".
If you could choose to have your way with any woman in the world who would you choose?
I don't know. I can't come up with anything clever here, sorry.
You have had some live actions in past. What is the main difference when doing noise at home (when record some new material) and doing noise on stage in the front of some noise freaks?
At home/studio you have the possibility to work things over and over again but live you have only one chance to succeed. I've tried different approaches from making all noise live alone to using other people and/or background tapes to help me. At the moment I feel most comfortable live playing alone with backing tracks and putting some noise and vocals on top of that.
One of the best Gelsomina’s cover is the Deus Ex Garbage Can tape cover, in my opinion of course. Who is on the photo?
My future wife. She's not a noise / underground / subculture person at all, but she's quite artistic and often interested in my work and always very supportive and sometimes I manage to talk her into doing these kind of things. She's also on the insert of the Gelsomina / Bizarre Uproar collaboration CD and she has written some lyrics for me.
My personal favourite Gelsomina releases are Nostalghia CD and the Cronenberg – Dead Music Live CD. Tell me some details/secrets about these great releases.
Both are reissues. Nostalghia came originally on a tape on Australian label Smell The Stench. Chris from Cipher Productions (another Australian label) who co-released it with me thought it was worth reissuing on proper CD. The bonus track is a live collaboration with Grunt from the first ever Gelsomina gig. Cronenberg came originally on a very limited 3"CD-R on now defunct Finnish label Hammasratas. Mikko from Freak Animal thought it was so good it should be released on CD. "Dead Music Live" half is the second ever Gelsomina gig in its entirety.
All the track titles in Nostalghia refer to different films in one way or another. I tried to make it into a psychedelic and somehow cinematic whole but I'm not sure if I succeeded. Cronenberg is of course a tribute to film director David Cronenberg and all tracks are references to his films and samples have been taken from them as well.
Last year came out the collaboration CD with the legendary Finnish Bizarre Uproar. How did you feel when you did this collaboration stuff together live on stage with BU? Are you satisfied with the result?
I'm very satisfied with the result, it could not have been better. Pasi / BU sent me his "comeback" release Pakkosyöttö 2CD-R and we started corresponding and have since become close friends. I appreciate his work immensely, he's a talented and truly obsessed with BU. HAIL BIZARRE VITUN UPROAR! Assisted Self-Sterilization was not performed live on stage, though. The title track was a mail collaboration with me putting together some source sounds that Pasi sent me and the rest were recorded together at the Gelsomina rehearsal bunker and very slightly edited afterwards.
What kind of equipment did/do use for making noise?
All kinds, no limits. Guitars, effect pedals, oscillators, metal junk, feedback, vocals, whatever. This far I've always recorded source sounds with a four-track recorder and then edited and layered them on computer. This might change slightly on future recorings but probably not much. We'll see. Some of my favourite gadgets are three different oscillator boxes that a friend of mine made for me and a Boss DD-3 digital delay pedal. You can get far with only those.
What is your opinion about the nowadays scene with lots of laptop noise artists? I think is very boring when I see some bands on stage doing nothing just clicking with the mouse behind their screens. No action, just pre-recorded files.
I think it depends on the noise. For more academic or ambient stuff no action is necessary but for harsh noise or power electronics live show should go together with the sound, ie. be energetic, violent and dangerous.
Why did you stop your label Musically Incorrect Records? You have lots of great releases on MIR.
Thanks for the compliment. I'm very happy with most of the MIR releases. Reasons for quitting the label were lack of time, money and - above all - inspiration. I couldn't reach the standards I set to myself so I decided it's better to quit and concentrate on making the noise, not selling it.
I read on the Chondritic Sound forum that you will put to ice the Gelsomina project in the near future. Is this true? Why?
Yes, it's true. I quit Gelsomina after the recent UK tour and from now on I continue to make industrial power electronics noise as Sick Seed. I think the new name suits the new material better and I've also strayed quite far from the kind of harsh noise that people associate with Gelsomina.
I know that you are a great movie maniac. What is your all time top 5 movies and top 5 actors & top 5 actresses?
1. The Fly (David Cronenberg)
2. Z00 (Peter Greenaway)
3. El Topo (Alejandro Jodorowsky)
4. Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder)
La Strada (Federico Fellini) was of course one of my favourite's but I don't think it's that significant to me anymore. 5th place could be a tie between Irreversible (Gaspar Noe), Eraserhead (David Lynch) and Seven (David Fincher). As for actors/actresses, there are those who can bring something to even the worst movies but I still think a movie is more a matter of a whole than a certain person acting in it.
Recommend some new movies from the last 2 years:
No Country For Old Men. That was just brilliant. I can't think of any others at the moment, though I'm sure there are many good ones.
Let we talking about your fanzine called Hard & Obscure. When came to your mind to make a zine? Why are so limited the past issues?
It was just something I wanted to do. Before Hard and Obscure I did two issues of a zine called Dilettante's Digest. It was basically the same as HaO but it covered a wider variety of music. HaO is quite strictly concentrated on industrial noise and obscure metal, although there has been and will be some digressions. HaO #1 was 150 copies and #2 was 200 copies if I remember right. #3 was 300 copies and at the moment of writing this I still have a few dozens left. I think the editions have been suitable for a zine like this.
In your magazine appearing lots of obscure metal bands. Are you a metal fan too? What is your fave genre inside metal and write your fave bands.
I don't know if I'm a metal fan or a metalhead, but there are many metal bands that I like. I wasn't really into metal as a kid or teen. I listened to some Iron Maiden, Metallica, Sepultura, Megadeth and such but I got more seriously into metal at around the same time as noise when I was almost 20 already. I like the more obscure metal genres such as black metal, death metal and sludge. I'm not into power metal, folk metal and such, and not into many traditional heavy metal or speed/thrash bands either. Some of my current favourites are Grand Belial's Key, Arghoslent, Goatlord, Fistula, Autopsy, Eyehategod, Unearthly Trance, Woods of Infinity, Clandestine Blaze, Bloodhammer, Absurd, Church of Misery, Bone Awl, Ash Pool, etc...
What is the future for noise/pe experimental music genre in your point of view?
I don't know. Maybe the more "rock'n'roll" end of the genre (you know, Wolf Eyes and such US hipster noise) might gain even more public acceptance and become another alternative music trend but on the other hand the more underground material will probably (and hopefully) get less and less public attention. I hope that the alternative music audience and media shuns hateful power electronics and perverse noise.
The pornography, sexual mutilation, bizarre sex are main themes in the today noise/pe. What do you think about these topics? Is this a trend or every porno maniac doing noise today?
They're all good topics and fit into noise perfectly. Unfortunately many use them in very superficial way without real interest in the topic. Just use it for shock value, you know. I think it's usually quite easy to spot who's into it for real and who's just playing with it, though. Porn is always good entertainment, but I'm not a collector or an expert.
Are you read the book Psychopathia Sexualis by Richard von Krafft-Ebing? What do you think about?
Yes, I've read it. It's an interesting, entertaining and informative book. Many of the case histories he presents are quite fucked up. It's also interesting to see how different "perversions" were seen in the end of the 19th century (and usually still are). I think human sexuality should have no boundaries, but I'm still not interested in trying to push "bizarre lifestyle" to general acceptance. I hate gay pride, love bondage and such "alternative culture."
By the way books...what is your fave Mishima novel? What is Mishima’s best work in your point of view? Did you seen the Patriotism, The Rite of Love and Death movie? What represents to you Mishima’s way of life, his attitude and his death? I think that Mishima is one of the best writer of XX. Century. The The Sea of Fertility and The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea books are the best novels of all times, your comment:
I'm not a Mishima expert. I have read a couple of his books and saw a biography film about him, but I don't think I can properly answer questions about him, sorry. I do, however, appreciate that he was a man who could handle both the pen and the sword and that he cultivated both his body and his mind. That is an example I hope to be able to follow.
I think this is enough for now, thanx for your time and interest, close this interview with some future plans.
Thank YOU for your interest and support, it's much appreciated! A long-term future plan would be to have a house in the country. I'm working on some new releases but there's nothing finished or certain at the moment. Hard and Obscure #4 will hopefully be out before the end of 2008, as well as a couple of Gelsomina reissues.