Velvet Ocean – Interview
Interview with Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
Velvet Ocean 24/05/2020
Riitu Ronkainen – vocals
Jake Ronkainen – guitar
PD: What type of artist are you?
Jake: Velvet Ocean is an alternative melodic metal act from Oulu, Northern Finland. There are seven of us including two guitars and a cello in the band.
PD: Tell us the brief history of yourself.
Jake: The story of the band began in 2015 when Riitu and me where kind of having talks how to get our musical aspirations directed into a project where things would be happening perhaps in a bit more goal-orientated and efficient manner. Before that we had had separate band projects but then we decided to start a song writing project together. In about half a year the song writing was well on the way and we started looking for local players first for studio sessions and later to join the band. The album recordings where finished in 2017 after which the mixing and mastering was completed by Johan Örnborg and Jens Bogren in Fascination Street Studios in Sweden. At that point we weren’t particularly eager to publish the record on our own and after some search we got into talks with Helsinki Records who evidently got interested in the music and recently published the album. Now we are of course eagerly waiting to start the gigging at full steam and are also planning the next single with Helsinki Records.
PD: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
Jake: Outside music it’s very difficult to name people because of course everyone has their vices and virtues in life. However in general I have always admired people who are willing to go the extra length to get things done properly. I mean people that are not just interested in instant gratification or money but just want to do things right and fair. In music there are too many to list them all but let’s say Led Zeppelin, Helloween, Metallica, Rage Against the Machine, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Steve Morse and Dream Theater among others.
Riitu: I have always had a very broad perspective on music. I have listened to all kinds of stuff from Finnish schlager music to heavy metal. I believe all sorts of things that I have listened have some kind of influence on my own writing. To mention a couple of artists let’s say Anna Eriksson, Laura Voutilainen, Christina Aguilera, Lady Gaga, E-type, Waldo’s People, Queen, Metallica, Stratovarius, Evanescence, Within Temptation, Muse etc.
PD: What are your dreams and goals?
Jake: I hope we can continue writing and recording music and I hope we will be able to gain enough visibility for people to be able to find our music and make up their minds about whether they like it or not. It would be awesome to play some serious crowded gigs. Of course the material for the next album is already in a quite good demo shape so the goal is to get to the recording stage in near future. I’m also looking forward to the production collaboration with Helsinki Records. I feel like it’s awesome to get some outside perspective to our music, too.
Riitu: I’m dreaming that as many people as possible would hear our music. I would like to keep on doing music for the rest of my life and perform on big stages. From childhood I have known that I wasn’t exactly meant for the 9 to 5 life and I’ve been kind of restless and just wanted to make music and perform because I just love it!
PD: Who writes your songs, what are they about?
Jake: I think it’s fair to say that Riitu is the undisputed main writer although I’m trying to hang in there as well. I think the next album writing will be a bit different chore altogether since all the guys are in it with us all the way from the start. So we are looking for contribution from the other band members as well.
Riitu: I write songs together with Jake. Our music is very melancholic and very soulful. I am pretty sensitive and sentimental and I believe that you can hear it in the songs. Our music is a bit bleak but there is also a seed of hope always present. The topics include stories about relationships and they involve many sorts of emotional level things as well as things related to global environmental and social situation.
PD: How do you promote your band and shows?
Jake: Like everybody else we try to be as active as possible in social media an oftentimes we also try to stay in personal contact with people in the business. We have a Finnish promoter and we have newly established collaboration with Metalmessage.de. I think the key here however is to keep producing interesting and high quality material whether it’s music, videos or anything else.
Riitu: I’m managing many of our online accounts and that sometimes feels like a full-time job. I’m also trying to take care that I personally respond to all people’s inquiries at this stage.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online?
Jake: Professional musicians are often critisicing the share of profits that is channeled to them and I think it´s true that it would be extremely difficult to financally support a seven member band with just streaming revenues. However in our situation the vast coverage that the Warner distribution warrants is basically very useful for us just to ensure maximum visibility. So I would say the streaming business for us at this point is more about marketing than profits.
Riitu: That is the name of the game today in case you do it in legit online services. Of course there are also many benefits including how easy it is for people to get acquainted with new bands. It would still be awesome if people bought more physical records because in CD format you can really hear what the music was meant to sound like. The audio quality is truely something else and the difference to lesser quality stream is huge.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
Jake: Let’s say “Dream Theater – A Change of Seasons” cause then I would be a pretty awesome song writer.
Riitu: “Walking in the Air” by Howard Blake. The athmosphere, chords and melodies are just awesome. There is also a lot of room for imagination. You could almost feel the chilling winter air listening to the song on Christmas Eve as a kid.
PD: What are some of your pet peeves?
Jake: I must say that I periodically get little nervous breakdowns when I notice that some thing is done sloppily. It can be whatever petty thing and the problem is usually more related to my own stubborn perfectionism than anything else.
Riitu: I often feel annoyed if I notice people’s indifference towards other people’s difficulties and suffering. I also really don’t like jealousy or malevolence in any form.
PD: What is your proudest moment in music?
Jake: Considering the massive amount of work and all the insecurities involved in the album process it must be the moment I inserted the “Purposes and Promises” pressed CD for the first time in the car CD player.
Riitu: It’s definitely the first album but also the moment when I noticed in the first gigs how people actually came to see us and sang along in some of the songs.
PD: So what are you working on at the moment?
Jake: The main chore at the moment is of course trying to take advantage of the momentum that the recent album release is offering. Of course this is somewhat complicated with the live situation being what it is right now. However we are trying to harrass people to listen to the album and form an opinion about it. We are also attending the Dark Stream Festival May 29 at 14 CET. At the same time we are selecting the first of our demo songs for more scrutinized predemoing to get eventually recording again.
Riitu: We are concentrating in making new music now. There are quite many songs that we have a rude framework for but that need some finer details on the band arrangements. I hope we get everything ready for the next single release. It’s very difficult to schedule that at this point, though. Another music video for the song Broken has also been shot already. I hope people find us in the stream gig as well.
PD: What music have you available online and where can we buy it from?
Jake: Our debut album “Velvet Ocean – Purposes and Promises” was released 7th of February by Helsinki Records and is globally available in all major stream services. We also released a new music video May 22 for the song “Elysian Fields”. The video is available in Warner Music Finland Youtube channel.
Thank you very much for the interview! Stay safe everybody!
Velvet Ocean links:
Band/Artist location – Oulu Finland
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