> IN SLAUGHTER NATIVES Interview By Filip Van Muylem (2013)
In Slaughter Natives played at the Porta Nigra festival (30, 31/5 & 1/6/2013). A good opportunity to ask a few questions to Jouni Havukainen. Peter Verreycken and Nicolas (Empusae) joined with questions and it turned to be a pretty nice interview!
FVM: Thank you for this interview! As a lot of people had expected, Nicolas (Empusae) joined you stage. Can you say something about this great cooperation?
ISN: Nicolas did not only join me; he also joined other bands, like Triarii and he played with his own band, Empusae. I’ve known him for several years and we already joined forces whenever we were touring together and when we were able to. I think the first time we did something together was during Summer of Darkness in 2010. It’s not always possible to do things together, sometimes travelling costs too much…
FVM: And Nicolas has his day job too, just like you…
ISN: I’m kinda a lucky as I work partime and I am able to do almost what I want. I had a nice deal. I know it’s not always easy for everybody.
FVM: I know you’ve been making music since 1988, which is really already a long time and you joined the famous Cold Meat Industry label…
ISN: In fact, it was even earlier, I think in 1987 or yes, maybe indeed 1988. I had known Roger Karmanik for many years before that. I knew his wife since 1982 or something like that. He was working in the music industry and he asked me: you’ve got to release something. I thought: yeah I can do that and he said: you need to be ready. So I had to quickly finalize everything. That’s how the first casette came out.
FVM: Now it’s really a legendary label…
ISN: Well, you know there was a connection between all the bands back then. In the beginning, everything was based in a small place called Linköping in Sweden; only 50.000 people lived there. It was only 2 hours of driving from Stockholm where I used to live. Most of the bands where friends, we knew each other very well. As it was a small town it was very easy to do things together.
FVM: I suppose the cold weather helped a bit to get together and work?
ISN: Not really, it can be very cold but also pretty decent. Between minus 27 degrees and plus 10. The winters are not so dramatic. And if yo go to Stockholm, that’s only 800 km away from a city like Berlin.
FVM: But I think you can feel a bit the weather conditions and the raw nature in your music?
ISN: Maybe sometimes, but I will not tell that you can feel that, to tell you the truth.
FVM: Why did you choose to make the kind of music you are making and how did you choose the name?
ISN: Well, I had the feeling i had to come up with something. I had a master tape and was wondering what I should do with it, stick to it or do something else. I had done other styles and music before. I tried other things, but I slowly came back to the thing I had made. Somehow I kept coming back to the same thing and decided to simply go for it. It was in me and it was like it was meant to be. It just happened. When I make music it’s not that I have a plan. I just make music as it comes, I don’t think about selling or about record deals. And about the name, well, you can’t say the name ‘In Slaughter Natives’ is proper English, but nobody cares. I just loved it and it felt good to do things the way i did them. I wasn’t thinking about the name, it just came later. I just liked the combination of the words.
FVM: Do you have your own record studio where you can just do whatever you want, whenever you want?
ISN: Yes, I’m totally independent and can do whatever I want. This is very important for me. In the early days, it was very expensive and you needed much more material than now. Now it’s so much easier, and the technology doesn’t cost that much anymore. Now I have the feeling that i have too much gear to work with. Before you couldn’t do much, because you needed so much equipment and it was very expensive. You had to work with the little equipment you had. I must say that saving things is much easier than before. You can just record something and leave it for a longer time and come back on it when you feel ready for it. Before, you really had to save everything and it took some time before it was all done in a proper way. Now it’s so easy. I love the current back-up system.
FVM: I understand: this way, you can ask another artist to play the drums while someone else is doing the synths and then you can put it all together, from your own place…
ISN: Totally right.
FVM: Something we noticed on your Facebook page is that you use a lot of black and white pictures. Where do they come from?
ISN: I ran into them by mistake. I’m always interested in pictures and sometimes I’m intrigued by pictures, as if they were catching me. Sometimes I change them into black and white to make them more dramatic.
FVM: Are you a fan of Hieronymus Bosch, the famous painter with his strange paintings?
ISN: I’m not a big fan, but i like it.
FVM: If you look at the paintings while playing your music, it sounds like the perfect soundtrack, a bit like what Empusea did in the past with a strip album. What do you think of that?
ISN: I don’t know, when I make music, I need to get a certain feeling. Usually I don’t give up until I have this certain feeling. My feeling and inside touch has nothing to do with what the others feel about my music. It’s very personal and everybody has his own idea about it. It’s very important that the people get their own imagination and feeling about it. That’s my aim. I have never been to one of Bosch’ exhibitions, so maybe I should give it a try. Now I’m tempted to do it.
FVM: Are there other painters or artists who influence you?
ISN: Maybe one: August Strindberg. He’s a writer who lived around 1800 and wrote strange books. He was also a painter, but no one knew that. The books were really special, but the paintings were fantastic. I can’t say more about it, you really have to see them. You have to check it out.
FVM: Can you tell us something about the 3cd ‘Insanity & Treatment’? How did you come up with the idea of the 3cd box? It captivates the atmosphere very well. Can you tell more about it?
ISN: Honestly, it was not my idea to do it. Nick, the guy from the Russian label, Infinite Fog Productions, wrote to me and asked for it. I like him, he’s a nice guy.
FVM: I saw you on stage in the 90’s in Waregem and I still recall the torches and the hot and steamy atmosphere. Still after all those years you can make me feel the same way with the new material, but you don’t do that fireworks anymore…
ISN: Well, the problem with fire is that it’s dangerous and there are more and more restrictions on it. The insurance doesn’t like it either if something happens, so concert promotors are not happy with it. It’s not so popular anymore, they don’t like it when you talk about fire and stuff.
FVM: No Festival Of Light was playing there too; do you still have contacts with one of them?
ISN: Not for the moment. Frederik Bergström and I talk a lot about paintings and stuff. But maybe in August.
FVM: At the beginning of this interview, I mentioned that you worked with Nicolas (Empusae). Are there other artists with whom you want to work?
ISN: Well, Thomas Pettersson. Just as with the concerts, everytime we can we do things together.
FVM: You only recorded together once? Are you considering doing more together?
ISN: Well, yes, we only did the 7 inch and who knows? When I was making a song I thought maybe i should ask him to work on it. I asked him and it really worked. It was nice working together. We all did our part and I did some cutting and mixing. It worked fine. It felt good, but it was unintended, it just happened and it worked really well.
FVM: I can imagine that after the Porta Nigra where you played 3 gigs in a row and worked with 2 other artists that you can think like: why not go further and record something together?
ISN: Well I’m a bit difficult to work with, because I need time to do things. It can be that I work one day with this and then one week with this. Sometimes I need 2 years to finish something. It’s not always easy to work like this. I love to take my time and hate to be pushed. I was working together with Andréa Nebel on a new project called Aghast Manor. She asked me: I want to record a new album, I have some idea’s, we could work together. I said yes, you can come to my place. She stayed a couple of weeks. We were working in a total different way from what I am used to. We used to wake up in the morning, started working and made one song a day and ended in the evening. We did the vocals and everything like this and then we used to take the next song… I aslo wrote one song for the ‘Penetrate’ album. But I was mostly helping Andréa out with the recordings and other stuff.
FVM: What is the song ‘Blood Testural’ about?
ISN: I don’t want to talk about it. But honestly I still like that song and I think I will never get tired of that song. I don’t know why, but it still works fine. It’s an old song and I am not saying that it is a bad thing, but I have so much new material and sometimes old stuff is a bit boring.
FVM: You don’t play that much concerts: is there a reason for this?
ISN: Well, it’s the same as with my recordings: I love to take my time and it has to come by itself. Sometimes it works if you force me to do things, but sometimes I really hate it. It’s not always like this.
FVM: Can you say something about one of my favorites ‘The Silence Shed A Tear’? I love the title.
ISN: I love the title too but I can’t remember when i played it for the last time on stage.
FVM: ‘Still Only Death’ is almost a classic. Is that your most popular one?
ISN: I can’t say whether it’s the most popular, but for sure it is popular. There will be a completely new version, it will be on the new album. Maybe I’ll make even one additional new version. I’m still working on the new release. I hope to find more time, once my moving to Germany is over.
FVM: So we can expect something new in a year or so?
ISN: If everything goes well it will be released in September. It will be with 4 new songs and older reworked stuff. I decided to prepare the new release to perform it live and I really want to use them for concerts. This is what you can expect from the new material. and after that there will be another release.
FVM: Will you do a large tour after the release then?
ISN: Not really. I need more time for the main release. This one is only half done and i really want to take my time to do it properly. A lot depends on how much time i can concentrate on it and for the moment I nearly have no time at all. I think I will have a lot of time in summer and really hope to do nothing else but being busy with music. I hope it’s going to work.
FVM: Well I will leave you now and really hope you can focus on the new releases: the fans are waiting… The gig at Porta Nigra was great and with this we have high expectations…
(Interviewed By Filip Van Muylem, 17 June 2013)
More Info At: http://www.inslaughternatives.com/