Ancient rituals brought to life – interview with ’Kallomäki’

Welcome to Dark Folk Nation Tero from ’Kallomäki’, I’m truly glad to feature you on our site! How’s it going?

Thanks! We just had good show at the Pakanalliset Syysmessut, Helsinki (pagan fall fair) and now are publishing some videos and awesome pics from there. People gave good feedback and there’s always good vibes many days after a good show.  

You are the second Finnish band featured on Dark Folk Nation so far. How do you find the darker folk music scene in Finland?

It’s an honor to be featured in DFN and all interviews are important to us, with this kind of music it isn’t so easy to get interviews in Finland (even if you’re a Finnish band).

Actually I have to admit I don’t know so many dark folk bands from here, I think it’s still quite underground music. Recently I found Okra Playground and I was amazed that it sounded almost like my second dark folk band, Uinuos, in a good way.  And I follow my favourite dark folk band Tenhi quite regularly, hoping that they’ll release new music soon and do some gigs.

Would you like to tell us a bit about ’Kallomäki’? How was the band born and how long have you been creating and playing music together?

Kallomäki started as my solo band, Kalliomäki. If I remember right, first single was released at the beginning of the 2018.  It started from a vision where I played jouhikko at the stage with a skull mask on. Also I had idea of the theme; stories of some ancient pagan cult from Finland.  Somehow it seemed such a cool idea in my head that I ordered a professional 3D printed skull mask, one of a kind and started to practise to play with that on my head. It isn’t so easy, jouhikko is hard to play even without that. 

After I booked the first gig I started to ask friends from my other bands to join and soon there was 8 people, I don’t know what happened to “solo”, hah. I’ve played with couple of our members (Hapa and Samu) almost 20 years now.   

What instruments do you use in your music?

Main instrument is my self made electric jouhikko named Rotakko. Then we use cello, bass, shaman drums, bones, other kind of percussions and real drums. And in some songs there’s kantele played by our good friend Aslak Tolonen / Nest

When it comes to songwriting do you have some specific themes from where the lyrics are born? Are you inspired by the Finnish folklore or so?

Our debut album was mainly based to myth of Roka Ukri (Jouhien Herra / The lord of the bowed lyre), written by me. That is the pagan cult theme that I had in my head for a long time. You can find the whole story from debut album’s covers. Some of the lyrics was made by guest singers like Helena Haaparanta, Anne Rajala and Timo Paasio. 

Our second album “Uuden Kuun Aika I&II” is a double album and first part is not that theme, it’s based to personal feelings after some period of depression, broken relationship etc, I felt I had to get rid of those negative feelings and made sad and gloomy album part from those. Of course that is also written in same “oldish” style than debut album. Second part of the album is heavier and continues the story of Roka Ukri. 

We also mix some Finnish traditional myths to Roka Ukri’s theme. And to Roka’s main story have influenced old horror films also, like Wicker Man and Children of the Corn. 

How does the songwriting process go for you?

I do all the main song structures and compositions, lyrics are mostly from Petri Määttä and me. First album was mainly done as improvisation, one hour before our drummer arrived to my studio I made some jouhikko riffs and then we jammed those to songs.

Second album was done more traditional way, I made song demos and then we recorded those actually. We always record vocals last, it’s easier to figure out singing styles to “finished” recording. 

You play live shows and they seem to have a big role in your music. How much do you plan your rituals before? Is there a certain pattern to your shows or does it vary? 

Yeah, from the beginning the show has been 50% of our music. We decided we want to give audience more than a just music and it has worked well. We don’t practise those rituals, those are improvisation that has set to patterns to our show. And those rituals are taken from Roka Ukri’s myth. For example we sacrifice one believer at the stage as gift to Ukri. In that story Roka’s followers gave victims to their lord that he won’t take their soul away.  In the story there was starvation in Finland at the time and they also ate their victims (we don’t do that for some reasons, we only drink the blood of the victim). 

Right now we’re planning some new visual elements to show like tribal dancers, creepy scent effects and fire. 

It seems you have released two albums so far, are you working on some new material as we speak?

I’m working in studio with my doom metal band, Saattue right now, but we’re starting to record new Kallomäki album at January 2021. We have some songs already and can’t wait to record the new material. For me the best thing in music is creating new. It gives such a good feeling when you manage to record something unique, and that is my goal almost every time. We also released one special cover song in July, that was a Pink Floyd song, played with jouhikko and lyrics translated/modified to Finnish… You can find that and our albums from Bandcamp.

What’s next for ’Kallomäki’? 

As said, right now we’re planning some new elements to our show. And also we’re looking for new festival gigs, so if you want our show to your festival, email to tero.kalliomaki@gmail.com… 

There’s also some smaller shows coming in this year, one of those is acoustic show at Porvoo.

Any wisdoms you’d like to share with the world?

My new favourite Finnish word, Sättänä! Hah, thanks to our member, Petri!

For really; don’t forget your roots, it’s sad that there’s some nice pagan celebrations that people seem to forget now days. And always respect nature, it gives and takes.

You’ll find the music of ’Kallomäki’ at:

https://kallomaeki.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/kalliomaeki/

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