Unleashing the intuition – the story behind Amanda Aalto’s new album ’Ikisanat’

The founder and keeper of Dark Folk Nation, which is me – Amanda Aalto from Finland (nice to meet you folks!), have released a new 8 song album called ‘Ikisanat’ and this week I wanted to take a moment and introduce you to the story behind the making of my new release. I want to share with you what the themes of those new 8 songs represent to me and who else was involved when making this new album of mine.

At first I want to introduce you to the core idea of making the album which is: all the material is straight from my intuition or – in other words – that nothing was planned. When I went into the studio and started recording I had 0 % of the material ready – I just started to play and to create from nothing basically. The reason why is that during the past few years I have noticed that the songs that have been born straight from my intuition have been the ones that have got the most attention – and to be honest, they are the ones I feel most satisfied with as well. So I wanted to make the whole album by just playing around with my intuition – playing what it wanted for me to play, singing what it wanted for me to sing.

I like to try out new ways of working when recording music. With ‘Ikisanat’ I decided to record all the percussion first – keeping in mind that I had no idea how the songs would take form after that. So I spent several weeks recording the percussion, different kinds of frame drums, sticks, bones, shakers, jaw harp, tambourine, bells. When I got the percussion done, I had to find a way to start ‘adding more meat onto the bones’ of the songs and this is where something very interesting happened – the electric guitar came along. I had been listening to quite a lot of ‘Skuggsjá’ by Einar Selvik and Ivar Bjørnson by the past year and I guess this is why the album ended up sounding the way it did. Firstly I only had the idea to play the guitar with a bow – which I did on the songs ‘Routa’ and ‘Varjot’ – but then I just started strumming out some riffs and that’s when the album found its’ main direction, I guess.

I was also very keen on adding some distorted vocals on the album. I recorded my two single releases ‘Kaiho’ and ‘Surutta’ at first and with ’Kaiho’ I did something that I’ve never done before – I spent some days learning a distorted metal vocal technique and played around with that knowledge in the backing vocals for the song. I had much fun with this process! But I was also glad to feature my friend Lauri Korhonen in the song ‘Varjot’ with his growls. It ended up sounding pretty deep and authentic, I think.

I also wanted to have some more male vocals on this album and this is when I got Joonas Kunnasluoto, Lauri Korhonen ja Igor Gartzea to sing backing vocals in the more ballad like song ‘Valkea Kuolema’ (which I was truly grateful of!). I also did a collaboration song with Christian Krizmanits who did some pretty amazing throat singing on ‘Raivo’ and composed all his vocals to the song as well. I also got my friend Anni Helenius to play cello in one of the songs, ‘Valkea Kuolema’, which ended up being one of the main things in the song. My other good friend Valter Pilke did some crunchy electric sounds on the first song of the album ’Routa’. The last song of the album, ‘Musta Vesi’, was co-written with Corey Judd and he also plays the tagelharpa in the song.

When it comes to lyrics, this is the first album of mine that is completely written in Finnish. This was a really important aspect to me. I wanted to dig more deeply into my roots and also into Finnish folklore tales ‘Kalevala’ and ‘Kanteletar’. I ended up borrowing some texts from these folklore tales in ‘Kaiho’ (where I combined two poems from ‘Kanteletar’) and ‘Musta Vesi’ (where I borrowed one poem from ‘Kalevala’) but all the other texts are written by me. The album ended up being the darkest and heaviest that I’ve ever written and I think it reflects on the couple the of hardest years that I’ve paddled through somehow. There are a lot of poetry like storytelling about nature, finding yourself and learning how to live with yourself and your feelings – partly it gets quite deep in couple of the songs but I tried to disguise all this in a mythical storytelling form.

When it comes to my music it is really important for me to do as much as I can by myself. This is why I tend to record, mix and produce all the material by myself (except for all the guest recordings that appear on the album, of course). As an artist it is also very important for me to do my own cover designs and I had the idea of the cover much earlier than the album was done. The picture in the cover is also taken by me this autumn (2020) in one of the dearest places for me ever – Kuusamo, Finland. It meant a lot to me to have that special place, where I have visited more than 20 times in my life, in the cover of this album which also ended up being pretty personal to me.

Soundwise I was inspired by three releases when making this album – I already mentioned Einar Selvik’s and Ivar Bjørnson’s ‘Skuggsjá’ but I was also inspired by Nebala’s ‘Lustuz’ and Wardruna’s ‘Ragnarok’. These were the main references for the sound of ‘Ikisanat’ – which you might hear here and there – but of course the outcome became something of its’ own, something different.

I am really glad for this journey and really pleased to share these 8 new songs with you! The album is to be found in all the streaming services (links below) and for buying in Bandcamp as well. I hope this music will take you where my soul always wanders – deep into the woods, far away from the hustle and bustle of the human world…

Love,

Amanda

You’ll find ’Ikisanat’ at:

https://amandaaalto.bandcamp.com/

https://music.apple.com/us/artist/amanda-aalto/1235584940

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