QUICKIE OF THE WEEK: A short interview with Vesa Salovaara (Vorna)

written by Marko Jakob

Pix666: Hello Vesa. Thanks for your time. How are you doing these days? How are the other guys of Vorna?

Hello and thanks for having me! I’m doing quite fine, keeping myself busy hustling here and there. I guess it’s the same with the other guys. Luckily we’ve all been healthy and doing relatively well despite the pandemic.

Pix666: How did you get to know each other and what kind of music does Vorna make?

Vesa: Vorna was formed in 2008 when I met Arttu (Järvisalo, lead guitar) and Henri (Lammintausta, rhythm guitar) for the first time ever, when a mutual friend introduced us to each other. We were a bunch teen who shared the same enthusiasm towards metal music. Arttu and Henri are also childhood friends, as well as me and our bass player Niilo (Könönen) who joined the band a few weeks later. Saku (Myyryläinen, keyboard) and Mikael (Vanninen, drums) joined the band during early 2009. The line-up has been the same ever since.

I’d describe our musical style as melancholic and melodic metal with Finnish lyrics. That’s the foundation of our sound that has remained consistent throughout the years.

Pix666: Your latest album ‘Sateet palata saavat’ was released just before the pandemic hit us. Were you still able to play the tour for the album at that time or did everything have to be cancelled?

Vesa: We were able to play the first leg of our album release tour during autumn 2019 and two festival shows in January 2020 but the rest was cancelled, excluding one summer festival and three club shows in the autumn 2020. I still consider us the lucky ones as we were able to perform more than most bands in Finland. I feel especially sorry for the bands who released albums in early 2020.

Pix666: How were the fans’ reactions to the album?

Vesa: Absolutely great. Basically every show after the album release has been packed and the audience seems to know most of the lyrics by heart and are singing along. A lot of people has also been sharing their stories how the album has helped them dealing with difficulties in their life. All this means a lot to us, it really is the best feedback you can get.

Pix666: How do you create your songs? Is there a certain plan? Who in the band is responsible for what and what themes are the lyrics of your songs about?

Vesa: Vorna has three main songwriters: me, Arttu and Mikael. Usually one of us writes a pretty finished basic structure of a song and then the rest put in their own effort and vision. No special plans, but after we have written enough songs for an album we might start looking at the big picture and think what kind of elements the entirety needs. I’m responsible for the lyrics, which often born from some kind of instrospection, real life scenarios or stories/concepts that resonate in me. The topics are nowadays quite universal, dealing with mental struggles and other hardships of life. I often utilizie nature metaphors and aesthetics in my lyrics which also helps to connect them with the music, I suppose.

Pix666: You sing in Finnish language, which is your mother tongue. Was that planned from the beginning, or did you first try to sing in English as well?

Vesa: We did try English on our first two demos. Even though both of those demos also contained few songs in Finnish. The shift to use Finnish language exclusively happened very naturally as we thought it was a better fit for the overall atmosphere of the music. It also felt a more authentic way of expressing ourselves and I find writing in Finnish is more natural for me.

Pix666: In accordance with your Finnish lyrics, is the band name also a Finnish word? What does Vorna mean?

Vesa: Vorna is Finnish folklore character who might also have been a real person living in the 17th century. He was a giant man who fought and robbed both Finnish and Russian people until he was eventually killed naked behind his own sauna by Finnish people. Few Finnish villages has also been named after Vorna.

Pix666: You guys formed Vorna in 2018. What have been the best experiences in your band’s career so far?

Vesa: Already back in 2008 actually. During these over 13 years there sure has been lots of experiences. I think many of the most memorable experiences are when something happens for the first time; first music video, first festival show, first shows abroad etc. But honestly, I’d say that every show after the release of our 3rd album “Sateet palata saavat” has been a pure bliss so that’s what I would name as the best experience at the moment.

Pix666: You have already shot and released a few video clips. Who comes up with the ideas for the clips and do you have a specific film team you work with?

Vesa: The script for our first music video for the song “Yksin” (2015) was co-writed by me and Arttu. Arttu then produced and cut/edited the video together with Valtteri Piira who also shot that video. Our cooperation with Valtteri handling the footage continued with “Tyhjyys on tyyni” (2019) video which was produced, cut and edited by Arttu as well.

Since we’ve released only those two music with bigger productions (other videos being lyric videos) we don’t necessarily have one clear way of working things out yet, but I think with the future videos to come we will again first sit down with the whole band to brainstorm and decide collectively which song feels like it would be suitable for a music video.

The lyric videos for “Maa martona makaa” and “Sateet” were made by our friend Jouni Valjakka of Whispered; I think he did a great job capturing the atmosphere of the songs.

Pix666: Do you regularly check statistics of the streams? Do you know which countries your listeners and fans come from? 

Vesa: Sure, lots of interesting and useful data is available these days! For example on Spotify last month top5 countries were Finland, United States, Germany, Sweden and Russia. I think despite our choice to sing in Finnish, there’s lots of interest and demand outside Finnish borders as well and we are eager to go touring abroad again as soon as possible.

Pix666: Did you write any new Vorna songs during the pandemic, or have you done anything else besides music to get your mind off things and distract yourself?

Vesa: Personally I think I’ve been concetrating on music more than ever during the pandemic. It might have been my escape and drug of choice to write, play, sing and produce music in the peace and quiet of my home since many other aspects of my life were restricted. I also released an album with my other band Ephemerald on February. As I’m quite an introvert, the pandemic and lockdowns haven’t been that big of a problem for me personally.

Pix666: How important is social media for Vorna and on which channels can people find your band?

Vesa: Very important, especially during the pandemic when we haven’t been able to meet people in person at live shows etc. Vorna is mostly active on Instagram and Facebook, you’re welcome to send us DM’s and tag us on your Vorna related posts and stories.

Pix666: Do you have any favourite bands whose music you listen to regularly?

Vesa: Recently I’ve been very much into bands like Soen, The Pineapple Thief and jazz trio Gogo Penguin. Latest albums of Kaunis Kuolematon and Swallow the Sun were also great. At the moment I’m looking forward to the new Amorphis and Dawn of Solace albums.

Pix666: In which locations or at which festivals would you like to perform and with which band would you like to go on tour?

Vesa: I’d really like to perform in Tuska and John Smith festivals in Finland that we already booked but were cancelled because of the pandemic. Also we were supposed to do an European tour with Romanian band Bucovina this spring which first got postponed to February-March 2022 and then got cancelled completely. It would have covered over 10 countries, including Germany, and that was definitely something I anticipated a lot; it’s very disappointment that the pandemic still keeps ruining touring plans.

We have had great times touring with Kaunis Kuolematon and Whispered so they are at least some bands I wouldn’t I hesitate a second to go on tour with. Same goes with the Swedish fellas from Thyrfing and Grimner. But I think Vorna can fit almost any kind of line-up.

Pix666: Do you have any other news, that you would like to share with the fans?   

Now that the European tour was cancelled, we’ve put our full focus on the songwriting process of 4th full-length Vorna album. We’ve managed to put together a lot of material already which is sounding very promising. So that’s something I’m really looking forward to, and hopefully the fans too!

Pix666: Thank you very much for the interesting answers – Good luck and stay healthy!!!



photos © vy Susanna Raitamaa, Outi Puhakka and Serena Solomon