QUICKIE OF THE WEEK: A short interview with Suvimarja Halmetoja (Humavoid)

written by Marko Jakob

Pix666: Hello Suvimarja. The most important question right at the beginning. Are you well and are you healthy? How are the other guys from the band?

Suvimarja: Hi! I’m happy to tell that we all are doing alright. We have stayed healthy and safe in here.

Pix666: In 2014 you founded your band Humavoid. How did you meet and what was the crucial point to start that band?  How does it work when you play in a band with your husband 😊?

Suvimarja: Me and Niko met at a New Year’s party, when 2011 turned into 2012. We attended a jamming session where I played the piano and Niko sang. Later, Niko asked me to join the band he belonged to at the time. As members of the band, we started composing new material for the next album together. We soon realized that the songs we made tended to become more complex and heavy than the style of the current band. We both had a strong feeling that this is the direction we would like to follow musically, so we decided to form new band (Humavoid) based on our vision.

Being in the same band with my husband is perfect. We think the same way and have a great workflow together. I think it’s because we know each other’s ways of working and strengths so well. Being in a band also takes a lot of time, so I’m very happy that we need not to be separated while working with band related stuff. It couldn’t get any better, really!

Pix666: I read that you once appeared in a Finnish TV show. When was that and what exactly happened there?

Suvimarja:  Yeah, that’s true. I have worked as a pianist of a local improvisation theatre group since 2009. The TV concept called Älä Jäädy (Don’t Freeze Out) was based on the short format improv comedy style that we do. Basically actors were improvising scenes and I improvised soundscapes and song backgrounds for them on the keyboard. That was back in 2016 but episodes are still running on local TV.

Pix666: What you and the band do looks very professional. How long have you been involved with music? Did you maybe even go to a music academy?

Suvimarja: Music has always been a big part of my life. Both of my parents sang and played guitar when I was a kid. My mother took me to piano lessons at age of six and I continued taking them until I graduated from high school and started studying music at university. From there I graduated as a theatre pianist. I also went to Pop/Jazz Conservatory for further studies as a professional singer. I really loved studying playing and singing, but music theory is also close to my heart and very helpful in composing.

Pix666: Your videos are also really great! Who supports you and completes the team? How difficult was it to shoot the clips ‘Aluminum Rain’ and ‘Lidless’ under ‘Corona conditions’?

Suvimarja: Thanks a lot! My brother Matias Halmetoja has filmed Aluminum Rain and band parts of the Lidless and my friend Tytti Junna has been a director at Aluminum Rain. In Aluminum Rain we also had a light operator Aura Salmu and make-up artist Maria Loikala, who helped us among my two other brothers Patrik Rousu and Santtu Halmetoja as assistants. Aluminum Rain and band parts of Lidless were filmed before “corona conditions”, so it wasn’t problematic.

As for Lidless and Fortune for Demise, Niko and I did everything from the props to filming. We painted a huge white backdrop that shows up in Lidless, and we built those golden masks and a golden background from recycled materials. Only Niko’s brother Kimmo Kalliojärvi helped us with the lights. I produced all our videos and I love to be in the middle of the shooting process. Also one of my favourite things outside music is video editing. That’s why I’ve edited all our videos by myself. Usually I do my edits in the café but because of the corona, I had to stay home. All of this was so much fun, but I also don’t mind if we get a couple more helpers next time, haha.

Pix666: Your album was released in August 2020. How satisfied are you with the result and how satisfied are your fans? I hope there was a lot of positive feedback – at least I saw that you were nominated for Metal Album of the Year.

Suvimarja:  We have been very pleased with the outcome of the album. The feedback has been either very positive or confused by the complexity of the record, which didn’t surprise us. Our fans are fascinated by the album, and I can’t wait to let them hear more of what we have to give. I feel like we’re just getting started with this album! It was great to be among the top ten on the official album chart for physical sales here in Finland.

Pix666: The artwork of the double vinyl is absolutely crazy. Who was the originator of all this? (https://f4.bcbits.com/img/0022176336_10.jpg)

Suvimarja: Vinyl art cover has been designed by Niko together with our trusted graphic designer Alan Pirie. The artwork is painted by local artist Juhani Perälä. When we found his paintings on Instagram, we knew right away that he was the artist we were looking for. He painted the cover art while listening to and being inspired by our unreleased album. I’m confident we will continue to cooperate with him in the future. We are very satisfied with both, album and vinyl covers.

Pix666: Humavoid is a sprightly and vivid live band. Did you have had the opportunity to play the new songs in front of an audience?

Suvimarja: We had the opportunity to play one gig in Helsinki in front of a small audience in September 2020, shortly after the release of the album. But that’s all.. as we all know these have been very strange times.

Pix666: How did you experience last year from the point of view of a band? Did you have to adapt your plans, especially in terms of time, to the respective situation?

Suvimarja: Well, of course it was very disappointing that all our gigs were canceled. Including couple of summer festival gigs that we were really looking forward to. I am glad that we were still able to release the album on time. In times like these, people need more new music than ever before.

Pix666: Have you written any new songs lately or maybe made plans for a tour in 2021?

Suvimarja: Currently, the government bands all cultural events here in Finland, and we do not know how long this is will take. To be honest, it’s better for our mental health not to wish too much for the coming year. I think it’s better to focus on the things we have the power to do, which are making new music and being active on social media platforms.

Pix666: Which things do you miss most at the moment and have you maybe discovered new hobbies?

Suvimarja: Obviously I miss playing gigs the most, but also going to gym and library. This might sound boring, but instead I’ve put my energy on organising and redecorating my small apartment. I’d say I have almost become minimalist. Not in a neurotic way, but to make life easier and to find complete freedom of mind while staying at home. You know it’s hard to focus or be happy when you are surrounded by piles of goods attached with an emotional burden.

Pix666: Germany is currently experiencing the next lockdown. You are from Finland – what is the general mood in the country regarding the Corona crisis right now?

Suvimarja: We haven’t had any total lockdown like you do. Many restrictions like an order to stay home or wear a mask are just recommendations. Cultural happenings like gigs and team sports are forbidden, but night clubs are still open and crowded. It doesn’t make sense for the people working in the cultural industry, but there’s nothing we can do. Cases of infections are still spreading. First vaccines are given to workers in the health section and soon they start to vaccine old people, so I hope it will be better soon.

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

Suvimarja: Our badass double vinyl will be released soon and it will include also Monkey Trap and two exclusive live songs from our first gig with a current line-up! Also there is a new all-over printed T-shirt design available, which I’m very excited about!

Pix666: Thank you for the interesting answers – good luck with your music, and of course – stay dark and healthy!




photos © Humavoid