AND ALL THAT MASQUERADE!
May 23, 2015 in St. Petersburg in FISH FABRIQUE club performed their show the Finnish band MASQUERADE. On the threshold of their first concert in Russia, editorial staff of Dark Radio couldn’t miss an opportunity to meet with the eccentric artists. And, when the doors of club were closed, we talked with the band about their attitude to Russia, a new line-up, about why violence can inspire as well as a poetry book and further plans.
Hello, all of you! We are glad that you finally come to Petersburg! Welcome! And first of all, from all our collective let’s congratulate Suzi and Jacques (Suzi Sabotage – vocals and Jacques Saph – bass) with your wedding! (In January 2015 Suzi and Jacques got married in Las Vegas, without witnesses, on the top floor of the tallest building – editor’s note).
Masquerade: -Hello, thank you very much, we are very happy to be here!
Is it your first visit in Russia, as a band? Maybe anybody of you was here before now?
Jacques: -Yep, I’ve been here 2 times, actually, but with another band of mine – SECULAR PLAGUE. We’ve been playing in Petersburg, Moscow and Petrozavodsk.
Suzi: -I haven’t played ever, but I’ve been several times to Petersburg and Arkhangelsk previously.
William Freyermuth (drums): -First time in Russia.
Anton Välimaa (guitar): -Yes, my first time too.
And what are your impressions of the country?
William: -Girls are pretty.
Jacques: -It’s true. And to be honest, what I am about to say – that’s not because we are in Russia now; I’ve played concerts in more than 10 countries, but Russia – is the country I prefer to play, because audience here is the best I ever played for. For example, here is a guy who came from Moscow to see our performance in St. Petersburg. This is amazing! And after the show, he will travel with us back to Moscow to watch our show there once more. That’s why I really love to play here.
As I said before, with my another band – Secular Plague, we’ve played in Russia four times. And every time I come here to play, I make new friends, and we still keep warm relations with most of them. Russia, I love you!
Suzi, we know Russia is a birth country of your mother. Do you feel any emotional connection with our country?
Suzi: -Yes, yes… I have a lot of childhood memories about Russia and, particularly St. Petersburg, though I was born in Helsinki. I’ve been here when I was little girl about 10 times. I remember the extraordinary atmosphere of St. Petersburg: streets, houses, kiosks, many bridges, canals, monuments and people. Remember Prosvescheniya Avenue, we lived on (smiles). That’s why tonight’s concert is very important for me.
Jacques: -I don’t speak Russian, know only a couple of phrases (expletives – editor’s note) but when Suzi does – it’s so beautiful! Your language is very difficult, but sounds melodic.
Well, you are Masquerade. How and when was your band formed?
Suzi: -In the end of 2012, by me and Sebastian, then bass-player. At the time I had been almost 4 years in female hardcore punk group MELUSAASTE. But I wanted some changes, it was too tight for me in one style and one band, so I decided to start a new band from scratch. And for a change, our lyrics were in English and musicians – exclusively men. At first, Masquerade was an uncertain project, with no definite plans for the future, until we got musicians and some gigs. By the way, the first line-up never played live and has changed very quickly.
Recently you’ve got a new line-up in the band. Why did you part ways with previous guys?
Suzi: – They sucked! (collective laughing)
Jacques: -Honestly I was not playing with the previous line-up, but being on tour with them, with Secular Plague and our drummer William as well. And I can say that previous drummer was not bad, but not extremely serious to the band, bass player was good technically, but not really fit for them. He was good musician, but he wasn’t playing in the right band, and the guitar player, frankly, I cannot say he was a good musician.
Suzi: -I’m satisfied with my new line-up. You know, our performances depend a lot on guitar. Guitar player should be professional. Anton is precisely this musician, he is much more capable than previous one.
Suzi, you are a frontwoman. How do you cope with 3 men? Is it difficult for you to find a compromise in the creative and everyday issues?
Suzi: -Quite easy. Although I am a dominant person, I cope well with my guys and it’s easy for us to get along. I used to play with 3 girls previously and it’s not that different.
Jacques: -All of us are quite experienced musicians, playing for years with different bands, so we’re used to do it. There is nothing unusual and difficult for us to work with Suzi as a vocalist and leader. We just play the music, do the show and we do it very well!
We are husband and wife with Suzi, but when we’re on a stage, we focus on performance, when we write songs and rehearse – we concentrate on the process. What we do – it’s not just for fun, this is our life and we put all our forces, the time and opportunity there, trying to make everything the best. Of course, we have some fun and relax before the gig and after, being very drunk, but on the stage we are damn good. Come and see it yourself!
Almost all of you play together in 3 bands (Masquerade, VIRGIN IN VEIL, Secular Plague). Why it was necessary to create 3 bands? You couldn’t realize your music ideas in 1 collective?
William: -Actually, I play with four. Besides the above mentioned bands, I have another one – COOLOUT; we play there with Anton and another friend of ours, Olli.
Jacques: -We are big, happy, incest family (laughs). In fact, we created some projects, because all of our bands play different music. I think it’s good when the band has its own style, like Masquerade – gothic post-punk with female vocals. We all here are Virgin in Veil band, Suzi plays keyboards there and is a back vocalist as well. I am the group leader and lead singer. And, compared to Masquerade we make different music – it’s angry and dissolute deathrock with sexually perverted and religious overtones. I think it’s better to have an opportunity to actualize in several projects, really concentrate on each of them separately and be sure that you bring your best and necessary for each of them. When I work with Secular Plague, I know what I have to do. I am a vocalist and guitar player there, in Masquerade – bass player. This is a different role in the band, in composing and writing songs, in responsibility on the stage. I am pleased to be a member of those three bands, happy that I can be implemented in different styles and ways; for me it is justified and necessary.
And you have different people coming to your concerts?
Suzi: -It’s mixed – punks, goths and rockers. I don’t single out any of them – I want them to be mixed, I like we have all of them come to watch us. But no nazis to our gigs!
Jacques: -Everyone who loves music is welcome! I don’t care what you listen to, how and where – we play for everybody and our performances are great!
Do you remember your first gig? How was it?
Suzi: -Oh, yes, of course. It was a semi-private party, the event wasn’t promoted much. We played in one of the squats (abandoned buildings, converted to art spaces – editor’s note) in Helsinki. There was a thunderstorm outside, the police come for us, it was fun, in a word. I was in a bliss. By the way, there is a video of this performance somewhere on YouTube.
Can you describe your show? What’s interesting in your performances and why people have to come to see you?
Suzi: -None of our performance is not like the previous one. There’s no need to describe it – you just have to see it. It’s mixing of songs, dancing, harlequinade, my dramatics, sometimes depraved and bizarre, sometimes tragic and disturbing. It is very bright, powerful and exciting. And the most important is what we do on stage – is absolutely sincerely, with pristine delight and from all our hearts. Each town. Each performance.
Who writes your songs and what are they about?
Suzi: -I write all the lyrics. It’s absolutely my territory and my prerogative. Then I do some compositions, give to guys a vocal melody and then we’ll improvise with harmony, rhythm and chords to a victorious edition. Or guys first compose a melody and then I insert the text, but this is less often.
What are our songs about? I like to set up a lot of topics in my oeuvre, particularly it’s obsession, unexplored, war, sadomasochism, murder, sex, infanticide, withdrawal, violence and human cruelty.
What inspires you to create that kind of ideas? And what is the main motivator for creativity?
Suzi: -Personally, I am inspired by many things. It’s a music, of course, movies, photography and paintings, art in general. It could be overheard or long-forgotten chords of ’80s, new personalities with their schticks, poetry books, biographies, architecture, memories, eroticism… I can draw inspiration from all sides, my mind is always open.
And main thing for me in making new songs – make them differ from the previous material. I like to experiment and not to get hung up on one thing.
Besides of your own music, what styles and bands do you listen to?
Jacques: -Oh, we are all extremely eclectic guys and listen to almost all kinds of music. As for me, I love, basically, ‘80s music, punk, deathrock, gothic rock, post-punk. I can also like Cyndi Lauper (Cyndi Lauper – American pop singer – editor’s note), for example, she makes great songs. I am very eclectic in my musical tastes, I don’t limit myself with frames and styles. Yes, I’m mainly into punk, but if I listen something different in style, but worthy however, no problem – I will check it out and add to favorites.
Suzi: -Besides of punk, I like some alternative pop, ’60s psychedelic rock, French chanson ’40s – especially Edith Piaf, she is magnificent.
William: – Mostly it’s rock, of course, in all its diversity. I am a fan of GUNS N’ ROSES, LED ZEPPELIN, ROLLING STONES, NINE INCH NAILS. Often the music goes with a mood and doesn’t depend on a style. Sometimes I listen with delight both classical music and techno.
Suzi: -Yeah, classical music, of course, and opera.
Jacques: -And good jazz.
William: -Every style has a very good and worthy groups, and also a bad, hideous and secondary ones.
Anton: -I love music that was made not for money, but with the soul. Sometimes even a pop song from ‘80s speaks to me, because it was written from heart and is very sincere.
What do you do besides the music? Do you think it’s possible to earn enough money, not being in top charts?
Suzi: -Making money from music is a prerogative of very limited circle of people. Because now there are so many bands, so many artists and only a few of them are able to make really big money with it. And yes, most of artists have to work. We also need to pay our bills and buy food. But we don’t set a goal to earn millions, we just want not to think about the pressing problems and money and concentrate on our music.
Jacques: -Suzi and me, we live in quite a small apartment and we’re happy, really. I would also like to have enough money for the trips.
Suzi: -Now almost all of our travels and the opportunity to see the world – is concert tours. Recently we have visited UK, France, Czech Republic and Sweden. I never traveled so much, as with my bands.
William: -I think in Finland it’s impossible to earn a lot of money with music, if you are not NIGHTWISH or don’t work with a large recording company and you constantly appear on the radio and TV. And, for example, very famous Finnish band HIM – they are not rich guys, they have usual lives and live in a quite small flats.
You are quite popular in Finland and Europe. But in Russia not many people know about you yet.
Suzi: -The main word is – yet! I’m sure that after two gigs, in Petersburg tonight and tomorrow in Moscow, when we will leave, we have a couple of hundred or more of fans and friends.
Tell us about your plans for the nearest time.
Suzi: -We are going to play anywhere we can. Making shows – surprise, to conquer and delight you. And finish our full-length album, we are working now on it, recording tracks. The album promises to be very diverse, vibrant and interesting.
Masquerade: -Eagerly waiting for tonight show, but already promise to come back to you!