On the occasion of the forthcoming issue of “Fe3O4 – Magnetite“, his new release- the fifth one on Touch – as well as the recent issue of his collaborative release “Venexia” on PAN with Axel Doerner, Lucio Capece and Kevin Drumm and in spite of his proverbial reputation for being a man of few words, we made some questions to Mika Vainio, Finnish (but actually living in Berlin) sound artist, known for being one leg of Pan Sonic and for his tireless attitude in pushing out the boundaries of his personal sonic research, based on an entrancing analogue warmth combined with a certain electronic harshness. Fe3O4 definitively sounds less obscure than his recent stuff as it’s mainly focused on a perpetual and emotional oscillation between noise and silence, which is going to give listeners a very immersive sound experience as well as confirming Mika Vainio to be one of the most skilled and sophisticated sound juggler around. His answers could appear quite laconic, but you know how most Finnish people are: they just look like taciturn or discrete, whereas they hide an astonishing and somewhat mysterious inner universe and Mika’s sonic exploration has got many hints to it.
Chain D.L.K.: Hi Mika. How are you?
Mika Vainio: Like an Orangutang in a fishing boat.
Chain D.L.K.: You’re a magician in balancing silence and noise and your recent “Fe3O4 – Magnetite” sounds like a confirmation of your speciality… just like some writers played with the conept of “life in death” and “death in life”, is it possible to speak about “silence in noise” and “noise in silence” from your viewpoint? If yes, could you reason your perspective?
Mika Vainio: Silence is like empty space which we carve with sounds or matter and like life and death, they both exist in the same time.
Chain D.L.K.: Could you introduce “Fe3O4” by your own words? Was it a sonic translation of magnetite’s properties?
Mika Vainio: More like a translation of feelings those properties evoked in me.
Chain D.L.K.: What about last track “Elvis’s Tv Room”?
Mika Vainio: It is the scariest place I have ever been and I don’t think that magnetic field exists there.
Chain D.L.K.: Knowledge of electronic music is gradually spreading, but it was like an esoteric art till some years ago… What are the main mistakes reviewers or followers still make in interpreting it, in your opinion?
Mika Vainio: The history of electronic music is long. First electronic keyboard was created by Elisha Gray in 1872, 140 years ago and it took more popular forms around end of 60’s. What makes music in general to move me is the feeling that musician has a need and wants to express something. Main problem is that many of them do not have this and end up doing empty nonsense.
Chain D.L.K.: You made a plenty of collaborations… Is there any musician/sound artists you’d like to collaborate with yet?
Mika Vainio: Well, there are of course many that it would be great to collaborate with. If Ligeti would be alive, that would surely be interesting.
Chain D.L.K.: I’ve recently listened “Venexia”, a collaborative project with Axel Doerner, Kevin Drumm and Lucio Capece… Could you speak about its birth?
Mika Vainio: That was an idea by Lucio Capese. We got together and rehearsed in Ghent, Belgium, and then made a tour including Venice where the recording comes from.
Chain D.L.K.: What are the main problems related to such a collaborative project?
Mika Vainio: Most common problem is that collaborators do not give “space” for others. But we did not have this problem.
Chain D.L.K.: You adhered to the artistic movement Ultra3/Sin O together with the other half of PanSonic, Ilpo Vaisanen…could you explain to our readers the conceptual framework of this movement?
Mika Vainio: Those groups existed in early 90’s. The main idea was to explore physical and mental effects and boundaries of frequencies.
Chain D.L.K.: Talking about PanSonic, have you any forthcoming release?
Mika Vainio: PanSonic has been frozen three years ago. We do not have any plans to activate it at the moment.
Chain D.L.K.: If you’d have the possibility to remake OST of some famous movie, what would be your choice?
Mika Vainio: Most of my favourite movies have a perfect soundtrack. I’d like to remake Andrei Tarkovskys “Mirror”, but let’s say Old Boy by Park Chan Wook.
Chain D.L.K.: What about the birth of your passion for electronic music?
Mika Vainio: I do not make difference between acoustic or electronic music. Instruments are after all are just tools. As long as I can remember, I have been interested into music.
Chain D.L.K.: I know you’re going to be engaged with some performances… Any anticipation about them?
Mika Vainio: I have actively performed since 20 years till now, so I have no special anticipations.
Chain D.L.K.: Together with Ilpo, you investigated about the effects of pure frequencies on body during intensive studio work… What were your main discoveries?
Mika Vainio: This is usually difficult in my studio(s) for the sake of neighbours… It was those before mentioned groups that were concentrating on ” investigation”.
Chain D.L.K.: Could you imagine a world with no sound?
Mika Vainio: It seems to be that everything, starting from superstrings and atoms are existing by vibrating ( = frequencies) so that without sound, there would be no world…
…at least as we know it.