MM: Hey Janne, thanks for taking the time to do this interview with us. Let's start things off by talking about the band a little. You all have been together for a long time, since 2007 if memories serve me right. Tell me a little about the days of Damage and the progression to what eventually became Edge of Haze.
Hey there, thanks for having me! In the beginning and ever since, the project has been about creating music that stands out. When Damage started out in 2007 it was an experiment of mine and Eero's on what we could do in the field of metal. Lenno joined the band when it still was Damage and we made a demo as a trio. Our music from that era was kinda straightforward groove metal. After growing up to a full band in 2010 and discovering artists like Swallow the Sun and Katatonia, we began getting interested in more atmospheric and profound sounds. The name didn't feel too fitting anymore and so began Edge Of Haze.
MM: For those listeners that don't know, "Illumine" is loosely based on the novel "Escape from Camp 14". What about this novel specifically spoke to you all and did you find it a challenge to incorporate elements from the story into the lyrics and the album?
All in all, the novel is about realization and taking action to make a change. It actually tells the story of a man born and raised at a North Korean prison camp who attempts escape. "Illumine" doesn't follow the story of the book, but as the lyricist I wanted to include the vibes it had to the concept. The most striking thing in the novel is how did the protagonist, despite fear of death, have the courage to make an attempt of this kind? Truth is we all have the keys for a change but only a few of us are brave enough to walk their own path. "Illumine" as a title kind of reflects this notion, the protagonist becomes enlightened through realization. On "Illumine" I wanted the message of the book to be more universal and changed the prison camp into a city and "freedom in the western world" to be just nature, the absence of humanity. In the album, we wanted to confront light and dark, freedom and opression, both musically and thematically. The songs stand well on their own but if you want to follow and really submerge into the story you are also able to do so.
MM: I personally am a huge fan of concept albums and the thing that struck me about this one is how you all are capable of pulling the listener in. You make them feel the pain and struggle the protagonist is going through and weave an incredibly well told tale. When you all set out making "Illumine", what did you hope listeners would take away after hearing the album?
"Being in a band is hard work and for most bands zero profit. But it's worth it if you love the music you do and enjoy the company of people you work with."
First of all, thank you! The main idea was to convey feelings and narratives through music, which I think "Illumine" succeeds in doing. It was fascinating to write a cinematic progression by using lyrics. This time it also felt more relevant to do so as opposed to writing texts without bigger context. I think if you want to create a concept album, the storyline has to be good enough for executing. That's the main reason why most concept albums fail in my opinion – the storyline has to be clear enough to express it through music. I hope to return to this kind of writing at some point later on.
MM: One of the things that I find incredible is the duality of vocals and instrumentation that the band uses so well. You use very melodic vocals mixed with death metal styled growls and then you have these aggressive riffs and musical sections that are offset by jazzy, melodic sections as well. Is this something that as band you've always done since the days of Damage or something you've only recently delved in to?
Those atmospheric, jazzy, subtle parts are definitely Edge Of Haze. Actually so much so that they've become kinda trademark, or that's what we've heard people say at least. One guy noted that 'you know it's Edge Of Haze when suddenly there's a section where it feels like everything gets unplugged'. It's good to hear feedback like that and we are definitely aiming to get ourselves in people's minds with recognizable elements. Speaking of Damage, it was so short-lived that we didn't even obtain a vocalist. But you can definitely hear some echoes of Damage on our first self-release, "Mirage".
MM: Having listened to both "Mirage" and "Illumine", I feel a huge Katatonia influence present but also detect moments of Dream Theater, jazz and even electronic music. Are your musical tastes as a band as diverse as the sound that you all create on your albums?
Well it's not a secret that we like what Katatonia does a lot. But it's clear that we are not trying to sound like them. Speaking of the influences and our tastes in music, it definitely is as diverse as it sounds! For example, if I check out what I've listened on my phone I find stuff like Björk, Pat Metheny, Radiohead, 127 Hours soundtrack, Knife Party, Mogwai and SMM Opiate compilation. Some of the members don't even listen to metal that much. Which is great actually when it comes to creating new stuff for Edge Of Haze, the vibes come literally from outside the box.
MM: The production on your albums has been very solid. Who do you all use as your producer and what about them draws you to them?
Production-wise we've always sought for the best result. And this doesn't mean sounding clinically perfect but what serves the music in the best way. Mostly the band acts as the producer. On "Illumine" we have some additional forces working on the sounds. Recording and mixing was done by Tuomas Yli-Jaskari, a great guy and very precise and determined with the material. The audio also got mastered by Acle Kahney of TesseracT whose expertise took the final sound on a completely new level. The end result on "Illumine" is really convincing.
MM: Both of your albums have been self released up to this point. Are you all interested in joining a label if one comes knocking or do you all prefer to have total control over your releases and the music you all create?
We are open to labels and inquiries in general. Though, it's been a lot of fun to start off and gain an audience on our own and hear what people think about our music. We've also collaborated with very talented people we've found by ourselves. So far it's been a lot of work dealing with recording and publishing on our own but it's also been very educational. The only way to learn the stuff is to actually do it yourself. And it's important to know these things before approaching labels so you have something to bring to the table.
MM: Being that you all aren't on a label, what sort of advantages does that provide you all with when it comes to merchandising decisions and deciding in what formats you all are going to make your album available?
Of course, that means that everything is 100% band's view. For example, we chose having digipaks for their convenience as the CD-packaging. Also, a 12-page booklet with cool conceptual artwork and the narrative is something not all labels would have provided for a band this size. So, all in all it's been great deciding on these things on our own.
MM: Following up that last question, without a label backing you, what sort of challenges do you all face when you release a new album or go to set up a tour, if any?
The financial side is challenging. Our own money goes to the projects and the work needed to push the band to a certain level so it somewhat limits how we operate.
MM: Metal is an ever changing musical landscape that allows some bands to flourish while growing over other artists that have gotten mired in stagnation. How do you all keep things changing and evolving musically as a band? And do you feel that it's better to constantly evolve your sound as a band or stick with what you know and what is approved of by the fans?
I would say evolving since created music has to feel fresh for the artist. Of course, if you have a great formula with great music following it, then why not use it? But it's something most artists are not capable or comfortable in doing. With Edge Of Haze, it's no problem for us to evolve. Our influences keep evolving as well. Also there are five active composers in the band with their own signature sound so that helps keep things fresh too. Our next album is going to feature output from all of us with an even wider range of tunes.
MM: Touring is a big part of getting your name out there and garnering more fans. What touring plans do you all have for "Illumine" at this time?
We had a great release show for the album in Helsinki! We hope to be organizing some more gigs soon to promote the album, for the spring at the latest. In Finland there's a lot of competition, a huge supply of bands and a limited amount of clubs. We are planning tour dates with some fellow bands for the spring so hopefully those will happen!
MM: If you all were told that you were guaranteed to reach a goal as a band within the next year, what goal would you want to attain and why?
We'd like to have our first show abroad! Edge Of Haze is definitely aiming to be an international act so it would be cool to uncork a stage somewhere outside of Finland.
MM: Ok so a question that I am really hoping you can answer is what is being whispered during the beginning and near the end of "The Pyre"? I've listened to that song so many times trying to discern what is being whispered and I can't figure it out and it's driving me insane.
The whispered parts in the beginning of "The Pyre" are actually in the lyrics! Lyrics for all the songs can be found at our website. (www.edgeofhaze.com) After the first chorus, it's just stereospread four layers of gibberish.
MM: What artists would we find you all listening to if we took your digital musical devices or raided your CD collections?
Great question! To be honest I can only think of Devin Townsend and Opeth for sure. The guys have somewhat different tastes.
MM: Tell us something about being in a metal band that is made out to be better than it really is and something that actually lives up to the hype.
In reality, you should forget all the glamour seen in movies and documentaries. You should forget about making tons of money. Being in a band is hard work and for most bands zero profit. But it's worth it if you love the music you do and enjoy the company of people you work with. Getting other people listening to your stuff and getting feedback from it is as great as you would think! And reaching international fanbases lives up to hype as well. It's all about setting goals and trying to reach them.
MM: What lays ahead on the horizon for Edge of Haze?
Still a lot of stuff coming up during 2014! Firstly, we are having a songwriting camp in November where we plan our next moves. Also a new lyric video by an American artist to one track on "Illumine" I'm not gonna reveal yet. Plus, another music video where we've gathered live stuff and material from our trip to Germany. We already have a lot of ideas for our new direction musically, so that's gonna be something we begin working on as soon as possible.
MM: Well my brain is about sapped at this point so I'm going to quit while I'm ahead. Otherwise, I might start spouting out some really silly questions. Thanks again so much for taking the time to talk with us. I wish you all continued success in the future and I hope that "Illumine" gets the attention that it and you all as a band so rightly deserve. Take care.
Cheers guys, trying our best!