PIHKA Is My Name is a cinematic electronic group fronted by an abandoned imaginary friend. Starting as a purely studio affair in 2017, their introduction more recently of live Youtube streams initiated a taste for playing live. As they release their debut offering, indieRepublik sits down (digitally) with the two members.
indieRepublik: You say the song Digital Water started with you trying to synthesise the sound of flowing water. Have you synthesised other sounds of nature?
Lasse: Not really, I’m a beginner at it. But I find it very interesting and rewarding! Henna’s cousin is an artist who synthesises birdsong and I think it’s really cool.
indieRepublik: When/why/how did you come up with the idea of PIHKA as a character to represent your duo?
Lasse: In the very beginning of this electronic music project, in around 2017.
Henna: We felt that this band needed a front figure who wasn’t us, and started thinking about some kind of an animation character. As kids we have both had imaginary friends, so the idea of an abandoned imaginary friend resonated immediately.
Lasse: We had a vague idea about how Pihka should look like, and the final look was designed by artist Elli Maanpää.
indieRepublik: You say you experience existential angst because of the climate emergency – is this reflected in your music?
Henna: The climate emergency is one of the main themes on our album. It can be heard in lyrics and song titles but also in the music itself. We are always trying to find sounds that have some kind of cold or arctic feeling in them. These cold snowy winters that we still have here in Finland may be very rare in the future.
indieRepublik: Do you have a message? And what is it?
Henna: That everything is in between.
Lasse: Nobody is just a zero or a one, fully happy or fully sad, fully man or fully woman, fully straight or fully gay. And that all of us can learn a lot by listening to each other. No need to agree on everything, but maybe a few things. And then we can make those few things go forward together.
indieRepublik: Tell us a little bit about your musical background
Henna: My roots are in classical piano which I’ve been playing almost my whole life. I started to make my own music with a piano as soon as I could play just anything. I’ve also made a lot of theater music (and still do) before getting more into electronics.
Lasse: I’ve been lead singer in 3 very different bands in different eras of my career. I’ve sung funk, electronic pop and pop rock. Released 12 albums. But now I think I’m done with being lead singer, I want to have a different way of expressing myself. I got into electronic music and sound design and I feel like I can do so much more now.
indieRepublik: How did you get together as a duo?
Lasse: We used to have a 5-piece band called Pihka ja myrsky, which we made 3 records together with. Me and Henna were the main songwriters. In around 2017 we started gravitating towards electronic music and slowly acquired all this analogue equipment. We wanted to go all the way towards that and we think we’re better off as a duo for now.
indieRepublik: Tell us something about yourself that you always wanted to say but no one has ever asked you yet.
Lasse: What would be your dream come true musical collaboration? Cause I have a few I secretly dream about.
John Frusciante, because he doesn’t seem to have ANY boundaries to his music.
Björk, because I adore her Volta and Biophilia albums.
Ola Salo, because of his message (and because I’m huge fan).
Moto Boy, because he’s a super fun guy and his voice is beyond extraordinary.
The Edge, because he’s such a great sonic architect.
Ludwig Göransson, because I want to pick his brain about ‘The Mandalorian’ theme.
indieRepublik: How does the songwriting process work usually?
Lasse: Usually I do some sort of a loop with my Eurorack modular or by cutting up my field recordings. I always want to come up with a sound I haven’t heard or imagined before.
Henna: Then we work on the loop together and come up with some sort of a structure.
Lasse: Henna works her magic with harmonies and chords. I usually don’t even know the key of our songs before mixing them.
Henna: Finally we record some strings or vocals to the song. Then Lasse does the mixing.
indieRepublik: Tell us a secret about yourself.
Lasse: I’ve got a 1cm long drill bit encapsulated inside my right knee. It snapped there during an emergency operation on my knee ten years ago. Just had to be left in there, the doctor said. I don’t feel it but it can be seen on x-ray.
indieRepublik: Where do you get your inspiration from?
Henna: Mostly from the environment and social structures, but also films like Hayao Miyazaki or Pixar movies and games.
Lasse: Movies and games are a great source of inspiration. Especially modern indie art games that Steam is full of. I love that world. I also get a lot of inspiration from studying other artists. I listen to a lot of new music all the time. Old music too, I’m endlessly inspired by for example Led Zeppelin and John Frusciante.
indieRepublik: Do you dream in colour or black and white?
Henna: In colour! The more the better!
indieRepublik: Do you see your songs in colour or in black and white?
Henna: Definitely in colour! There can be very dark or very light tones but they’re always formed from a brighter colour.
Lasse: Our music seems to always sound like there’s some hope in there. So yeah, there’s color.