Earlier this year, Finnish shoegaze band NEØV released its quite satisfying second album Dominique. Shame on you if you haven’t heard it yet. It’s a great atmospheric piece of guitar-driven dreampop that tells mystic tales of far-off places. Maybe a place like the big lakes of Eastern Finland. There’s no doubt that the band’s origins influenced the sound of their music. And just to get a better impression of this special place bandleader Anssi Neuvonen takes us to an exclusive journey to Kuopio, the Finnish Lakeland and all the places that mean a lot him and his band mates.
Every member of NEØV
grew up close to the lakes in Eastern Finland. The region is part of Finnish Lakeland, a geographical area with thousands of lakes and a lot of forest-covered hills. It is too easy to dis-value the surroundings of your everyday life and start to take things for granted: it took a while for me to understand the uniqueness of the waters around us. During the wintertime the lakes are frozen and it’s possible to walk above them. When covered in snow, they feel like small white deserts. And when it’s summer time and the sun is not going down, there’s nothing better than just hanging around by the water. The presence of the lakes has brought a sense of space to our music.
Photo by Appu Jasu
NEØV HQ: Bänditila 5 / Anssi’s living room studio
Our headquarters are located in two places: in an old 19th century animal protection building and in my living room. The room in the animal protection building – Bänditila 5 – is simultaneously a rehearsal space, a studio and an office, as well as a merchandise printing room. Packed up with lots and lots of gear, we have rationalized the use of space to the maximum by using cases as tables etc. The picture is from my living room studio which is a repository for Ari’s piano and the other part of our HQ.
Our favorite bar in Kuopio is Pannuhuone, an old brick-walled cellar chamber with a history as a boiler room. Located on the edge of Snellman’s Park, Pannuhuone is one of the rising musical venues in Finland with the likes of MIREL WAGNER, BLACK LIZARD and GRACIAS performing there in the coming weeks. It is also the place where we organize our own annual festival Gramofon Fest, as well as the year-round Gramofon club nights. Gramofon events are our contribution to make local music scene more versatile and with its nice summer time tent terrace, Pannuhuone has been a perfect venue to make it happen. Sometimes you might see Jonas working as a sound engineer at the venue or Antti performing an electronic DJ set there.
Old buildings have been systematically destroyed in Kuopio, just like in other cities in Finland, but a cinema theater Kino Kuvakukko, founded in 1939, is a great exception, being a real gem of Kuopio’s culture life. Kuvakukko provides movies on a large scale: classic, art-house and contemporary movies are included in its repertoire. When passing the neon lights of its entrance and walking into the hallway, the presence of timeless cinema atmosphere takes hold of you instantly. We had an honor to play ‘Dominique’ album release show at this historical theater and for us it will be a night to remember for the rest of our lives.
Samuli and I are brothers and we grew up in Juankoski, a small town located in the border of Savonia and Karelia, somewhat 60 kilometers from Kuopio. The town is surrounded by lakes (surprise, surprise) and it is split by a watercourse which you can see in the picture. Juankoski has long traditions as a manufacturing locality: the industrial activity began there as early as 1746 when Juantehdas – also known as Strömsdals Bruk – started to create ironworks from lake ore. The rapids that used to surround the settlement are nowadays offering source for water power. Before our career in music, Samuli and I played football for the local side, Juankosken Pyrkivä.
Neulamäki Nature Reserve
I live 4-5 kilometers from Kuopio city centre in Neulamäki, a neighborhood up on a hill, next to a nature reserve. Daily walks in the woods are part of my routines. A lookout tower on top of the hill is a good place to observe the weather and check the senses. In the nature reserve there are rocky cliffs with nice height differences, creeks and ponds with spring water, as well as spruce and pine forest with a great variety of birds. It is also possible to find 11 000 years old shoreline of Yoldia Sea there. A legend says that you might meet a bear in those woods, but at least until now our paths have not crossed.
NEØV are about to perform at the April edition of the ‘Ja Ja Ja’ Club Night in Berlin, next to PSYENCE FICTION and LAST LYNX. The event will take place on April the 9th, presented by NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION. Find out more about the line-up and how to get your tickets right here.