RED MOON ARCHITECT – Constructing Doom Death Bliss
Per capita, it seems like the youth of Finland are more involved in the metal genre than any other country in the world. What’s even more intriguing is the focus and desire to let the ideas flow- gain more experience through the play of multiple instruments- and open up your horizons for numerous bands/ projects.
Such is the life of songwriter, engineer, and multi-instrumentalist Saku Moilanan. Red Moon Architect represents his own band project, a melodic doom act with two vocalists that showcase black and white viewpoints in terms of singing: one approach with deep death growls and the other a female siren with clean parts. Their 5 song debut "Concealed Silence" will be an album your ears won’t soon forget- tantalizing, intriguing, and moving all the same.
Firing off a series of questions, Saku’s attention to detail appears to be as much on the promotion of his music and lifestyle as it does the content itself. Red Moon Architect is upon us…
What was your personal family background life like growing up? How did you become interested in music- and how quickly did you make the jump into heavier, more extreme forms of metal?
"I grew up in a small town called Kuusankoski, Finland with my mom, dad and little brother. My dad is an old school DJ and that way I got my first touch into the music business. We had an old organ that my dad played. I watched closely and learned those songs by ear after him. I found metal music at an early age, maybe when I was around ten years old. First songs I heard were from bands like Sepultura, Dimmu Borgir, Black Sabbath and Slipknot. That energy was something I had never heard before."
You play multiple instruments- including keyboards, bass, and drums- within your solo project Red Moon Architect. During your early years, which instrument did you pick up first- and how did you progress into learning how to play other instruments? Who were some of your initial inspirations and mentors when it came to technique, songwriting, etc. to spur your own creativity?
"Keyboards were an obvious choice as my first instrument, since we already had those at home when I was a child. I started to play drums at school at thirteen years of age. My brother started to play drums at an older age and I had a chance to train myself with his kit. Guitar and bass playing actually came just by writing "Concealed Silence". I learned some keyboard theory and jazz standards with my mentor Pekka Raninen, who’s the strongest influence for me. With him I realized music is all about your imagination. Another big influence worth mentioning is Risto Kupiainen. His technique drove me to train harder and I actually had one surgery on my wrist because of too heavy training. Then I grew up and realized that music is not all about being the fastest one on this earth. Today I get my inspiration mostly from my own life and emotions. I may walk in the rain, watch leaves falling, and hear that in my head as a melody. Maybe I could say that I live through my music."
Tell us how you decided upon the 3 other members to join you on this debut offering "Concealed Silence". Did you play with them in other bands through the years or did you pick them mainly based on the needs of the project?
"Frans is a new friend for me. I knew him from the internet and asked him to be the voice for my album. He was straight away more than happy about this project and doing this album with him was definitely the right way. That man is a beast. Juuso as a guitar player was an obvious solution. I’ve played with him for as long as I’ve worked in a studio environment. He’s a creative guy and we don’t basically even need words when working together. Anni is my classmate and what can I say, she sounds like an angel. The basic idea of Red Moon Architect is to use artists based on the needs of the songs, but at least right now I can’t think that anyone would be better to bring my lyrics to life than Anni when it comes to female vocals."
What can you tell us about the recording of these 5 songs? How long did the development take from initial idea to completion of the project? Were there any particular songs that changed significantly over the course of the recording- and which song are you most proud of?
"The whole process took one year. I was booking the studio the minute I got an idea of this band. The process was hard and full of uphills to climb since I produced and mixed the album by myself, but on the other hand, now it sounds just as I wanted it to. "Black Butterflies" was one song that I couldn’t imagine before it was ready. After the keyboards I saw the big picture and if I have to choose one song from this album this is it. All songs are important to me in their own way."
How would you describe the lyrical outlook of songs such as "Funeral" and "Black Butterflies"? Do you find you have to have a particular time of day or frame of mind to compose lyrics as opposed to the music?
"It’s hard to talk about lyrics, since I always write such personal feelings at that moment. It’s a hard process and takes most of my energy in the album process. "Funeral" is a story about an isolated girl with a big heart, who is left alone with her sorrow. It’s a story about the human mind and how strong and weak it can be at same time. "Black Butterflies" continues that same theme, painting a picture about emptiness. My lyrics are hard to explain when they are mostly metaphors of emotions. And I don’t even want to open those too much. Everyone should listen to the album, read the lyrics and hear them through their own interpretation. When it comes to the writing process itself, I usually write at night when I’m alone with my thoughts. It’s a really intimate moment."
Are there any plans to possibly perform shows as Red Moon Architect in the near future? Or will this remain more of a studio band? Have you already started composing material for the follow up- and will there be any new dynamics to the doom/ death style or are you pretty satisfied with the direction of your music?
"We will perform a few shows in Finland in November, which will be announced soon. The main thing for me is to write albums right now, but I won’t refuse playing gigs also. We have a live line-up that has musicians heard on this album and also a few others from the Finnish metal scene. I’ve composed some new songs, but the actual writing process for a new album begins when I’ve finished a debut album with my other band. I can’t say what the new album will keep inside, but the new material will be more melodic doom than death. The sound of Red Moon Architect will be there – that’s for sure."
You also play in a variety of acts: RoutaSielu (with Tuomas and Pyry of Before The Dawn), Godfleshed Deformed, Crimson Sun and The Hypothesis. Tell us about the styles of each band, any releases you’ve done and the current plans for each act. How do you balance your time with so many things going on at once?
"The Hypothesis plays melodic death metal and we’re recording a debut album right now. There are some songs on the internet if anyone wants to have a listen. Routasielu is metal with heavy riffs and Finnish melodies. We have released one album "Pimeys". Right now it’s easy to balance these projects since Red Moon Architect is the only band I compose for and produce right now. I haven’t played in Crimson Sun in a few years, and for Godflesh Deformed I was just a session member."
Do you enjoy the thoughts that your fellow Finnish musicians like Tuomas and Markus have given to Red Moon Architect already (and posted on your Facebook page)? Is it important to balance your own musical desires versus what your fans want to hear from you?
"It is an honor to have such good feedback from musicians that have influenced me when I was just a kid. I don’t believe in writing music for other people. I mainly write for myself. One good friend told me once, "If you like your own music, there’s always some other people who like it also". This band is a way for me to express my feelings. If some other people can have that same experience through my music, it’s just awesome."
What would you say are the best doom and death metal albums that you think every reader needs to investigate and own- as well as one underrated band that needs to gain more exposure because of their unique efforts?
"Shape Of Despair and their album "Illusion’s Play". That band is hands down the biggest thing for me right now. There’s no other doom metal band that I can listen to day after day and get inspired again and again. Maybe the most underrated band from this genre is Colosseum. Everyone should check out these two."
What are some special interests and hobbies you like to pursue outside of music when you have the free time to do so? And what are some interesting things regarding your hometown that you think people would be surprised to know about?
"I don’t really have much free time beside music. If I’m not in the studio, I compose or listen to music. My hometown doesn’t really have anything interesting besides a huge amount of bands and great musicians. It’s an ugly and depressing place, but it’s still always nice to go back there."
Do you have any particular concerns about the world in 2012- things that you believe the current population need to focus on for the betterment of the planet that future generations will benefit from?
"I think about these things a lot. Signs of the end are already visible. You can think what you want about global warming and natural disasters, but one thing is for sure. When we look at the time before, we see that humanity has evolved extremely fast. When we look even further, we see that humans have always been as selfish and short-sighted as today. Combining these two facts we can make conclusions. Most of the individuals see it, but as a mass, people will get blind. I think the quote "Great rise and fall" is perfect to describe us. The supreme race conquers the world, but because it’s selfish, it’s soon dust in the wind. So yes, we can do a lot, but does it make a difference?"
What do the next 12-18 months look like for you in terms of future recording or touring opportunities? Where would you like to travel to- either with a band or on your own personal vacation- if you had the opportunity?
"It looks busy. I work as a recording engineer so if I don’t work with my own music, I work for someone else’s. The Hypothesis will release its debut and I’m writing new songs for Red Moon Architect so good times ahead. I can’t say anything about touring yet, there aren’t any permanent plans made. I don’t really like traveling anywhere, but if I am able to I’ll make a road trip to Norway next summer, see you there!"
You mention your day job is working as a recording engineer. With most of the musicians and bands you work with, how prepared do they come in with their material – and what do you see your role as in helping make their product special? Do you try to give them objective tips and advice as far as their songwriting and performances?
"Usually bands I work with have a good picture of what they are trying to achieve. The studio is the place where the magic usually happens so that’s where I step in. My role is usually trying to create a personal sound by technical means. With songwriting and arrangements I give my opinions if asked and needed. When it comes to performances, I only accept diamond. It’s a much better way to play the song well while recording, than to fix it afterwards in the edit. But here I only speak about the studio environment. When the band goes live, that’s another story."
Do you think society is slowly isolating itself more due to the advances in technology with instant communication through cell phones and computers- which on the surface keep people in touch more but lose that interpersonal, face to face time you spend with other humans? How do you balance the internet and social media with spending time with family and friends?
"Sure we are. I use technology almost every second. Checking emails from my phone, social media from laptop, texting to friends etc. I’m not stressed about that too much. People need real life contacts, at least most of us, so it comes naturally. I’m not the most social guy out there and most of my good friends are from the music field, so I see them that way pretty often."
How would you describe your personality to individuals meeting you for the first time? What do you consider your best quality- and what do you look for in other people when it comes to friendships?
"First impressions of me can vary much depending on the situation and the mood of my day. Usually I’m calm, quiet and in my own thoughts. It takes time to know me and first impressions may not be the whole truth. I’m like layers on top of each other that you need to see through to see who I really am. My best quality is that I’m a dreamer. And with strong will all of those dreams can come true. From my friends I demand loyalty and trust. Besides that he or she has to be a bit like-minded, obviously."
If you could assemble your ultimate band (artists dead or alive), who would be in your band and what style of music would the band perform?
"I prefer to play with close friends of mine, so with all due respect for great musicians out there, I couldn’t be more happy than I am with Red Moon Architect and The Hypothesis. This is what I want to do and will do until I’m six feet under."