It was 1995 when Tatu Metsätähti and Tatu Peltonen formed their Electro duo, Mr Velcro Fastener, in Turku, a small town in icy Finland. During those years in Scandinavia, there were rave parties and the Electro scene was growing slowly. I don’t know yet if the Scandinavian sound was conceived to be like it is now, but I know for certain that it has always had a huge and distinctive sound that makes Scandinavia at the top for proper Electro and we must be grateful!
Mr. Velcro Fastener have since become legendary Finnish Electro pioneers, and now they return after a very long absence from the scene. The sonic assault continues with a new EP on the London Electrix Records.
In this interview, we try to go back through their massive career to emphasize the importance of the North European scene.
Welcome, thanks for doing this interview. Finally your last EP since 2014 has seen the light! Why did you choose the title “IgnorancEP”? There’s a critic inside the meaning perhaps?
Tatu Peltonen: Hello and thank you. There's always been some critic meanings in our titles. Even since our first release "Wad EP" (1998), we wanted to add some kind of semi-hidden messages here and there, in titles or in the lyrics.
This EP is pressed by Electrix Records, an English label. In this current period in England, there’s a pretty cool scene thanks to the energy of Scand by Cultivated Electronics. How did you start the relationship between you and the UK label?
Tatu Metsätähti: Can't remember exactly how we came across with Billy in the first place. I think he contacted us directly via email. We did play at that time, first half of 2000's, a few times in London. At the Scand party at Brixton Telegraph for example. But I think we met face to face after releasing the first 12" on Electrix. IgnorancEP would be the third one on the label already.
Tatu Peltonen: Lot's of great memories from London early 2000's! Nice city, people knew Electro and many good gigs for us, example in Scand, Fabric etc. BLOC Weekend in Norfolk was awesome too!
In the 90’s Finland had its “Rave-period”, like England. Did you live through it?
TP: Of course – that feeling when for first time you heard LFO was mind blowing. It changed many things in a young man's head in the early 90's. I could say bands like Altern-8 and Orbital are a big reason why we started to make music in the first place.
TM: Yes. We were fresh teenagers enjoying the early 90's. Luckily in Turku there was semi-regular illegal parties where it was usually no problem to get in being under aged. Local DJ´s like Mika Vainio and Marko Laine...so we got well educated.
In my opinion, the Finnish music movement has never earned the attention it deserves, even though it has been very prolific since 1960 starting with Disco music. In fact, you can find a lot of influences by Italo disco or synth-pop, in Scandinavian music as of course, in yours. Could you tell us something more about the roots?
TM: When we started to make music, mid 90's, I suppose we tried to sound as little Finnish as possible. Like any other "high quality" electronic music that was being released at the time. But there was still at the end something "northern" in our records when we had our first records out, I guess it was not possible to escape your roots in a way. Anyway, I can not say that we were especially influenced by Disco or Italo, really.
TP: We got to know each other in school and that time both of us was listening mostly American Rap. Have to say Italo and synth-pop is something that I can listen nowadays with a smile on my face, but 25 years ago – no way!
"...There was still at the end something "northern" in our records when we had our first records out, I guess it was not possible to escape your roots in a way..."
Do you think there’s a parallel through your icy country and the Scandinavian proper Electro sound? I mean, is there an effective connection between your social context and how the music community has grown with their specific sound?
TM: It felt like that earlier, but I'm not so sure anymore. 20 years ago the internet was not what it is today, and we were still somehow more isolated up here. Also you had to have physical instruments to start with, there was no soft synths - and also the records were available in a different way...so that small scenes, like Electro, were more local and slowly evolving movements.
Mono Junk has helped to introduce the Finnish sound to Europe, also thanks to his Dum Records. How are you affected in this?
TM: He's one of a kind dude, and Dum Records definitely is probably the only one, aside Sähkö, of the old Finnish record labels still existing. And most of the music is still totally up to date. Mono Junk moved to Turku at the end of 90's and it was great to team up with him in music and in private life.
TP: Yeah, Kimmo is really good friend of us and one of reasons why we got courage to release first two MRVF 12" by ourselves on "Tie Entertainment" label in 1998.
In the early 2000’s, you were literally famous worldwide. What were, in your opinion, the factors which allowed this increase of Electro at that time? Maybe it was your debut album “Lucky Bastards Living Up North” on the german label i220?
TP: Time, Space, Transmat...We did our first musical experiments together somewhere 92-93 and soon discovered that making 4/4 beat is not that interesting for us. Those were the same times when Warp started the Artificial Intelligence series and that kind of stuff was like a nail in our heads. Some years after we wanted to produce something to dance to and Electro was natural step forward.
TM: There was a small peak in Electro wave in the turn of 90's to 2000's which slowly faded out...until now when Electro is a little bit popular again. We put out our first album just in the right time with good cover art (it stood out in record shop shelves) which made us known within the scene.
In your live performance you make such a massive use of vocoder. How is your workflow for the live shows? Is it different from that of production?
TM: Live performances are quite different from studio versions, yes. The songs are always based on existing tracks, but we need to make them again for the live playing, so that they also allow some improvisation, etc. We play with hardware instruments but we can not bring all the same synths that are used on the records so it needs some work and planning.
TP: Remembering our first Lucky Bastards tour, it was crazy! We had too much hardware, so our booking agency organized problem with idea that every venue should get TR-808 for us. Well, the year was 1999 and we saw many poorly treated 808's.
Last one! How is the club scene now from your perspective? Could you recommend to us some musicians?
TM: Well, today we're +40 family guys, the perspective is quite different than what it used to be. Clubbing is usually not too exciting in general. But I can enjoy a good live performance every now and then. I tend to look out for experimental music events that occur in the city - Electroacoustic, noise, abstract, avantguard..something like that is more interesting to me these days.
TP: Tatu said it all...
Thank you guys!