Jarno Keskinen Interview

Musically Incorrect/October 12, 1998

1. Jarno you basically came out of nowhere and stormed onto the scene with your debut 'Timescape.' Can you go back in time and tell me how you got to where you are today?
1:I got my first electric guitar when I was 11 years old and I just tried to get some noise out of it and play some sort of scales later I had also drums and I recorded some demos when I was 15. I have pretty much tried to figure things out by my self but at some point I learned all the scales and the basics of guitar playing from books. When I was 16 I took a few "guitar lessons". Actually at that point I knew most of scales etc. and I asked my teacher to give me guitar tablatures of Vivaldi Bach etc. violin pieces. I wanted to start to practice those because I had heard Blackmore, Malmsteen, Vinnie Moore and McAlpine, etc., so I wanted to do it my own way and practice only violin pieces. I never have sit in front of the stereo practising or learning some guitar music or solos from albums, because I always have been creating my own solos etc. Maybe it sounds strange but that is the way it was and still is. I try to be creative and use my imagination. The same thing was sweep picking, not only "sweeping" but sweep picking. I wasn't very familiar with alternative picking so I figured out sweep picking by trial and error and I felt that I can play faster that way. Anyway music has been my interest always and I have played drums and guitar and composed my own material and in 1993 and 1994 a few of my demos came out from radio Local Metal show Metalli-liitto here in Finland. I also did send few demos to Finnish record companies to be noticed, trying to find a band members etc. At the same time I was doing some temporary jobs because I quit school when I was 16 etc. So my dream has always been to make a album and it is finally true.

2. You obviously have a love for Heavy Metal. What effect did Classical music have on you when you first experienced it?
2:I was about 14 when I first experienced Classical music and some of the Classical music has very sad emotional feel and it touched me very deeply. Also there is very "heavy" material in classical music which I like because of the complex variations and melody. I have also liked Heavy Metal very much since when I was 11. Bands like Ozzy Osbourne, Iron Maiden, WASP, Accept. I was die hard WASP fan, especially as teenager when Blackie sang I Wanna Be Somebody in 1984, that was really cool! Well also another big effect was when I saw Ritchie Blackmore on a video playing Beethoven on stage with a classical orchestra!

3. Did you have to re-evaluate your whole style and approach to the guitar at that moment?
3:No my whole style and goal was to make neoclassical music with really heavy music influences.

4. During these formative years Jarno, did you work with a band or on your own?
4:Mostly I have worked by my own but I have played drums in local bands and later I played guitar in some other band projects. Well a few small gigs etc. nothing big.

5. How did this affect your songwriting and playing?
5:Actually when I played drums the guitarist played riffs and I picked the best ones and created a song as a drummer. When I played guitar in some bands projects I had song ideas etc., well it was cool to play some band projects but the music was different, so I concentrated making my own music.

6. You eventually felt confident in your abilities to record a demo? Your comment
6:I have always feel natural to record a demo. I have a tape where I play Drums and Guitars at age of 15, well it was quite a heavy song and since then I have made a lot of demo material. Of course there has been the most creative and less creative periods after that.

7. Why did you send your demo to David?
7:Because I thought that he would understand my music better than other Record Companies. Leviathan Records had earlier produced instrumental & heavy albums.

8. He obviously liked what he heard. But, he didn't commit himself to working with you until '97. Your comment.
8:Yes he like the 1994 material and I got a letter that the material was commendable and showed great potential so it gave me a new strength to continue making music and send additional material and finally I got chance to make album in 1997.

9. Did it ever get frustrating, playing the waiting game for so long?
9:No these 3 years was actually a short time for me because I had this contract with Leviathan Records and I knew that they liked my music. But before1994 the years that I have played and wrote songs without any interest was the most frustrating period. I felt that at age of 20 I could make an album if I would have some kind of support or money to create something, but it is great that it finally happened when I was 24 because I decided that if before my 25 birthday nothing happensed I would quit playing and everything and go to some sort of school to graduate and get a real job because before that I was totally devoted only to the guitar playing. Well the most frustrating and stupid thing I have made was when I crashed my guitar against the wall, well actually the floor.

10. So during these years, David must have become a close friend to you? It must have been good to have contact with someone in the industry? Your comment.
10:Yes he has. I feel that he really understands my music and vision. Yes it is very important to know somebody in music business to go forward in your career. After 1994 we have been in touch and I had sent in additional material in 1995 and 1996.

11. You eventually did come to work with David. Yet you had to fly over and join him in the States. Your Comment.
11:Yes I said to him that I would like to record guitars in Leviathan Studios in US and I have always wanted to visit in USA and it was great experience!

12. Did you have any label or management support at this time? Who paid for this all?
12:Leviathan Records paid for my plane ticket and hotel when I was in the US.

13. You also needed to find a band to record the songs with you. Your comment.
13:Yes after all the Timescape demo material was ready Leviathan Records started to search for suitable musicians for this project.

14. Why did you settle on Dennis and Stephen?
14:Dennis played Seasons in one take over the demo tape so the choice was clear! Stephen sounded really powerful and I'm really happy that it was possible to have Stephen on vocals. There were 3 Vocal finalists and drummers I had to choose from.

15. You ended up using no less than 3 studios to complete the album. Why was that?
15:That decision was made by Leviathan Records.

16. Did this constant change of surroundings effect the recordings in any way?
16:I believe that it has an effect in general sound of the CD because it was recorded in different studios. Example the drums were recorded at The Lodge studios in Indianapolis. I recorded the Bass and Keyboards at Davenhill Studios in Atlanta and guitar in Leviathan Studios in Atlanta.

17. So, what was it like working with David?
17:It was cool! He has made about 20 albums so I was thinking here am I recording my first album with someone who is a Guitar Hero, so it was great experience.

18. It must have been good knowing that you were working with someone who was very aware of both your abilities and style. Your comment.
18:Yes it was

19. This understanding must have made the recordings an easier experience?
19:Yes it was easier to record with someone who shares the same musical interest.

20. Were their any difficult times experienced while in the studio? Or were things pretty much worked out before you got to America?
20:No there wasn't, I think I could play all the songs even at sleep so I was practiced very much before I went US.

21. What was the communication like between you the rest of the band? Had you met before the recordings took place?
21:I met Stephen before the recordings and I have talked with Dennis several times and afterwards we have kept in touch with emails etc.

22. How did they cope with your often-complex ideas?
22:Dennis had the demo versions long before we started recording so he knew what the material was like.

23. Did you choose Dennis and Stephen with the intentions of them of becoming full-time members or were they simply employed to complete the job before them?
23:Yes I had intentions to have them as a full-time members and they are members of KENZINER in the next albums.

24. You also played all the bass and keyboards on 'Timescape.' Have you found someone to fill out these positions since then?
24:Actually at the moment I have a Keyboard player and Bass player in mind who might be on the next Cd, the Keyboard player is quite capable to play the fast stuff.

25. David also wrote all the lyrics on the album. Why was that?
25:First we thought that Vocalist will do the lyrics but at the same time David wrote the lyrics around the titles and they fit perfectly to these songs.

26. Will this continue in the future? Why?
26:I think Stephen can also do lyrics and I could also probably make lyrics some of the songs in the future. There is just so much work to compose the songs, all guitars, bass and Keyboards so I don't necessarily have the time to make lyrics. Still I have titles in mind when I make the music so everything is open usually to the Vocalist to do the lyrics but time will tell what happens in the next albums.
27. So after 'Timescape' was completed, you shopped it around for the best deal right? Why did you settle on Lucretia Records?
27:I think that is arranged by Limb Music Products.

28. What has the support been like so far?
28:The reviews has been really good!

29. Well it must be good considering the success KenZiner have so far received. It must please you?
29:I'm really happy that people like the music, that is what pleases me most, that someone likes to listen to the music that I have made.

30. Have you have the chance to go out on the road with KenZiner since the release of the album? What was it like?
30:Not yet but we will in the future when I get the other 2 members in the band, and I have found a few musicians which could be a good choice.

31. Your promotional flyer states that the band is from the U.S.A. Are you based there now? Why?
31:I'm in Finland right now, but of course in the working point of view it would be better to live in USA. I think that because this project started from the US and the 2 other members in KENZINER are from the US it is alright to say that this band is from the US. Of course in the album cover it reads Jarno Keskinen from Finland also.

32. Are you happy with the 'Symphonic Progressive Metal' label KenZiner has been attached to?
32:Maybe it is good to have some sort of label. I don't analyze what music I play, I'm just happy if it is heavy or progressive. Maybe the classical influenced sequences etc. gives it a symphonic feel. Yes I'm happy with Symphonic Progressive Metal.

33. Is that what you think the band is about?
33:I feel that KenZiner could and will be always that way creating something that is interesting to listen. I for example like the music which has a lot of variations melodies etc. so that every song doesn't sound the same. I fight that problem every time when I make music, is this good enough does this sound interesting? It is difficult to create something new and then everything has been done before, but of course when you mix Jazz and Rap it is something new, but does it sound interesting like there is now mix of Classical music and Techno "music" which sounds more or less stupid because most of Classical music is HEAVY music not techno "music." That is my point, trying to create something that has been done and then creating something new from those examples. The sequences I have made in Future Signs or in Timescape is not repeating all the time it goes forward like in classical music parts, or in Seasons there is sequenced riffs behind the Vocals.

34. What are you up to now? Writing new material for your second album?
34:Yes I'm writing material for next album right now.

35. How far into the creative process are you?
35:I currently have about 5-6 new songs and many other ideas.

36. How has the new material evolved since 'Timescape'? Will there be any musical surprises on the next album?
36:I think Seasons from Timescape was the song that I tried to make something different and I believe there is something new that would be interesting to listen to on next album also.

37. Do you have any song titles available? A title for the album perhaps?
37:The title song is about 8 or 10 minutes long now and the others will be probably shorter.

38. When do you hope that it will be released?
38:Next spring or fall1999

39. Will you be using David as a producer again?
39:Probably yes, but that decision will be made by Leviathan Records as to what producers they want to use for the next album.

Thank you Jarno. Take care and all the very best for the future. Simon Lukic Musically Incorrect.

Thanks it was great to do this interview and Best Wishes to you also! Jarno Keskinen(KENZINER)

More Interviews!:Jarno Keskinen