An Interview with Juho & Valtteri of Finnish Melodic Rock/Prog/AOR Band ‘Burntfield’


burntfield_logoBurntfield is a melodic rock band from Helsinki, Finland. In their music they combine elements from hard rock through hints of AOR and blues to progressive rock, reaching for a vibrant and organic sound. By mixing vintage and modern and sharing the vocal and songwriting responsibilities, strong melodies and diverse compositions are born.

Burntfield started in late 2012, founded by guitarist-singer Juho Myllylä. The first line-up was finalized in early 2013, and since then a couple of line-up changes have followed by this day. Burntfield have released an EP “Organic Waves” (2013), a digital single ‘Let It Die Away’ (2014) a EP “Cold Heat” (2015), which has drawn positive interest domestically and internationally with many great reviews and radio plays. April 2016 marked Burntfield’s first tour abroad, directed towards The Netherlands.

Burntfield have released a new single and music video called ‘My Grief’ on 28 October. An interview with Juho and Valtteri follows below.

TMR: Hey guys this is The Metal Resource from Holland, how are things going there in Finland ?

Hello there! This is Juho Myllylä and Valtteri Seppänen from Burntfield speaking. Frankly enough, we’re doing this over Skype when the other half of us is also in Holland! Burntfield has for quite a while operated as an international affair: Juho is currently based in Amsterdam, while Valtteri is in Finland. Not surprisingly though, in Finland it’s freezing cold.

TMR: Will you Introduce yourself and the band please ! 

We are Burntfield, a Melodic Rock band.
Juho: Juho Myllylä – guitarist, vocalist and primary songwriter.
Valtteri: Valtteri Seppänen, guitarist and vocalist.

burntfield_mygrief_7b3TMR: How did you get into rock/metal? 

Juho: To be honest, Burntfield might not represent metal in the most traditional sense of the word, but we certainly have our roots in metal. My first serious band was a melodic heavy metal band!
Also, one cannot underestimate the influence of the very prominent mainstream position that metal music has had in Finland. Particularly a few more years ago, throughout the years of our musical path metal has always been there and so almost been the “norm” for every band to be compared with.

TMR: What is your musical background ? 

Valtteri: I started out with classical piano and clarinet lessons as a kid. I kept on playing the piano but gradually grew independently more and more into playing guitar and pop/rock music. In the meantime about 10 years as a freelance musician, guitarist and singer have passed…
Juho: Besides being active as a rock musician, I am a professional recorder player – believe it or not. I work with early music – medieval and renaissance – yet I’m especially interested in the recorders’ countless possibilities in the fields of contemporary music, jazz, fusion, rock, prog, experimental, electro-acoustic and live electronic music. You name it… The recorder was my first and main instrument: starting from the age of six, I stuck with it ever since. I studied in Helsinki, participated in international masterclasses, and in 2014, I moved to The Netherlands to pursue professional studies at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. I’ve always enjoyed doing multiple very different things in parallel, and have found such a diverse background certainly an advantage in both the classical/early/contemporary music and the pop/rock/metal scenes.

TMR: Tell us the brief history of Burntfield

Burntfield started in late 2012, founded by Juho Myllylä in Helsinki, Finland. The first line-up was finalized in the beginning of 2013, and later in the same year our first EP Organic Waves was released. In 2014 we released a digital single Let It Die Away, and later on that year Valtteri Seppänen joined the group replacing Ville Repo on guitars and vocals. Last year, in 2015, we recorded and released an EP Cold Heat, which drew positive reviews and interest both domestically and internationally. By the end of 2015 the band also went through a drummer change.
Burntfield’s 2016 saw our first tour abroad, directed towards The Netherlands, and most recently the release of My Grief, our newest single and music video. And so here we are on this day!

TMR: Why the name Burntfield ? Is there a story behind it ?

Juho: Definitely, the name has a symbolic thought to it. This “burnt” doesn’t refer to destruction but rather burn-clearing. The symbolics of change and a new growth is often present in our lyrics, with the field illustrating the organic element of the ground where everything is growing. All in all we felt the name Burntfield to illustrate this in a good way.

TMR: Who writes the music/lyrics in Burntfield ? … how do you get in the mood for writing music? And which bands/situations have influenced you for writing music and lyrics ?

Juho: I am the primary songwriter of the band, having written most of the songs/lyrics, and at least contributed to every song written in collaboration with other members at the time. For me songwriting is always a very natural process, the result of which one can’t really plan in advance. What I do is that I devote myself a timeslot, at best even a whole day (a luxury I can far too rarely afford), lock myself up in a room and let all inspiration flow out to become part of a new Burntfield song. The influences are numerous: Melodic Rock, AOR and Prog, even ambient and jazz-fusion, particularly however more of a modern type melodic and (neo)progressive rock. Some of the undoubtedly strongest influences include the likes of Anathema, Steven Wilson, Pendragon, The Pineapple Thief, Karmakanic, Spock’s Beard and Neal Morse. Where all this culminates, I would have to say TOTO, which has always been particularly close to my heart, and the influence of which seems to always creep along when crafting the songs and arrangements…

TMR: What are some key principles or phylosophies that you hold onto as foundational stones as who you are as a person?

Juho: Respecting other people and the environment, and despite all the madness out there, making choices that help to contribute in the ever-lasting attempt of making this a better world.
Valtteri: A certain creative craziness, equally in both private and professional life.

burntfield4_020TMR: Is there a highlight you will always remember, since the beginning of Burntfield ? 

Valtteri: Having been in the band for two years now, for me the Netherlands tour last spring was a highlight in many respects. Doing everything independently with just one crew member/sound technician travelling with us, meaning for example without any reasonable transportation or so, was a really tough but after all a memorable experience.
Juho: Huh, I think I can only agree with my esteemed colleague about this!

TMR: And the worst thing were ? (if there is one) [everyone]

Valtteri: Gig at a bar in Kerava (Finland) this past August – just everything in it.
Juho: That one was certainly one of the most displeasing gigs we’ve played. We haven’t forgotten the exquisite smell of the “backstage”, a mixture of vomit and urine, nor the “stage” which merely resembled a stall…

TMR: What is your favorite drink and food ? 

Juho: Ice cold beer with a super spicy Indian vegetarian dish, such as a vindaloo. The hotter the better.
Valtteri: Nothing tops red wine and a good steak.

TMR: So what makes you laugh?

Valtteri: A good joke.
Juho: Sharp sense of humour with an impeccable timing (not mine…).

TMR: What is your biggest fear ?

Valtteri: Here I must say, that something bad would happen to my little daughter.
Juho: Entirely losing hope and trust in the future, as bad as it might seem.

TMR: What is the last album you bought?

Valtteri: Emiliana Torrini: Tookah
Juho: Karmakanic: Dot

TMR: What are some of the things you like to do away from the band? 

Valtteri: Spending time with my family.
Juho: Mostly keeping myself busy with other musical projects of all kinds…

TMR: Speaking of recording, your latest album “Cold Heat” has been released in August of last year,, what can you tell us about the album [such as the recording process, the songs/lyrics, record label etc.]

Juho: Cold Heat was recorded and mixed at Sonic Pump Studios and Content Union Studios in Helsinki with Eero Kaukomies, with whom we’ve successfully collaborated already from our first EP in 2013. This is strictly speaking not an album, but an EP, which consists of 4 diverse songs, that I think sets Burntfield’s core qualities on display. Two of the songs (Deal With It and How Lucky) are written by myself. Our former guitarist Ville Repo, who was not featured on the recording itself anymore, came up with the idea for Under The Dome, a distinctive fusion of reggae, pop and prog with a rap middle section and a tenor recorder solo. On Q & A we took a different approach, and actually wrote that one together with Ville and Tero (bassist) in a brainstorming session and it ended up becoming one of our favourites. Cold Heat was released independently, without a record label, like all of our releases so far.

TMR: About the cover artwork. Do you think it is as important as your music? Does it visualize the lyrics of your songs or what’s the actual story behind its concept?

Juho: Cover art is certainly very important for us. A Finnish artist called Petri Lampela created the cover artworks for our two EPs, and in his work we found a unique spirit, that reminded me even of that of Roger Dean’s. I personally find his way of mixing fantasy-like landscapes with strikingly realistic objects very impressive. We think the cover art plays an important role in visualizing the music: in the cover of Cold Heat the musical contrasts are illustrated by the elements and temperatures getting mixed up. There is also a hint of the change followed by new growth, which in turn refers to the band’s name and central themes in the lyrics.

coldheat_ep_0deTMR: How do you promote your band and shows ?

Juho: Until now I’ve taken care of all promotion by myself, by traditional means (posters, flyers), actively contacting the media and trying to utilize the powers of social media. As a next step for the band we can reveal that we’re luckily about to begin a collaboration with an international management/booking agency, which will help take the band to the next level and should ease the burden of promotional work on our own shoulders!

TMR: Tell us about the hardrock/metal scene in your area please?

Juho: In Helsinki, Finland, where the band originates in, the hardrock/metal scene has traditionally been very strong and prominent. However following the general trends which have not been very supportive to rock/metal bands in general, the market is significantly decreasing. These days there are definitely as many, if not more, bands as before, but in general I feel there are less opportunities available for performing, getting exposure to your music and reaching the audiences.

TMR: How do you prepare for a show? 

For us being well-prepared and rehearsed for every single show is very important. A crucial ritual before every Burntfield show is a collective voice opening. As part of this Valtteri might take one or two beers too…

TMR: What is your favorite Burntfield song to play live?

Valtteri: Q & A, although there is a always a risky element with the ambient-outro. Well, at least it keeps things exciting… But once everything works, it’s really great!
Juho: What Remains, a beautiful atmospheric prog song that builds up slowly towards the end. The lengthy wandering guitar solo in the end always hits the spot, and is for me the moment of getting carried away.

TMR: What is your favorite concert that you saw and what made it so good? 

Valtteri: All 5 times I’ve seen Muse, last time June in Helsinki. I simply love their music and their concerts have always been unbelievably well-executed, both musically and visually.
Juho: My favourite… I would name a very recent one, namely Anathema earlier this month in Zoetermeer here in Holland. Throughout the tour the band were road-testing new material, meaning they would play new songs before entering the studio to record their new album, and the deep concentration with which the whole sold-out audience was engaged with this was very special. Their ability to communicate emotions purely through the music is something that is hard to compare with any other band out there. There is something deeply moving in Anathema’s music, to an extent that at times you can’t help but openly cry, and this is emotional charge what made this concert so particular.

TMR: What is the most embarrassing music on your phone or in your collection and how do you justify it to others?

Valtteri: I used to have my Spotify account linked to Facebook, posting what I’ve been listening on Facebook. The whole family was listening to Spotify through the same account, and sometimes Sanni, Robin and other like Finnish teenage pop would play continuously on repeat. I did get some slightly confused questions afterwards…
Juho: The post-minimalist, pop-ambient music by Ludovico Einaudi, which I’m actually very fond of, but which some of the purists in the classical circles don’t seem to be afraid to openly hate.

TMR: If you could pick a band to tour with, who would it be? And where would the tour go?

TOTO. Definitely TOTO. At this point they are the first band we both could immediately think of. As to where would the tour go: wherever!

TMR: What is the dumbest question you have ever been asked? 

Juho: As a professional recorder player, you get these a lot. Such as: “So, which recorder do you play? Do you play the small one AND the big one?” (recorders come in hundreds and hundreds different types, historical models, sizes, shapes, tunings etc.) And not to forget “do you also play the normal flute?”…
Valtteri: When I was about 18-19, a 55-year old lady came to me in a bar, opened her wallet and asked me whether I could come with her if she gave me all her money she had with her. Hmm…

TMR: What are the biggest obstacles for bands ?

In general, the oversupply of exceptionally talented and hard-working bands as opposed to the demand and the opportunities available for them.

TMR: As a band today, what do you think is the biggest challenge you face?

Reaching the right audiences with our music in a market that is overpopulated with great bands (as also partly related to the previous question).

TMR: Any plans for the near future ? (New Album, Touring ?)

Good question! There is a big announcement coming soon, but we can already reveal that Burntfield is going through a couple of line-up changes, and consequently we will orientate more towards here in The Netherlands, Germany and central Europe. When the time is right, the idea is to be touring more actively than ever before! Our main goal for the near future is a new full-length album, on which we are already working hard.

TMR: Guys thanks for your time and the interview. We wish Burntfield all the best … Is there anything you wanna say at last ? [any final statement ?]

Thank you for the interview, it was our pleasure. Stay tuned for the future of Burntfield which promises to be really exciting!

Weblinks: Facebook / Website

“Organic Waves” (EP, 2013)
“Let It Die Away” (Single, 2014)
“Cold Heat” (EP, 2015)
‘My Grief’ (Single, 2016)

Video below: ‘My Grief’

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