Featured artist: Teemu Kautonen

Featured artist: Teemu Kautonen

We have been writing all sorts of blog posts about all things marketing, tips, tricks, life hacks etc. Earlier this year we started to have a closer look at some artists who we think you should check out! This time around we asked Teemu Kautonen of WELKINS BOREAL some questions.

Tell us a bit about yourself as an artist, what sort of projects have you been involved in?

On the one hand, I guess I am quite versatile in the sense that I have been involved in many different types of projects, mainly in the mid to late 1990s. I used to play in a death/thrash band as a teenager but my first more serious band was Darkwoods My Betrothed, which I guess still enjoys some degree of cult reputation based on the first two albums that we among the first ones to combine black and what came to be known as Viking metal. I ended up leaving the band after those albums mainly because the lads wanted to do more black metal songs and I was much more into the epic Viking metal stuff. So Pasi, the singer in DMB, and I founded Furthest Shore to do the Viking metal stuff, whereas DMB focussed solely on black metal. Furthest Shore was unfortunately short-lived mainly because I moved to Germany shortly after the debut album was released and then ended up having no time for music at all for nearly 20 years.
I also ran a band called Wizzard, which was heavily centered around me with line-ups changing for each album. The band was created as a pure side project to let out some steam with some straightforward rocking black metal á la Venom. It then evolved into a more black meets classic heavy metal direction. Actually, I think ’Songs of Sin and Decadence’ is a pretty good album and ‘Black Heavy Metal’ has its highlights too.
Another spin-off of DMB was Nattvindens Gråt, which released three albums (the last one under the shorter name Nattvind) and also played a bunch of live shows. It started as atmospheric black metal that used Swedish lyrics half as a joke half because it was fund to write in a language other than English. And of course, there was a trend for black metal bands to sing in Norwegian at that time which must have had its influence too.   Then it evolved into some sort of amalgamation of doom/gothic/NWOBHM, sort of mixing influences from all the stuff I was listening to at the time (e.g., Candlemass, Tiamat, Paradise Lost, many NWOBHM bands). Unfortunately, the execution was lacking mainly due to my immaturity as a songwriter. While many riffs and melodies are great, the arrangements much less so. Tight studio budgets didn’t help either, so the albums didn’t really exhibit the full potential of the song ideas.
This is where the current project Welkins Boreal comes into play. The debut album features nine old Nattvindens Gråt songs completely remade and re-recorded. Now I think those song ideas have versions that demonstrate their actual potential. I decided not to continue as Nattvindens Gråt in order to shake off the old ‘let’s have a Swedish band name for a joke’ and start with a clean slate for the new material that is already being written.

What brought you into the world of music?

I was curious about music as a kid. First my dad’s Elvis Presley cassettes but I was seven(ish) when I discovered Kiss and Wasp. I think Wasp’s ‘I Wanna Be Somebody’ must have been a turning point, like ‘man, this is so cool!’ Twisted Sister was another early favourite. The little town of Kitee where I grew up supported kids playing in bands with rehearsal facilities and instruments, so a lot of kids played in different bands. I too ended up asking my dad to buy me a bass guitar so that I could join some friends in a band that lacked a bass player. After playing some Metallica, Iron Maiden and Sabbath songs (badly) for a couple of years the next turning point was the discovery of Death’s ‘Leprosy’ which was a major ‘wow!’ experience. We quickly switched to death metal that later evolved into Darkwoods My Betrothed.

Is there a record or song that changed your life as a musician?

Apart from ‘I Wanna Be Somebody’, the big life-changing experience was Bathory’s ‘Hammerheart’ which for me is still among the best 5 albums ever made. I loved especially the slower songs on the earlier Bathory albums so ‘Hammerheart’ was a dream-come-true for me. It obviously had a major influence on the epic songs I wrote for Darkwoods My Betrothed (the epic songs in DMB were mostly from me, apart from ‘Red Sky Over The Land of Fells’ that Pasi wrote). Actually, I love ’Twilight of the Gods’ even more than ‘Hammerheart’ but its influence on my own music has so far been less obvious mainly because of my limited guitar playing skills. However, some of the future material for Welkins Boreal does flirt with ’Twilight of the Gods’… 😉

What was the most inspirational encounter you’ve had as a musician?

I think my encounter with ‘Hammerheart’ was pretty inspirational. On a more technical side, taking vocal lessons a couple of years ago was highly inspirational. Not only learning vocal technique but getting the kick in the arse to learn more music theory that I badly needed. Without those lessons, I don’t think I would ever have started making music again.  

What are 5 things your life would be empty without?

1) Intellectual challenges. Life would be boring if there wasn’t something to think about and figure out.

2) Making music as an intellectual challenge. While composing is mainly about inspiration and creativity, making good arrangements borders on science.

3) Traveling, especially getting the hell out of Finland in the winter months, but also discovering new places as well as visiting old favourite to add spice to everyday life.

4) Food, both eating, and cooking. Experimenting with new ingredients, discovering new dishes. Pairs well with traveling!

5) Kids. It would be hard to imagine life without my three hyenas.
In our newsletter, from now on we’ll include these featured artists, next to plenty of tips for you related to marketing that might help to build up your artistic career.

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