Steve 'n' Seagulls
What do you think makes you stand out from other artists and what makes your music stand out?
Probably one thing is that we are quite easy to approach. We like to talk with fans and it seems they like to have a chat with us. Another thing could be that maybe we are combining musical styles in a way that is somewhat original. There are bits of bluegrass, rock, pop, heavy, Finnish folk music etc. We are also authentic. We are what we are and try to keep it going.
When did you decide that music was going to be the career you continued with for the rest of your life and what made you come to that decision?
Personally I've always loved music. I don't think I ever decided it but it kinda came along and when I saw the possibility I tried to make it count. I've been playing in bands for about 25 years already and it has always felt like the best thing for me.
Other than musicians who would you say is your biggest inspiration?
Wow! A tough one! :) Maybe the biggest inspiration other than music or a musician would be everyday life. The events you can see occur while travelling, walking down the street or while meeting other people. I also feel very fortunate to be able to work as a musician. That gives me a lot of inspiration. A good movie or a book can spark something in my brain too.
Do you believe in luck?Do you have anything that brings you luck or rituals you do before a gig etc?
I do believe in luck and some kind of way to float in life or destiny. Whatever one feels like calling it. I suppose I have something that brings me luck and also rituals. I used to play ice hockey as a goalie and you tend to come up with rituals while doing that. I try to warm up my voice the same way, warm up my body too and repeat a few words. Me and Hiltunen are on the same side on stage so Hiltunen always takes the set list on stage. It's been like that for a long time. I don't know why. After the show we always shake hands with our sound engineer. The two of us have been doing that for years now. I also always try to set up my gear and cases the same way on stage. Small things like that.
Did you enjoy music at school and were you any good?
I did enjoy music. In grades 8 and 9 we had an awesome music teacher. She was very inspirational and a good teacher too. I don't know if I was any good. I did try to play and practice a lot. And I listen to tons of music.
Pick a song of yours and tell us the story of how it was written and what the song is about?.
Maybe a song Down to the river from our third album Grainsville. Music is mainly written by our banjo player Herman. He brought the song to rehearsals and we began to work on the arrangement together. I believe he had an idea for the lyrics for the chorus. The song started to form a story in my head about fields and old time. The laborers on the fields and what kind of life it might have been. So I came up with the lyrics. A lot of times I see an image or sort of a short movie in my head about the lyrics or topic. This one takes place by a dry and dusty road just by a big farm with lots of fields everywhere. Song is about love, longing someone you love and miss. Also about time when love might have been forbidden.
What was the 1st performance you did in front of people and what was your first gig you did and can tell you tell us about it?
I think it was in the 7th grade in school. We had a band that played all kinds of music from heavy to pop. A five piece band and I played electric guitar. I remember I was totally in panic and I was shaking. But eventually it went ok and felt really good. I did pull out my guitar chord by accident in the middle of a song. But this gig did sparkle something in my brain. I wanted to become better and figure out the secrets of playing live together.
What does music mean to you?
It is a big part of me and my life. I'm involved with music every day. It is my love, hobby and passion. Even though we also make a living out of it I can't call it work. It's just so that we are fortunate enough to be able to do it as a living. I hope I can keep it as a passion for all my life. It gives me energy, helps me when I'm down and is a way to express myself. It is the most beautiful thing in the world.
Take us through a day when you are writing or recording?
Let's think of a day in the studio. We wake up maybe around 9am. We cook some breakfast and talk about the upcoming day a little bit. Of Course we have prepared well and rehearsed for the day. Then we start playing. We warm up a little bit and start doing takes. It is hard to describe but I totally lose the track of time. Focus is in the music 100% and you sort of fall into a state that your brain is working on just that one thing. During the day we drink coffee and eat and then back to music. After a day of recording I like to go outside and get some fresh air into my brain and body. To me recording is stressful but very rewarding. You create something that might live forever. It is magical.
When writing I simply sit at home and strum around with my guitar or mandolin. I also might play some drums. Usually I come up with a line for a song and sort of create an image or an event around it. It might come out easy or I might get stuck and have to continue later. I usually don't take a certain day for writing. It more like happens in a moment.
What would you like to achieve in the next year?
I hope we can do a lot of touring with the upcoming fourth album. I also hope we can achieve a new level as a band. Write more and even better songs and also to become better and better as a live band. Basic things like that.
What one thing could you not live without and why?
Oh, I don't know... Breathing? Music is very important to me. Listening to music. That would be a tough thing to give up. That and a certain level of freedom. The ability to go to the woods enough.
Take us through a rough timeline of your career so far and what would you consider to be your personal highlights and achievements?
Band was formed in 2010. I joined in 2013 and this line up was formed in 2019 when the new drummer and bass player joined. In the summer 2014 we made three videos and uploaded those to YouTube. For some reason they went viral around the world. That gave us a chance to start doing music more internationally and to record albums. First big festival gigs took place in 2015 in Europe and after that we also started touring in North America. First album Farm machine was released in 2015. It gained a good position on the Finnish album chart and also on the Billboard bluegrass chart. 2nd album Brothers in farms was released in 2016. It again rose to the finnish album chart and also went #1 on the Billboard bluegrass chart. 3rd album Grainsville was released in 2018. Again it rose to the album chart in Finland and Billboard Bluegrass chart. In between albums we've toured Europe, North America, little bit in South America and Australia. 4th album will be released in 2020
Personally I'm very proud we've toured over 30 countries and released three albums. We've been able to evolve as a band and proven that we can play in a small club or a huge festival. We are not afraid to be ourselves.
If you had to write an advert to advertise your act and your music what would it say?
Come and see us live. You will feel good.
What is your favourite way to listen to music and do you ever listen to your own music?
At home and just kick back and listen to my vinyls. I sometimes do listen to our songs but not often. more as a reminder.
Who would you have to play you in a film about your life and career and what would the plot of the film be?
Hah! Maybe some yet unknown talented actor. It would be a story about love. Love for music and finding pure love in life.
If you had to change your image,genre of music and just reinvent yourself, what would you do?
We would maybe combine punk and country music with accordion. But with the looks of five finnish men just being themselves. With a lot of echo and cowbell.
What has been one thing you have done during your music career that you regret or wish you could go back and change?What would it be and why?
I feel we could have focused a little bit more on working on our first album. It came a little bit too soon and fast. I would tell us to take a few more months and re do all the songs. Personally I hope I would have crowd surfed more during the metal festival gigs we have played. But there will be plenty of time to fix that.
How has Covid 19 affected you ?
It has affected touring of course. We've had to cancel or move 80-90 gigs. Financially it has affected all of us. It has also taken away a lot of the personal contact to my family and loved ones. It has also taught me to value things like that even more. At the same time it has also given the opportunity to spend more time in nature and in the woods. There has also been more time to rehearse music.
Can you give us a rundown of all the music related things you have been upto in the past couple of months and what we can expect for the future?
Well, we recorded our first album in January-February. After that there has been mixing and mastering and we've had to plan the album cover etc. We've made some videos and rehearsed. We will release two singles, more videos and our new album during the year 2020. So a lot has happened and even more will happen. We've toured a little bit within limitations and try to continue doing that.
Personally I've been practicing the drums a lot and wrote some songs. Maybe we will start working on the songs for the fifth album also.