Two Witches Russian tour April 2011
Marko, Zynthexia, Aleksi & Jyrki Witch
Photo © Jeannette Fischer
Definitely, Two Witches is a reference name of the Gothic Rock from the 90’s. If you were involved in the scene of that time, you know for sure to such classic songs like: “Hungry eyes”, “Requiem”, “Bites and Bloody Kisses”, ”Irresistible”, “Dead Dog’s Howl”, etc.
Talking about Two Witches is to talk about a band with an impressive career, lots of records, too many classic songs which have appeared in lots of compilation albums, their records have been edited in different countries around the world, and they have toured in too many countries. This is one of those definitive bands of the 90’s Gothic Rock, because they represent all about the Gothic of that time: Beautiful Witches, Vampires, moonlight, doom, candles and Victorian-vampire clothes. Two Witches have a very respectable and productive career, and this continues to this day….
Daniel Olvera / 2013
Thank you very much for accepting to do this interview with This Is Gothic Rock; we are very honored about it. First question is about the early days. How did all started?
J.Witch: In the beginning it was only Anne Nurmi and me. We bought some low quality (and/or broken) instruments and started making noise. For a short time we had also a drummer, but he left the band before the first concerts. Because there were just two of us, the band got the name Two Witches. Immediately after a few songs written, we booked the first concerts and went to a studio for recording the first singles. A little by little we found musicians to play with and the style of Two Witches started to find a format. I guess it is the same kind of story with nearly every band?
What about the Underground Gothic scene of Finland in the early days of Two Witches?
J.Witch: We were somehow lucky with this thing. The very first wave (those goth-punk days of early 80’s) was already past when we started the band, the record label and the shop called Darklands, and at the same time the first club and live events (Black Celebration Club in Tampere, 1987-1989). So, we had a chance to start everything back from square one and built the scene more or less to our own taste. The very first wave was located mostly in Helsinki, but this “second wave” happened more in Tampere.
Those days the gothic culture was not popular at all, that’s why a bit smaller town, like Tampere, had better chances to keep the scene alive. Soon there were several bands, record labels, fanzines, my weekly radio show in a local radio station, our shop, clubs, etc. Back then everyone knew each other and the whole “scene” was mainly just a group of friends. Some of those pioneers of Tampere-scene became later more famous as the musicians of such bands as All About Eve (Toni Haimi), Dance Macabre/Imperia (Jan Yrlund), Lacrimosa (Anne Nurmi and Jan Yrlund) and Love Like Blood (Toby).
The early stuff is electro; that split with Advanced Art. How did you feel about it at that time? It has to be quite an achievement to have this first recording…
J.Witch: For a start we did two split EP’s with our fellow band, Advanced Art. Actually we didn’t see it as an achievement those days. It was more like: “ok, we have a band now. What are the bands normally doing? They are playing concerts and doing records. Ok, we should do the same.” That’s all. Playing concerts was (and still is) more important for us than recording a lot of records. If thinking of just the orchestration of the early days; yes, then we could call it “electro”.
But I’d rather see it as gothic music done with drum machines and keyboards. I mean, in general it is more important to write good songs than thinking what instruments you could use for it. For example, Alien Sex Fiend has always been an electro band. Does it make them less “rock” or “gothic” than someone else? And New Order continued straight from Joy Division. Could anyone be 100% sure that they wouldn’t have written the same songs, even if they would have keep the previous name?. As a musician I do not want to limit things. It is still the same gothic rock, even if you’ll do it with computers instead of guitars. Some songs sounds better with a simple bass-drums-guitars –line up, sometimes you would need to add something extra for the song.
What can you tell about your influences, or your favorite bands?
J.Witch: My biggest favorite of all time is David Bowie. I’m also a big collector of his records and other art. I’ve been working as a DJ since early 80’s, so my record collection is huge and I try to listen many kinds of music. That’s why there are too many bands to mention as my favorites. It is the same with musical influences. Life itself is the biggest influence anyway and the soundtrack of it collects all the voices we hear around us.
“Agony Of The Undead Vampire, pt. 2” was the first full-length, in 1992. Quite an interesting time; because in those years we had some movies like “Bram Stoker’s Dracula”, “Interview with the vampire”, “The Crow”, novels like ”Lost Souls”, and those Gothic audiences around the world, dressing like vampires. And then…there is a band called Two Witches; talking about Vampires, the undead, doom prophecies. Your music and concept were part of that time. Please, some words about this
J.Witch: These subjects were our interest those days. I wanted to write stories about vampires. After “Bites” –album it started to be a burden to the band. Since 1997 I haven’t written any lyrics about that theme anymore. But please, do not get me wrong, I do not regret those themes. We are still playing some of those songs on stage; Requiem, Bites and Bloody Kisses, Burn the Witch, etc. But I didn’t want to get stuck in that theme and become a one-trick wonder. I also wrote a lot of lyrics about fetish subjects, but since my side-project SinMasters, we moved on again with Two Witches. The latest ones I have been written are stories about dreams (from both sides; daydreams and nightmares), fears, criticism to Christianity and so on…
Jyrki; your voice is really unique, and the sound of Two Witches is really different, you sound like nobody, and nobody sounds like Two Witches. How this sound did took shape?
J.Witch: If thinking of all 80’s gothic rock, most of the artists sound really original. I guess the main thing was this simple reason, there were no exact format yet, when these bands started their career. It was the same with us. Back then “gothic” was more like a mental thing. For example, if thinking of Alien Sex Fiend, All About Eve, Bauhaus and Fields of the Nephilim, it is quite hard to find similar elements musically, isn’t it? But we are still calling all of them with the label “goth”.
With Two Witches, all of us had different background and favorite bands. We just started to play our own thing, not trying to sound some exact form. Nowadays too many bands are trying to copy something they think they should copy to be a gothic band.
The band have been through different lineup changes in these years; what can you say about the collaborations of the ex-members of the band, and their contribution to the sound of Two Witches?
J.Witch: Everyone always brings their own touch for the band, songs and sounds. And that’s how it should be too. Everyone have been important for the band, each of them in their own way.
We remember Two Witches for this exciting and unique Gothic Rock music; and it is impossible not to mention to these beautiful women. Two Witches have dealt with themes like the erotic life and love, in such a great way. A song like “Irresistible” has lots of sensuality. Please, some words about this side of Two Witches…
J.Witch: Sensuality, sexuality and fetish subjects are important for everyone’s life. And I think, if we are talking about gothic culture in general, it is really important part of the whole scene everywhere. We have been lucky with the band, because of these beautiful women who have been so important part of Two Witches. But not forget, they have been also important musicians for us!
Talking about live gigs; the band seems to have some good activity in that field. How many gigs do you have scheduled for this year?
J.Witch: Looks like we are going to play about 10 concerts this year. We do not play that often anymore, because all of us have so many things going on all the time. We used to tour a lot, especially late 90’s, but nowadays it is really rare to get long tours anymore.
Do you have some plans for gigs outside Europe?
J.Witch: Of course there are always a lot of “plans” to do different things. I’m selling our concerts/tours by myself and try to offer the band also outside Europe all the time. We have been playing six times outside Europe; Brazil 1997, Argentina 1997, Mexico 2001, Asia 2007 and 2011, Costa Rica 2011. Let’s hope the dreams come true and we’ll be touring more outside Europe for future!
Jyrki, please some words about your side projects (band and DJ sessions) they are currently active?
J.Witch: Zynthexia and I are spinning records (both together and/or solo gigs) quite often, normally a few times every month. We are running many clubs: Redemption, Kasaribileet (80’s Party), Discotheque Necronomicon… and also the biggest gothic happening, Lumous Gothic Festival with our friends. Since my fetish EBM-project SinMasters is not active right now, Zynthexia and I continued with the same subject under the name Jyrki Witch & Zynthexia.
We have been playing all over; Costa Rica, Ireland, Russia, Spain and supporting Clan of Xymox in Czech Republic with this project. I also released my first solo record, XXX Rated (10” vinyl), the last year. Marko Hautamäki is having his ambient/experimental project, Chaos Research. They are quite active too, playing concerts and recording new material. HayDee Sparks lives still in Berlin and she is also a guitar player for In Strict Confidence. Aleksi works as a guitar roadie for mainstream bands, like Lordi and others, and he is really busy touring all over the world with these acts. Alarik is a professional drum teacher and plays for many bands.
What is the current lineup of Two Witches?
J.Witch: Alarik (drums), Aleksi (bass), HayDee Sparks (guitar), Marko Hautamäki (guitar, programming), Zynthexia (keyboards) and me.
How long time has this lineup been together?
J.Witch: Marko and HayDee joined the band 2001. For several years we were touring mainly as a trio, in-between 2004-2006 as a four-piece with the bass player Anke, but then she moved to New York USA. Aleksi replaced Anke 2008 and Alarik became our drummer 2010. Zynthexia was touring with us since 2006, selling the merchandise and supporting us as a DJ, but played her first TW-concerts 2010 in Russian tour.
What do you think about digital downloads vs physical formats?
J.Witch: I do not like these digital downloading “releases” at all. If I would like to have a release of some artist, then I’ll buy it in a physical format. I understand very well how good format digital downloading is for promotion, but personally I’m not ready to pay for a release like that
What do you think about the Gothic Rock scene in these days? Do you like some new bands?
J.Witch: Maybe the biggest heyday has gone at the moment, those years were the first decade of this millennium. But even if the scene is small, it is quite active. Especially in Finland it is really underground right now, but we have a lot of clubs and events, DJs and bands. Unfortunately most of those are unknown. And yes, I like many of the new bands too.
You have activity as DJ, besides the band: What can you tell about some interesting new bands from Finland?
J.Witch: There are many good new bands in Finland right now. The young musicians (and the older ones too) have been quite active the last years, released a lot of records (more than ever before) and done some good new songs. At June 2013 comes out a new compilation release by currently active Finnish bands of this scene. It includes also a new studio track “Another Face” by Two Witches. I’m pretty sure all of these bands of the compilation are worth to check!
And the last question is: There are some plans for a new EP, or maybe some new album?
J.Witch: Yes, we have been writing new songs, a little by little, but no exact release date yet. This subject about the new releases is quite hard for me. Of course it would be nice to get a new album out more often, but the most important thing is to release something we are 100% satisfied. That’s why it might take time.