20 May 2011
Half Past Never Band: Interview
First and foremost who is in the Half Past Never Band?
During the years, Half Past Never Band has grown from a one-man project to a band, which combines grooving playing and versatile vocalists. There are five members in the band:
In addition, especially in the live sessions we have guest musicians featuring in the shows. For example in the record release party we have a percussion player joining our show. In the live sessions we have also vocalists joining us and in the gigs during the summer we have a rapper (Frankifier) and a female vocalist (Emilia Sisko).
Can you give us a brief history of the band and the origin of the name?
Half Past Never Band is a band from Helsinki, Finland, whose music is a combination of organic sounds, black rhythms, Balkan flavours and eastern atmospheres. The roots of Half Past Never Band go to the beginning of year 2008, when the first Half Past Never recordings were made in order to create soulful and mellow sounds and songs. Basically, all the songs, ideas and sounds are created in jamming sessions with friends. First recordings were totally instrumental but during the years Half Past Never Band has made co-operation with among others these vocalists: Sankofa, Zilla Rocca, Quartier Bon Son, Sage, V Merc, Emilia Sisko, Valveuni, Frankifier.
In 2008 Half Past Never Band released a self-titled EP containing two instrumental songs. Almost two years after that, in January 2010, the first full length Half Past Never Band album, As it Should be, was released independently. As it Should be introduced eight pieces of music: six instrumentals and two with vocals.
In 2010 HPNB grew from a one-man project to a band. Five-member full live band is not only for the live sessions but also most of the songs are made by the whole band or part of it. The new album, Cubicle Coma, was released on 18th May 2011. It is the second full length Half Past Never Band album and it is even more organic and rough than the debut album. As in the first album, Cubicle Coma includes both songs with vocalists and fully instrumental songs. All in all, Cubicle Coma is a weird mixture of funky, hiphop, jazzy and gypsy style music combined with various styles of lyricists.
I believe that we are all inspired by someone or something and imitation usually leads to independence. With that being said, who are some of your influences?
Trying to define Half Past Never Band´s music precisely is not easy but music draws influences from several genres including jazz, hip-hop, funk, soul, afro and eastern rhythms. I have to admit that The Roots is one of the bands that has had the biggest influence in our music and basically they have been the first and most beautiful organic hip-hop group for me. In addition, I listen to a lot of Ninja Tune artists as well and they are one of the biggest influences on us. In addition to rap music, I also listen to progressive rock and such a lot. Just to name a few: Porcupine Tree and Kingston Wall from Finland. But basically I do not take influences from traditional albums only but also movie soundtracks and landscapes as well. I don’t want to forget any genre or music style and I believe that it can be heard in our music as well.
In 2010, you guys released As It Should Be. What did you want to present with that album and how did it fair in Finland and globally?
Yes, As It Should Be was released in January 2010. It was the first full length Half Past Never album and I think it represents quite well the kind of music I listened to during that time. There are parts of instrumental hip-hop as well as more cinematic parts as you might hear in the song “Blue Night”. As It Should Be was basically an Internet release and we made only a small number of CD´s of it. All of them are sold out now. But fortunately it is possible to download the album from our website for free.
Your latest release Cubicle Coma features more hip-hop elements. Did you try to showcase more versatility with this project?
Well, it seems so. But it was not that planned and more and more hip-hop elements came along during the process. Still, in my opinion Cubicle Coma is not only a hip-hop album but it is more versatile as you mentioned. There are some songs, which can be classified belonging to hip-hop genre but some songs are totally something else and I am very happy that it became so versatile.
I wanted to know where the album title Cubicle Coma came from?
To be honest, I do not remember any more where it came from exactly but the main idea behind the name came from the change in the style how the songs were made. Previously I was used to make songs more or less by myself alone with my keyboard and computer. But for this album the style changed totally and I noticed that we got the best result by leaving the ordinary spot in the front of the computer and instead making the songs with friends in their living rooms, our rehearsal place, in the park or wherever. So Cubicle Coma represents the problems that I avoided by leaving the ordinary way of doing songs.
Do you have any guest appearances on the album? If so, who?
Yes there are quite a many appearances in the album. First of all, we got the Finland´s finest soul voice, Emilia Sisko, on the album. She is performing in two tracks. In addition, Zilla Rocca from Philadelphia US, is performing in two tracks, which were actually the singles of the album. Moreover, Sage is representing in two tracks as well as Jon?Doe. Furthermore, Sankofa, who has made some co-operation previously with Cunninlynguists among others, is performing in one track. In addition to those, D1, Tenacity and VMerc are attending in the album. And last but not least, Frankifier from Finland blasts on one track. Frankifier is also part of our live show.
Describe the music scene in Finland.
Basically the music scene in Finland is doing quite good in Finland. And I mean the quality of the music, not the statistics of sold records. The hip-hop scene in Finland is nowadays doing better than ever. We’ve got a lot of talented rappers who rap in Finnish. Just to name a few of my favorites: Are, Stepa, Juno, Super Janne, Asamasa, Solonen, Heikki Kuula and Kemmuru. In addition to rap music, also other rhythm music is doing really good at the moment. Jazz scene has been very talented for a long time and it seems that now Finnish jazz scene has made a breakthrough worldwide as well. Typically Finland has been considered as a metal and heavy nation, but nowadays we have a lot of good bands and artists in other genres as well.
Do you have any plans to tour Europe in the next few years?
Well, at the moment we have gigs only in Finland, but you never know. Basically, we all do music just for fun so we do not want to take this too seriously but to have fun instead.
I noticed that you are signed to Skill Street Entertainment. When did you guys hook up with Lauri?
It was in the beginning of January 2010 right after As It Should Be was released. Big thanks to Lauri and Skill Street Entertainment for all the help and advises during the process.
Do you have any plans to release another single for the Cubicle Coma album?
Actually there are now three singles released for the Cubicle Coma album. First single was Letters feat. Jon?Doe. Second single was released quite soon after that and it was called Sammy Jankis feat. Zilla Rocca and can be listened to HERE.
The last single before the release of the album was Color Bars feat. Zilla Rocca. Actually there is a music video made for that song. Our friend who lives in UK made the music video and we are very, very proud of it. Big thanks to Arto and all the actors. Video for Color Bars can be seen earlier in the interview.
Who would you like to work with in the future and why?
We would like to work with all kinds of musicians from all over the world. There have been some thoughts of making an album with Finnish rappers as well, but you never know. At least I hope we can work with Praverb in the future.
How can the masses get in touch with you guys?
I think the best channel to reach us is our web page. In addition to this, our record label Skillstreet is one way to reach us. We really hope that people find this album because we are very proud of it.
Any Final Thoughts?
Support your local record store, go to gigs, buy records, spread the word, do not stick to one genre and enjoy the music! It is the only way we can be sure that there will be good music in the future as well.