Many thanks to Canvas of Silence for answering this interview. Tatu, Mikael, and Iiro, share interesting stories and insights about their band, songwriting, and music -
About the Band
Starting as a solo project by Tatu Hanhikoski (guitars, programming, songwriting) in the autumn of 2014, Canvas of Silence has since formed into a full band including Hanna Uimonen (vocals), Jaakko Puusaari (guitars, vocals), Mikael Minkkinen (bass) and Iiro Vuori (drums).
The music of Canvas of Silence paints its pictures on silence with complementary colours. It’s heavy but melodic, occasionally complex yet in the same time somewhat simple and catchy, glued together with female vocals and symphonic elements. Or as the drummer Iiro Vuori put it, the music can be described as ”Prog-influenced Chorus Metal”.
The band released its first single ”Humanimal” from the upcoming debut album on September 22nd 2017.
Hanna Uimonen - Vocals
Tatu Hanhikoski - Guitars
Jaakko Puusaari - Guitars, Vocals
Mikael Minkkinen - Bass
Iiro Vuori - Drums
Canvas of Silence : any story behind band name?
Tatu: The name is taken from a quote by Leopold Stokowski: “A painter paints pictures on canvas, but musicians paint their pictures on silence”. I started this project at a time in my life where creating music was the only way of saying things I wanted to say, and the only way I could express the emotions I desperately needed to unleash. So I just sat in silence with my guitar and started to compose; started to paint the silence.
How did you guys get together as a band?
Iiro: Tatu was kind enough to ask and I was drunk enough to say yes.
Tatu: Canvas of Silence was initially meant to be just a studio project of mine. From the get-go I knew I wanted a female singer for the project. I knew Hanna through some mutual friends and that she was a singer with a good voice that could fit the songs. So I sent her a demo and asked her to join. Apparently, she said yes. Through her, Jaakko heard the demo song and asked me if I needed a second guitarist. I was like “Ok, this guy is one of the best guitarists in town and he’s asking me if he could join this project… Sure, maybe this is a band now instead of just a studio project”. Then it all just kind of started. I also played in a Tool cover band with Iiro on drums and Mikael on bass and knew they were good with their instruments, so it was kind of natural for me to ask them to join. And they did.
Can you tell us more about the single, Humanimal? What is the song about? I love the change that happens in 2:04, the song gave me the goosebumps. Who are your favorite artists who might have influenced this song?
Tatu: Thank you, I’m glad to hear that! The song is about the realization that human beings as a species are nothing more than animals. And that it is a beautiful thing. We all live in this strange thing we call reality, and by being a part of it we can form our own paths. Who we are as a person is defined by where our path has taken us. And all the things that have happened to us along the way. It’s also about the beast, the animal, living inside of us, that we can control by caring for each other. We are part of the nature, but the nature doesn’t care for us. We are the only ones that can care for us, and the nature we are part of.
I think I’ve been influenced by almost every (good) song and artist I’ve heard and listened, in some way. Including all that 90’s and early 00’s pop music I heard on a radio as a kid. My influences are a mix of progressive metal, progressive rock, alternative rock, pop, some punk, nu metal... Throw in some avant-garde metal and Disney/Studio Ghibli movie soundtracks and you get the picture.
Can you tell us more about your background as musicians?
Mikael: As a teenager I thought playing guitar was cool, so I started doing it. Then I grew up and switched to bass.
Tatu: I’ve been writing songs more or less actively since I was maybe 15 years old. I have never taken any lessons in music, I just play and compose things that sound good to my ears and hope that others have the same view. I’ve had some projects before Canvas of Silence, and been even a singer in a death metal band for a while. I consider myself first as a songwriter, then a guitarist.
Iiro: Mostly self-taught heavy hitting joke telling beer drinking slightly better than average metal rock prog punk drummer.
Is Tatu the head songwriter? How do you go about songwriting? Is there any recurring message or theme in your songs?
Tatu: Yes, I have composed the songs and written the lyrics, but of course everyone in the band have colored them with their own touch. The songwriting process for me is that I just grab my guitar and start to play. Sometimes it will lead to a song, sometimes not. If it will lead to a song, usually the song will come out pretty easily structure-wise, but of course I will spend hours and hours composing melodies and other stuff to it and eventually losing my mind before the song is finished.
I like to ponder and write about all the things related to humanity and human nature. It’s kind of a recurring theme in my songs.
What does music and being an artist mean to you?
Iiro: The best possible way to release pressure and have a lot of fun.
Mikael: Expressing yourself, having fun.
Tatu: Creating music is just something I have to do to remain at least somewhat sane. I constantly contemplate about it and need to get it out of my head, so I compose it all out. It’s all about feeling different emotions and passing them on. When I see someone reacting to my music with any kind of emotion, I consider I’ve succeeded as a songwriter.
Can you recall your earliest memory about music? That one thing that made you want to be an artist / musician?
Iiro: Playing tennis racket air guitar to Beatles tunes at the age of three.
Tatu: I played air guitar too, but with a hockey stick. I also remember listening some songs and thinking “Why does that melody go like that, I would have done it differently”. I think that was one thing that made me want to try writing my own songs later on.
Whats the best thing and about being in the studio and making music?
Tatu: Hearing and feeling how the songs come alive. Trying different things, adding little details.
For you, whats the best thing about playing live music? Can you tell us more about the gig in Musica Rock?
Iiro: When the energy you release comes back from the audience. You can't beat the feeling.
Tatu: Conveying the emotions that the music creates back and forth with the audience. Musica Rock was a fun night, very energizing gig. The song Drown is one of our heavier tracks, a bit different from the single Humanimal.
Most weird, interesting, or funny thing that ever happened to you as a band? During a gig, or anything?
Tatu: I think the weirdest and the most interesting things happen to us individually, not as a band. Or maybe we are just dull.
If each one of you were a fruit, what would you be and why?
Mikael: Melon, because it looks neat in Japanese.
Tatu: Something like durian, which looks suspicious and smells awful (but apparently tastes really good), so that my chances of being eaten would be more unlikely.
Iiro: Banana. It goes well with terracotta pie.