Some say the element of surprise is the spirit of live music, and the 'ear candy' in songwriting itself. Wagtails has done exactly that. With amazing live performances, and improvisation as the key in finding the right music, their songs have become a mix of different styles and which can capture the listener at every turn of a verse.
Wagtails has released three powerful singles online since 2018. In this interview, they talk about interesting moments in their lives, and their interesting songwriting process together as a band. Wagtails was born in 2015 in a small town called Ylivieska. Best known for powerful live performances, their music will take you towards an exciting playground of harmonies, where no one can be too sure what happens next -
Wagtails : any story behind band name?
When we started back in 2015, our first band name was “Posliinivästäräkit”, which is finnish for “Porcelain Wagtails”. As we started making our first original songs in english we changed our name to Wagtails, because it’s easier for international audiences to pronounce, and we feel like no one could take our first name seriously.
How did you guys find each other? What made you guys want to play music with each other?
We met each other by going to the same school. Also our guitarist Elias and our drummer Konsta are cousins, so they’ve known each other literally since birth.
We ended up playing in a band together, honestly because there weren’t a whole lot of 14-15 year old rock musicians to choose from in our small home town in Finland. After our formation we ended up becoming really close friends which also helped.
Can you tell us more about your background as musicians? How you learned? Who are your influences?
As far as musical backgrounds go we are a mixed bag. Our drummer Konsta and our guitarist Elias are fully self taught. Our bassist Paavo’s musical journey actually started with violin lessons as a kid, which didn’t last that long, and once he later discovered bass, there was no turning back. Our vocalist Jenna has studied music since childhood so she brings the more academic side to this band.
We’ve never made an effort to consciously sound like certain kinds of bands. The influences vary from song to song. But the most noticeable influences in our music can be traced back to older rock/hard rock bands from the 70s and 80s, that have a certain groove to the execution of all musical elements.
I wish I could read the lyrics to your songs! Can you tell us more about the three tracks you released so far? The influences behind each song, and the lyrics?
All three tracks were mostly compiled in our practice space. “This Golden Nation” was one of the first songs where we made an effort to compile a coherent narrative with the lyrics. It’s a story of a nation slowly crumbling and collapsing, and it’s described like it’s also happening simultaneously in a literal sense, hence the line “this golden nation is bound to rust”. It may sound weird on paper, but in context it turned out pretty well.
“Song In The Wind” is sort of a mystified story about looking past the anger and hate that surrounds us all and focusing on solving the real problems of the world. In the song hate is depicted as a character, simply referred to as “she”. The lyrics follow her story and how she affects people.
Perhaps it was something about the energy of “Outshined” that inspired to make it’s story a little more intimate. It’s about the struggle of watching someone close to you continuing to disappoint you several times, and just not being able to take it forever.
How similar are your tastes in music? Any other music you listen to that is far off the kind of music you are playing?
Of course there are some similarities in each of our individual tastes in the sense that we all enjoy the feeling of energy in rock music. But as far as favourite artists/bands go, there can be quite a lot of variation. There’s probably only 4 or 5 bands that all four are fans of. This becomes very apparent when try to decide, what music to listen to when we travel to shows. For example it can range between old classic rock, prog metal, hardcore punk, indie pop and some finnish oldies.
How do you go about songwriting? Where do you find inspiration for the song and the lyrics? Any special message you are wanting to send to your listeners?
Through trial and error we´ve found out that the best songs come out, when all four of us are involved in making the song from start to finish. Usually it takes lots of hours in the practice space, jamming and trying out different stuff in an almost improvisational manner until it’s good. We’ve never really planned out beforehand what we want songs to sound like. They just happen. Out of the tracks we’ve released so far, “Song In The Wind” captures best the overall message we try to get across; “Do hate and envy have to play a part in our nature?” All of us should be cherishing each other and this earth, and try to see past anger.
What does music and being an artist mean to you?
Being an artist means being able to express the things that feel closest to us through music, which we love. The best things about what we do is always challenging ourselves and experiencing all these adventures together.
Can you recall your earliest memory about music? That one thing that made you want to be an artist / musician?
Konsta: My earliest music related memory must be my mom singing some of her favourite songs to me when I was little. A remarkable moment was back in 2006, when Lordi won the eurovision song contest for Finland. That was probably when I started paying closer attention to bands, and shortly after that my dad bought me my very first CD, which was a KISS record. By that time I was sure that I wanted to play an instrument.
Can you describe your best gig so far?
Our best gig so far must’ve been in Kokkola in 2018, on the main stage of this end of summer festival called Venetsialaiset. We got to play right before the main act of the whole festival, so it was easily the biggest crowd we’d had so far. The adrenaline rush from hundreds of people watching us play and responding to our music really brought out a whole new level to our performing, and that made it our best and most fun gig so far.
Most memorable/bizarre/interesting/funny thing that ever happened during a gig?
One time after a gig we momentarily lost our car. We had driven into an underground parking garage in such a hurry, that we hadn’t thought of memorizing where exactly the garage was. So right as we were ready to head back home, we spent close to 45 minutes pacing around, trying to find an entrance to this underground parking garage, that we had left our car in. We’ve laughed a lot about it since, but it felt really stressful at the moment.
What’s the best thing about playing live? The feeling?
The best thing about playing live is being able to present something that’s purely ours and we believe in. We make music 100% for us, but seeing people’s reactions live once we bring the finished songs outside of ourselves is always interesting. To put it short, the feeling of playing live is just totally awesome.
Most weird, interesting, or funny thing that ever happened to you as a band?
Hearing our first single being played on the radio felt amazing but also very odd. Even though lots of things have happened since, that stills stands out because something like that happening at such an early stage of our career felt probably the weirdest.
If each one of you were a fruit, what would you be and why?
Jenna: I’d be a grapefruit, just because they’re my new favourite .
Konsta: I’d be a kiwi fruit, because they’re hairy and weird.
Elias: I’m gonna say an apple, because doctors fucking despise me.
Paavo: John Lemon.