Somewhere from the far north of Europe, a sound comes into its own at dusk, an intermediate phase in which one day has ended but not yet reached the next. An exciting phase in which nothing has been decided yet and everything is still possible. A melancholy, usually quiet phase, which is musically completed from the eternally singing dark forests and the dull shiny lakes of Finland. A sunny conversation full of cool humour with the brothers Samu and Ville Kuukka, together with the band The Gentleman Losers.
The interview had to be postponed several times, due to an error in the determination of the time zone, and on the other hand due to the busy work of the brothers. “It’s hard to remember what we’ve all been up to lately… and still are.” Ville is relaxed in a room with only electronics, everything in the sign of the music. “I am busy with sound design and recordings of classical music, also mixing for TV.” And of course with albums for their own band, Gentleman Losers. “You really have to find time for that, for the artistic work. Distance yourself from other things.”
As the conversation shows, the brothers also complement each other within their own two-man band. “We don’t need words to communicate with each other. If we each work on the music separately, we subconsciously know what the other one thinks about it, wants it.” Yet they do not always agree. “Fortunately, you don’t have to be afraid of losing the other, after all, we are brothers.”
Music has always been in their lives, and in 2004 they chose the name The Gentleman Losers. A strange name, which still leads to humorous remarks: “We wanted to enter a competition for the craziest band name. And we thought we would win. ” But also there is a more serious explanation: “It’s from a song by Steely Dan. Few people know that. ”
On the self-titled debut album from 2006… “…we actually had no idea what we were doing. We had no plan, it was more “good luck”. The breakthrough moment was when we wrote the songs ‘Slow Guitars and Laureline’. This was when we knew we had found something good.” On the second album, “Dustland”, we finally said, Yes! We have a style, we have ideas! We want to develop them further! ”
Where no lyrics are to be found on the first two albums, ”we felt from number three, “Permanently Midnight,” we had to add vocals. Not so much a text as a voice, as an instrument.” Samu is the singer for both brothers. But Patrick Sudarski also sings on “Permanently Midnight”. “He’s the great singer of the band ‘Lessons’, another project we’re working on. More synthpop, completely different from The Gentleman Losers.”
“Lessons” was one of the reasons that there were no less than eight years between the albums “Dustland” (2009) and “Permanently midnight” (2017). Ville adds: “We also had a number of film projects, for which we wrote music.” And it was difficult in their own ranks. Samu is clear: “It was a very, very difficult album. Not so much for artistic or musical reasons, but more on a personal and technical level. It really couldn’t go on like this, working on an album for years. ” However, they quickly learned: “The next album, ‘Make We Here Our Camp Of Winter’ (2018), was done in just a few months.” Laughing, “And we were very happy about that.”
And now, the fifth album, which will be released soon? The farmers chuckle: “That will be another classic Gentleman Losers album, a distillation of the things we’ve done. The most refined version of our ideas.” But what is a classic Gentleman Losers album? Their sound remains difficult to describe. “People understand our music when they listen to it. Our music is feeling, built on melancholy, the blue-feeling. ” It partly confirms the standard image we have of Finland; the Nordic mentality, the tranquillity, the melancholy. This makes The Gentleman Losers an outsider in the Finnish music scene. “It is still a heavy metal country but also melancholy music is appreciated in Finland. And the music scene is broadening. “We do our thing, without thinking in limitations. This is our music.”
With this, they have built up a wide fan base, as evidenced by the labels for which they have been asked: small, but qualitative labels from Berlin and Estonia; and now also the Belgian Dauw. “If we are allowed to tour, we will definitely come back to Belgium.” Ville still has good memories of their concert last year in AB, Brussels. “Maybe we will also release a part of that concert, just like the umpteenth project …” A concert in which Samu, as always, had designed beautiful visuals, large projections, for a total experience.
The strength of The Gentleman Losers is therefore the feeling they can evoke. “And it can be slightly different for everyone. However, “Permantly midnight” is all about a central feeling, a concept, the “in-between”. “You are somewhere between the two phases. You leave the old behind, but you have not yet reached the new. In between is a very interesting time and space. In our life, we are always somewhere in between. We worked that out on that album. ” Nicely worked out even.
In this way, Samu and Ville create their own universe, but not apart from outside inspiration: Peter Gabriel (“He’s just as slow as we are … And a great musician”), Daniel Lanois (“I will never get bored”) and Pink Floyd (“just massive what they’ve done”). Perfume Genius is also praised, especially for its urge to innovate, which is very much to the taste of the brothers. An inspired and inspiring universe in which Sau and Ville do their work slowly, preferably at times when the sunlight has no influence on their creative process. The phase in which one day has ended and the other has not yet started. A phase “in-between”, in which a lot is possible. For beautiful music, in the melancholic twilight zone of The Gentleman Losers.