Growing In Stature

Adding more stripes to their reputation is Treemer with the Storm EP.

Treemer is a band that has undergone some transformations over the years before arriving at their current position. With the band now settled, Treemer is currently thriving under new, and recent EP ‘Storm’.

Purely independent and seemingly content working under their own steam, Treemer’s sound is often filled by dreamy, hypnotic rhythms, not to mention plenty of noise when the mood turns sour. By continuing to follow their own creative path, the band has issued a handful of recorded works, yet despite plenty of creative activity, a full-length album has still not been registered by Treemer. This may change however, given Treemer’s teaser of a suggestion regarding the prospect of an LP in the not-too-distant future when mentioning: “Along the lines of the Gallagher brothers, definitely maybe”.

Bearing that comment in mind, Famous Last Words (FLW) decided to pick Treemer’s brain to understand their passion for shoegaze-induced music, and one so lovingly brought to life as evidenced by current, and main track, ‘Storm’, from the band’s new record. So, with no better place to begin, and all socially distanced of course, what can Treemer tell FLW about the latest EP ‘Storm’?

“Unlike with the ‘Meeting’ EP [previous work], we didn’t rent a studio to do a [recording] session due mainly to COVID 19,” begins vocalist and lyricist Mia. “So, we did everything ourselves, and often separately. The bass guitar and drums were recorded at our rehearsal room. Marko recorded guitars at home, I think. I recorded the vocals on ‘Starlit’ at my kitchen table while my son was playing in the next room. Sam’s guitars and the vocals for ‘Weapons’ and ‘Storm’ were recorded at Sam’s workroom.”

How long did the whole recording process take, and did you encounter any difficulties along the way considering the requirements of social distancing?

“I guess a few months,” answers Mia in relation to the recording. “In spring 2020, we thought we should release another EP, and that’s when the recordings started. At first, we considered releasing it during the summer, but that got delayed because we wanted to polish the songs a bit more. Also, the content of the EP changed a bit along the way. ‘Weathers’, a single which was released last summer, was originally planned to be on the EP as well, but it kinda felt too “bubbly” to be included since the EP took a rather gloomy direction, probably a result of compressing the angst and melancholy of the pandemic and all the lockdowns.”

Are these songs from the ‘Storm’ EP personal experiences or about other people’s lives?

“Both,” Mia continues. “But I also invent these kind of movie characters that are experiencing the things I’m singing about. Of course, on some metaphorical level they are reflecting on something I might be dealing with myself. I have also come to realise that many of my lyrics are about my personal relationship with writing music, so the “you” in the lyrics often represents music. I write Treemer lyrics quite intuitively, so that I don’t have stories written beforehand that I then implant into a certain song. I listen to a song at a time, composed by Marko, and start humming melodies onto it. At some point, the humming takes a form of syllables and then words. What happens next, I find very fascinating because words start to form sentences, which, as if out of the blue, revolve around a theme or an issue I have been reflecting on, or processing recently, but in some other context. (‘Weathers’ makes an exception. Those lyrics deal with devastating loneliness and the longing for a human touch, instead of just feeling the sun and wind on your skin, are something I had written earlier).”

Do you have a favourite track from your current EP, and what are your reasons for this?

“‘Weapons’,” replies Mia instantly. “There’s some ferocity and an element of danger which I find charming, since it’s not so typical for us.”

“I can’t really name one favourite,” Marko adds to the conversation. “All of them are near and dear, with their merits and imperfections.”

Tommi: “It depends on the day, but let us say ‘Syllable Sky’, which was released as a single in March 2020. Mostly because I play drums on it the way I never usually do! For example, it’s all the same from the beginning, all the way to the end. It’s nerve-racking when we play it live, but that’s also what keeps it interesting.”

Sam: “‘Storm’ has been my absolute favourite from day one. That kind of hovering shoegaze-pop is what we are best at, I think. But on the other hand, I must say that ‘Weathers’ and ‘Syllable Sky’ are really good songs as well.”

If we can delve a little deeper therefore, can you provide some further details regarding the tracks ‘Weapons’ and ‘Storm’?

Mia: “From lyrics and vocals perspectives, they were both more than just “pop songs”, and more like works of art. So, I tried to find things and/or phenomenon from the actual world to match and describe Marko’s compositions. Within this framework, ‘Storm’ sounded like an actual storm. It’s like a mellow, sultry summer afternoon, but suddenly clouds start gathering and before you know it, a storm has broken. This kind of a storm is a perfect metaphor to describe a welcome, yet an overwhelming turmoil of different emotions when, for example, falling in love.

“As I said before, ‘Weapons’ sounded dangerous. My first association (kind of a silly one) with danger was weapons. I then moved on to think about other things that can blow your mind, but you know, less literally. Different forms of art, at their best, move me to the point of messing with my brain. Because of that, I have a deep respect for all painters, writers, musicians, photographers, sculptors, dancers, etc. Therefore, all instruments of making art (pens, brushes, etc.) appear as weapons in this context. I could not come up with a good-enough melody for the A-part, so I ended up speaking the lyrics.”

Marko: “The original demo (I do not dare to talk about composition!) [laughs] of ‘Weapons’ started with me fooling around on top of a drum sample from Adrian Belew/Bowie song ‘Gunman’. I wanted to make this chaotic mantra type of noise, maybe in the style of ‘The Queen Is Dead’ by The Smiths or ‘Heaven Up Here’ by Echo and the Bunnymen. It really was just adding one element on top of another, and the actual song started to form after Mia added lyrics and vocal melodies on top of it. The final structure fell into place when we started to play it as a band. Sam added his great guitar riff, and the chorus got its final form with Joakim and Tommi adding a very intense and aggressive rhythm to it.

“‘Storm’ was originally a synth-driven, moody ambient piece, which I rearranged as a guitar-based demo once Treemer started to take shape. The original ambient vibe is still there in the final band version, with the reverberating guitars and floating rhythm. This song has one of my favourite lyrics and vocal melody by Mia.”

Setting this interview in reverse to the very beginning, the foundations were laid some time ago for Treemer in the guise of different outfits during the 90s, with Treemer only coming to light as recently as 2019 as Mia explains:

“We’ve known each other and played music together since the early 90s. Our former bands, with slight variations in terms of members, include Chickenpotpie (1990–1993), The Pansies (1994–2000) and Montevideo (2003–2007). The past ten years have been quiet since everyone has been concentrating on family life and “real” work. However, at the beginning of 2019, Marko introduced me to some new songs he had been working on and asked if I would be interested in singing and writing lyrics. The songs sounded wonderful, and I immediately told him yes. He liked my singing and lyrics, so we felt like it would be nice to jam live. It came natural for us to ask old friends Tommi, Joakim and Sam to join. Soon after, in May 2019, we rented a friend’s studio to record a 4-song EP called ‘Meeting’, which Marko released through his own label Soft Monsters in 2019.”

How is your music, and alternative shoegaze bands in general, received in Finland these days?

Mia: “I think the situation is much better than when we first started during the early 90s. The atmosphere is more open, there’s more “space” for all kinds of flowers to bloom, so to speak. Yet, on the other hand, it is only a few mainstream artists who can “make it”. Of course, COVID 19 has changed this situation, even more so for the big players since their living is dependent on it. For us, the first generation of shoegazers, we form a small yet devoted community in Finland. So, it’s amazing to see the next generation with, for example, a 20 year old with a Slowdive T-shirt. Of course, there are new, brilliant bands as well, such as Radio Supernova, Ghosts on TV and Vuoret. At least I find it convenient to be able to release our music independently, not being dependent on any major record label, and basically having the freedom to do whatever we please. In fact, I would find a massive commercial success a bit intimidating at this point.”

Marko: “I totally agree. I enjoy making music with dear friends, and to be able to do it in a way that we like. Of course, I think we all enjoy it, if other people like it as well, but I am really happy with the situation we’re in right now.”

What have you experienced as a band in terms of the ongoing restrictions because of the coronavirus pandemic? For example, has it been a difficult time in terms of writing and recording, and especially with no live performances?

Mia: “We only got to play two gigs before Covid. We were supposed to do more last year, even a few gigs in Germany, but they got cancelled and, of course, that sucks! Unfortunately, this is how it is now, and gotta live with it. As mentioned, we are doing everything ourselves. This is the way we have wanted to do Treemer from the beginning, with a strong DIY vibe. Of course, it is difficult to get attention this way, with or without a pandemic, but we like things evolving organically, without pressure. Treemer is more than anything about friendship, hanging out together and doing what we love most – music!”

(Photography courtesy of David O’Weger @owegophoto.)

The Storm EP is available now from all good digital platforms

FLW - From the Tapes

Treemer provide some inside information regarding the filming of the accompanying video to lead track Storm from their current EP.

“When the five of us were filming the music video for ‘Storm’ in our rehearsal room, we had an idea of an orbiting camera, so that it would all be one take. We thought we had a long enough electrical cord and a plan to “force” the cord of the camera to gather neatly while going round and round. Well, we are obviously not that mathematically oriented because that did not happen! The cord kept twisting into a tight kink, forcing us to continuously fix it. So, what you see in the video is a camera filming each of us in turn, kind of sweeping past one dreamy-faced band member at a time and then moving on to the next one. The camera is constantly on the move, yet the second the camera was past one person, she/he was on the floor, on her/his knees, untangling the bloody cord, and then rushing back to her/his spot!”

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