A little over one week before the premiere of their new record “19 June 1955” on Laflor Records from Peru, Quito, Ecuador’s emotive, experimental, mathy, post rockish post hardcore band FINLANDIA / SINGAPUR team up with IDIOTEQ to introduce themselves, discuss independent music and touring in South America and their approach to art. As we are at this specific moment in the evolution of rock music when one can reasonably refer to dozens of subgenres, styles and their pioneers, it’s always an amazing feeling to see that the time has come for certain artists to push and expand listeners’ expectations. FINLANDIA / SINGAPUR are definitely a proof of that and they stand out as a band that can be really important in terms of the independent musical landscape this year. Dive into
Live photos by Santiago Fernández.
Hey guys! Thank you so much for joining us here on IDIOTEQ. I’m really excited, cause in the history of more than 600 interview for my webzine there has never been a band from Ecuador! How are you? How’s Quito? I bet it’s warm and sunny at this time of the year, huh?
Hey. Thank you for such nice words. It’s an honor for us participating on an interview for IDIOTEQ. The weather here is just weird, you know. Being literally in the middle of the world makes you going out using shorts but at the same time carrying an umbrella and a scarf just in case. Just weird.
Do you travel a lot? How is living in so high altitude and how does it feel to be back after spending some time in lower spots?
It’s pretty cool, actually. From an ecological point of view, it’s amazing to see and to be surrounded by so many different environments all in the same city, sometimes even in the same block!
We’re feeling good, due to some personal aspects we took a break but with the split release things seem to be getting pretty damn nice for us and we hope we can keep it that way as long as we keep doing this from the bottom of our hearts.
Oh yes, we’ll get to your work right away, but firstly, how would you describe the Ecuadorian independent music scene? How thriving is your local DIY music environment?
That’s actually kind of an easy/complex question. Due to the fact that it’s a pretty small country you tend to know almost everyone on this “independent” scene, nevertheless, and unfortunately, DIY ideas from a wider point of view are almost nule. For example, there’s this “indie” scene which is the one that from an outside perspective starts to represent and take the lead on what’s considered as Ecuadorian independent music, but at the same time it limits this discovering process to the same bands over and over.
Then we have this punk scene, which, in terms of ideals, moves pretty cool managing a genuine DIY ethos, nevertheless, these dudes are extremely elitist and do not recognize bands outside their social circles (the “crew”) and/or sonic aspects, which has maintained this environment extremely hermetic and stuck in this kind-of narcissistic and self-destructive ideas about what it is punk (I AM AN ANARCHISSSTT).
And finally we get to see a hardcore scene which also moves amazingly good, bringing and supporting bands from all over Latin America and from the country (these dudes from G3 Records have brought bands like THE CASUALTIES or ROTTING OUT for the first time here in Quito) but, in a sonic aspect, and maybe even for the lack of diversity in the crowd’s musical taste, these scene has started to been limited to a just-classic hardcore type of bands. All of these aspects have overcome in the fact that we’ve been, so far, a band which has been moving from north to south, from here to there, playing in all kinds of places and with all kinds of bands, and at the same time, led us to start (along with a group of friends from different cities) a really cool collective called Cerronegro, which is the main channel we’re using (and hoping) to open a new and genuinely inclusive door for this little, but spirit-filled community of people which is starting to gain and appreciate a DIY perspective more abrasive and safe in regards to avoiding these completely obsolete paradigms we can see in the “scenes” (hate that word) that were mentioned before.
Thanks for the insight!
Ok, so who first encouraged you to start a band?
I think that at, at least with this project, we’ve always wanted to start since the first day we got to know each other. The band is composed by JY, DJ and myself (DF) since February 2014, but we were already noisy kids trying to accomplish something back in high school (obviously without accomplishing it). Before we met, these pals used to play in a band of rockn’roll and stuff and they were pretty good at it, but then we met like when I was 16 or 17 (2012) and things just fell in spot. We had a different orientation back then and we kept that thing for quite a long time. It came to a point where one of our friends (which was also part of the band) left the country in order to study in Spain and we thought “fuck this is over” but actually, it was that crucial moment when we said ourselves we had to keep playing, and foremost, starting to take things seriously. It was then when F/S was born.
What’s the idea behind the name FINLANDIA/SINGAPUR? (on the side note, it’s written exactly how it’s written and said in Polish)
Amazing question! Amazing fact! (we’re serious) That actually also answers kind of the way this band works. One of the main reasons we started to play was because we had so much in common in aspects regardless of whatever kind of music we listen to individually, that’s actually something that we still apply. Having said that, we have to recognize ourselves as HUGE cartoon and animation fans. The idea behind “Finlandia” was taken after a clip from a Spongebob episode, and the idea behind “Singapur” was because we’re kind of obsessed with these South East Asian countries. which is why we chose Singapur. Plus, it sounds pretty cool.
It was literally impossible to guess, haha.
Ok, so back to your geographical region, do you have trouble getting to other countries? Is booking and DIY touring in South America a struggle?
It may seem like it, but it really isn’t. Here in Ecuador, it’s kind of a strange deal, mostly because of the fact that is a small country, which tends to minimize a tour circuit consideration mostly to the three main cities (Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca) but, in regards to foreign reception back here in Latin America, there’s always a great response. Right now with this split we just released we’ve been getting an amazing reception and we plan to keep it that way releasing new music and videos through this whole period until June-July, which is when we’ll start to organize a mini tour through some cities here in Ecuador and some close countries like Colombia, Peru and Chile. We’re keeping our fingers crossed and keep doing what we do with all of our hearts.
Who were your favorite bands and independent artists from Ecuador? Can you share some quality recommendations?
There’s an amazing range of bands here in Ecuador, both old and new, which are extremely influential to us, as well as some of these bands have become really close friends. First and foremost we have to name these sweethearts which are ESCAPE FROM THE MACHINERY, the ones that release and recorded this split with us. Then we’ll have to say our buddies in LOS CABRAS and DONA CHATEAU, which are these guys which invited us to start Cerronegro, and of course, bands we love, respect and sort of look up to like, MaCHO MUCHACHO, LUDOVICO, DICTADOR, DISORDER, MUNN, PANICO and CUSTODIA. In a more mainstream aspect, there are also some real treats in a wide variety of styles which we also like a lot like LOLABUM, LES PETIT BATARDS, ALKALOIDES, TONICAMO and EL EXTRAÑO. It would take us forever to help you with a detailed list of everything we hear and love in regards of Ecuadorian bands. We’re trying to mention mostly active and contemporary bands and not “legends”, you know. But yeah, those are sort of the ones we mostly listen to.
Ok, so back to your own art, listening to your new songs, I sometimes imagine that I’m looking through a portal into some very important, warm memories, that you get a bit sentimental here. Do you think you are indeed nostalgic? What emotions do you like us listeners to experience while listening to your music?
It’s so amazing for us to hear you say that :) That’s exactly what we try to achieve most of the times, sometimes even without having it as a main point during the composition process. But yeah, we consider ourselves extremely nostalgic and/or romantic people, which is something that directly affects the music we write. In regards to what we expect listeners feel, I think that’s up to each individual person, but we do try to transmit an organic and honest feel, no matter which one it is. Again, it makes us so happy to hear you say that about the music we write <3
Yeah man, you deserve a better review, no doubt! :)
Despite the instrumental nature of various records, artists like to imagine particular subjects, tell stories or even convey a message through their lyricsless art. What kinds of narrative subjects interest you the most?
Well, considering mostly our sonic evolution throughout our short timeline as a band, you can see that we have lyrics, but, personally, we’ve always considered ourselves as an instrumental band cuz, I mean, the voice and its appliance is also an instrument! Having said that, we’ve always tried to express, both from a sonic aspect as well as from a visual aspect, some kind of synergic overflow towards what we consider as essential interpretations of feelings.
What we mean by this is that, even when is so easy to perceive and to codify an emotion towards yourself or to someone else, we think it’s a lot more important to recognize and apply this beautiful way of perceiving and assimilating an emotion from its most direct and overwhelming form. We should also say that, through our compositions we also try to point out our personal outlook towards more critic and social issues, considering that we do want to give a strong political opinion (this is reflected in some of the samples we tend to use in both, old and new songs, as well as in most of the lyrics of what we expect, turns out on a new album) and recognizing that, even when we manage ourselves as a band with a different structure in relation to ways of communicating with an audience, we have the same intentions of expressing and establish an argument which we consider as valid onto a specific kind of subject.
Well said. So, if you had the choice of fulfilling yourself through another form of art, what do you think you would like to choose and why?
You’re on fire with all these nice looking questions! haha. Actually we do dedicate to what we consider as different forms of art and personally I think that has helped us a lot during our composition process since we started the band. JY (guitarist) is a multimedia and audio-visual production student, and he has helped us with a lot of cool designs back when we started the band and needed a visual backup. DJ (drummer) is a gastronomy student and sometimes he has the noble gesture of cooking wonderful stuff for us :D when it comes to me (DF) I’ve studied music and composition from an academic perspective most of my life, and now I’m a sociology student in college, but, for a couple of years now, I’ve been very fond of performance and body narrative’s style of art, which is something I’ve found extremely fulfilling.
Haha! Bullseye! Thanks!
Assuming that music is a form of escape, what do you escape from?
Honestly (and personally) I can say that I really don’t know, but paradoxically, I’m sure about the specific reasons why I think I should escape from something. For me (DF) music, and most specifically types of expressions which took sound as main element, is something that comes out in a natural way, regardless of what is or isn’t there. The fact that it need to “come out” is the first sign that, at some point, you’re releasing or “escaping” from something which is generating some sort of pressure or force which I think we can say doesn’t feel pretty good. There are tons of things I could mention (depression; anxiety; social conditions; large political issues; paradigm-related problems) but it wouldn’t be precise to only mention these topics, because there will always be new situations from which we would like to escape. From this point, I can identify that even when I’m not sure from what I’m escaping, I’m sure that I feel safe escaping through music, and that’s something that fills me with hope and joy.
Ok, so what let’s wrap it up. What are your plans for the nearest future and where would you like to see yourself in, let’s say, 5 years from now?
Right now we’re already in the recording process of our new EP (hoping that it turns into a full LP) on which we’re planning to count with tons of collaborations from different musicians that integrate most of the DIY scene in Latin America, and who knows, even further :) Since having long-time goals tends to be kind of frustrating, mostly we’ve just tried to being sure about what we’re doing and having the confidence that what we’re doing is being performed from the bottom of our hearts and in an honest way. If I had to name something we would like to do 5 years from now, it would definitely be going on a large tour which involves the U.S. or even Europe, and of course, having at least one vinyl release, I think both objectives are kind of connected. In the end, we just hope we can keep playing and having a good time while doing it, you know.
Cool, thanks! Thanks for your time and fingers crossed for a European tour sometime soon :)
Thank you for this wonderful interview <3