Mindful consumption of wine offers many benefits to body, mind, and spirit. That’s a fact, and even our straight edge buddies can’t deny it. Also, we all know that wine pairs so well with food and probably because of that it’s easier to enjoy it in a relaxed and healthy fashion. Now, obviously, you can take it one step further and accept that contemplating a wine can liberate the muse, your inner creative spirit. Well, I respect all the voices in this debate, both me and my special guest Sami agree with that assumption and we’ve decided to sit down and discuss it thoroughly. See our conversation below.
OENOS is a solo act by post rock / post metal musician Sami, a one man orchestra from Oulu, Finland by way of London, England, where he currently lives. His debut record ‘Nero I‘ was released in September this year.
Hey Sami! Thanks for joining us here on IDIOTEQ. How are you? Where are you at the moment?
Heeeeeey! Thanks for having me!
I’m blasting death metal down my ear canals on a steel snake they call the London Underground, on the way to work after recovering from a rock festival in the picturesque Northern Wales. Lots of wine was consumed. Lots of fun was had.
Whoohoo, didn’t expect that, actually. What happened to your hometown in Finland? Why did you leave?
Also, drop us a couple of lines about the Northern Wales festival.
It’s still there alive and well with its 4 hours of daylight in the winter time. It’s a nice place that may be a bit nippy for some as it gets around -35 Celsius every year :-) Weather aside, Oulu is actually pretty cool (no pun intended) to grow up and live in. You’ve seen that number of metal bands per capita in the world -graph right? Finland tops it and they say Oulu is the heavy metal capital of Finland … so you go to a barbershop, take a cab, shop in the local supermarket or catch a bus and you’re likely to hear some decent music. Sweeeeet! Takes me positively by surprise every time I go back.
I did a stint of studies abroad and the whole idea of living somewhere else kind of stuck to me. After a few years back in the north I needed some change, wanted to explore the world more and when the opportunity came I never looked back. But you know…
You can take a man out of Finland, but you can never take Finland out of a man.
When it comes to the Hard Rock Hell festival, it’s a strange holiday park thing – we don’t have those in Finland – by the coast with caravans and stuff. The same folks run Hammerfest at the same site which is more my cup of tea musically, however, there were some gems this time too. Dee Snider was sounding great, Airbourne was entertaining, Hark were smashing it and I discovered a new rock band called King Creature who sounded wicked live. Highlight for me though was my dear friends Kingbreaker playing their first festival show. We were quite a large and an eclectic mix of people; Finns, Brits, an Aussie, a Turk, a Frenchman, couple of South Africans, a British-Indian, a German and a couple of Portuguese. It’s a bit of a drive to get there but the road goes through the Snowdonia national park which is just stunning. The landscape with those narrow very curvy roads through the mountains doesn’t help the hangover on the way back though if you know what I mean.
Ha! Well said! So what’s the plan? Will you stay there for good?
Well, never say never but no plans on moving back have been established and we – the girlfriend and I – haven’t discovered a better place to live in. London is home now. It’s such an awesome melting pot of people and cultures from everywhere around the world, travelling is easy, virtually every band on the planet plays here – – – and we recently went to a wine tasting day too, with some 400 bottles of wine up for trying. All that for 25 British pounds, I ain’t gonna complain.
Ok, so let’s learn a bit more about OENOS. Obviously, you’re making your musical project well associated with the subject of wine. By the way wine, I’ve recently come across an amazing article about winemakers and their amazing mud-brick houses from 8000 years ago! Check it out HERE.
What initially sparked your interest in wine? Was it Gaahl and insane interview with a glass of wine? Admit it! Haha!
That wine article is amazing, had no idea! Thanks for sharing. Georgia is on my travel list, need to bump it up in priority.
Haha, I wish it was as glamorous and memorable as that Gaahl interview. Saw him promoting his art once actually when Enslaved & Wardruna were in town. Intimidating looking fellow he is. I wonder if he ever smiles. Anyways, I’ve been enjoying wine for quite a few years now and got properly into it via food rather than a means to get drunk (although that can be a nice side effect). Full bodied red with a good matured steak, cheese, olives and stuff did it for me and I just really ended up liking all that flavour. I don’t really eat meat nowadays but the love for wine remains strong and I keep on discovering more. Take a 2012 Pinotage from Eikendal winery in South Africa for instance which is like a moshpit in your mouth: your taste buds run around in a circles bumbing into each other and go whoooooooooa whaaaat the fuuuuuck and then settle until you take another sip. Not everyone likes it, just like the pit.
Incorporating wine into music wasn’t planned at all but it has become a muse that gets the creative juices flowing in my head. I had a (very) long break in playing until one evening late last year I poured myself a glass of red, started dabbling with the guitar and thought let’s see what I can come up with. Once I had enough together it came to calling it something. Turns out “guitar_test_1”, “start_of_a_song_3”, “heavy_riff2” and so on is an awful way of naming stuff so after staring at the wine bottle blankly for a while a light bulb went on. And I ended up naming songs systematically after the wine consumed ever since. Naming things is bloody hard, I tell ya.
How broad is your interest in different flavors? Have you gone through some sort of training to understand the subject of wine better?
I mainly drink medium or full bodied reds on their own, occasionally venturing to dry whites with food. I’ve been recently exploring perhaps a bit less known wine areas and there’s some amazing stuff in countries such as Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria and each of them seem to have regional specialties. For example some of the Hungarian wines I’ve tried are superb yet medium bodied rather than full on fulls. Slowly becoming my favourites; sorry Portugal and the awesome Douro valley area. Romanian Feteasca Negra’s tend to have a lot of weight in the body with some sweetness in them – highly recommended. Oh! The latest interesting thing I tried was a Lithuanian wine made from blueberries. Good stuff. Driest of the berry wines there, however, still a tad sweet to my liking so settling for a glass was a good idea. That reminds me we’ve got a Cuban sweet red (seemed to be the only variety they do) in the cupboard at home… I think it’s going to be horrendous.
I’m certainly no sommelier. I’ve been to a few wine tastings where they teach you how to try and get the most out of the wine under sampling but nothing formal. That combined with a lot of practise has worked for me, haha.
I kind of take it as a defense of the importance of artistic creativity and aesthetic enjoyment at the same time. Do you like to think wine provides aesthetic value, like a form of art?
Good question. Although I think wine is more than a sensory experience, perhaps I would rather consider it as a catalyst for art. Certainly wine shares some characteristics with art now that I think about it. There’s great history, tradition and skill associated with making it which I suppose would mean wine itself would have aesthetic value as well. I also think the more you know the more you’ll enjoy it too. But then again the same logic would apply to beer. Or whisky. That’s a tough one.
Haha, sure! Ok, so what’s your process around creating music and contemplating wine together?
I jam with myself, ha! I tend to pour myself a glass, pick up the guitar or the bass, plug in the recording gear and either whip up some drum grooves to play with or record a riff I then refine and build the rest of the piece on top of. I usually have an idea of a thing in my head or at least the type of a song I’d like to write but sometimes it’s simply the sound of an instrument that I draw inspiration from. I also make a lot of mistakes and accidentally come up stuff; I fuck up but end up noticing that something actually sounded pretty cool, haha.
I read somewhere it’s worth trying to make your music sound as good as possible from the start as it’ll motivate you to continue writing it. I fully agree and wish I read that earlier. I’ve abandoned far too many pieces when the beginning sounds a bit meh and I just can’t get it right. Besides enjoying wine, having a glass or two whilst creating music helps me to have breaks in between playing and recording as I think it’s good to check what the stuff sounds like with speakers when I’ve been using headphones for example. Too many repeats and you also tend to get a bit deaf of the sound and start ignoring mistakes more. Wine to the rescue!
Were you thinking about making this project a full band?
Never say never but no, not really. I’ve been enjoying the process of creating and getting better at recording so much I’m really happy keeping this something I do alone like a hermit. You know those things you zone out on and notice you were supposed to be in bed several hours ago? It’s that. For now I’m focusing on writing a full length. I think. Haven’t really decided yet, however, there’s a lot of stuff in the works. It’s nice being a dictator of yourself.
Ok, so lastly, what wine and music recommendations would you serve to our readers? What are your personal favourite wines and records you’ve got now?
Ooooooooooooooo… There’s so many… But here’s an interesting selection I’ve enjoyed a lot. The wines are all going to be reds (sorry white wine drinkers).
* Esporão Reserve 2012, Portugal. Heavenly even if you don’t believe in heavenly things. Pair with Inter Arma’s (US) excellent Paradise Gallows album from last year.
* Villányi Montenuovo Cuvée 2012, Hungary. Just… Wow. Have it with the equally deep Emma Ruth Rundle (US) – Marked For Death.
* Eikendal Pinotage 2012, South Africa. This wine kicks ass as much as the latest death metal record from Dyscarnate (UK) – With All Their Might. I ain’t kidding about the moshpit in your mouth.
* Real Rubio Rioja 2012, Spain. Less psychedelic than Oranssi Pazuzu (FI) – Värähtelijä, however, so very rich in all kinds of notes.
* Cancellus Douro 2012, Portugal. Deeeeeeep. Works really well alongside Below The Sun’s (RU) Alien World and Sinistro’s (PT) Semente.
* Borovitza Gamla 2013, Bulgaria. Rocks your socks off like Elder’s (US) Reflections of a Floating World.
* Viile Metamorfosis Fetească Neagră 2013, Romania. Perfect blend of heavy and mellow, enjoy with Pijn (UK) – Floodlit.
Thanks! Do you have any favourite places to wine and dine, and perhaps listen to some fine music, both in England and Finland?
Home in north London for all the three things combined :-) We cook a lot and have quite a few great wines tucked away – and of course access to pretty much all the music in the world. Unfortunately those three things don’t really meet anywhere else that I know of. I really like The Black Heart in Camden but it’s more of a place for good beer (the wine is drinkable but mediocre) and they stopped selling decent pizzas from a small hatch at the back of the bar some time ago. Garlic & Shots and then Crobar after in central London for a messy late night. My favourite restaurant tends to vary but at the moment it’s The Gate in Islington.
Back in Oulu it’s tricky as I’m quite out of touch on the pubs and bars nowadays. Perhaps Kauppuri 5 for a burger and I’d check out Kuluma next to it which plays rock / metal and has a nice vibe amongst with a good variety of drinkables. 45Special for a later night. Wine… No idea where you get good wine that won’t cost you fortune. Need to investigate the next time I’m over actually. In essence, give me a metal playing gastropub that has an extensive wine selection, lots of vegetarian & vegan dishes and I’ll be there.
Nice, thanks! Hopefully I’ll have a chance to visit some of these!
Ok Sami, so what else? Is there anything you’d like to add before we sign off? Feel free to drop you final thoughts and take care! It’s been a pleasure talking to you. Cheers from Warsaw!
Pleasure’s all mine! Folks, drop me a line via Bandcamp, Facebook or over email for any feedback you may have on the EP. Liked it, thought it was meh, loved it, think it sucks? Let me know but do also tell why did you think that as that’s what I’m after :-) Other than that, stay tuned for some more wine infused music!