Artists have many facets. Each one wants to break through. Perhaps that is why there is the need for side projects when one devoted his life to making music. Our experiences are complex and these enhance our way of looking at the world and using ways to express the feelings we have deep inside.
Northern Boy which is his new album (up for release this year) brings out the other side of his craft. In this interview he explains in detail what it takes to be a singer/songwriter and the many factors that shape the musical career of every musician. I think this will also benefit those who are new to the craft, and are trying to tap into the creative source. Making music is a joy for both artists and listeners.
1. The Boneyard Bastards, Sliotar and now you solo album. How do you maintain the energy for making music?
Well… I’ve been in Sliotar nearly 14 years now. It’s a band that for some weird reason the old style of music business still seems to work. By this I mean we record an album and then tour the album for the next two to three years, until we get sick of it and our fans start asking for a new album :-D. Boneyard Bastards is a punk rock band, all of us in the band have other commitments, so we try to squeeze in a rehearsals and gigs when ever possible, but sometimes it can be tough to find the time. And this brings me to my solo project. I write a lot of songs and I am not saying this as bragging, I don’t do it like “look at me I can write a lot of songs”… It’s just a part of me, it’s like getting up in the morning, go to toilet, drink coffee, check the Emails, write a song… So I realized that as soon as I get other people involved in a project, everything slows down. Sometimes there might be four years before song makes it from my head to a CD. The main reason behind this is the fact that Sliotar is professional band and we all are quite critical… So this time I decided concentrate on the performance and bringing out the emotions of the actual songs, instead of perfection. And I set up my self a very tight schedule, not to be wasting time or so this would not get on the way of the other bands. I just wanted to get songs out fast 🙂 And my plan is to keep doing this between the projects. And to actually answer your question 😀 it actually feels great to getting the songs out, it takes much more energy to hold them in 😉
2. You have toured and released albums with Sliotar. How do you keep up the creative energy between bands and music?
Yeah, Sliotar has been quite busy 😀 For the past eight years we have been doing about 10 weeks of touring every year and between the tours and our residency in the Porterhouse we play around 160 shows every year. So that can sometimes take things over a bit. But all of the projects are very different and I look forward to them all in different ways. Boneyard Bastards is like therapy, I just get up and scream my head off for an hour. The actual songwriting I try to put time a side every week, if not every day. And when you do make it a routine, instead of waiting for “inspiration” I find that great things start to happen. I love writing songs and as much as it is part of my job, it is also my hobby, my passion.
3. You are currently recording songs for your solo album Northern Boy. How is this work different from those you made with your two bands?
Actually, it’s all finished 😉 I just sent off all the material to distribution and the album will be out on the 25th of March. But yeah, I am the one who decides everything 😀 I work around my schedule, so I can be recording 7am in the morning or 11 a clock at night. I don’t need to ask any one if this or that is OK. I still have friends and family around me who I do ask for feedback all the time, but It has been much faster process. In away I can take lot more risks as well. I tried to write songs that people can relate to, but also the songs on this album are very personal to me. I wanted the record to sound like I was in the room with the listener, playing and singing to them. I don’t think this kind of approach would have worked with either of the other bands 😀
4.Will Northern Boy be available on both digital and physical editions? And what can we expect from the album in terms of the graphic and lyrical content?
My number one priority with the album was all along to have it available online. I will definitely have it as physical product as well as I am still a strong believer in having the product in your hand. Also I do have some plans for some interesting intimate live shows, so it would be nice to have it available there as well. As to the lyrical content, I didn’t have any direction as such. The songs tend to dictate them selves what they are going to be about usually, and I just follow the flow. But I do tend to pick up lot of things unconsciously and later find them in my songs. So be careful, anything you say might end up in one of my songs 😉 I think life in general would be good description. The graphic side has a bit of a story to go with it. I had this picture of me as a six year old kid taking a piss on the back wheel of my late fathers truck. It’s an image that has been hanging on my office wall for about four years waiting for this album. But as my back side was partially exposed, the distribution company said they can’t use it… So it was back to the drawing board. I am actually working on an image as I write this, so you just have to wait and see 😉
5. How did you discover your musical path that made you decide that you want to pursue a musical career?
I am dyslexic, which they never discovered back in school. So school was a real struggle to me, basically I was bad at everything. The only thing that made sense was music. I started to play guitar when I was 10 years old. At this stage it really is the only thing I know how to do.
6. Who are the people involved in Northern Boy?
Me! 😀 Yep, I did almost everything my self, except I got the album mastered in the States. I am planning another set of songs, and hoping to get some friends involved, but on this one it’s just me 🙂
7. Why the title Northern Boy
Well as you know I have been living in Ireland for the past 18 years. When I first came here Ireland was very different, and I remember this old man once saying to me “do I detect bit of northern accent?”. He was referring to Northern Ireland. It kind of stuck with me, and last October it made its way to one of my songs. I suppose it’s to do with that confused identity of living abroad and not sure where the home is 😀 You can’t really get much more north than Finland, so I think it makes me a Northern Boy
8. How do you describe the style of music in your upcoming album?
Oh! As I have started to work on the promotion of this album, I had to think this a bit. It is Folk music, it definitely has strong Country/ Americana influence and I think the fact that for most parts it’s just me and my guitar, it makes me a Singer-songwriter.
9. When it gets released, where can I buy and download the album?
Well, first of all my website is a good place to start 😉 www.jpkalliomusic.com But it will be available on all the major digital distribution shops, iTunes, Amazon etc. I think iTunes will be doing Presales as well. I am also posting one song every week on my website and soundcloud building up to the album release, so keep checking back.
10. Thanks for taking the time to answer this interview JP.
Thank you Baxter for taking the time to talk to me, and for the continuous support. I really appreciate what you do for music and I am dedicated follower of both of your blogs 🙂