The Estonian selection process for Eurovision, “Eesti Laul”, gets underway this Thursday, 31st January with the first of two semi finals. Here at ESCBubble, we’ve been chatting to some of the participants to get to know them a bit better.
Today we have Iseloomad, this Tartu-based band is made up of 4 members Siim (Vocals/guitar) , Lauri (bass), Vilho (guitar) and Andres (drums) and they will be competing in the second semi final on Saturday 2nd February.
Iseloomad, you are a fairly new band, formed in 2018, tell us about your journey to this point.
Siim: Almost exactly a year ago I got a call from Vilho who suggested to form a new band for playing the kind of music we couldn’t make with the bands we were presently involved in. Right away, I suggested my brother Lauri as a bassist and Vilho brought along Andres, a wonderful drummer. We started to jam and it was obvious that we understood each-other’s language – there was instant musical chemistry. Vilho and me, we both had some embryonic chord progressions and proto-melodies to try out, and in no time we produced some more. Inevitably, at one point the question of lyrics came up. As we all had been purely instrumentalists before, I suggested that we make google drive document and start writing lyrics collectively but… we ended up with only me “delivering the goods”.
At the beginning, it was all a bit embarrassing to read, so I desperately tried to improve the lines. I started to read more and more poetry, and also about poetry writing in general. Eventually, my writing started to improve, at least I would like to think so. So the evolution of Iseloomad has been a very interesting inner journey for me. And soon after that Eesti Laul happened. Actually, the lyrics for the song “Kaks miinust” is my first try at writing lyrics.
Vilho: I had had it on my mind even a bit longer. In the summer of 2017 Siim was recording in my studio, that was the first time we met in person, I had known him for a long time as a guitarist (don’t know, if he can say about me). While recording I was amazed how naturally great guitarist and singer he really is, we also talked a lot (spending session money – ha-ha). Afterwards the whole autumn I had that thought buzzing in the back of my head that I just could not drop about starting a new band with him.
How did it feel when you found out you had been selected for Eesti Laul?
Siim: I was pleased. Pleased because it was an obvious sign that somebody approved our song. I can almost measure the amount of delightedness, because at first we thought that we were not selected and I felt rather disappointed. More than I had expected to actually. 🙂
Vilho: I have a vivid memory of how we found out we had been selected. We had gathered to record some demos, Siim was singing some lines and we were pretty sure that we were not picked, because nobody had called or anything. But as Lauri arrived we joked that seems we weren’t lucky enough. Lauri asked, but do you know who got in? So we checked the press release that had just been published. As we went through the names, I personally even didn’t notice our band there, probably because my eyes were not familiar with the sight of Iseloomad, how it looks and spells. As I had already come to terms with the thought that we weren’t in, it came as a big surprise to me. I knew that we would make our first album by spring or summer, but this event put us in higher gear.
Siim, I’ve had a lovely afternoon finding obscure progressive rock sounding songs from bands you have been involved in in the past, how does this new project differ from things you have done before?
Siim: I’m flattered that you also listened to the other bands! Not sure that obscurity is exactly what I seek in music but I do love obscure sounds and some twisted touch in music in general. I think it is somehow written into my DNA so I just can’t escape it even if I wanted to. Still, this band must be somewhat different because of the personnel included. I’m curious what turns out if one melts together super-professionalism (represented by Vilho and Andres) and utter chaos that comes from me and my brother. So far the formula has seemed to work and result has been pure alchemy.
Your song “Kaks miinust” (Two minuses) seems to be about negativity overtaking positivity. Tell us about the meaning of the song?
Siim: I doubt there is one human soul on this planet who hasn’t felt overwhelming negativity taking over during at least some period of his or her life. The lyrics of the song were written under the influence of exactly that kind of negativity rising from fighting kids, accumulating tasks, problems and (pseudo-problems 🙂 in close relationship, ill-natured resentment in apartment association, bad news in the newspapers, toxic web comments, etc. It seemed a good idea to combine these bitter lyrics with Vilho’s sunny and upbeat melody. We hope that the audience finds our song to be amusing and perhaps even to provide some sort of comic relief. After all, the whole idea of the song is not to add negativity on top of negativity. Rather, between the lines one should get the quite the opposite message: Yes, there is too much negativity around us but that’s life and lets try to avoid to make it worse!
Vilho: I love the phrase “negative mantra” in the song. And after that phrase Siim added superb mantra-style backing vocals to the chorus. Every time I hear this song, I feel healed and see the world in brighter colours. The song has, to me at least, this element of healing, as do many traditional songs (work songs, war songs, blues… etc.) – they were all sung to feel better.
The feel of the song is very retro, and I just love the stripped back production. It does however, come in at 3 minutes and 54 seconds, which is too long for Eurovision by nearly a minute! Do you have any plans how you would edit this should you become Estonia’s representative
Siim: We had no intention to specifically make a retro song but I can understand that it probably sounds that way.
Vilho: 🙂 Actually, the song was 4:38, it originally also included a guitar solo, probably we will have that on the album, too. We cut the intro shorter, cut out the solo, one chorus, and the outro. You can check out the shorter version on Eesti Laul webpage.
Do you usually follow Eurovision or the Eesti Laul process?
Siim: Not too enthusiastically but every year there is some really good stuff for my taste, too. I have enjoyed some songs a lot over the years in Eesti Laul. The biggest problem why I cannot take most of the Eurovision material seriously is because the feelings expressed in a typical Eurovision song are almost theatrically overblown. It is like a competition of who can express deeper emotions. How can anybody take in such huge amounts of full power love tragedy, song after song? 🙂
Vilho: Nicely put, Siim! I’ve been involved in Eesti Laul over the years several times (including once with Andres) and thus I have seen the process up close. And when not participating myself, the event itself is so huge in Estonia that you cannot overlook it.
Finally, what is in store for Iseloomad in the future?
Siim: First, we would like to catch the wave and see where it takes us 🙂 Second, we will release our first album (in Estonian and maybe in English, too) that is almost ready by now. Third, we plan to take off as a live act, compose and rehearse new material – which according to our understanding is exactly what a rock group should do.
Vilho: Amen to that! And shoot videos!
Thank you so much for your time Iseloomad, and we look forward to seeing you compete in Saturday’s 2nd semi final, where 6 acts will progress to the Grand Final which is to be held in the Saku Suurhall in Tallinn on February 16th.
Watch the video for “Kaks miinust” here and you can also stream the track on Spotify.
Vote for your favourite from the second semi final here and stick with us at ESCBubble as we take you through all the shows and also bring you exclusive content live from the Grand Final!