Isabella Ambrosio sits down with vocalists Niko Moilanen and Joel Hokka, discussing anything and everything Blind Channel.
Blind Channel is a “dark pop” nu-metal band from Finland. Known for their appearance on Eurovision in 2021, representing Finland, Blind Channel has been around for a lot longer than people realise. Originally formed in 2013, Blind Channel is a great representation of the evolution of the metal scene in recent years. Metal bands have been using electronics in their music for years, the most notable being Linkin Park, but in the last five or six years, it seems as if every metal band has used electronic or pop elements in some way, shape or form. Blind Channel hops on the electronic trend, but they truly combine the idea of catchy pop hooks and heavy guitar riffs.
They opened for I Prevail in Dublin on the 25th of March, and they were the first opening band, which is arguably the most difficult position to be in. No one was excited or ready for the show, but Blind Channel brought the energy up, getting everyone absolutely pumped for I Prevail, coaching circle pits and walls of death. They played most of my favourites if I’m honest - ‘Bad Idea’, ‘We Are No Saints’, ‘FLATLINE’ and ‘Dark Side.’ Their set was the perfect length. Niko Moilanen and Joel Hokka, the two vocalists, played off each other quite well. The band’s performance was polished and comfortable. They knew what they were doing – whether it was rehearsed or not, it seemed natural for them to be on stage. At one point, Joel Hokka recognised me in the box seat from on stage, pointing and nodding his head, as if thanking me for being there.
Niko Moilanen and Joel Hokka were so polite during our interview a few days before the gig, so it was no surprise to me that Hokka remembered me. When they answered the phone call, they were sat on a sofa in the green room, the I Prevail tour badge hanging on a lanyard. They admitted they had just woken up after their gig the night before, but they were ready for my questions.
I started with my favourite question, “What got you into music?”
Hokka answers first, “One of my friends has a big brother, and he took my MP3 player, and put a load of Metallica and other metal songs, but it was by accident. I guess it’s a classic story from there, I begged my mom to have a guitar, started a band before high school, and you know how it goes after that.”
Niko Moilanen was next to answer, “I’m originally a classical pianist. I started to play the piano, but I didn’t really like playing other people’s songs. So for me, it started as songwriting. I was seven years old when I wrote my first original song. It wasn’t a good song,” he laughs at the end, “But it was a song all the same! I started writing songs immediately, and I stuck with the piano. But, after that, I was into rap music, producing beats for other rappers, and that’s how I started. Linkin Park quickly became my favourite band, and that’s how I met the guys, and now we’re in the same band.”
“I noticed a lot of Linkin Park influence in your music. What other bands do you think you draw from?”
Hokka jumps on the question quickly, “I guess from the start, it was 30 Seconds to Mars, Linkin Park, Bring Me The Horizon, those kinds of bands… Nowadays, we will listen to rap music and pop music, we get influenced by GHOSTEMANE, Post Malone, all that other rap stuff. We’re trying to look up, and reinvent the heavy music industry.”
Moilanen joins in, “Yeah, we listen to a lot of music, all of the time. That’s why we call our music violent pop music. Even though we’re definitely a metal, rock band. But we listen to a lot of punk music and choruses that you can sing along to and get stuck in your head after you listen to them. We love that kind of music as well. So, we really do listen to all kinds of music. And that inspires us to evolve as songwriters all the time, and write different kinds of songs.”
“I read that in ‘FLATLINE’, you cited influence from rave music, particularly Berlin. And with music having developed so much in the last 20, 30 years, the only way to keep things new is to tap into other genres and different ways of writing songs,” the vocalists both nod along with me in perfect sync, “So, what does the songwriting process look like for Blind Channel?”
“The songwriting process…” Moilanen starts, “Usually one of us has a demo or something, or maybe even a song title, or a couple of verses, or a riff. It starts from a different place each time. And usually one of us brings a demo into the studio, and then it’s just chaos. Everyone has a bit too many ideas, and everyone’s running around the room, and the song starts to form. But, I think we all know where we’re heading with a song, what the end game is. We’re working towards the same goal, even though their roads might be different. It’s very chaotic. With ‘FLATLINE’, it was super fun, because we had these two guys from Berlin doing the song with us. And they had been working with David Guetta and Robin Schulz-–”
“–EDM stuff and club music,” Hokka jumps in, “It was an interesting mixture to have people from another musical world jump into our nu-metal mayhem. I guess, we kind of took all that they had, and smashed it out with our influences. And the combo is what it is now on ‘FLATLINE.’”
Moilanen continues the train of thought, “Yeah, lately we’ve been working with a lot of other songwriters and producers, as well. Because we’re writing our fifth album at the moment, and we want to keep evolving and trying new things. We don’t want to stick to our ways. We had the Berlin guys, and then there’s one song we wrote with this American rock radio guy and it sounds very like… it’s definitely a Blind Channel song, but it sounds like American rock radio. We’ve been writing songs with Dan Lancaster,” who writes with bands like Bring Me The Horizon, A Day to Remember, and ONE OK ROCK.
“AURORA, I think she’s been writing really big pop songs… There are a lot of different people we’ve been writing with, like Nikko said, we don’t want to get stuck in the past and in the same process that we’ve been doing the songs. It’s super important to switch it up, go in a new direction, and find new paths to the new sound of Blind Channel. Because the only way you can grow is to evolve. And Bring Me The Horizon is a great example of that, they keep evolving, every album–”
“–every song,” Moilanen emphasises.
Hokka agrees, “Yeah, every song even. It’s just so important to keep moving forward.”
I keep digging, the conversation incredibly interesting, “You said you guys were working on your fifth album, so what kind of direction is that going in?”
Moilanen starts, “It’s definitely a bit heavier than the previous ones. It has a lot to do with the fact that, only last year we played a hundred and thirty shows.”
“I read that – that’s insane.”
“We’ve been doing a lot of shows. We’re always touring. We’re on tour right now. I think you can hear that on the new album. The speciality of the next upcoming music is that we’ve been working with new people, so there are influences from different kinds of songwriting, but also, we want the songs to bang live. We’ve been approaching the new material from a live perspective. So, every time we write a song, we’re already trying to figure out how it’s going to bang live. So, it’s going to be super fun to play live. ‘FLATLINE’ is a good example, it’s one of our favourites already.”
“Going off of that, what does your relationship with live music and the band look like? Would you say you’re a live band or more of a studio band?”
“We’re definitely a live band,” Moilanen says immediately.
Hokka continues the train of thought, “I guess the whole idea of having a band is to tour. Every album we make, and every song we make… we want to play as many tours as possible. So, we want to grow the songs on Spotify, the radio, YouTube, so we can have even bigger tours in America and the UK and Europe. I guess, that’s been the goal since day number one for us. We want to tour, we want to see the world.”
The interview continues, their answers so intriguing, and their genuine interest in the conversation makes it hard to find a good stopping point. And believe me, once I saw them live, I knew they were meant to be on stage.
Check out Blind Channel’s newest single, ‘FLATLINE,’ on all streaming platforms.