1. For those that have never heard of you before, can you tell us a little bit about the band?
KOUTA is a 5-member blackened folk metal band from Finland. Our music tries to capture and communicate the aesthetic of the northern forests and their ethereal darkness. The story of a malevolent being, Kouta, is at the heart of the music aesthetically, musically and lyrically. We have an EP out, and another EP and a full-length album will be released later in the year of 2022.
Lineup of KOUTA:
Antti Mäki – lead vocals
Eemeli Haarala – rhythm guitar
Lauri Törmä – lead guitar
Arttu Pentikäinen – bass guitar
Ville Vitikka - drums
2. Recently you have released an ep, can you tell us a little bit more about the musical styles that you went for on the recording?
As genres go, black metal was a starting point for the music, because it exposes the dark and rough character of metal in general to a hidden mystical beauty. The folkish elements come from the band members’ love for folk music and folk metal in particular. We wanted to hit hard with the first release, with an emphasis on the blackish elements; rough sounds, tight riffs and blasting drums.
3. A lot of lyrics are inspired by Nordic lore and myths, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in this topic?
Thematically the band revolves around the character of Kouta, who is a mythical being in the Lappish-Karelian mythology and folklore. We wanted to expand this tale and bring it back to life. Mythology and folklore have always been close to my heart. In life, we create and tell stories, and music is a great way to do this.
The lyrics of the songs create a world of their own and part-take a mythology that is not from this world. That is to say, that they are not meant as a criticism towards any particular events of today, nor are they to be taken as a strict allegory. That having been said, the thematic does have a strong bond and resonance in a larger scale hatred towards humanity and its selfishness towards itself and the surrounding world. Kouta is a malign being, with hatred in its heart. But that hatred is directed not towards mother-earth, but to man. So, in a way, which is the antagonist here?
4. What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name “Kouta”?
Kouta is a malevolent and powerful demigod in Lappish-Karelian mythology. In a poem by Eino Leino, Kouta roams to Lapland seeking the eternal. Having achieved all knowledge and skills of both men and gods, it is his destiny to seek that which is hidden from the mortal world: eternity, timelessness – death. Fascination on this particular tale was one of the birth-moments of the band. We wanted to build upon this myth and to explore and expand it more. In our first EP, the story introduces the pagan rituals and transformation in the rebirth of the Kouta-character.
5. Can you tell us a little bit more about the artwork that is presented on the ep cover?
The artwork used in the cover of the EP as well as the Maanviha -single are from a photographer Juuso Voutilainen (@j.voutilainen) . A collaboration with him was a natural choice since his photography and art portray a deep understanding of northern nature; there is a mythical sublimity hidden there. He has a keen eye for the dark aesthetic which KOUTA is after: his art captures some of the raw essence of Lapland and its wild forests, similar to what the music of KOUTA tries to communicate. A certain hidden malign beauty, rough and dark, yet enthralling. Juuso Voutilainen also designed the logo together with our singer Antti Mäki.
6. Has the band done any live shows or is this strictly a studio project?
We started the band in early 2021 and will perform our first shows now in the spring of 2022. There was a great need and passion to make music from the start, so we worked our way backwards, in a way. Now, before our first gigs, we have already recorded two EP’s and an album. The first EP is out, the second EP will be released sometime this summer of 2022 and later that year, perhaps close to Christmas, the first full-length will be released.
For now, our gigs are as follows:
26.3. Sykäräisen Pakanajuhla
2.4. Ilokivi, Jyväskylä. (The Backstabbers, Atomic Annie & Terromania)
9.4. Varjobaari, Tampere. (Vetten Äpärät & The Lifted Veil)
18.8. On The Rocks, Helsinki. (Black Crucifixion & Havukruunu)
20.8. Haukka Music Bar, Kotka. (Black Crucifixion & Havukruunu)
27.8. Solekko Fest, Kittilä
7. On a worldwide level, how has the reaction been to you music by fans of black and folk metal?
Nearly all the feedback has been encouraging and positive. What has stuck to me is a repeating comment, that our music is in a way rather different and that not a lot of similar music has been done. We combine things from different genres, hopefully to the advantage of the music. But as we are only at the start, we will hope to reach more and more people and hear evermore comments!
8. Currently the band is unsigned, are you looking for a label or have/received any interest?
Naturally a label would help in the process of taking the band forward. But let’s first get the second EP out and rock a few gigs!
9. When can we expect a full-length and also where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
Our full-length is planned to be out in late 2022. Before that our second EP will be published as well.
It is really hard to say where our music will go from here. On the second EP there is more of the folkish stuff, but some thrash metal elements as well. On the album, some tales take us into an even more epic direction with choirs singing decisive melodies, but similarly we go to a lighter and simpler direction. For example, the opening track is an acoustic lullaby, with a banjo used as the main element.
All of our five members write songs, so we are only starting to see where the music settles itself into. Music-wise, my personal love is in the alliance of black metal with strong choirs and folkish elements both entwined. Rough riffs softened by harmonious melodies and choirs.
10. What are some bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
As a young lad, I started my musical journey through bands like Sentenced, Ensiferum and Wintersun, but also rougher bands like Emperor and Behemoth. And, as it seems, I’m still there! I have to say that the whole northern European metal scene is an inspiration on its own. The darkness lives in all of us, it seems.
11. Final words or thoughts?
We will hope to see you live! Do come and tell us if you like the music, there is more to come.
- Arttu Pentikäinen, KOUTA