In the extreme music realm, Finland’s Oranssi Pazuzu breathes a vibrant, multi-spectrum color palette onto an otherwise rough-hewn foundation. Based in Tampere, the band’s integration of psychedelic warmth is what individualizes them, solidifying an equally nuanced blend of classic-era rock and black metal. This approach has become increasingly refined in the decade they’ve been together. And regardless of its distinct permutations throughout each album, the quintet’s sound stays relatively familiar and intact.
Antihero Magazine had the opportunity to chat with Oranssi Pazuzu vocalist and guitarist Jun-His about the origins of the band, early influences, and the re-release of the band’s early back catalog.
Antihero: Describe a little bit about how Oranssi Pazuzu was formed?
Jun-His: We had been playing in the same band previously as our current bass player Ontto, and that band came to an end and we kind of felt like this would be the perfect time to try something that we have been talking about for some time back in 2007 or around then. We were talking about making this real grim sounding music harmony-wise, at least that has some of our influences from the second wave of Black Metal kind of Norwegian Black Metal. But it would still kind of be our version in the sense that it would still have a lot of repetition and hypnotic vibes and some kind of Psychedelia involved, and kind of take the idea of Black Metal already being kind of really hypnotic and just try to take it even further and maybe even more tribal and not necessarily so heavy, but still have that real dark atmosphere and this kind of ominous present in the music. That is kind of how we started when we got all the guys around us. Lot more ideas started to flow in the direction we were going towards. It became more and more clear that this band was going to be a fusion band of many things, but still kind of a guideline to have this ominous feeling and to explore the darker territories in your mind, but we really have no limitations of what we wanted to do and even back then we kind of felt we wanted to keep an open mind on what kind of stuff we wanted to take ourselves to.
Antihero: Define the band name Oranssi Pazuzu?
Jun-His: Oranssi is ‘Orange”, and Pazuzu is a Mythological Demigod or God, and it is also in the movie The Exorcist. It is the demon that goes into the little girl, but it is Mythological in the Middle East. Orange is just more interesting for us than saying “Black Pazuzu”, because we have a lot of colors in our music and “Black” would be very inaccurate.
Antihero: What bands influenced your Psychedelia sound that you were aiming for?
Jun-His: A lot of that 13th floor elevator stuff and on the other end of the spectrum, some kind of real crazy electronic music as well, like Shpongle or something like that, and everything in between basically that feels psychedelic in some way. I think that some of the second wave of Norwegian Black Metal is kind of psychedelic, but we wanted to be more colorful. So, from the 1970’s there is already a lot of that stuff, like maybe some Pink Floyd and Soft Machine, like 70’s progressive stuff also, and maybe something from the 80’s as well. It kind of feels like it has something visual going on even though it is music. But if you are going to get the feeling that there is something visual – the kind of images you get from music – I take that as kind of psychedelic stuff. Or if you get forms or figures of whatever kind of comic book stuff when you close your eyes from music, for me that is always psychedelic.
Antihero: Taking the last question a little deeper, who has influenced the Black Metal sound you are striving for with Oranssi Pazuzu?
Jun-His: As mentioned earlier, the second wave of Black Metal had a huge influence on me, such as Burzum. They were a huge influence with their hypnotic stuff. I was also heavily into Emperor and Darkthrone, and on top of that it was the less Metal stuff such as German Kraut rock material. Those were basically the most important. Also, early Electric Wizard was a big influence, and stuff like Sleep from the more Stoner/Doom.
Antihero: What was the deciding factor to re-release Farmakologinen, Kosmonument, and Muukalainen Puhuu?
Jun-His: The biggest reason is that NOW you will actually be able to get them. Because the 1st album you were not able to get it for a very long time. I believe they only printed about 1000 copies on CD and 500 on vinyl back in the day, and they have been sold out for a long time. So, now you can actually buy them now. The vinyl and CD were remastered, but with no real changes except the CD will be better sounding. The second album will be available on vinyl, because originally there were only about 500 copies available on CD back when it was originally released. Then there is the split we did with Candy Cane. Our side is now released as an EP, you will be able to get that on vinyl as well. The main reason for the re-releasing of the back catalog is so you will actually be able to purchase them without having to fork out some serious coin.
Antihero: I understand that you will be doing only one date in the US on this upcoming tour. Where will it be at? And what are your tour plans for the rest of 2017?
Jun-His: We will be playing our lone US date at The Maryland Deathfest on May 28. So far that is the only US date scheduled. We start our European tour next week then we come back home and then go to the US for the Deathfest. There may be another date in the US, but I cannot really say anything about that at this time. We have never actually played outside of Europe, but we are very much looking forward to playing the Maryland Deathfest. We always heard great stuff about it, and it has a pretty awesome line-up this year. We as a band would love to do a US tour at some point, but unfortunately, we could not make it happen this time around.
Antihero: Describe the songwriting process?
Jun-His: We do not really have anything fixed in a way to where you can always try any kind of things but, what we try to achieve with the songs especially now is that there is a certain amount of jamming going on there and some improvisation and the kind of feeling that there is something loose circling around in the reefs, something you can’t quite pin point. But still they may be strictly composed stuff as well. What we are interested in right now is how to get that “jamming” feeling, kind of switched into a more precise songwriting, without the listener even noticing necessarily stuff like that. To have real smooth changes, but at the same time the difference is real big. But how we plan them would kind of go real smoothly and even if someone brings a riff to our rehearsals, we play around with that riff quite a lot and experiment it with a jam on it, and eventually it will change quite a bit from what it originally was. On the other hand, we have an abstract tone about what kind of part or a song that we want to do and we just kind of have a story for the part. Then we will try to just “jam” that part at rehearsal without composing anything in advance.
Antihero: In addition to the re-releases of Farmakologinen, Kosmonument and Muukalainen Puhuu, you are also releasing the Kevat/Varimyrsky EP of new material. Can you tell me a bit about that?
Jun-His: The EP consists of 2 songs. One of the songs titled “Kevat” was recorded during the recording of Valonielu, which was our 3rd album. But it was never released because we felt that it did not fit into the Cosmic atmosphere of the other songs because it is more down to earth. It is really a very dark song that we decided to save for later. The other song titled “Varimyrsky” we were kind of playing around with it for some years. We felt that this song had a more Nihilistic kind of vibe or kind of more down to earth, maybe even kind of dark and suicidal vibe to it and a very sad. Now we have 2 songs and we recorded the 2nd song called “Varimyrsky” (which means, color storm). We recorded that a few months ago and then Jamie Gomez who also did the mixing with the Valonielu album also did the mixing for the song “Kevat” (which means, Spring), and he also mixed the EP and then we combined it and it felt that it was really good, so we decided to go ahead and make a release out of that as well, which would only be sold on our tour at least for now and then release it as a digital version as well.
Antihero: What subjects influence your songwriting?
Jun-His: Our lyrical songwriting is more or less Occult, in a way where it just interests all of us is that there is a lot of mystery in our world, but not the religious type of mystery or a god figure or anything like that. It just seems so random that we are here. For example, you and I are talking to each other about stuff and there is a lot of mystery about our existence, and that accepting the mystery or accepting the darkness is something that interests all of us and kind of praising it and even feeling good about the whole mystery and the darkness that we know we can never grasp. We are kind of an Atheistic band, but still in praising of that idea that this is all going to end and that we are all going to die and there is nothing awful with that and embracing that and just about the acceptance of that kind of thought. That is usually something that the songs are circling around with but you could have different perspectives to that and perspectives on how the universe is, and what is the universe, and what are we in this universe. Does the universe even care about us? It does not really. Interesting question and thought.
Antihero: Besides the standard Guitar, Bass, Drums, and Keyboards, what other instruments do you incorporate into your music? I ask that because while I was listening to the EP, I could have sworn I heard some harp in one of the songs.
Jun-His: HA HA!! You have sharp ears. We have used Alta Harp in one of the new songs on the EP. When we are in the studio sometimes we can use specific stuff like that. But mostly everything is composed live or actually done live with the basic instruments, which makes it even more random. Our keyboard guy is more of a song designer, he is still a musician obviously as well. In our band, his role has a lot to do with being the song designer, which he does for his job in a theater as well. He kind of has this perspective or approach to the song as what you can put there with just sound even instead of notes. He has a different take on what we do.
Antihero: Describe who is currently in the band and what their place is in the band?
Jun-His: Jun-His (VOX,Guitar), IKON (Guitar), Korjak (Drums), Evill (Keys), Ontto (Bass). Our astral member is Moit who actually played on all of our albums except 1 song on the new EP. IKON is the newest member of the band, but he has been playing with us on live shows for quite some years. Moit is not actually doing anything with us. But he may do something with us on the next album while IKON is still aboard. So, he is kind of an Astral member right now. He may or may not contribute musically on our next album. We do not really know what he has planned.