Monday, February 26, 2007

Jori Hulkkonen on the Sad State of Post-Electronica Days

Finnish electronic artist Jori Hulkkonen has now released an album of his new synthpop type project called Processory, featuring vocals from a mystical person called Jerry Valuri (reading from between the lines in the interview quoted below, it's indicated that it's just Jori himself, though obviously Mr. Hulkkonen would go to lengths to deny this).

So in occasion, Finnish music magazine Sue interviews in their latest issue Jori Hulkkonen, who gives some interesting comments about the current reception of electronic (dance) music in Finland after the late 90s craze of electronica; probably this applies to mainstream media around the world too:

"Suomessa ollaan konservatiivisia. Nyt on jopa otettu muutama askel taaksepäin. 90-luvun lopulla, kun elektroninen musiikki oli kaupallisesti menestyvää, löytyi ulkokultaista pro-electronica-asennetta. Oltiin ymmärtävinään sitä kulttuuria. Nyt kun se ei ole enää niin suosittua, paukutellaan henkseleitä, että kyllähän me tiedettiin, ettei se kestä. Se on tavallaan huvittavaa."

As my rough translation this would go something like:

"People in Finland are conservative. Now they have even taken some steps backwards. In the end of 90s when electronic music was commercially successful, there was a lot of cant pro-electronica attitude. One pretended to understand that culture. Now, when it's not that popular anymore, one is boasting that, yes, we did know that it wouldn't last. That's amusing in a way."

What Jori Hulkkonen says here is very symptomatic about the ways media seems to work. After electronica (the moniker many hated) inevitably became unfashionable, music media did what they were expected to do: the return "back to basics", and the re-emergence guitar rock and all the popular myths contained in it, still lovingly favoured by the white middle-aged male music critics who dominate music mags the world over. Out go the Roland and Korg synths, 303s, 808s, 909s; in come (for the nth time in the music history of the last 50 years) the Fender Stratocasters and Telecasters. Enter The Strokes, The White Stripes, The Libertines and myriads of other "s"-suffix bands of young hopefuls donning leather jackets, 80s-style stretch jeans, sneakers, shaggy haircuts and overdriven guitar sounds. It was 1979 again, and again and again; the celebration of recycled sounds. After these "s"-bands had their respective turn to lose their hold in music fashion, then it was time to dig up the late 60s/early 70s folk sounds, where "singer-songerwriters" and Mother Nature's hirsute sons and daughters ruled supreme: psychedelic folk, forest folk, New Weird of America/Finland/Antarctica/whatever. All in all, electronic dance music went back underground -- where some people think it should also stay.


Anonymous said...

When the commercial drive for electronic music ran out of steam it signalled a return to the genuine artist making music for the love of doing so rather than money.

I just remember the terrible preset chords and pathetic squealing vocals of the trash that seemed to taint anyone trying to make electronic music with some depth a few years back.

Let the masses have their R n B and endless production line guitar bands with money being their motivation for 'success'.

Ami said...


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