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Interview with I Wear * Experiment

Their logo resembles the symbol of deathly hallows from the Harry Potter book series. They themselves create magic that proceeds to spread through the Baltic States and even further. Music of their works had already managed to hypnotize the president of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves himself, who decided that their song „Spring is cold this year” would be played in the background of his famous digital Christmas card. Johanna Eenmaa, Hando Jaksi and Mikk Simson – three musicians that do not recognize any borders and want to conquer world’s biggest music stages. Ladies and gentlemen – this is I Wear* Experiment!

To Hando and Johanna from I Wear* Experiment spoke Zuzanna Brunka.

 

Please tell us something about your band and music you make.

Hando: It has all begun when Mikk and me started jamming with some ideas I had written over the years and then, as we needed some beauty and talent in our band, we asked Johanna to come and sing some songs and that’s how it all began. Musicwise, the idea was to set no boundaries, so we decided (I think it was during the first rehearsal) that we would do whatever music style we wanted, it just had to be cool enough for us; we can do like jazz songs, we can do metal songs or post-rock songs – the style is not a boundary for us. That’s basically the only rule we have.

The name of your band is pretty… extraordinary. Please explain what is hidden behind „I Wear* Experiment”.

Hando: Basically it is just a name. During this year we have developed some fake stories to go with that name but really it is just a name, without any hidden message.

What moment you consider the most important in your career so far?

Johanna: Oh, we are so young, we haven’t had any career yet. But I think the people who listen to us are most important in all of that, because it was such a surprise for us that there are so many of you, them, and this is the biggest and most important thing.

Hando: But like careerwise, for the band, I think concerts are really important. The album presentation concert we had in KUMU was really emotional for me because we had planned it for so long, we had been preparing for it for so many months, so it was just a grand finale of so much effort and we stepped on the stage and saw so many people sitting there… It was just an amazing feeling. And after the concert when we went to greet everybody it was just overwhelming because everyone was coming to us and saying „Oh you were so good!” and at first it was hard to adjust to those great emotions. Because usually in Estonia people are like „Oh, it’s okay…” and this time there were hugs and kisses and we were like „What the fuck? Where do all these emotions come from?”.

So do you consider this concert in KUMU the best from those you have had so far?

Johanna: Well, I don’t know. I really liked one little gig we did on Saaremaa…

Hando: The KUMU concert was not maybe the best concert we have had but it was special in another way. For me, the best concert up to this time was the concert we had in Tartu on occassion of University Students’ Days and this concert gave me the best feeling and people were dancing and there were many beautiful girls in the audience and for me it was simply the best concert. And also the Kuressare thing… it had been before we went on the Baltic Scene tour. We decided that we should go for a little vacation to get ready for the upcoming concerts, so we just rested, used SPA, swam and had a great time and we made a little gig with not a lot of people but just a great atmosphere.

What are your plans for the nearest future?

Hando: Well now we are working on demos for our third EP and this takes most of our time. Every day we are recording something in the studio. We hope we will be invited to Tallinn Music Week to give a show there because it’s just a great place to be. Also we would like to make some concerts in Tallinn and maybe somewhere else in Estonia…Positivus Festival in Latvia is also an event we would love to play at in summer. There is also a great music festival in Lithuania called Karkle Music Festival and actually we are now negociating with them to come and play. Recently we talked with our friends from the Lithuanian band „Without Letters” with whom we played at Baltic Scene tour and we are thinking of doing something together… Possibly a little tour in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and maybe even Poland… and then we would like to record and release our third EP. What is more, next week we are making a big meeting to talk about our new music video with our whole crew because we have a lot of those crazy and stupid ideas and we will see if we can make them happen. These are our plans for just 2014. Sometimes we think that maybe we are a bit too ambitious…

For sure not, ambitions are what keeps you going! But let me ask… what do you feel when you see those hundreds of people in front of the stage during your concerts?

Johanna: I am scared, I don’t really know why. I am all shaking and when Mikk looks at my hands he says „How the fuck is she going to play?” (laugh).

Hando: I feel happy because it is just a great thing to see so many people coming just for your concert to hear you play. And when you see they enjoy what you do, it’s just pure happiness.

Tell us something about the process of songs’ creation. Do you write your own songs?

Hando: Yes, we do. At first I have the instrumental idea of the song and I bring it with me to the rehearsal and show it to Johanna and Mikk and then… we change it all (laugh). I show them what I have and then they say „This is bad”, „this is good”, „this is really bad” (laugh). We try to combine all the ideas and then we record acoustic drums and vocals and…that’s how we do it.

And what is your inspiration when you write a song?

Johanna: Darkness… sex…

Hando: Yes, Johanna likes to write about sex and darkness.

And blood and skulls and such stuff?

Johanna: (laugh) yes. I am still not good in writing songs and it is hard for me to find inspiration to create something. But when I take photos, I make an idea-map beforehand. That helps me a lot and I think I will do something like that before writing the lyrics.

Hando: Generally each of our songs has a deeper meaning and it can be different for everybody. It can mean something different for me, something else for Johanna and something else to Mikk. So Johanna may think she writes about darkness and sex but someone else can find a different meaning.

What would you do if you hadn’t become musicians?

Johanna: I would probably be a photographer.

Hando: Actually, I Wear* Experiment is not a full-time job for any of us now. I work at Tallinn Festival Grounds where I organize and produce concerts and events. So, even at this job I am connected to music somehow. Only Mikk is a full-time musician in our band but to be honest I don’t know who would he like to be if not a drummer…

Johanna: Oh, I know! He told me once that he would like to be an actor in adult movies. (laugh)

Hando: (laugh) I don’t know if we should have said that…

Oh, you definitely should have! But let’s change a subject… what do you think of Estonian music scene nowadays?

Hando: I think that in the last 5 year it has really evolved in the right direction. In my opinion Tallinn Music Week played a big role in that because it is a great opportunity for Estonian bands to show what they’ve got and to aim higher because if you have good songs and you are good then you can really achieve something thanks to that event. And also such bands like Ewert and the Two Dragons set great example to other Estonian bands, showing that when you are good you can be noticed and make an amazing career.

Do you have any favourite Estonian bands?

Hando: Oooh that’s a tough question. It is hard to be objective about that…

Johanna: Elephants from Neptune! They are not only my friends but simply amazing band and I love their music. I also like Tommy Cash…

Hando: Yes, I also like Elephants from Neptune. And Ewert and the Two Dragons, and Iiris. We are connected to Iiris through work but we really like the music she does too.

I think this question is one of the hardest I came up with: how do you create such a magical atmosphere in your songs and during your performances? A lot of people I spoke to about your concerts claim that it touches them in some way they have never experienced.

Hando: Well, actually this is the easiest question among all of them. It’s simple – we put ourselves into our music. We do everything to make it sound the way it does, we work hard on that and the effort pays off. The atmosphere during the concert is created by the guys like Kaspar, who takes care of sound or Meelis , Andre and Erki who stand behind the lights. And we just try to give all out of ourselves during the performance.

You took part in a project called Baltic Scene. Tell us something more about it.

Hando: It all happened thanks to Natalie Mets who is the Estonian head of this project. We got invited to play concerts in Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius alongside with Latvian band „Without Letters” and Lithuanian „Carnival Youth”. It was a great experience for us, to be a part of such project that let us play also outisde the borders of Estonia and to meet such amazing people. Really great experience we will never forget.

Your song „Spring is cold this year” was used in Estonian president’s Christmas card. How is this possible?

Johanna: We don’t know!

Hando: Exactly, we don’t really know how it happened. Just one day, not long after our second EP was released I got a call from a woman from the president’s office and she said „Toomas Hendrik Ilves is a big fan of your music and he would like to use your song in his Christmas card.”. I called Johanna and Mikk and we were so amazed and excited we couldn’t believe that. But we had to sign a contract saying that it will all be kept secret until the president releases his Christmas card. and it was so hard for us because we just wanted to go and tell everyone about it! So we just sat in the same caffe we are sitting at right now, bought a bottle of sparkling wine and celebrated it together. It was such a great honour to us. Also every year the president makes a speech on New Year’s Eve and this year before his speech our song „Spring is cold this year” was played. I was sitting at home watching it with my mom and she said „Oh I’m so proud…” with a tear or two in her eyes. I think our parents were most happy about it and our happiness came second.

You are now working on your third EP. What is it going to be like?

Hando: It is going to be a bit different from what we have done so far…

Johanna: The songs are going to be a little more… dancy if you could say so…

Hando: Well, they are not dance songs for sure but yes, a bit dancier than what we have done until now and not so straight-forward in the face. I think this EP will be… 65% different comparing to the previous ones.

Staying in the subject of your songs – what is your favourite song from those you made so far and why?

Hando: Mine is one of our new ones… its working title is „More amazing stories”. and why… because it tickles the right emotions in me, it makes me feel good and happy. I listen to it when I drive home at night… But my favourite song to perform is „Push Stop and Pause the Heartbeat” because we can go all crazy and let our real selves out while playing.

Johanna: „Push Stop…” is my favourite song too, because of the same reason!

What is your biggest musical dream?

Hando: Oh wow… that question is hard!

Johanna: The hardest.

Hando: Epic question is epic… But I know! My musical dream is so I Wear* Experiment would play a solo act in Royal Albert Hall one day. I was in London some time ago and I was wandering around the Royal Albert Hall and I stood in front of the venue, took a picture and sent it to Johanna and Mikk saying „One day…”.

Johanna: I would just like to make people happy with the music we do…

Hando: No, that’s boring! Choose different one.

Johanna: Okay, so I would like to play with Nine Inch Nails one day.

Hando: Oh yes, I would like that too!

Johanna: But that is my answer, not yours!

About Zuzanna Brunka

Zuzanna Brunka
Studentka medycyny na Gdańskim Uniwersytecie Medycznym, zafascynowana Estonią od 10 lat i odwiedzająca ją kilka razy w roku. Specjalistka w dziedzinie współczesnej muzyki estońskiej, współpracująca z wieloma czołowymi artystami tamtejszej sceny muzycznej i chcąca wypromować ją na arenie międzynarodowej. Kiedy do Trójmiasta przyjeżdżają zespoły muzyczne z Estonii, to ona opiekuje się nimi w czasie ich pobytu. Od wielu lat główny newswriter i tłumacz największej międzynarodowej strony internetowej najbardziej znanego estońskiego zespołu Vanilla Ninja. Od 2 lat aktywnie współpracująca z Konsulatem Honorowym Estonii w Gdańsku.