Hailing from Helsinki Husky Rescue are the brainchild of songwriter/bassist Marko Nyberg assisted by the magnetic Reeta-Leena Korhola on vocals, Miika Colliander on guitar, Ville Riippa on keyboards, and Anssi Sopanen on drums. Webcuts questions Marko, one of Finland’s finest, about the new album, Ghost Is Not Real, the Finnish countryside, blueberries and all things Husky.
In 2004 Husky Rescue released their debut album Country Falls a disc of lush, organ infused rock and pop which impressed everyone within earshot. After becoming a fully fledged band Marko took his show on the road before recording a second album. The result, Ghost Is Not Real, while still incorporating the folk and country elements that made the previous album shine, explores the ambient, trip-hop side of the band in greater depth, resulting in a record of hazy, narcotic-like bliss. For its Australian release Webcuts was granted the opportunity to interview the ridiculously talented Nyberg.
The song titles and lyrics of the Ghost Is Not Real album, more so than Country Falls, have a deep affinity for nature. What prompted the album to be focused more on the external rather than the internal? Did your love of the outdoors increase between the albums?
Definitely yes. After my teenage years I spent most of my time living and traveling in the cities. Now, It seems like all I want to do is get time back to the woods again. My new found treasure is Lapland here in Finland and Norway. I can’t understand how lucky we are having that beautiful place so near. It simply feels great to stand in a cold, cold northern river. Romance has become reality in my life.
The single “Nightless Night” is the most straightforward rock track on the LP. Is this something you may explore more in the future or do you prefer the more downbeat, ambient songs?
I really enjoy big contrasts. In life and in art general. My deep concern is life becoming too flat and one-dimensional.
How did you discover Reeta-Leena Korhola? Did you audition for singers or did you meet her socially?
When you’re a healthy young man it’s kind of impossible to miss a beautiful girl like her! And she’s very talented and brings a really important contact point for the band and the audience. She was only sixteen when we met and we played in the same band.
Is it hard writing lyrics for another person to sing? Do you tell Reeta-Leena the meaning behind the lyrics or do you prefer her (and other people in general) to come up with their own interpretation?
Most of the time I consider vocals as a beautiful extra instrument. Vocals are the most touching element because of they bring a real and organic value you don’t get from other instruments. Why spoil an illusion explaining the content of the lyrics? The whole world around the song will break and the whole illusion may be spoiled. Music and lyrics create a fragile magic and beauty where a song can have a different meaning for everyone.
Husky Rescue started primarily as an outlet for yourself but grew into the current five piece line up (aside from Markus and Reeta-Leena the band includes Miika Colliander on guitar, Ville Riipp on keyboards and Anssi Sopanen on drums) . After playing live together does it feel like more of a band now?
It certainly does. We’ve spent some great times together in the last four years. A lot of laughing and a lot of crying too. I’d definitely prefer to be “a Danger Mouse” than “a studio mouse”. Oh what a paradox! The Studio is my box of tools and treasures and a real possibility to release the ghosts and thoughts in my head. I enjoy playing live with the band and my studio work is all set up to feed the live band.
Is the line “Close your eyes/We shall follow melodies” (from “Blueberry Tree”) a hint on how your songwriting process works?
It’s all about the beautiful total chaos in my head. The music is my way of painting pictures of the world where I want to escape to from this world. When I get an idea or picture in my head, I must run and record. Simple as that. I cannot hide.
Who are Shadow Boys and Shadow Girls referred to in “Shadow Run”?
It is Autumn. Riding a bicycle. Going to see the girl you don’t know well yet. The cloudy road and streetlights. The shadows, almost like shadows of doubt and excitement, keep following you on the side and you can’t get away.
The album is available in its entirety (streamed) at last.fm. Was that your idea or the record label’s? Is it something you would try again?
I must say I don’t know anything about that. Unfortunately, I’m not a heavy user of modern-age pleasures.
On Ghost Is Not Real Blueberry trees get a trilogy of songs named after them and blueberry pancakes are listed as your favourite food on the Husky Rescue website. Why the obsession with blueberries? What makes them so much better than, say, raspberries or strawberries?
Have you mixed blueberries with plain milk with a spoon and then drunk it? It is one of the small treasures of life.
What does the rest of the year hold for you — will you be doing any writing, recording or touring?
I’ve spent, and will spend, most of my time in the studio composing and producing the third album during this spring and summer here in Finland. Also I’ll compose music to a Finnish feature film soon. During the next year we will tour a lot hopefully. If we are lucky the next season will bring us to Australia too.