SHADE EMPIRE - Juha Sirkkiä

First time I got acquainted with Shade Empire was back in 2004 with the release of their first full length album Sinthetic. Although I’m not the most diehard fan of symphonic black metal in the world, that album managed to capture my full approval almost immediately. The keyboards play a sovereign role in their music yet they are nothing but mellow or cheesy. Their sound is so energetic and melodic at the same time as a black metal band can be. Some even describe them as the Nightwish of black metal and I would agree on that only because their sound possesses such a large amount of great musical hook ups. Shade Empire comes from Finland and is a six-piece act. Juha Sirkkiä, one of the two guitarists of the band, responded to the request of Metalzone to disguss about their forthcoming album "Zero Nexus", which will be realeased on March 12, 2008 and the following are what he told us.
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\r\nMetalzone: Give us a brief bio of Shade Empire for all those who don’t know the band yet? And what’s the current lineup of the band?
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\r\nJuha Sirkkiä: Shade Empire was formed in 1999. We’ve released two albums so far and the third one is coming up. Line up is Rasane-drums, Harju-vocals, Mantere-bass, Sirkkiä-guitars, Niiranen-guitars and Savolainen-synths
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\r\nMetalzone: On March 12 you will release your third album, "Zero Nexus". First of all tell us what should we expect this time around and what are the differences with your previous releases or how evolving is the new album music-wise?
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\r\nJuha Sirkkiä:
Production is better than the previous one. Also we’ll put a lot of effort to arrangements and also we wanted to (again) explore new things
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\r\nMetalzone: You were interested in incorporating a real choir into your sound already from the past and this time you managed to make it happen. How easy was it for you to finally achieve that, what do you think of the final result and how expensive did it turn out to be.
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\r\nJuha Sirkkiä:
Well those who were involved in this album on choir sections were friends of ours so it was quite an easy move this time to try with ‘em and the result was amazing!
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\r\nMetalzone: Ruoja did the production on the vocals. How did this cooperation take place in the first place and what about the rest of the production? Didn’t you work with Sami Jämsén this time and why?
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\r\nJuha Sirkkiä:
Actually at the end of the day Ruoja didn’t produce vocals just because he was so busy at that time. Vocals were co-produced by Jack Tyger, the owner of the Perkele Studios. It wasn’t a bad resolution at all as you can hear on the album. Sami has produced all our previous recordings since the demo-days and we just wanted this time to try something different. There wasn’t anything else basically.
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\r\nMetalzone: The majority of the album was recorded at Studio 33, Kuopio, Finland. Why did you choose to record at two studios? Did you have any difficulties during the recording sessions and how long did it actually take you to write and record the new album?
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\r\nJuha Sirkkiä:
As you said we recorded the majority in our hometown at Studio 33. That was just because it was near our home so it was less stressful than before. Harju have always liked the atmosphere of Studio Perkele and because of that he wanted to do the vocals there. We started writing like after Christmas 2007 so we spent like seven months for that. Recordings took approximately one month.
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\r\nMetalzone: Can you tell us some things about the lyrics and the artwork of the album?
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\r\nJuha Sirkkiä: Well this album is a concept album and it tells the story of nine individuals who have chosen to carry out a matter. They all know their own part but they don’t know each others... In the cover art there’s some kind of a devil who looks the same from different angles
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\r\nMetalzone: Will it feature any guest musicians as your previous releases did? Or were there any discussions with certain artists that finally could not be substantiated into actions?
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\r\nJuha Sirkkiä: We had many guest musicians. Aku Kolari did a saxophone solo for the album and Petra Lisitsin sang all female vocal parts. Jorma Koponen sang all tenor vocals. That was basically that with guest musicians.
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\r\nMetalzone: You are also going to shoot two videos for the new album. For what songs and why did you choose these particular ones?
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\r\nJuha Sirkkiä: Yes, we did two videos for "9in1" and "Serpent-Angel". Those sounded like good video songs and also they are quite different from each others. So they give quite a good scale of our music what we have.
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\r\nMetalzone: There are a lot of elements that inspire you in the writing process and your sound cannot be arranged into a specific category. Would you say that in a way you are unique with what you are doing?
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\r\nJuha Sirkkiä: First of all thank you! Many have said that we have created totally our own category and that is something what we are totally proud of.
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\r\nMetalzone: Your first album took by surprise many people in a pleasant way. The second one managed to land at No 25 on its releasing week on Finnish official album charts. What are your expectations for this one?
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\r\nJuha Sirkkiä:
Of course we are waiting for a good overall response. My feelings about "Zero Nexus" are that it is a very strong, powerful and epic album. Trust for it is very high.
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\r\nMetalzone: Your keyboardist is the main composer of the band and I suppose that’s one reason why the keyboards play such a fundamental role in your sound. Could you describe me the writing process and are there any arguments at all on the final arrangements of the music?
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\r\nJuha Sirkkiä: Well I and our keyboardist make music like 50/50%. Usually we sit down and just try different things together. Always I have some things where he brings his ideas or this goes as opposite way. That’s the basis and after that the other guys listen to what we’ve created and then as a band we discuss about the arrangements and so on… It’s a quite democratic way.
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\r\nMetalzone: Your music will also be featured in a video game. How exactly this whole thing came to life? And shall we assume that you are video game lovers yourselves?
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\r\nJuha Sirkkiä: I don’t know actually about the whole thing. I guess the game company approached our record label and asked for our band to be used by that game. That is the deal I guess. I’m not so into games...haven’t extra time at all...
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\r\nMetalzone: You come from a scene that is incredibly strong and marked by a very energetic activity. Which do you think are the basic factors that keep the Finnish metal scene so alive?
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\r\nJuha Sirkkiä:
Well it’s hard to say. Basically those bands who have achieved someting have always created something different and fresh. That’s the strong point in Finnish metal scene.
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\r\nMetalzone: Returning to the band was there any concept behind the name of the band and whose idea was it?
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\r\nJuha Sirkkiä: To be honest the name was created just before our first demo recordins because “we have to have some name”. So there’s any great story behind it.
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\r\nMetalzone: Concerning your live shows you don’t seem to be very active in that section at least not outside Finland. What’s the main reason for that and don’t you think that maybe this is a huge drawback for a larger amount of people to be acquainted with your music? And are there any plans for touring in support for your new album?
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\r\nJuha Sirkkiä:
Definitely we are going outside Finland soon! We have had opportunities to go abroad before also but those have always collapsed to financial things in which we haven’t able to do anything.
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\r\nMetalzone: Give us some last words for our readers. \r\n

\r\nJuha Sirkkiä: "Zero Nexus" is already available for pre-orders so order it and enjoy quality music! Go to our website for more info!\r\n

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\r\nVaso Prassa \r\n

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