Interview with Tuomas Rounakari from Korpiklaani.

Folk Metal: What made you start playing violin? How long have you been learning?
 Toumas: I started playing at the age of six. My cousin had started to play violin and I was very envious of it, so I begged my parents to get me one too. I really started from my own will, no-one forced me to lessons or anything.
I admired all gypsy style players and was very fond of classical music.

FM: Could you tell us anything about your music inspirations?
T: I’ve always loved a very large variety of music. First I was all about classical, but then improvisation begun to interest me more than playing music that someone else had written. I was in a Jazz school in New Your City for couple of years and I played in the city with many different world music groups. I was never a die hard metal fan, but progressive rock and all alternative stuff has always drawn my attention. Jethro Tull is definitely one of my biggest inspirations. Also John Zorn and Miles Davis, Béla Bartok and Stravinsky, Albert Collins and B.B.King, Tom Waits and Tori Amos. A big part of my musical identity has come from listening and studying archived recordings of folk music too. From the nordic folk bands Gjallarhorn, Wimme and Hedningarna are the first to come to my mind today.

FM: Why did you join Korpiklaani?
T: Jonne has been a big fan of Shamanviolin for many years and asked me to join in at 2012. They were desperately seeking for the right guy as the Manala album was to be recorded in couple of weeks. I actually met the guys in the studio for the first time. That shows how much Jonne had trust in me right in the beginning. His offer was also timed very well. I had been working a lot for theatre; composing and sound design. Wrote a few film scores and TV things too. But I was missing performing and playing.

FM: In your opinion, what is the most fascinating thing about folk metal?
T: As you might have guessed from my music taste, I’m not so concerned about the genre or style. But whatever it is, it should be original. Something with a distinguished and unique character. Folk-metal has introduced a whole different way of playing metal, changing the whole approach. What really attracts me in Korpiklaani, is it’s joy. Our way to perform comes from folk, having fun, dancing, letting it all show, but the attitude is still very rock’n roll.

FM: Do you know any Polish folk metal bands?
T: Not really, but I would love to see Żywiolak at some point. Fantastic stuff.

FM: What is your biggest dream (connected with music)?
T: I’ve been around enough to accomplish many of my dreams. Conducting my own composition for a chamber orchestra was one of them. With Korpiklaani, I have been able to play for big audiences, breaking 30 000 at summer breeze is probably our biggest so far. But Shamanviolin is truly my dearest project, the most personal and thus the most exhilarating too. I do dream of hitting big with it one day and really touring with it to exceptional locations. I’ve been planning a Shamanviolin tour around the polar circle for some time. Would be so cool to make road-movie, performing to Nenet’s reindeer herders in Jamal-Peninsula for example, and really show the roots and peoples behind the Shamanviolin show.

FM: Now something for the people who don’t know your project Shamanviolin: why have you decided for this? Is there some kind of magic in it?
T: There is lot’s of magic in and around Shamanviolin. First of all most of the music comes from archived recordings of authentic shaman songs. This music is special. It mostly goes in wild rhythmic meters or in free-meter that can affect the way our brain functions. For those who dare to embrace it, the songs can bring healing, balancing and even a new understanding of self. We don’t get to hear this type of music often and it actually shows in the composition of western psyche. I go in various states of trance during the show and witnessing it may activate areas in listeners brain and psyche that are rarely visited. This been said, I have to remind you that all this is a natural part of the music in itself and completely safe and normal. There is lot’s of joy in it, and to me this is simply fun to do. I am not an uptight person in any way. Actually I’m not even interested in spirituality, but I thrive to be spirited. A vital part of the show is storytelling too. Sharing things behind the music. Most of these songs have had lyrics to them that have been forgotten. So the stories fill in for this loss.

FM: What is your impression of the Korpiklaani’s performances in Poland? Would you like to come back to us again?
T: Was really good to be back there after a few years break and see how eagerly people had waited for us. We also played very good shows this time. Last time there was a bit too much Żubróvka around… The Polish crowd is really one of the best.

FM: What do you like to do in your free time?
T: I spend as much time in nature than I can. Also while touring, although we rarely get a chance to go very far from the venues. Visiting the top of Mt.Wellington in Tasmania during a snow blizzard is easily one of the most memorable moments while touring. But outside of tours I love sailing more than anything. The best thing in sailing is that in between you and the wilderness there is only the dock-yard. With a boat one gets to go far from civilization much easier than through roads. Outside of sailing season I go fishing and hiking whenever there is a chance.

FM: And the most philosophical question for finish… The most important thing in life is…
T: Celebrating with the inner-child. Making life a ceremony in itself. This might sound grandiose but I really mean the small things. Doing those little things that make you feel connected to Spirit, to who you really are, what you love the most. Building daily habits around them. And I really cannot do this seriously. All this happens by itself when we feel pure joy. Many talk about unconditional love, but unconditional joy is so much easier. It is the joy of our inner-children. The only authentic connection we have to Spirit is through the inner-child. All else is taught, adapted and learned from someone else.

FM: Thank you very much and good luck!