Interview: Distant Horizon

Finnish progressive fusion quartet Distant Horizon has just launched their debut EP "Laniakea" and we asked them some questions about it, but also about their inspiration, touring and favorite albums.

What made you go for the name Distant Horizon?

At first our band was simply called “Joona Lehto Band” since Joona was the composer and in a way the leader of the group. It took us a while to come up with the new name because we didn’t want to associate the name with a certain genre or style. However, upon the release of the EP we really wanted to take a more international approach and started to think of fitting names for our band. Distant Horizon is an ambiguous name so it gives us the freedom of not being linked to a certain style.
How do you usually describe your music?
We like to have an open mind to different musical genres. That way our music is rather genre-defying, although it could be categorized as a mixture of jazz fusion and progressive rock or metal. In one of our EP reviews by Pentti Ronkanen, he called it “Fusion/Prog with a pinch of metal ingredients”.
What is your writing process like?
For the Laniakea EP, Joona did all the compositions: “I’d say half of them came from ideas while playing the guitar and the other half was made with Guitar Pro. I like to have a certain concept when composing a new song so each song has its own characteristics.  The compositions for Laniakea were written during a span of three years with one of the compositions being almost five years old.”
Who or what is your inspiration, if you have any?
We are inspired by many artists and musicians. The biggest influences have probably been Pekka Pohjola, Dream Theater, Frank Zappa and Nobuo Uematsu. Of course, there are also numerous others. Our music has a lot of themes inspired by nature and space. We also try to inspire each other as musicians.

What is your favourite piece on the debut EP “Laniakea” and why?
Matias: I like all four of them, but if I had to pick one, I would say “Before Dawn”, because it starts off with a beautiful passage that reminds me of the Finnish nature. It displays the musical and melodic side of our band.

Jere: For me, it’s the title song “Laniakea”. It really describes our band’s music well, shows a solid compositional skill and it kind of takes you to a journey through music. There’s a lot of interesting things happening all the time and I think each new part of the song gives you something new to listen to.
Joona: My favourite is “Before Dawn”. I think it turned out to be quite balanced song and it has a nice fusion vibe to it.

Jesse: I think the song “Laniakea” represents us the most and I like the complexity of the song. It also has a lot of harmonic diversity and both harmonic and rhythmic tensions.
What makes “Laniakea” different?
We try to sound original and true to ourselves and our visions. We are like-minded when it comes to musical aesthetics, aspects and visions. The fact that it’s not easy to define the EP is already something why it’s different. The songs are quite solid and they stand on their own pretty well.
What should music lovers expect from “Laniakea”?
It’s a 30-minute long musical journey that might take a few listens but after a while the songs grow and the album allows the listener to find something new each time.
What kind of emotions would you like your audience to feel when they listen to your music?
We hope to achieve any kind of emotional response. Joy, sadness, anything. If the music moves you in one way or another, it has accomplished its goal.
Which do you like most, life in the studio or on tour?
Matias: I do like to spend time in the studio. Still, gigs and tours are the final tests that show where you’re at musically and technically at the time and how you can develop further. Touring can be also very rewarding which motivates to continue doing this work.

Jere: I love both but if I had to pick from the two, I’d say touring. The energy you get from the crowd and the energy you give them, they just feed on each other. And the adrenaline rush is just something amazing.

Joona: Both are very rewarding experiences but for me, touring takes it. I love being on the road, playing for different audiences and seeing new places.

Jesse: I prefer the studio because you can focus on the little details better. Of course, I like the spontaneous moments and the completely different mood you have when performing live but out of the two, it’s the studio.
Pick your three favourite albums that you would take on a desert island with you.
Matias: 1. In This Life by Virgil Donati,
2. Tales From Topographic Oceans by Yes
3. Tarkus by Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
Jere: 1. Images & Words by Dream Theater
2. Fairyport by Wigwam
3. Visitation by Pekka Pohjola
Joona: 1. You Can’t Do That On Stage Vol. II by Frank Zappa
2. Made in Japan by Deep Purple
3. Views by Pekka Pohjola

Jesse: 1. In This Life by Virgil Donati
2. Being by Wigwam
3. Malibu by Anderson Paak
"Laniakea" is out now; order it from Bandcamp.
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