In our final article on the Nordic Delight festival (for this year), we catch-up with Phantom from Finland. The band, who had already caught our attention at Eurosonic and was the focus of a luistertip in January (see here), was another highlight of the Nordic Delight festival. Anyone who has seen Phantom play, may well have been beguiled by Hanna Toivonen’s stage presence as well as the sounds that Tommi Koskinen can extract from the third member of the band – yes, ‘that’ instrument…the strangely shaped machine which he waves his hands over in such a manner that has many an audience member wondering what is going on. We too were intrigued, so we decided to find out more.
Tommi Koskinen – post-show/one-sentence-sum-up:
“Top-notch festival for Nordic music with an amazing crowd!”
The theremin-like, disc-shaped instrument is actually an ultrasonic frequency controller (UFO for short) that controls music software and external synthesizers with simple hand gestures. At Nordic Delight, as well as Phantom’s gig at Thor’s Hammer (in dB’s), this circular box of tricks also had a demo in the Living Room (which was caught on video here). It even has its own Facebook page, website and Twitter feed. Catching up with Tommi after life has settled down post-Nordic Delight, we enquire about the history – and health – of the UFO and discover it is only one of the high-tech pieces of gadgetry that makes up the Phantom performance.
How was your trip to Nordic Delight? Two Dutch shows already so far this year, any more planned?
We were really happy with the gig. We felt really connected with the crowd and the gig surpassed all our preconceptions! Eurosonic and Nordic Delight were the first Dutch gigs for us. We hope to see more gigs in Netherlands soon, the crowd were really awesome at both festivals.
I’m guessing your UFO controller has a bit of a life (and fanbase) of its own? Is it a he/she?
It’s a SHE for sure, as the UFO is quite an eye-catcher! The UFO has got some attention all around where we have played and now you can even become a fan of it on Facebook! The pet name was the UFO even way before it was officially named as The UFO Controller.
Is this the first UFO of its type?
Yeah, it’s the only one at the moment. Soon there’s going to be another, more advanced one. And in the near future maybe smaller ones and, further down the line, perhaps even flying ones! 🙂
What are its origins?
The project started as an experiment during the Physical Interaction Design course at the Media Lab of Aalto University in Helsinki. I had in my mind that I would use this kind of controller for my live performances, so it didn’t come as a surprise.
How is the UFO controller after its trip to Utrecht? Wasn’t there an incident on the flight home?
Normally I always carry it as a hand luggage, but the airline didn’t allow me to bring it on the plane as it was too full or something like that. So there was an incident as the cover was bit damaged at the airport. The machine at the luggage belt literally shot out the cymbal bag (where the UFO had been traveling) and it hit quite badly the metal wall that prevents the luggage from falling off from the belt. The side of the bag that hit the metal wasn’t the reinforced one. Next time, I’ll have to get a proper metal case for it. But no worries, now I already have a new clean cover. I just need to drill the holes and work on it a bit!
The other hi-tech aspect of your show comes in the visuals that seem to be linked to your movements on-stage. Who is the mastermind behind that?
The masterminds behind the visual trickery are the boys from a company called Delicode: Julius Tuomisto and Janne Karhu. They are working on a project called the ‘Visualizer’ that creates stunningly beautiful visuals from the Kinect camera feeds in real-time. If I’m not mistaken, the software is almost finished and they’re going to release it this year. The raw footage for our first music video ‘Scars’ was completely shot with the Visualizer.
What’s next for Phantom? Any more gigs, or just a bit of rest and relaxation (maybe UFO needs it anyway)?
The album is our main objective now. We need to finish our first album this year and make it as good as we can!