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February 20, 2006 | by  | in Features |
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F-f-f-f-Freestyler

It is with garbled cries of vicious domination like this one that the world’s greatest Finnish one hit drum’n’bass/ hip-hop/ electro-funk wonder band took centre stage for about four minutes in 2000 with the smash hit ‘Freestyler’. Apparently they still release music. Apparently they do well enough that someone has cared enough to dredge them out of the dull pit of the Finnish winter and bring them down under. At 9am on a Thursday morning, I could almost safely ascertain that I did not really care for this band. A band who until I had seen the Orientation bill I had forgotten about. But y’know, journalistic integrity, give everyone a chance and all that nonsense. And Brannavan did point out that they had had TWO songs on the radio, the equally lyrically confusing ‘B-boys Flygirls’ with even more garbled cries relating again to the Bomfunks enhanced skills at not only rocking ladies, microphones and rival MC’s; but also to their ‘mad skills’, ‘turntable skills’ and heaps of added ways they are just better. Its overall message- ‘throw your hands in the air.. Aaah yeah like you just don’t care’, while being a cliche of the genre is dipped in a lot more easy-going hip-hop pacifism than the more successful ‘Freestyler’, with less talk of rocking microphones off the top of domes and whatever that means (it sounds kind of angry). So they have two songs on the radio, which makes them less Vanilla Ice and more MC Hammer. Less Wet, Wet, Wet and more ABC. That video clip with the kid and the headphones was kind of cool as well.

So Orientation 2006 brings you the Bomfunk MC’s, pulled straight out of the ‘Where are they now?’ pages of major music magazines across the globe, and into your backyard. Dare you venture out and enjoy this band? Dare you? Because there is one thing that a few years of music watching and writing has taught me- if a band comes from Finland, hasn’t done anything worth reading about for four years, has only ever had one big single and brings a snigger to most peoples face when you mention their name, you just know they are going to be SHIT hot live.

But enough of me snidely taking the piss, here is a transcript of my conversation with the Bomfunk MC’s bassist Ville Makinen. The Bomfunks were the brainchild of DJ Gismo and BOW (Brother of the Words), but were soon joined by a range of musicians as they fleshed out their sound. Makinen has been playing with the Bomfunks since he invited them to his club to play when they were mere unknowns back in the cultural wasteland of 1998.

Excuse my reluctance at doing the whole journalistic text into quotes, deft, clever thing. His english was crap and it was really early in the morning. Journalistic liberty has been taken to make sense of what was said and to remove frequent use of ‘ya’. All things considered though… he was pretty nice.

Must be pretty cold in Finland now ha?
At the moment it’s zero degrees celsius, so it’s not that cold. Quite warm actually. Maybe not for you, but for us!

Any plans for relaxing down under after the shows?
Yeah, we’re going to stay a week longer to give ourselves some time for a holiday.

Were you guys happy with how the latest album (Entitled ‘Reverse Psychology) went?
Yeah, it was OK. Of course it was not the breakaway success of ‘In Stereo’ (the album that had Freestyler on it) but we did OK. We had 3 number ones in Finland, so I guess we didn’t do badly.

What’s it like having one song become so big?
It’s a good and a bad thing. I guess it’s good because we have such a global following, but we have so many other songs which are good, and a couple of other songs which in my opinion are even better than ‘Freestyler’. But they often stay in the shadow of Freestyler. Of course I have to be happy because we can travel all around the world with that song and play music.

That song has must have bought you a fancy car or two in it’s time?
Well not me, because I didn’t write or play on the song, But I got to tour all around the world and play lots of shows, so I did OK. (Poor bastard)

Do you still play it live?
Yeah, of course. And it still goes down well. After 500 or so gigs we’re still playing ‘Freestyler’. I could play it in my sleep! The reaction of the crowd is great, it’s a good song. And we can then feed off that energy, which then lifts our own show.

Is it hard playing in parts of the world where you are only really known for that one song?
Well I guess some people only come because they recognize we wrote ‘Freestyler’, but we have heaps of other really good songs. Heaps.

(He says this a little tersely. I didn’t have a set interview course so I decided to change the subject. I got the jist. They have HEAPS of OTHER good songs)

What’s your show like?
Well we pretty much just have a live band now, with some backing tapes. It used to be 50/50 with live instrumentation, now it’s about 80/20. We used to use break dancers and stuff, but now it’s more of a live show. It’s dance music boosted up with live instrumentation. And we hope it gets the crowd revved up.

Do you think that live instruments give dance music more authenticity?
I think it makes it all a little more organic. A lot of dance bands have a live band and it gives back quite a bit more to the audience. It frees everything up a bit and we’re not chained to machines anymore. It can be done really well. Bands like Faithless have integrated live musicianship and dance music brilliantly.

So who are your influences as a band?
Well personally for me Iron Maiden was a big one. Sly and the Family Stone was another big influence. Production wise, Prodigy. Of course, they changed the face of dance music. I’m not a very genre orientated listener, sometimes I listen to rock, sometimes metal, sometimes country. Influences can be drawn from anywhere.

(Tone begins to warm, I think I have been forgiven for talking ‘bout ‘Freestyler’ too much)

Iron Maiden? They are cool.
They are really cool. I got to meet Bruce Dickinson. It was amazing. He was great. It was a big moment for me. I was like 12 years old when I started listening to Iron Maiden.

Met any other famous people?
We met Wyclef Jean. We met Kelis. Kelis was awesome. We met her in 2001 at the MTV awards. We partied with her. Nothing happened though, only drinking.

So what music really pisses you off? You guys have Idol shows over there?
Yeah, we have the Idol shows. But I really hate the whole Euro-dance thing at the moment. There’s heaps of dance around from Eastern bloc countries that is, well… shit.

Crazy Frog is shit too.
Hahahaha…. Yeah, that is pretty crap. It’s everywhere.

What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you guys in your time as a band?
It’s always crazy when you go to Russia. So many dealings with the mafia. They control everything and the promoter has to get everything through them. In St Petersburg once there was only like one amp and a microphone. They don’t quite get it sometimes. Not enough equipment but lots of vodka! But it’s funny, it’s quite exotic for them to have international bands, especially when you go to places like Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan sounds badass.
Is this interview over? I need to sun bed before the tour. Mighty hard to tan in these parts of the world.

Lucky for me I have a natural olive complexion.
You lucky son of a bitch!

Oh well. See you round my friend.
Will do. I’ll buy you a beer when I’m in Wellington.

Wicked Cool.

NB: Final few questions are a work of pure fiction, created in the name of comedy and also a lazy way of rounding off the story.

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About the Author ()

James Robinson is a university dropout turned journalist who likes to pretend he has an honours degree. Turn ons include soup, scarfs, a hot bath and some FM-smooth Kenny G-esque instrumental jazz. Turn offs include student politicians, the homeless, and people who pronounce it supposebly.

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