Interview with Henrik Domingo of Kiki Pau

The intricacies of hallucinatory instrumental space-rock, floating in zero gravity in cacophonous odysseys of variegated riffs, chords and harmonies, all but burned out like a giant intergalactic meteor after the imagination of the music market became brainwashed by a structured verse-chorus epidemic. Hope has since been restored on this programmed planet by modern bands digging the vivid sounds of Pink Floyd out of the ash to flirt with the rims of a normal being’s consciousness; more so by adding the psychotropic rips, squeals, and grooves of Neil Young and the harmonic manifestations of Crosby, Stills, & Nash. Kiki Pau descends to earth reborn as one of those bands, discarding their conditioned orderly compositions for their new album ‘Pines’ — a stunning artistic free-form instrumental piece filled with sonorous vocals that dodge in and out of a psychedelic paroxysm of guitar swerves and agitated jabs, along with the occasional tranquil coaxing of strings.

Henrik Domingo, vocalist and guitarist for Kiki Pau, was courteous enough to take some time off while in his native land of Finland to speak with us about his band’s new direction and record. Continue reading below to learn more.

I want to start with the most potent element in your music, which is the free-form. Commercially, after the run of the mid 60’s to the early 70’s, songs became more structured. And these days you see bands like Porcupine Tree and The Mars Volta trying to bring music back to this artistic free-verse. For you guys, when did you go “let’s ditch the barrier”? Why did you decide to escape from that structure?

Personal reasons. Once you write songs, then you want to do something new every time around.

Do you find that bands that do things over and over again are very static or very stale? Did you not want to get stuck in that trap of just repeating the same sound?

We just felt like doing something in a different way or else it would have been boring for us. That’s probably the main reason; just to be exciting and have fun…kind of setting free from certain formulas that perhaps were not pre-set in the way that we’ve been listening to music over a few decades or so.

It’s a huge jump going from ‘Just Real’ to ‘Pines’, and it’s almost a more sophisticated jump. What was so different when you recorded ‘Pines’?

[‘Pines’] we did all by ourselves. We had a portable setup so we didn’t go to a studio to make it. We stayed at this worn down villa in the outskirts of Helsinki by the sea, so it was a nice atmosphere there. We did two weeks [there] to record the basic tracks and we did everything else in our rehearsal space or did some vocals in the studio, actually. But I guess the whole writing process was different. It stepped away from what we usually had done. It was more free-form and we didn’t know where the songs would go.

A lot of emphasis goes to the individual instruments, which is interesting because you hear all the time, “You have to focus on the lyrics.” You guys especially have that Neil Young riff thing going on. So, how did you go about developing that instrumental sound?

I grew tired of singing all of the time, especially live when you’re doing a show and you have to focus on singing and playing at the same time, it’s hard to relax and get into the mood or the groove. That’s why when you’re listening to music, if there are lyrics all of the time it’s not as meditative in a way. That was something we wanted to stress. Sometimes it’s good to let the music take you somewhere.

Why do you think that type of music fell out of favor? Do you think it was fear inside of the industry or safe songwriting? Why doesn’t anybody go for that huge instrumental sound anymore?

Radio is one big thing that probably affected it. But, who knows?

Do you think that artists who could be more expressive in free-form choose to be structured to appease the commercial music market?

I don’t think people think about it too much. They will just do things the way they are used to doing them. It’s the logic of the market. But then, I guess, we started thinking about that too after our second album. How do we want to make music and why do we make it? Once you start digging in and thinking about it, it makes you want to do things differently.

Do you think that some of it may come from the fact that you’re from Finland, or do you feel as if you gather more influences from early British and American rock?

With the stuff that we’re doing now, we wanted to let go of our early influences, but you never can escape them. If I think about the music that we’ve been listening to, it’s quite Anglo-American. And maybe that could affect [our music]. What could affect it could be our environment or a walk in the woods or something.

Where was the difficulty level at when you were jumping into a new sound? You’re making it sound like, “Okay, whatever, we just did a new sound.” It’s hard for a band to go and say that! Did you find that difficult at all?

It was a long process. We went through a lot of talking and a lot of discussion. A little bit of fighting; not too serious, but a lot of discussion, thinking.

Are you considering pushing your music live internationally? A sound like this has to sound great, especially outdoors at a festival.

Well, of course it would be fun, but so is the question of knowing the right people, having the funds to tour, having the time and all that. Everyone has got day jobs and so on, so, of course, it would be fun and we have something booked for Europe, but no gigs in the States for now.

What do you hope to do with this new sound? How do you want the audience to perceive it, more specifically on a global scale, since your music is so globally influenced?

I don’t know. I guess we have no wishes for that.

Well, SPIN has really caught on to you guys.

That was really nice what they wrote about [“Tomte Mars”].

Well, it’s a great sound down to the vocals. Do you do the vocals?

We sang all of the songs in harmony.

Are you influenced by Crosby, Stills, & Nash? From the vocals, I got that almost every time.

Not that much. I don’t know if I own any of their records. But some Neil Young stuff, yeah.

As far as ‘Pines’ goes and as far as what you did before, do you like this direction better or do you want to do something completely different next time? Would you want to go back to a more structured sound?

Well, we have various little plans. It’s not going back to where it was. We are thinking of going further into the direction of the free-form; more instrumental, I guess. But we have some other side projects as well, and they all do different types of things. But it’s not going back to where it was.

Pick up Kiki Pau’s latest album, Pines.

For the band’s upcoming tour dates, check out their Facebook page.