Interview: Silentium’s Riina Rinkinen, Sami Boman, and Juha Lehtioksa Discuss “Motiva” and Their Unique Year

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It has been three months since Finland’s Silentium unleashed Motiva, their sixth full-length album and first in over a decade. The album, released on Out Of Line Music, artfully layers in more symphonic elements than ever, including widespread strings and synths, and even a woodwind ensemble on the latest single, “Shame”.

Motiva’s lyrical themes are relentlessly emotional, ranging from sorrow to rage to guilt- another hallmark of their gothic-inspired catalog. The band, comprised of Riina Rinkinen (vocals), Juha Lehtioksa (guitars), Janne Ojala (drums), Sami Boman (keyboards, backing vocals), and Aapeli Kirimäki (guitars), also recently welcomed bassist Ville Koskinen (Psychework, Everlore, Trauma Field, Beyond the Catacombs) into their ranks after the departure of Matti Aikio in 2018.

In an interview with Metal Solstice, Rinkinen opened a window into Silentium’s unique year, explaining how they overcame less-than-ideal circumstances to release a long-awaited album, as well as the experience of performing live to cautious crowds.

Lehtioksa and Boman also gave insight into Motiva’s creative process, which included music spanning from prior to 2008’s Amortean through 2019, when they entered the studio with producer Aksu Hanttu (S-Tool, Tuoni, ex-Entwine, ex-Kaamos).

Metal Solstice: Silentium had the opportunity to play in both Jyväskylä and Helsinki recently; rare opportunities in 2020. Can you share a bit about how each show went, and describe any major differences performing now vs. pre-Covid era?

Riina Rinkinen: Yes indeed! We played at my favorite venue in Finland, Lutakko, on 9 October which also happened to be my birthday! Sami took another step towards decay a day earlier on the 8th, so it was quite a nice coincidence. At Lutakko we played with Dorothy Polonium who just released their new album Psychoccult and Oblivion Beach who’ve also recently released some new material. There are pics of the show on our Instagram (by Jaakko Manninen) which I think portray the bliss of playing live quite well.

The same goes for the Helsinki show at On the Rocks. You could absolutely tell Covid took a toll on the turn up, but it doesn’t really matter. We’ve played some of our best gigs to a handful of people. There are also three videos available on YouTube of the Helsinki gig, here we are rocking the song “The Fall” from the album Sufferion – Hamartia of Prudence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiqhsST0cYU

I think the biggest difference in playing in the Covid era is of course the number of people attending the event. We are just grateful to have been able to play at least a few gigs with the album release. Hopefully things will be better in the spring and we can hit the stages again!

MS: Ville Koskinen has been performing bass duties, but I didn’t see that officially announced anywhere. Is he a permanent addition to the lineup, and if so, could you discuss this further?

Sami Boman: Ville is a semi-permanent addition. Originally we were looking for a singing bass player, but after witnessing Ville’s skills we have become more and more convinced that he’s exactly the right guy for the job.

MS: Motiva is Silentium’s first full-length release since 2008. What were the factors that made 2020 the right time to release something new?

Rinkinen: Well clearly this is a terrible time to release the album, but honestly there had been so many delays already and it’s not like the pandemic is going to be over very soon, so we just stuck to our original release schedule. If we sat on the album any longer it would have started to grow mold.

MS: What made you choose Aksu Hanttu to produce Motiva, and can you explain more about the experience of working with him?

Boman: We’ve been friends with Aksu since the late 90’s and have always discussed the possibility to work together on some project. This time everything fell to place and this was the perfect project to join our forces. Working with Aksu was extremely fertile. He knew our music and understood our goals and had the perfect skillset to aid us in reaching those goals.

MS: Please explain more about the songwriting/creative process for Motiva. Additionally, were some of the songs waiting to see daylight for several years (e.g. composed at any point between Amortean and now), or are all of them recently written?

Juha Lehtioksa: For me the composing works pretty much the same way it has always worked. Of course the tools are more developed today, but from a creative point of view. It usually starts with some riff or melody with guitar and if it works, then the next phase is a nice mixture of blur and 100% concentration, after which I don’t have any idea of what time of the day it is. If I had to describe the feeling during the process, I would say: excitement. And after the basic structure of the song feels ready, the feeling is pretty much the same as it is after a good live performance, whether it is a Silentium gig, or some other band’s performance which manages to touch deeply. 

Some of the songs even date back to years before Amortean, while some are very recent. But this time we spent a lot more time on experimenting with the arrangements very close to the recording phase. So all the tracks have at least a nice flavor of 2019 and luckily so; the taste of 2020 would have been crap.

Boman: Juha pretty much killed this one off perfectly.

Photo credit: Turbanov Photography.

MS: At several points, Motiva features orchestral instrumentation with layers of strings, synths, and woodwinds (pretty sure I even heard an oboe in “Shame”!) Symphonic elements aren’t new to Silentium, but what inspired you to add more to the album? Also- which, if any, of these instruments were recorded live in the studio?

Boman: I have been a big fan of huge orchestral sound since I was a little child. These elements really haven’t been strangers to our music ever, but the development of sample libraries have made it possible to get closer and closer to that authentic sound even with our budgets. With this said, it’s also true that artificial sounds will never be the same thing as their real life acoustic counterparts. So I got the idea of a little woodwind section to perform in the song “Shame”.

MS: In addition to the gigs that are rescheduled for 2021, what’s next for Silentium?

Rinkinen: We already have some new songs in the works and maybe, just maybe, we can cough up some acoustic covers while the world is still burning. We intend to keep making music and play as many gigs as possible, may the circumstances allow it.

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