lundi 12 février 2024

Interview Samuli Federley

In a recent interview, Samuli, a versatile guitarist and composer, shared insights into his diverse musical journey, spanning genres, teaching, and experiences in Algeria, where he's captivated by the warm audience and vibrant culture.

1. Samuli, your musical journey has taken you through various genres, from rock and metal to classical and electronica. How did this diverse range of influences shape your unique style as a guitarist and composer?

Samuli: I've always been a huge music lover and like music from all genres. Metal is the main genre for me but I try to keep my mind open to everything else too. I've always loved classical music too and I think it's possible to merge almost anything together if you have the right vision for that. I've also played a lot of American country music and I use quite a lot different kinds of coutry licks and techniques in metal playing. It gives it a unique flavor when you don't repeat the old metal cliches over and over again. I try to keep fresh and come up with some new ideas.

2. With a background in teaching guitar and a degree in guitar pedagogy, what advice do you often share with aspiring musicians, especially those looking to master the guitar?

Samuli: For me the most important thing have been practicing as much as posssible. You should become as good with your instrument as possible so the lack of skill isn't on the way of your creativity. Or you need to visualize what kind of a player you want to be and practice the skills required for that purpose. If you want to be a great blues player then maybe don't waste your time on practicing tapping but get familiar with with the blues aesthetics. Also I think you should learn the notes on the fretboard so you really know your instrument. Be patient with learning the guitar. it takes a lot of time and don't compare yourself too much on the others. Try to find your own voice.

3. You've played in multiple bands, worked as a session musician, and released four solo albums. How do you navigate the different dynamics and creative processes involved in these varied musical roles?

Samuli: I like to keep busy and versatile. Also making a living by playing the guitar requires a lot of commitment. It's easier to make some money when you are not just doing one thing. For me I'm teaching, doing session studio work, play live shows as solo artist and with different groups. It also challenges me as a player and musician when you have to play with different kinds of bands. Again here the key word is versatility. Also working with different people is interesting. You can learn something from everybody and it makes you a stronger musician.

4. Recording guitars for over 30 albums and achieving a gold record status in Finland is a remarkable feat. Can you share a particularly memorable experience or project that stands out among your recording endeavors?

Samuli: Thank you! Yes I love studio work and making albums. Right now there's several yet unreleased album I played guitars on. Some of the most memorable sessions were when I did a song with these Chinese musicians who were masters with their tradidional instruments. It was interesting to combine my playing with these old sounds like pipa and erhu. The song is called Waves of Sound from my Guitar Kungfu album.

Also receiving the gold record in Finand was a big thing and I also made a song with the singer from Uriah Heep, mr. Bernie Shaw. The song is called Sunrise on the latest Circus of Rock album so that was very cool for me.

5. Your bio mentions that you perform as a solo artist, touring across several countries. How do you adapt your musical presentation when performing solo compared to collaborative settings?

Samuli: yes it's a very different kind of situation when playing as a solo artist or with a band. Basically when I'm performing as a solo artist I can do whatever I want. Sometimes I can sense from the audience that they are very much into metal for exapmle, so then I will play more like that. Sometimes they want hear more classical or whatever so I can adapt into the situation and give a good show. Then I always mix some of my own songs here and there and also play some famous interantional songs that I have arranged into my style. Because I'm using backing tracks I can also play big classical songs with a symphonic orchestra which wouldn't be possible with a band. Of course I have performed with a real symphonic orchestra in Finland. I have more than 100 songs in my set so there's lot to choose from in any situation.

With a band you usually have a speific set you have practiced. You rehearse these certain songs and go out and play those. It's a different kind of scenario but I like that too very much.

6. Having toured in diverse locations like San Marino, Kosovo, and China, each with its unique cultural background, how does the audience's response and interaction differ from one place to another?

Samuli: I've found that even though the cultures might be very different from each other the audience is usually pretty much the same. Everybody likes to hear nice music and have a good time. Some people in different coutries can be louder and some people more reserved. Usually people respect if you play with a lot feel and passion. If people can feel you are giving your everyhing and want to give them a nice musical experience they respect that and enjoy the moment. Almost everybody seems to like the classical stuff and the more epic metal stuff I play like my song called Guitar Kungfu. Some people like to get up and dance and some want to sit back and just listen so it's also interesting for me to play in different cultures. You have to adapt little bit everytime and try to feel what is the overall atmosphere in different locations.

7. Samuli, having visited Algeria multiple times, it's evident that the country holds a special place for you. Can you share why you specifically chose to perform there, and what draws you to the Algerian audience?

Samuli: I really like Algerian people and culture. In the beginning I was invited to play in Algeria and of course I wanted to see how this would turn out. It's a very different culture from Finland so I didn't know what to expect. I was happily surprised when I arrived in Algeria and played my first shows. I also love ethnic music and the traditional Algerian and Kabyl music is very interesting. I'm trying to bring these elements into my own music in the future for sure. I really hope to come back to Algeria and play more great shows in there.

8. Your recent trip to Algeria must have been filled with unique experiences. Could you elaborate on your journey there? Did you have the opportunity to meet and interact with a diverse range of people? If so, could you share some memorable moments or encounters from your time in Algeria?

Samuli: I found out that everybody I met there were really welcoming and warm. Actually I've never seen this kind of friendliness before. Even the security people at the airport were very nice and I was talking about music with them. Unfortunately I got a little bit sick during my tour in there and needed to visit the hospital. It was fun to find out that the hospital staff were also very friendly and they wanted to hear my music. So I played them some of my songs from my phone while I got some vaccinations. They were super friendly and laughing all the time so I felt really comfortable there. Also complete strangers came to me at the streets and wanted just to talk and wished me a great trip.

9. You've had the privilege of performing with legends like Steve Vai and Michael Monroe. Can you share a memorable moment or learning experience from sharing the stage with such iconic figures?

Samuli: I've met some of my heroes and even played with some of them. I've been a huge Steve Vai fan so I was happy but very nervous when they requested me to play with him. When I met Steve before the show I was surprised how nice and normal he was. He created this very relaxed atmosphere around him so I felt pretty calm playing with him. Same thing with Michael Monroe. He's the most friendly guy there is but on stage he turns into a rock n roll beast. My lesson from them is that always give your everything and be as good as you possible can. Don't care about the others telling you to do things differently. Just follow your own vision and keep practicing. Steve Vai is still practicing his guitar playing every day so never give up.

10. Your participation in Finland's Got Talent and becoming the fastest guitarist in Finland on the Record Factory TV show must have been exciting. How did these experiences impact your career and artistic approach?

Samuli: At that time I felt that my career was a little bit stuck. I needed to do something and getting on TV gives you huge visibility. It's very difficult for a guitarist to get into TV so these formats gave me an opportunity for that. A lot of people saw these shows and afterwards I gained many new fans because of that. I also got more requests for shows and some promoters were contacting me if I would perfrom here and there. So it was a really good and useful experience. It was also really stressfull and difficult thing to play on TV so I felt that I needed to overcome my fears and afterwards I felt it made me again more stronger as a musician.

11. Teaching guitar in a local music institute adds another dimension to your career. How does teaching influence your own musical growth, and what do you find most rewarding about mentoring aspiring musicians?

Samuli: I love teaching and it's not only I'm giving something to the students. They also give a lot to me and when teaching you have to on the top of your game. I have some very good players as a students and sometimes I feel that I really have practice to able to taech them, haha. Also it's nice to see when a beginner is starting to be able to play the instrument and it makes them to feel good. It's very rewarding to help other people achieve something. I also have to versatile as a player since some of the students want to play jazz with an acoustic guitar and some of them wants to play fast metal solos. You have to know little bit about everything so that's a good challenge.

12. Your recent performances in Algeria caught our attention. What led you to choose Algeria as a performance destination, and how has your connection with the Algerian audience evolved over time?

Samuli: I'm happy to hear that. WIth every show and with every tour I hope to find some good new friends and contacts. I feel that the tour has been succesful if I can find the right people and contacts for the future. And I feel that way with you guys. I've been surprised about how welcoming the Algerians are. I've had some many messages from the locals asking me to come back and when is the next tour happening. Since I play mainly mainly instrumental music I think it's very suitable for everybody. Since music is an universal language so everybody can understand it. Since there is not lyrics people can just feel it and enjoy it. So it doesn't matter since my roots are in Finland and I'm playing in Algeria. They can some to the show and just listen to musical stories without words.

13. Your music combines various styles, presenting them in a virtuosic and energetic manner. How do you approach the process of merging different genres seamlessly to create a cohesive musical ensemble?

Samuli: I think you have to have a strong vision of your style. Even though I merge different genres into one song it doesn't work unless you have a clear idea on how to do it. I want the to be a good song and not just a mix of everything. You can for example play a jazz line with a metal sound so then it doesn's sound like jazz but something unique. Same thing with cooking food; you can't just throw different things into same pot. You have to know what you are doing and have a vision how it should be. But you can come up with something new if you keep testing and keep your mind open. I try to listen different styles of music so sometimes you hear something cool and you get inspired. Then you take this idea and use it for your own sound.

14. Beyond music, you've also created demo videos and composed for different companies. How does your creative process differ when working on projects beyond the realm of traditional music releases?

Samuli: This is also very fun work. It's a very different approach when composing music for example for some commercial. You have to understand the feel of the product and try to create a sound canvas for that. If I need to make music for a coffee commercial it may not be the best idea to use metal music for that. Maybe something jazzy and what serves the purpose of that product. I also made a song for a race care company so this song had to be very energetic since race cards have lots of power and energy. So I try to think what is the sound of that product and serves the meaning of it. Sometimes I use piano for composing. It's not always just the guitar. I try to think outside the guitar and hear which sound works the best. Also when composing with a different instrument it can give you very different kinds of ideas.

(71) Samuli Federley - YouTube


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