Erja Lyytinen nationwide 7-date UK tour starts on Wednesday 20th September at the Sheffield Greystones.
Further info & tickets www.erjalyytinen.com.
With that in mind It would be rude not to chat to our favourite Finnish Blues maestro about life since the launch of here highly regarded Stolen Hearts album earlier this year.
RNL – Its great to speak to you again Erja after all this time!
Erja – Yes likewise, likewise its been a busy summer!
RNL – So the last time we spoke Erja it was around the time of your album launch at the 100 Club in London, How did that all go for you?
Erja – It went well actually, better than I expected the new album got a really positive feedback and really nice reviews, especially in Britain and Europe and I’ve been really, really happy with the response. People have been coming up to me saying “ this is the best album you have ever made” and people have been very interested with the fact that I worked with a great producer in Chris Kimsey on this one and I knew it was going to be a blast to play these songs live.
RNL – You touched on the feedback around ‘Stolen Hearts’ and that was really going to be my next question, with the success and response to the new album on a personal level, what would be your own measuring stick regarding the success of any new album, would it be feet on the ground at gigs over social media likes and followers etc?
Erja – I think social media today is really important; people can access and reach you very easily now, I am very active and responsive to messages when fans reach out and to any questions they want to ask. I occasionally drop news to the fans and they respond to that, it’s great to get that positive feedback about everything and especially about the music you have been so passionate about.
RNL – We follow you on social media and I have seen that you recently have joined Snapchat!
Erja – Yeah! I love Snapchat! It’s so quick and easy and it allows you to take snaps here there and everywhere really quickly, I think all these various platforms are making things interesting again creating a real buzz around the music industry interacting with the fans.
RNL – So what have you been up to since we last talked, I am sure your summer has been pretty busy?
Erja – Well actually my summer hasn’t been too bad, I had a few days off here and there and we travelled around Europe, Switzerland and Hungary, Sweden Etc and I did get the time to have a summer holiday too which was amazing1 Last year I was purely concentration on Stolen Hearts everyday, everyday so compared to last year this has been a relaxing summer. We’ve had time to hit the rehearsal studio with my band. Two days ago we actually announced this TV programme I am going to take part in which is a reality TV programme which is huge in Finland called Stars Stars, 10 singers will be competing against each other singing different genres. So I am going to be doing Hip-Hop and Rap, Musicals and Country! Everything except Blues.
RNL – You’re obviously being pushed out of your comfort zone, are they 10 well established musicians taking part on this show?
Erja – Yes I am for sure, yeah all 10 are well establish musicians, artists etc who have successful careers and we’ll all be stepping out of our comfort zones. It is a great opportunity for exposure for me, the show gets around one million viewers each week and it will be a great opportunity for me to just let me hair down and have fun! It’s also why I will not be touring in Oct / Nov as the show will be airing during that time. I will also be doing a tour at the end of the year with two musicians here in Finland playing larger concert halls, which will be fun too and add a little Christmas spirit.
RNL – Over the past year have you had any standout moments that stick in your head?
Erja – HRH Blues Festival was amazing, we played to around 4000 people and it was such a great Rock- Blues Festival, great line up, great people and for me that really was the highlight of the tour for me in the UK.
RNL – You’re back in the UK on the 20th of Sept at the Greystones to kick off your UK Tour, you have 7 dates lined up this time round.
Erja – Yes, No off days!
RNL – Are you playing any new venues along the way this time round you haven’t played before?
Erja – Yes there are a few new ones, Nottingham, Chester, Bristol and Manchester, I haven’t played there yet and I am really looking forward to it. I’m hoping I will see a lot of new faces there, and I am really looking forward to Manchester as I have heard so many great things about that city.
RNL – Do you have any favourite places you love returning to out of all the venues you’ve played across Europe?
Erja – I love playing in London and on this tour we will return to the Borderline, I haven’t been in that venue in maybe 10 years. I am looking forward to going back as it is a nice intimate venue, Ive been touring internationally now for maybe 10 years so there are lots of places you love to go back too, they start to feel homely and you just settle into them when you go back. I do really love going back to England especially, you guys have such a rich musical history and especially Blues music too.
RNL – Do you notice any difference between the crowds in the UK and elsewhere in Europe?
Erja – Well if a fan is excited he or she will be regardless but I’d say in Europe, Germany especially the fans can be a little fanatic, they will record bootlegs of your shows, take lots of photos, print them and bring and that’s pretty unique to that part of the world.
RNL – Are there certain parts of the world that you visit that you would say have a bigger Blues culture than others?
Erja – Germany for sure has a really big Blues culture, they have Blues clubs everywhere you look!
RNL – With your busy tour schedule and the forthcoming TV show around the corner have you given any time yet to a follow up to Stolen Hearts?
Erja – It’s always there in the back of my mind but trying to find time to properly sit down and dedicate time while on the road isn’t easy, but funnily enough I’ve always been jamming songs with the band whether in the rehearsal studio and even just this morning we were working on a new song, these stories are starting to evolve in my head. So yeah, musicianship is a constant process that just never goes away.
RNL – In a normal situation would you set aside time to write your music or do you just constantly write all year round?
Erja – It tends to go both ways, once you start to get a foundation for a track you jam it out, build it up piece by piece like what other elements you want to add there, what story do you want to tell and sometimes that can be the hardest part to turn it into a brilliant song.
RNL – Do you normally have a partner in crime that you usually write with or do you lean on the guys in the band for that sort of thing?
Erja – There are many different ways I write music, sometimes I co-write with Alan Darby for instance, or sometimes I will work solo laying down stuff on Garage Band / Pro Tools laying down rhythms and ideas etc and then I will take it to the band and play through it live and we will tweak it, or sometimes we just jam together as a band and you’ll get a more Rock influenced track which will tend to be more fluid and less planned which is nice too, and essential in Blues music.
RNL – The process you went through on the last album working with the likes of Chris Kimsey, would that be something you’d like to try again on the next album or have you given any thought on the direction you’d like to take next time round?
Erja – I would defiantly love to work with Chris sometime again in the future for sure but I am not 100% sure just yet about the next album, Chris was amazing to work with and I hope our paths will cross once again, we’ve been keeping in touch ever since communicating all the time and there has been a lot of cool stuff that came out of that for both of us.
RNL – I interviewed Matt Andersen and he said he wasn’t keen on working with the same team on every album, where as the likes of Joe Bonamassa would work religiously with Kevin Shirley, is it just a personal preference as an artist on how each and every one approaches a new album?
Erja – Yeah for sure, working with new people will always bring their challenges, and it takes time to understand how that person works and what are their methods, maybe with Stolen Hearts I have heavily involved with producing it also, we did most of the backing tracks done in Finland and a lot of the parts were planned and with Chris we mostly done the vocals, and it was so easy to things with him, there was no hesitation and he let me do what I wanted to do to create my vision. It was perfect. I can understand though how some people may want to work with the same team as it gives you a confidence, you just go there already open and nothing is stopping you. But I have been trying to teach myself to be open in most situations in my life, eventually we will need other people and we will need new people in our life, not just in music but also in coping with everyday life.
RNL – Do you feel yourself as a musician even though you are vastly experienced that you still can learn something new everyday?
Erja – Yeah for sure, and I am hoping that I will continue to learn because that’s the soul of all of this, I have noticed that when you do another project for example that it can take some time to realise what great things have emerged from that.
RNL – Your thoughts on the next album, would you say it will be a continuation on the theme of Stolen Hearts or a diversion from that?
Erja – I have a feeling that there will be elements from Stolen Hearts for sure as it has taken me to another direction already, Rock elements, Funk elements and a lot of big guitar, but its hard to tell now.
Big thanks to the lovely Erja Lyttinen for taking the time to chat to us here at Rock ‘N’ Load once again.